Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
• Examine possible approaches for the situations described in the management strategies assignment trainees worked on during the field trip, analyze the decisions that must be made and the information that must be taken into account to make good decisions;
• Synthesize and reinforce technical material covered throughout the program and examine how the information and concepts are put together appropriately when applying them to different situations;
• Provide opportunity for trainees to put their knowledge to use in developing strategies for actual situations (assignment is based on situations encountered by Volunteers in various countries).
Overview: This is a trainee-facilitated session in which trainees work as a group to develop management strategies that would fit the situations described in the assignment given during the Levels of Intensity seminar. Trainees have already worked on this assignment on an individual basis, and in this session they can share their ideas and learn from each other as they try to arrive at group decisions. Since the session is designed by the trainees, the following is a set of trainer notes rather than a design.
1. This session is facilitated by the trainees who presented the Levels of Intensity seminar. This is one of the two "special technical sessions" listed in the schedule presented in Part B of the Field Trip Debriefing/Reentry to Training session.
2. The Master Trainer or another designated trainer should work closely with the trainees to help them understand the objectives of this session and their roles in designing and facilitating it. The actual design is then up to the trainees. Be sure to give them as much notice as possible so that they can do a good job of designing a useful and interesting session.
3. Usually, and if the session goes as it should, there is a lot of group participation and a healthy amount of argument. Clearly, there is not really a single correct solution to the assignment, and one of the best things about doing this as a group is for the trainees to see how many options there are, how different people approach the task, etc. Thus, the time limit should be firm or this session can go on indefinitely. An hour and a half is the recommended time limit. It is entirely possible that all of the three situations will not have been addressed by this time, but if the group has reached an agreement about one or two of the scenarios, that is sufficient considering all of the valuable discussion that has probably taken place.
4. The wording of the original assignment was as follows (see page 242):
• For each of the following cases, develop two appropriate management strategies; the most basic, simple one that will give reasonable results, and one that is more complex. For each, tilapia must be used (though you are not limited to tilapia). Address all aspects of management, all major decisions that the manager must make.
1. Length of growing season - 12 months
Market size - 100 g (3.5 oz)
2. Six months of optimum growing conditions, remaining six months are cool enough to inhibit reproduction and slow growth
Market size - 250 g (9 oz)
3. Length of growing season - 12 months
Market size - any size fish is marketable.
5. The following is a list of suggestions to consider when discussing the session with the trainee facilitators during the planning stages:
• Although the assignment asks for two strategies for each situation, there will not be sufficient time to come up with six separate strategies during this session. Therefore, they need only do one strategy for each of the scenarios. They may choose the level of simplicity/complexity for the strategy they develop in each case.
• Suggest that the trainees consider all of the decisions to be made, and all of the "givers" to consider.
• For example, decisions include species, stocking weight, stocking density, age of fish stocked, feeding (yes or no, what, how much, how often, etc.), fertilizing (same questions as feeding), harvest schedule,type of harvest, etc.
• "Givers" include many of the the other things that must be taken into account. For example: pond size, number of ponds, availability of fish, growth rate that can be expected (based on various approaches to feeding and fertilizing as well as age of fish, etc.), types of feeds and fertilizers available and relative costs, types of equipment available (mechanical aeration, for example), carrying capacity (given a set of circumstances), distance from market, type of transportation available, etc. (The assignment itself provides information about other major considerations).
• In order to prevent total chaos and impose some sense of order, the facilitators should set most or all of the givens once the items that must be taken into account have been listed. This will leave the group free to make the decisions based on a set of known circumstances.
• Once the circumstances are defined, the group should consider all possibilities. As decisions are made, they should be justified. Have the group make all decisions (i.e., design complete management strategies) to describe complete cycles from beginning to end.
• Once strategies have been designed, analyze each to determine how it could be modified if the farmer decided to become more or less intensive. Another interesting point to explore would be how a farmer might modify the strategy if some item became available that was not available before, or if the relative costs of certain items changed. (There probably won't be enough time to do a lot of this sort of thing for three different strategies, but some discussion along these lines is valuable, interesting and fun).
• How the circumstances are set is up to the trainee facilitators. A couple of approaches that have been used in the past include:
• Setting up very different "givers" for each of the three scenarios (except for the information that each scenario is comprised of), then going through the same list of decision points (decisions to be made) for each situation.
• Assuming the same "givers" for each of the three scenarios (except for the information that makes up the scenarios), and looking at how each decision would be made to fit each situation
• The trainee facilitators should realize in advance that there will be a lot of disagreement and arguing among the group, and there is no exact "right" answer. The merits and possible disadvantages of all proposed ideas should be discussed. Since there is not likely to be a consensus on every point, the facilitators must be prepared to stay in control and make the calls when necessary to keep the session moving. They will need to exercise judgement to avoid both cutting off a good argument too soon and letting an argument go on too long.
6. Point out to the facilitators (so that they, in turn, can point out to the group) that although the task may seem difficult and frustrating, this is precisely the sort of thing they will be doing as fish culture extensionists. They should acknowledge and be encouraged by their own abilities to tackle the problems and by the broad base of knowledge and experience they now have to draw from that enables them to make reasonable decisions. Staff members and trainees alike are often quite struck by this session because as trainees discuss and argue, often quite loudly and passionately, the knowledge and confidence they have gained over the course of the program really become apparent.