Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Objectives of Fieldwork

In order to justify why I deserve to get $3000 to do my fieldwork, I had to outline my objectives of doing fieldwork. I tried to be succinct but that's pretty impossible.

The agricultural hinterlands of Singapore are largely identified as Malaysia and Riau Province in Indonesia. Most of overseas fieldwork will be in Malaysia because it has been an established (over 60 years) long-term major supplier (50%) of Singapore’s fresh vegetables.

The objectives of fieldwork in Malaysia are to gather primary data of the variety of factors influencing the farmer’s decision-making process. This is achieved through:
  1. Interview with farmers adopting different farming practices
    Interviews would determine the history of the farm, acknowledged farming practices, motivations and influences for particular action and responses towards competitors and government regulations. Interviews are necessary in phenomenological studies such as this. Upon the end of fieldwork, the factors and hierarchy of influences on farmers will be ascertained.
  2. Field observations on farms using different practices
    In order to ascertain if the farmers’ words match their actual actions (i.e. use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.), field observation is necessary. This also provides a description of landscape, which will provide an evaluation of the performance of various farming practices.
  3. Interviews with government agencies
    In addition to policy analysis, this will give the official view of regulations, benchmarks and implementation on the ground. This will provide the corresponding view of factors influencing farmers’ decision making.
  4. Interviews and observations of market exchange processes
    The vegetable industry is essentially an economic driven process and observations of inputs, transport and processing will again provide corresponding knowledge of factors influencing farmers’ decision-making process.
While this study aims at examining the environmental behaviour of Malaysian vegetable farmers, Indonesia plays an important role as a state and economic driven competitor, which has impact on the Malaysian actors. Due to the dearth of secondary literature on the region and subject, fieldwork is essential. Objectives include:
  1. Interviews with farmers and agencies involved
    Provide historical background on the nature of the industry and its relations with Singapore and impacts on Malaysia’s industry. This will provide a fuller understanding of factors influencing Malaysian farmers as well as provide primary and secondary information not available in Singapore.
  2. Field observation
    Observation in the farms will enhance evaluation of information gathered from interviews.

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