In the past, there have been numerous programs with the training component, but none thoroughly covered the marketing aspect of pomegranate production. There has been field training for several crops, but there were no technical farmer-focused manuals developed or that could be found. By following the basic guidelines presented in the training manual, a farmer should achieve a satisfactory result for his efforts, and definitely improve the value of his pomegranates. Over half the manual covers marketing, which encompasses activities from picking through to crop presentation for sale or transport.
Until now, this idea has been very fragmented and lacked the consolidation into an easy to use guidebook, which the farmers can effectively use. One of the greatest challenges was to use a format that would convey the required message in a meaningful way to the intended recipients. The problem, of course, being that most of the farmers are illiterate, a result of the ravages faced by the country for decades. A pictorial or diagrammatic format was developed, a sort of “Dick and Jane” for pomegranate production. The process went from concept, with stickman storyboard, to final draft and subsequent publication in the first phase of this project. This manual, as well as a sizing board and the recently developed export standardized grading system became the key training tools of the second phase of the project.
The training methodology consisted of assessing the prior knowledge of the trainees, identifying vital knowledge gaps, providing the training using the Pomegranate Training Manual as the primary information source, testing the absorption of the shared knowledge and addressing any remaining knowledge gaps. Each of the important aspects was illustrated with practical examples, ensuring that both literate and illiterate trainees could benefit from attending the training sessions.
During this training phase it became evident how popular, and instrumental as a training tool, the Pomegranate Training Manual have become. Numerous attendees mentioned that the opportunity to get one of the Pomegranate Training Manuals were an important attendance motivator for them. They had seen the copies issued to previous trainees and wanted their own. At least 75 % of the original training manual recipients carry their manuals with them on a daily basis – even to the mosque. They regularly use their manuals for self-reference and for the training of others in informal training sessions in the villages and, as the only readily available reference work, had become a prized possession. The extension workers reported seeing a number of villagers carrying their sizing boards, also issued under the previous project, to the mosques as well.
Using the training manual