The RDD is a compulsory phase of our approach once our team starts to engage with communities in new project sights. Usually, the baseline assessment takes approximately 6 months in which our local team lives on sight in order to understand circumstances as best as possible. Hence, the RDD represents an in-depth assessment of the farmer’s unique technical, physical, social, and economic environment and therefore is able to offer a first complete picture of the situation on the ground. Each RDD is unique and adapted to the local context, but always relies on the same 3 key steps:
1. Understand the farmer’s situation
First, we listen to the farmer to collect baseline data on farmers, their family, and their land. This includes observing agriculture and management practices in order to understand and identify challenges and opportunities together with the farmer. Our local team also maps the farm through already existing maps or satellite programs to identify ownership, boundaries, the productivity of the crop, and any other land-related information.
2. Build trust with each farmer
One of the key pillars of our approach is to build trust between farmers and our local team in the field. Participatory methodologies are a vital part of defining an action plan so only if trust has been established can we be confident to build a transformation plan that puts farmers at the center. Open discussions are a key driver of building trust and we facilitate both one-on-one meetings as well as farmer group meetings.
3. Identify key stakeholders in the area
The RDD collects data at different levels because farmers are entrepreneurs part of a larger socio-economic context. This means we have to look at and understand the larger system which involves farmers associations, middlemen, agriculture services, local authorities, and first aggregators. Only by integrating all levels can we design possible solutions together with the stakeholders. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and the RDD always adapts to the local context of the farmer.
Once these three steps of the RDD have been completed, the local team designs a transformation strategy together with the community. This includes strategies to enhance environmental and social stewardship and address farmer’s development needs as identified in the process of data collection. The RDD ensures that we are on the right track and makes it easier to facilitate training and capacity building based on the immediate and long-term development needs of the community.