M. M. Escalada, Visayas State University, Leyte, Philippines
Liang Wang, Qianhua Yuan, Hainan University, Haikou, PR China
and Zeng-Rong Zhu, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, PR China
To develop conservation practices that are viable in Hainan, China, we need to better understand local farmers’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP). Many of the frameworks that will help us understand farmers’ beliefs and practices require interview and survey techniques. Adequate information on what farmers know, how they perceive biodiversity conservation practices and what their current practices are can be obtained through farmer surveys. This not only enables us to understand the reasons for current practice but also provides a basis for predicting how farmers are likely to respond to certain initiatives such as training or scaling up. Survey results can serve as a useful guide to action.
How to conduct a farmer survey
Because the cost of implementing surveys is often high, it is important that they are planned and conducted with utmost care. In conducting a farmer survey, the following steps are recommended:
1. Identifying the problem/issues
2. Developing survey objectives
3. Developing the survey instrument
4. Pretesting the questionnaire
5. Choosing survey respondents
6. Implementing the survey
7. Coding and analyzing survey data
Following the focus group discussion (FGD) in July 2010 (Read: FGD report) we conducted a training-workshop on sociological tools and survey procedures on November 20-21 in Hainan University. The training-workshop was participated in by Hainan University scientists and social science students. The workshop discussed decision tools and survey concepts and procedures, pretested the baseline survey questionnaire, and used pretest results to finalize the survey instrument.
Questionnaire pretesting. As the best surveys always pretest their questionnaire in order to detect problems before they are used in the field, four teams of statistics students pretested the prototype questionnaire among 20 farmers in Hongqi town, Haikou. The duration of each farmer interview ranged from 30 to 50 minutes.
The pretest was a try-out of the questionnaire to see how it works and whether changes are necessary before the start of the survey. The pretest provided a means of catching and solving unforeseen problems in the use of the questionnaire, such as the phrasing and sequencing of questions. Linguistic and cultural differences also complicated the task of questionnaire development, making pretesting all the more indispensable. The pretest in Hong qui town enabled us to: 1) improve the wording of the questionnaire; 2) correct and improve translation of technical terms; 3) check the accuracy and adequacy of the questionnaire’s instructions such as “skip” and “go to”; 4) eliminate unnecessary questions and add necessary ones; and 5) estimate the time needed to conduct the interview.
Suggestions from the field
Among the pretest results which suggested several changes to the survey questionnaire are as follows:
A startling discovery in this village was that many farmers in Hongqi town did not recognize a key pest problem in China, the brown planthopper (BPH). Those who knew about BPH believed that it came from the soil and not brought in by the wind When the questions were framed, it was assumed that the BPH was recognized and known to all rice farmers in Asia. Yet, in Hainan, this was not so. During the discussion, it was pointed out that perhaps it was a translation problem as Hongqi farmers spoke the local Hainanese dialect and the Chinese translation would not be understood. It was agreed that each student interviewer bring a vial containing BPH specimens to show to rice farmers during the survey.
Questions asking farmers about their pest management practices revealed that many farmers reported that they did not know the name of the pesticides they used as the pesticide shop mixed the chemicals for them. Since in China pesticides are sold in numerous trade names (Read Pesticide tsunami ) it will be difficult to track the active ingredient. It was agreed to delete the question asking for name of pesticide.
For details, read: workshop report