CESD’s survey enumerators put their recent training to the test, interviewing fish farmers in Thanlyin and Khayan townships, in the east and north east of Yangon District. The enumerators asked farmers about their farming practices, fish production levels and land use, for an aquaculture survey being conducted in March and April 2016. The survey is part of CESD and Michigan State University’s (MSU’s) ‘Food security policy project’, funded by USAID and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT). Data from the survey will help to build a better understanding of the economic and social drivers of rural development in Myanmar, and support agricultural policy reforms that promote agricultural productivity.
The aquaculture survey involves data collection on commercial, operational and technical aspects of farming, and demographic information from farming and non-farming households. Survey questions cover diverse topics, including historical changes in farming operations, the impact of fish farming on economic and social development, the level of mechanization on farms, credit arrangements available for farmers, and land ownership issues. To ensure a high level of quality data from the survey, training has been provided to the recently recruited survey enumerators.
A total of 55 enumerators were selected from over 150 applicants for the surveying roles, and they participated in two weeks of intensive training, for six days per week, to build their surveying skills. The enumerators are from rural areas in Ayeyarwady Region and Yangon District, from the townships of Maubin, Twantay and Khayan. Some of the enumerators are from farming families, and some are students working during their mid-year university holidays.
On the days of the field work, the enumerators dress up smartly in cool, cotton longyi and freshly ironed blouse or shirt. They face the heat and dust of the dry season with energy, optimism, and respect for the time given by the survey respondents. The enumerators’ friendliness and polite manner encourages the survey respondents to participate in the survey, which can sometimes take up to an hour to complete.
During the recent field work in Khayan Township, Yangon District, two enumerators were provided with tea and sweets for over an hour, while the survey respondent answered their questions and tended to the steady flow of customers to her small grocery shop next door. Another pair of enumerators returned to their surveying colleagues on the back of a farmer’s motorbike, avoiding the hot, 30-minute, post-surveying return walk.
Aung Hein, Research Supervisor and Team Leader for CESD and MSU’s Food Security Policy Project, is impressed with the enumerators, saying “they are keen to learn, dedicated to their work and serious about the outcomes from the aquaculture survey. The more they practice, the more confidence they gain.”
Zar Chi Oo is a survey enumerator from Maubin Township, Ayeyarwady Region. She said “I have no previous surveying experience, so I was worried about whether I could or could not do this type of work. However, after receiving the training from CESD’s Food Security Policy Project team and undertaking practical field work, I have enough self-confidence to interview farmers and fishermen. Now, I am ready for the actual survey and I am satisfied that this work that I am doing will support the country’s rural development”.
Under the blazing sun of Myanmar’s dry season, the heat is extreme in the rural areas, and the walks to farming and non-farm households are long. However the beautiful rural scenery and warm welcome from farmers puts a smile on the enumerators’ faces and a sparkle in their eye as they reflect on the work they are undertaking.