Open Access Capstone
ABSTRACT The goal of the study was to understand farmer literacy practices, and how farmer participants perceive the usefulness of Farmer Water School (FWS) training. Studying the farmer literacy practices was to help identify farmer friendly methods, and design effective messages for dissemination on crop choices, decisions, and sustainable groundwater management. To understand the usefulness of FWS training to farmers, a comparative study of FWS participants and non-FWS pa11icipants' perceptions on crop-water management, crop choices, and agriculture practices was undertaken. The study focused on the farmers of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The research questions driving this study included:
1. How do farmers use literacy for crop-water management and crop choice ?
2. How do farmer completing the Farmer Water School training view the usefulness of information they learned about groundwater management?
3. How have farmers adapted the information in their daily lives that they learned in the Farmer Water School training?
In Chapter One, I discuss the rationale of the research. I briefly present my experiences of working in two different settings. One, designing and implementing literacy programs for illiterate rural women and second, providing assistance in the implementation of Farmer Water Schools - a participatory approach to groundwater management. I also, discuss my assumptions about literacy and the rationale for undertaking this research. In Chapter Two, I discuss the research context. First, I discuss the literacy scenario in India and the literacy statistics at the national, state and the district level. I also dicuss the
Indian agriculture scenario, farmers' increasing dependence on groundwater, changing rainfall patterns, and the need for sustainable management of groundwater. Later on, I present the APF AMGS projects ongoing efforts to enhance the ability of farmers, water user groups, and communities to manage their groundwater resources in a judicious and sustainable manner. In Chapter Three, I discuss the use of case study research, data collection methods, field experiences in doing the research, and my location in the research. In Chapter Four, I use the findings to discuss the research questions. Chapter Five focuses on conclusions and implications. The findings can be summarized as follows:
• Farmers use various means to record the transactions. Most of them calculate orally or mentally and can recollect transactions of the entire crop-sea on. Illiterate farmers seek the help of other literate members in their community to cope with the day-to-day needs.
•Use of small learning groups in Farmer Water Schools (FWS) appears to have been an effective learning strategy to cope with the varied literacy levels of the farmer participants.
• Farmer Water School (FWS) participants reported that they monitor water levels in their borewells and collect rainfall data to forecast water availability. They use this to make informed decisions about crop choices.
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