Chapter one: Introduction
The training program described in this manual represents nearly 25 years of development. The Peace Corps Aquaculture Training Program has been evolving since training began in 1966. The basic training model was developed originally by Dr. Howard Clemens at the University of Oklahoma. It has been modified over time, constantly being adapted to various training styles and circumstances, as well as to the needs expressed by field staff. Revisions have also been made based upon feedback from trainees, Volunteers, training staff and Peace Corps field staff. In addition, aquaculture technologies have changed constantly and significantly since the early days of Peace Corps aquaculture training. This has necessitated the inclusion of these improved technologies into the training program.
Peace Corps' approach to aquaculture development has changed significantly based on the experiences of early Volunteers and the training program has also changed to reflect this. Most of the early aquaculture projects were directed toward improving the capability of the host-country government to promote and support aquaculture development. The emphasis was on assisting large numbers of farmers with the development of subsistence-level aquaculture. Many Volunteers were assigned to government stations, while the emphasis of the extension program was on training hostagency extension agents. Peace Corps programmers believed that aquaculture development would be achieved during a single two-year Volunteer assignment. As Peace Corps gained experience it became evident that this approach would not lead to sustainable development.
During the late 1970's and early 1980's, Peace Corps' aquaculture projects experienced a dramatic metamorphosis. The idea that counterparts were a necessity faded and the emphasis shifted from subsistence to small-scale commercial aquaculture enterprises. Income generation became the driving force behind the adoption of aquaculture by carefully selected and targeted model farmers. The focus shifted to direct farmer training with the goal of farmer self-sufficiency. It was recognized that this could not be achieved in two years so current projects are usually planned as six-year or longer efforts.
Well-trained Volunteers have proven that they can be the catalyst that facilitates this type of sustainable development. But, to play this role Volunteers must be much more than aquaculture technicians. Consequently, their preparation is critical. First, they need to develop a broad foundation in general aquaculture. Second, training cannot be limited to the technical aspects of aquaculture development. It must also help the trainee to develop the personal attributes that are necessary to effectively transfer their knowledge and skills to the farmers with whom they work. Thus, when technical training ends, not only will they be technically competent, but they also will be primed for the country-specific technical, language and cross-cultural training in which they will participated during in-country training (ICT). Only in a well designed ICT program can they gain the country-specific knowledge that will enable them to effectively transfer their skills. During this period, trainees should be oriented to their role in the aquaculture project in that country. Technical and nontechnical pre-service training are two crucial components of Volunteer preparation. But they are only developmental milestones in the continuous process of personal growth that is provided by Peace Corps service.
This manual is not intended to be a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to aquaculture training. Training is a dynamic process, constantly evolving, and always needs to be tailored to the unique circumstances of each program. This includes the needs of the trainees, the objectives of the aquaculture projects, and the personalities and styles of the training staff. The technical sessions described here are meant to serve as guidelines. They should be revised and adapted to the specific situations and logistical constraints of each training program. Scheduling and timing depend on a multitude of factors. The suggestions given here are examples of what has occurred in past programs, but should be changed as needed to fit new circumstances. The size of the group, logistics, backgrounds of the trainees, personalities of the groups (especially the type of leadership found within the groups), and the staff to trainee ratio will all impact upon the amount of time needed to complete the various activities. The order in which the staff chooses to implement certain exercises may also be affected. On the other hand, there is a flow of events. Many activities and exercises build on the knowledge that is gained over time and with experience. Therefore, changes in the order should be made very carefully with specific objectives in mind. The training staff must always be sensitive to the trainees with whom they are working and must remain flexible to address special, unforeseen needs that may arise. This might involve occasional revisions in the planned program when appropriate. It is always possible that a group may require a special session, technical or non-technical, that has not been included in this manual.
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