In order to assess the effectiveness of the GAP intervention, two different groups of farmers were interviewed, one as a control (not having received GAP) and one as a treatment group (having received GAP). Four Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were conducted, two for the control group and two for the treatment group. Both the control group and treatment group are in the same geographical area. All the production factors are the same for both groups such as soil, climate, and access to water and access to inputs are the same. Both groups used the same inputs (fertilizer, seed, number irrigation water, etc.).
The assessment was conducted in the 12 villages of Balkh district and 100 individual interviews were conducted with cotton farmers (50 for the control group and 50 for the treatment group) using a pre- developed structured questionnaire. The cotton farmers for the control group were selected randomly in various villages and interviewed, and the treatment group farmers were selected from the list of participants of GAP training. HMBGPC and 3 other small scale cotton processing companies were interviewed and their opinions and their learning assessed.
“…This training helped me look at how I am farming cotton. It is too short though – I had to travel to this training. It would be better if the experts can visit us on the farm and give us practical training ….” Dadvar Habib,37, Boka Village.
All the farmers expressed satisfaction with the training but raised the issue in the focus groups that the training was delivered to them last year only after the cotton was cultivated, so only post-harvest topics could be applied. This year they are able to apply both pre- and post-harvest topics.
The other suggestion/recommendation concerned the duration of the training. A two day session is not sufficient; the cotton extension services should last at least a week and the extension services provider should be conducting mentoring visits throughout the season and for at least one season, so farmers learn everything thoroughly.
Furthermore, the HMBJPC could have conducted mentoring visits after the training which has not happened. Mentoring visits can improve the practical knowledge of farmers and helps them to learn, apply and share the knowledge.
The intervention resulted in increased cotton cultivation; as result of the training the farmers have been encouraged to cultivate more cotton. Good rains during the year 2017 also encouraged farmers to cultivate more cotton. Not all farmers cultivated, the cotton was already cultivated in most of the places when they started the training but some farmers increased their cultivation, especially those who received the fertilizers.
Comparing the control group and treatment group in 2017, the treatment group has increased cotton cultivation by 20% and the control group has increased cotton cultivation by 12%. The below table further elaborates this statement.
||# of Farmers interviewed
||Jeribs of land under cotton 2016
||Jeribs of land under cotton 2017