The Making Cents Agricultural Enterprise curriculum materials were developed for the Nigeria Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises (MARKETS) program, and they focus on expanding economic opportunities in the agricultural sector by increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing value-added processing, and increasing commercialization through private sector-led and market-driven growth and development. Making Cents is collaborating with a national agricultural program to train 500 field workers across the country in an effort to improve the lives of 250,000 farmers through the delivery of the Agricultural Enterprise curriculum. In Mali, Making Cents translated the curriculum (renamed Input Supplier and Processors) into French and adapted workcards and activities to fit the local context.
The Agricultural Enterprise curriculum is comprised of two standalone curricula in the series: Farmers/Producers and Input Suppliers/Processors. Both were originally developed to be used in Nigeria and are available in English. Input Suppliers/Processors, which has also been adapted to the Malian context and is available in French, is not reviewed here. The typical age of participants is 18-40, and the ideal training group size is 20 people. The objective of the Farmer/Producers course is to help farmers improve the management of their business through strategic thinking based on market knowledge and a better understanding of agricultural value chains.
The course consists of 12 sessions and two rounds of simulation game play, estimated to take 15-18 hours to complete in total. The materials kit includes all materials needed to run the course: a trainer manual, with detailed instructional guides; a producer workbook; a facilitator guide for the Agriculture in Action simulation game; and laminated agricultural calendars, cash flow charts, price charts, CD of producer workbook, game cards, game boards, play money, and other supplies needed for the game.The complete Agricultural Enterprise curriculum includes the following:
The curriculum uses structured, learner-centered, participatory and experiential learning methodologies. Activities include large- and small-group discussions, small-group problem-solving and planning; individual planning; role plays; and a simulation game. Particpants experiment, analyze, practice taking risks, and gather information that helps them make better decisions in their own farming practices. By the end of the course, participating farmers should have strengthened their understanding of basic business concepts and market conditions that affect profitability as well as of the value chain for their particular crop(s); discovered practical techniques for projecting income, assessing risk, managing debt, and saving; improved their skills in financial management, record keeping and market analysis; and developed individual action plans for use after the course.
The Trainer's Manual contains clear guidance on preparing for the course and for each session, and instructions for facilitating small-group activities and leading large-group discussions and learning activities. For each session, there is a summary of the session (objectives, methodology, materials, room set up, time and overview of the content), followed by a step-by-step guide for the trainer to follow while facilitating the session. The guide to facilitating the simulation game contains all the information and background needed to use the game.Trainers and facilitators for the course must successfully complete a training of trainers course for the Agricultural Enterprise curriculum, which includes required field practice. Trainers should be familiar with local farming realities and with basic business concepts, but they do not need to be experts.
No formal evaluation results available
Practitioners looking for a structured yet highly interactive and participatory curriculum will find this course to be a sound and useful introduction to market-based agricultural business planning and practices. It uses a range of active learning methodologies facilitated by a trainer who is key to coaching, supporting, and introducing new information and concepts. The course activities provide opportunities for participants to engage in problem solving and analysis with small groups in ways that help develop confidence, initiative and independent action. Because it draws on the specific agricultural practices of the community in which it is offered and is based on an agricultural production cycle, the curriculum could be adapted to most agricultural settings.
The content of the course follows a logical sequence, starting with farm business cycles and farm business practices, moving to market and value chain analyses, and then to savings and credit and development, and refinement of individual action plans. Most sessions begin with a discussion about what participants know about the topic or with an activity that draws on their own reactions to a scenario or role-play. In this sense, the curriculum builds on learners' existing knowledge and skills, but there are no activities that explicitly ask participants to assess formally or informally what they already know and can do. The course has clear overall objectives and for each session several achievement-based objectives are identified. However, the course does not include a process for helping participants document their own learning or guidance for trainers who may want or need to assess participants’ progress.
The participant materials, which are colorful and engaging, are appropriate for farmers who have basic literacy and numeracy skills. The materials would not be as useful with a training group that does not include several people who can read, write and calculate well enough to lead others in these activities. The facilitator's manual for the agriculture simulation game is clearly written and would be easy to follow, after participating in several rounds of play to gain first-hand experience. The Trainers' Manual is also clearly written, and with training (required) should be easily followed. The format of the instructional guides provided in both manuals is useful, especially for new or inexperienced trainers, with the overall course guide following a step-by-step approach, and the simulation game guide using a "say/do" approach to help introduce, manage, and debrief participants after the game. Both manuals assume a fairly high level of reading ability on the part of the trainer or facilitator, and in both, the type font is small and there is no space for trainer or facilitator to write his or her own notes.
The Making Cents' Agricultural Enterprise curriculum was first designed for Nigerian agricultural producers, specifically input suppliers and processors, to improve the production and management of their farming businesses. Since then, it has been adapted to other West African country contexts. Training is targeted to processors and suppliers, 18-40 years old with a diverse range of literacy and numeracy skills. The curriculum assumes that processors and suppliers have a higher level of education than their farming counterparts.
The curriculum is technically sound and is supported by a series of manuals and guides for the trainer. The training manual tends to be a bit prescriptive presumably in an effort to ensure quality of training. Whilst the objective of ensuring quality training might be achieved through this method, it could conversely be seen to undermine the trainers’ pedagogical creativity and ability to inject their own explanations or theories based on their experiences. Clear and measurable learning objectives would also serve to strengthen the overall curriculum and training manuals.
Similar to other Making Cents curricula, the curriculum uses role play to engage learners; game simulation helps to build skills and reinforce business concepts; and group work serves to: (1) enhance the learners’ understanding of market conditions and of the challenges faced by both producers and suppliers and, (2) facilitate a supportive and collaborative learning environment.
The participants’ workbooks are useful. They could benefit from color but are spiral bound which makes them easy to reproduce. A unique activity that finishes out the training is a work plan development activity that learners do to outline their immediate action steps upon completion of the training.
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