Some say that capacity building is the best investment. There are certainly cases that support this idea. This is an example where a technical assessment of four tree nurseries shows the importance of focused training.
Foremost, evaluation would focus on identifying problems and rectifying them. The common problems are the best place to start. This highlights an unspoken aspect of training and capacity building. This is that the simplest solutions should not be overlooked.
One issue is uneven tree growth brought about by uneven watering. There is a simple solution. For all nurseries, drip lines should be periodically cleaned. The other option would be to install water filters. The latter is expensive and, given the relatively small size of each nursery, cleaning the lines would the cheapest option.
There is yet another aspect to nursery management, one that rises high in importance. This the relative cost of an action or option. At the least, this is worth mentioning within a training session. Better yet, this should be a key part of the training.
This leads to the notion of objectives, both of the training and of the organization. Non-profit groups do not profit from their work. Instead, they provide those in need with a service or product. The product is fruit trees. The means of production are the nurseries and, as with the profit sector, costs are not to be overlooked.
The goal of HAF is to offer trees to local farmers. In doing so, these are strived to be of good quality and capable to surviving the riggers of on-farm life. For HAF, this means the best product at the lowest cost. This translates into the cost, per survivable, on-farm tree.
Capacity building will stress the means via the goal. Turning back to the nursery problems, the situation complicates as local problems are addressed. Where water is plentiful and free, space is often limited. Again, the issue was viability when the possibilities for expansion are severely limited.
Concentrating production would lead to economies of scale and a hoped for lowering of costs. On the capacity front, this requires training fewer people and, with concentrated production, the possibilities for more uniform nursery.
The goal is, first through evaluation, later training, to evolve into a standardized system for raising trees. This could be a system where the trees are raised in the ground, dug up, and given to farmers. The other option is to grow the seedlings in soil-filled bags. The in-ground method is inherently cheaper but, unless transplanted quickly, survivability in reduced. The bags can be a bit more costly but more reliable in regard to survivability.
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