RE: Making data collection meaningful and useful to farmers: what is your experience? | Eval Forward

Dear David,

Thanks for bringing these important issues to this community of Practice. Based on my experience working in the developing countries, I have the following input for your reference.

With best regards, 

1. Striking a balance between depth and length of assessment: monitoring and assessment exercises based on interviews and farm surveys can put significant burden on respondents, for example diverting time that would be otherwise allocated to other activities. Respondent fatigue due to lengthy interviews/surveys can also result in lower quality of data collected, and therefore in lower reliability of results. On the other hand, a shorter assessment may result in a level of depth that is insufficient to design effective interventions.

How can the burden on smallholder farmers be reduced during M&E assessments?

I prefer to do/ am doing: 

  • Making objective oriented short questionnaires
  • Mostly close ended but also provision of sharing their views and perspectives
  • Interview in their own setting and preferred time
  • Making them feel they are also benefitted from this exercise
  • Create strong rapport (interpersonal skills) – (not mechanical but also speak on their personal issues)
  • Provide some present (this can be to their children)

What are the best ways to incentivize farmers to take part in the survey (e.g. non-monetary incentives, participation in survey tailoring, in presentation of results)?

I prefer to do / am doing: 

  • When I was programme/ project manager I used to provide farmers some financial compensation (I strongly feel we need to pay the information provider as we information collectors are making a good sum of money for similar kind of functions)
  • Compensate their time with good snacks / refreshment
  • Provide them a present as a ‘token of love’
  • Acknowledging their support

2. Making findings from M&E assessments useful to farmers: considering the burden on farmers resulting from M&E exercises, it is key to ensure results are meaningful and accessible to them. This is in fact an explicit objective of the M&E tool we are developing. The assessment seeks to provide an indication of sustainability strengths and weaknesses that can be used by e.g. extension agents to help farmers identify targeted practices that can increase overall sustainability of production.

Based on your experience, what could be the most effective ways to communicate results from the sustainability assessment to farmers (e.g. field visits and peer learning, technical information workshop)? What kind of communication materials (e.g. briefs, leaflets, others) are most appropriate to support knowledge sharing events?

  • Clarify the objectives – how sustainability assessment are important to farmers and their groups/
  • Organize sharing meeting and get their feedback on the result
  • Take full use of local resources persons/ local groups or trusted partners while sharing the results
  • Use illustration/visual aids/local language  
  • Less of use of technical words and complex terms

Do you have experience in comparing results among farmers in a participatory way? What method have you used to do this? Was it effective?

When possible:

  • Making sharing group according to the interest groups (such as women farmers, youth farmers, farmers groups based on their production or participation in different value chain)
  • Use illustration / examples / visual aids/ simple demonstration (such as big maize cub vs small cub) relevant to local context  (for example if you say 50%, in many cases – they do not understand, if you give example such as 100 unit and 150 unit (50% additional)- may be will be in position to understand

How can the results be used for non-formal education of farmers (e.g. to raise awareness and/or build capacity on ways to increase farm sustainability)?

  • Develop participatory based farmer centred training module considering the need of the farmers
  • Provide sharing opportunity by farmers (farmer to farmer approach)
  • Use of Use illustration / examples / visual aids/ simple demonstration


Ram Chandra Khanal (PhD)

Evaluator and programme manager: Climate change/NRM/Agriculture