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Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 1 A situational analysis of community based oyster far ming in Palito, Isla Chira, Costa Rica Gabriela Polo A Field Practicum Final Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Sustainable Development Practice Degree University of Florida Gainesville, FL April 2016 Committee members: Susan Paulson, PhD (C hair) Thomas Ankersen, JD (M ember)
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 3 LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES ................................ ................................ ............................... 4 ACRONYMS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 5 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 6 CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND ................................ ................................ ................................ 7 Geographical & socio economic background ................................ ................................ ............. 7 Aquaculture in Costa Rica & key institutions ................................ ................................ ............. 8 Oyster farming in Costa Rica and Palito, Chira ................................ ................................ .......... 8 The process of oyster farming ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 9 CONTEXTUAL/CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ................................ ................................ ..... 12 FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 15 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 17 Producer organizations' classification & structure ................................ ................................ ... 17 Producer organizations' challenges and opportunities ................................ ............................. 17 Producer organizations management & governance ................................ ................................ . 18 Supporting prod ucer organizations ................................ ................................ ........................... 19 METHODS AND ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 20 Situational Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 20 Participant observation ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 20 Structured interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 22 Semi structured interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 23 Participatory production mapping ................................ ................................ ............................. 24 Difficulties and limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 24 Situational Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 25 Current state of production ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 29 Group management and governance ................................ ................................ ......................... 31 Commercialization ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 33 Gender considerations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 34 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................ ................................ ....... 36 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 38 APPENDIX 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 41 APPENDIX 2 ................................ ................................ ................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS â€¢ My sincerest gratitude to the following people and institutions, for their guidance and support â€¢ My committee chair Dr. Susan Paulson and member Professor Thomas Ankersen , JD â€¢ Dr. Glenn Galloway, MDP Director; Andy Noss, MDP coordinator; and MDP core and a ffiliate faculty â€¢ Tropical Conservation and Development program â€¢ Center for Latin American Studies â€¢ UF Law Conservation Clinic and law team â€¢ Franklin Paniagua, in country supervisor â€¢ Palito's oyster farmers and ASOPECUPACHI â€¢ Jimenez Badilla family â€¢ My family and friends. I would not be where I am today without you. Thank you for the phone calls, prayers, and words of encouragement.
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 4 LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES Figure 1: Map of Chira island and key places in the Gulf of Nicoya Figure 2: A view of Guanacaste's coast from Palito, Chira Figure 3: Construction of a long line Figure 4: A lantern Figure 5: Oyster seeds Figure 6: Oyster cleaning Figure 7: Small cloth bag with grown oysters Figure 8: Oyster harvesting Figure 9: Contextual /c onceptual framework Figure 10: Framework for action Figure 11: Marine Area for Responsible Fishing of Palito Figure 12: Members of the oyster group sit around a table where they clean oysters Table 1: Monthly costs for Palito's p roducers Figure 13: Thematic c lusters for group d ynamics Figure 14: Thematic c lusters for g overnance Figure 15: Thematic clusters for Ã”m anagement' Figure 16 : Producer's concerns regarding group d ynamics
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 5 ACRONYMS â€¢ AMPR Ã Ã§rea Marina de Pesca Responsible (Marine Area for Responsible Fishing) â€¢ ASOPECUPACHI Ã AsociaciÂ—n de Pescadores Cuerderos de Palito, Isla Chira (Line fishermen association of Palito, Chira Island) â€¢ IMAS Ã Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (Mixed Institute for Social Help). â€¢ INA Ã Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (National Institute of Learning) â€¢ INCOPESCA Ã Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura (Costa Rican Institute for Fishing and Aquaculture) â€¢ MAG Ã Ministerio de Agricultura (Ministry of Agriculture) â€¢ MINAE Ã Minis terio de Ambiente y EnergÂ’a (Ministry of Environment and Energy) â€¢ SENASA Ã Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal (National Service of Animal Health) â€¢ SETENA Ã SecretarÂ’a Nacional del Ambiente (National Secretariat of the Environment) â€¢ UCR Ã Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica) â€¢ UNA Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (National University of Costa Rica)
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 6 INTRODUCTION Palito, a small rural community in Costa Rica's Chira island , is home to one of the nation's emerging o yster farms. Oyster farming is providing new livelihood opportunities for people negatively affected by the gulf of Nicoya's degraded and overexploited state . While Palito's farmers have successfully mastered production techniques, they face various challenges that mus t be overcome in order for them to operate effectively . Palito's producers requested my support address ing some of their major governance and management challenges . Thanks to this invitation, m y field practicu m respond ed to a direct need. My practicum w as two fold. For the first four weeks I participated in Un iversity of Florida Law Conservation Clinic 's program in San JosÂŽ , Costa Rica, where I worked with law students to analyze the nation's regulatory and institutional framework s for aquaculture and oyster farming. I traveled to Chira upon the completion of the Clinic's program and stayed an extra six weeks to work alongside Palito's oyster farmers . My time in the field complemented my policy analysis , giving me valuable insights t hat allowed me t o understand different dimens ions of oyster farmers' reality . I used various methods to gather data to identify and narrow down the farmers' specific needs. I carried out participatory methods like inter views and production mapping, and a lso engaged in exhaustive participant observation. I used the data gathered and the results of my analysis to develop a situational analysis and needs assessment to distribute to the farmers and collaborating in stitutions before my departure. I also met the group's immediate needs by facilitating meetings, helping them create a grant proposal for the Costa Rican Na tional Institute for Women, and creating a promotional brochure for their farm. This reports summariz e s my practicum experience . I t start s wi t h an overview of the geographic, socioeconomic , and institutional context in which oyster farming in Palito is taking place, and continues with a presentation of the contextual/conceptual and action framework s t hat guided my work . A detailed description o f the methods used along with a synthesis of key results follow. The report ends with r ecommendations on how to improve Palito's farm's governance and management systems and how to promote the success and long term sustainability of their endeavor.
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 7 CONTEXT UAL BACKGROUND Geographical & socio economic background With an extension of 43km 2 , Chira is Costa Rica's second largest island. As Figure 1 shows, i t is located west of the mainland in the Gulf of Nicoya . As many other places in Costa Rica, the isl and is rich in diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, holding intact dry forests and mangrove swamps. In 2007, the island had a population of 1740 inhabitants , c oncentrated in 5 small villages along the coast: Bocana, Montero, San Antonio, Palito, Lagar to y Lagarterito ( Trejos and Chiang, 2009 , 375 ; Isla Chira, 2015) . Figure 1: Map of Chira island and key places in the Gulf of Nicoya (Trejos & Chiang, 2009) Despite its natural wealth, the island is among the poorest regions in Costa Rica. While most of Chira's inhabitants Ã‘ or ChireÂ–os as they like to be called Ã‘ are literate (86.61%) and have access to electricity, piped water , and some form of sewage system (CCP, 2011 ), housing, public infrastructu re , and healthcare access could be significantly improved. The island has no paved road s and its one community health center offers basic health services and operates only two days a week (Isla Chira, 2015) . T he island's main economic activities include fishing, mangrove cockle extraction (locally known as piangua ) , craftsmanship, and community ecotourism . In the past, islanders practiced agriculture, worked in salt mines, logged, and raised cattle . F ishing was merely a subsis tence activity to help feed families (Isla Chira , 2015) . Today, however, fishing has become a key livelihood strategy as 85% of ChireÂ–os rely on artisanal fishi ng as their principal income source (Trejos and Chiang, 2009) . The islanders' dependence on f ishing is problematic since the gulf is experiencing increasing environmental pressures . The results have been significant decline s in the productivity of fishermen, posing immediate threats to their livelihoods. To promote the c onservation of marine resources and provide new economic opportunities for the gulf's inhabitants, national Punta Morales
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 8 universities such as UNA and state institutions like INCOPESCA have supported producer associations in the adoption of a non extractive aquaculture activity: oyster farmi ng. Aquaculture in Costa Rica & key institutions Aquaculture involves the breeding, harvesting and/or rearing of aquatic plants or animals like fish, crustaceans and mollusks in all types of aquatic environments. In the l ast 25 years, aquaculture has become an important activity in Costa Rica , serving as a means to increase aquatic originated protein, and as a business development strategy (Ovares, 2005). INCOPESCA was created in 1994 to administer and regulate fishing and aquaculture, but it wasn't until 2005 that the Fishing and Aquaculture L aw, the main piece of legislation for the activity, was created (Ovares, 2005) . While INCOPESCA regulates aquaculture activity, other state institutions are involved with the regulation of areas that are key to the sector. MINAE , for instance, regulates th e use of all natural resources, while SETENA regulates the use of water, and SENASA regulates the health and sanitation of animals and animal products . E ducational institutions like UNA and UCR are also key to aquaculture research and training. Oyster f arming in Costa Rica and Palito, Chira While aquaculture has been practiced in Costa Rica since the early 1970s, the growing of oysters represents a new production frontier for the nation . Oyster farming started in 2000 as a small scale, community based in itiative. UNA made an agreement with a university in Chile for the transfer of oyster farming technology. The latter included the transfer of seeds, which originate from Japan, and the training of two UNA researchers in oyster farming techniques . After car rying out various test to confirm that the appropriate environmental requirements were present in the gulf Ã”s water, UNA selected two fishermen associations in the gulf communities of Punta Morales and Costa de PÂ‡jaros to start pilot oyster projects . Sin ce then, associations and individuals in other communities have started their own projects. One of the se associations is Chira's AsociaciÂ—n de Pescadores Cuerderos de Palito , ASOPECU PACHI. This specific project started in late 2010 as part of MarViva's Proyecto Golfos (Gulfs Project) . It benefit ted from financial support from various institutions including the Ministry of Agriculture , INCOPESCA man a ged Walt on Foundation funds , and MarViva managed Global Environmental Facility and Inter American Developme nt Bank funds. The project also counted with technical support from UNA, the National Institute of Learning (INA) , and the Mixed Institute for Social Help (IMAS) . The funds paid for a yearlong supply of seeds and all the necessary infrastructure and mate rials to start the activity. INA provided training on how to build lanterns and UNA provides seeds and, in collab oration with INCOPESCA, mo nitors the quality of the oysters and the water. Figure 2: A view of Guanacaste's coast from Palito, Chira
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 9 Currently, UNA also eliminates the oysters' t oxins in its depuration (purification) center in Puntarenas Ã‘ until Palito producers receive SENASA's final authorization to use their own depuration center . UNA has continued providing seeds for oyster farmers and, with funds from IMAS and MAG, is building a laboratory to grow mo re seeds at the National Station of Marine Costal Sciences (ECMAR) in Punta Morales (ECMAR, 2014) . The new lab seeks to address the growing demand for seeds and to minimize production bottlenecks. Various organizations have helped throughout the process, i ncluding MarViva which built the depuration ce nter in Palito, and ProSalud which donated a boat. The Ã”Results and Discussion ' section of this report contains a more detailed overview derived through a situational analysis. The process of oyster farming While there are multiple oyster farming methods , the long line system is the one used in Costa Rica. This system consists of setting up 100 meter long rope s (called mother line s ) with floaters every 2 to 5 meters and heavy weights or anchors attached to ea ch end (see Figure 3 ). The anchors must be located at a distance that is greater or equal to three times the depth of the area where the line is being installed (VÂ‡squez, 2007). The lines are used to suspend tiered lanterns where small bags of oysters are placed ( see Figure 3 ). While the design of the lanterns originate s from Japan, they are easy to make with materials available in Costa Rica (i.e. nylon) and can also be made from recycled shrimp nets. The construction of lanterns and bags is thus a major p art of the production process. Other steps in the process are described below. Figure 3 : Construction of a long line (VÂ‡squez, 2008) Step 1: It all starts with a seed UNA grows the seeds in a controlled environment in their laboratory in Puntarenas (refer to Figure 1 for location). MAG and IMAS are currently financing the building of a new seed production facility in Punta Morales Ã‘ located less than an hour away from Pal ito Ã‘ to meet producers' growing demand for seeds. The seeds need to be transported from the laboratory to the cultivation site in a humid condition. Since the laboratory is near by the seeds do not need to be transported in a cold environment (VÂ‡squez, 2007) . The seeds can only survive out of the water for 48 hours so they need to be submerged in ocean water rather quickly . Some producers in the gulf opt to leave the seeds in filtered ocean water until they reach 4.2 mm prior to planting them (AcuÂ–a, 2015).
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 10 Step 2: Planting seeds The seeds are introduced int o small cloth bags (see Figure 7 ) that are put into lanterns (see Figure 4) . The lanterns are then placed in the ocean. Each lantern contains thousands of oyster seeds . Planting density can reach 5000 seed s per m 2 . The survival rate ranges between 30 % and 35%. Figure 4 : A lantern (Vindas, 2013) Figure 5 : Oyster seeds Figure 6: Oyster cleaning Step 3: Sampling and desdoble Sampling is carried out biweekly to estimate the growth and mortality of the oysters, observe the oysters to detect anom alies, and coordinate sorting ( desdoble in Spanish) and harvesting. Desdoble is the process by which farmers separate larger oysters from smaller ones and sort them based on their size by plac ing them into separate lanterns. W hen the oysters are smaller than 3cm , a sieve is used to separate the larger oysters from the smaller ones . T he sorting process is done manually a fter they reach 3 cm . These steps are key to oyster survival. Without it, oy sters closer to the net would grow adhered to it, accumulating sediment and consequently dying from asphyxia (VÂ‡squez, 2007). Step 4: Cleaning Lantern cleaning is done on a weekly basis. It is also key to a successful harvest as it prevents sediment an d other organisms from stopping the flow of water through the lantern (VÂ‡squez, 2007). Lanterns are cleaned with fresh water and exposed to the sun for a couple hours to strengthen the oysters' shells. Palito's farmers use a power washer to facilitate clea ning. Cleaning can be done on a sea platform or on shore. Oysters are also cleaned to remove barnacles and preserve the strength of the oyster shell. Step 5: Harvesting The oysters can be harvested when they r each their ideal size (6 10cm) six to ten months after plant ing .
Polo MDP Field P racticum Final Report 11 Figure 7 : Small cloth bag with grown oysters Figure 8 : Oyster harvesting Step 6: Purification Harvested oysters are taken to a purification ( depuration ) center where they are placed in fresh water and passed through ultraviolet light for 24 hours to eliminate toxins and impurities. Surveillance and quality monitoring are additional components in the production process. Pali to's group members take turns sleep ing on the platform overnight to watch over their farm. A s mentioned earlier in the report , the Fishing and Aquaculture law assigns the duty of quality monitoring to INCOPESCA. Recently, INCOPESCA and UNA have urged producers to take on the responsibility of col lect ing and delivering water samples for quality monitoring , in spite of what the law designates.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 12 CONTEXTUAL /CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK The contextual/conceptual framework shown in Figure 9 is the analytic model that has guided my thinking about the context in which Palito's oyster farm ers operate . It helped me determine which elements in the empirical world to look at, grasp how these elements interact with one another, and highlight key concepts in my work. Livelihood strategies , for instance, are particularly important to my model since the oyster project was designed to expand Palito's livelihood options . "Livelihood strategies are the combination of activities that people choose to undertake in order to achieve their livelihood goals. They include productive activities, investment strategies and reproductive choices" (ELDIS, n.d., par.1) . Productive activities relevant to Palito's livelihood strategies are at the center of the framework. These activities a re influenced and determined by a number of key factors such as t he type s of capital s available to the community. Jacobs (2011) identifies the following five community capitals : â€¢ Financial capital: refers to fina ncial resources such as sa vings, access to credit, income levels . â€¢ Natural capital: refers to the availability of natural resources in the community. In this case, it also refers to the state of the environment Ã‘ an overexploited oce an, for example, limits fishing; an overgrazed or e roded farmland constricts farming . â€¢ Physical capital: refers to built things and infrastructure resources or assets that can facili tate livelihood options. For instance, a boat for fishing, a school for educa tion, or transportation systems to improve mobili ty and commerce. â€¢ Human capital : refers to the human resources within t he community and their capa ci ties, skills, and leadership . â€¢ Social capital : refers to the networks within the community, for instance , the close bonds among families and friends as well as the loose ties between people, resources and organizations . Some authors also refer to cultural and political capital, but I will focus on the capitals identified by Jacobs (2011) . Various other elem ents can also impact productive activities and livelihood options . In Palito's case , the existence of markets for oysters and oyster producers' access to those markets impact the effectiveness of oyster farming as a livelihood strategy . Without markets, there are no buyers; without buyers, there is no income. S upport from external actors Ã‘ t hrough financial and physical donations and the provision of technical knowledge, advo cacy, and capacity building Ã‘ can also influence livelihood options. The concept of Ã” enabling environment ' is useful when thinking about other import a n t factors. I conceive an enabling environment as the conditions that must be met Ã‘ like adequate and supportive national policies, institutions , laws, and infrastructure Ã‘ to increase liveliho od strategies ' success in sustaining familie s . A natio nal framework that promotes institutional support for poor farmers increases the latter's chance to successfully meet their needs . Elements shown in the two orange rectangles in Figure 9 shape the enabling environment.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 13 T rends, unexpected shocks, and cycles that can affect every component of the framework are also considered . A trend like increased lo cal demand for oysters or fish may have positive impacts o n fishermen and oyster farmers through inc reased sales , for instance . A shock like a red tie, on the other hand, can temporarily destroy an oyster farmer's livelihood by killing off oyster s .
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 14 Figure 9: Contextual/Conceptual framework Shocks, cycles, trends D emographics, economy, socio cultural system, educational system National institutional, political, and legal frameworks Social capital Human capital Physical capital Financial capital Natural capital Livelihood strategies' productive activities in Chira â€¢ Artisanal fishing â€¢ Eco tourism â€¢ Mangrove cockle extraction â€¢ Craftsmanship â€¢ Farming â€¢ Cattle raising â€¢ Aquaculture â€¢ Sales/commerce â€¢ Service provision Existence of markets & access to them External support from g overnment institutions, INGOs and local NGOs, educational institutions, other organizations , and/ or individual agents Financial/ Infrastructure/ raw materials Technical Value chain development & commercialization strategies creation Advocacy/ promot ing enabling environments Capacity building
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 15 FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION To explain how I envisioned my work affecting Palito's oyster farmers' situation, I created the framework for action shown in Figure 10. Capacity building, a central concept to my work, is key to an enterprise's success. In this report, I define capacity as "the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably" ( PEPFAR 2012, 3) and capacity building as "an on going, evidence driven process to improve the ability of an individualÃ‰ organizationÃ‰or community to create measurable and sustainable results" (USAID 2011, 1). Through my field practicum, I laid the groundwo rk for the creation of a capacity building strategy. I gathered data to identify the organization's needs, strengths, opportunities, and areas of improvement, and also draft ed a situational analysis. My contributions are shown in the purple rectangles in F igure 10. Figure 10 also shows the different levels and areas a capacity building strategy can address, the major activities it can encompass, and some of the outcomes it can achieve . The strategy can target three different levels: the individual level, the organizational level, and the systems capacity level. The first level seeks to enhance the capacity, skills, and competencies of individuals . Capacity building at the second level seeks to strengthen " internal organizational structures, systems and pro cesses, management, leadership, governance and overall staff capacity to enhance organizational, team and individual performance" (USAID 2011, 1) . The final level seeks to strengthen the functions and structures that support activities that cut across organizations (PEPFAR 2012). The framewor k includes diverse activities targeted to specific areas particularly for levels one and two. The areas include crucial aspects like strategic planning, governance and decision making, a dministration and management, communications, etc. The activities range from training sessions and workshops in leadership, conflict management, etc., to the facilitation of meetings , communication s, and legal advising. These activities result in enhanced capacity and performance to fulfill goals and activities, as well as stronger management, governance, and communication systems, and sustainable and efficient operations. Monitoring and evaluation should be a key part of this process as it facilitates the collection of feedback to strengthen and improve the initial strategy. The final piece to the framework is the orange rectangle containing Ã”external factors' which influence the strategy by affecting resources, enabling environments, and scopes. The relat ionship is two way, however, since if the strategy is successful, its outcomes should be able to influence external factors.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 16 External factors: demographics, government system, political & legal framework , economy , socio cultural system, climate, physical and environmental factors Capacity Levels Individual/ workforce capacity Organizational capacity System capacity Areas Strategic Planning Governance and decisionmaking Administration, operations, & management !"##$%&'()&"%* Technical aspects of production Value chain development & markets Policy and legal framework Activities Workshops Trainings Knowledge and technology transfers Facilitation Direct administrative support Legal advising Capacity Building Strategy I N F L U E N C E Enhanced capacity & performance Stronger management, communication & governance systems Sustainable and efficient operations Outcomes Monitoring & Evaluation Adapted from USAID & AIDSTAR Two 2011 PEPFAR 2012 Identify strengths, opportunities & areas for improvement within the organization Data gathering Needs assessment Situational analysis Organizational diagnostic
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 17 LITERATURE REVIEW The oyster group in Chira organizes productive activity on the basis of collectively owned resources and distribution of profits among worker participants . While it is a part of a larger fishermen association, it is not an association by itself, and neither an established cooperative. The group could thus be classified as a type of producer organization. The literature provides some insight regarding the structure, common challenges these types of groups face, as well as measures t hey might take to strengthen their operations. P roducer organizations' classification & structure As OurabahHaddad, and Chavez (n.d.) describe, p roducer organizations "refer to independent, non governmental, m embership based rural organizations of part or fulltime self employed smallholders and family farmersÃ‰women, small entrepreneurs" ( para. 3 ). There are differen t types of producer or farmer organizations (POs). Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips (2011) add that POs range from officially recognized organizations, like cooperatives or associations, to looser se lf help informal groups . Palito's PO to an extent , is a distinct case as its members operate a farm collectiv ely rather than individually. Yet, a lot of the factors mentioned in the literature below still apply. POs offer a variety of services to members. The supply of inputs at the lowest possible cost (due to economies of scale) is a major advantage , but they also provide or facilitate access to extension services, financial services, quality control, training, production coordination, output marketing, trading and intermediation, processing, advocacy, and even community development or environmental conservatio n activities. More structured and larger POs Ã‘ like cooperatives Ã‘ will be able to offer or access more of these services (Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips, 2011 ; OurabahHaddad, and Chavez, n.d. ) . POs have different governance and management systems to determ ine decision making, leadership structures, and profit management schemes. For smaller POs it is easier to involve members in day to day decision making processes. As these organizations grow in size, they may increasingly choose to hire external managers since it is harder for members to manage the organization and their own farms and production processes. To ensure positive functioning and success of a PO, it is necessary for members to trust the leadership and have a strong sense of ownership (Kasam, Sub asinghe, and Phillips, 2011) . Furthermore, PO members own and control the organization and tend to have equal shares and voting rights (Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips, 2011). These differences have implications on the management and governance mechanisms of these organizations since they bring up a unique set of challenges. Some business analysts argue tha t democratic and inclusive decision making can come with a cost on efficiency and speed. Leadership may be ineffective; roles and responsibilities poorly defined, and members might need to gain technical and managerial skills to carry out efficient work (D ontigney, n.d.). P roducer organizations' challenges and opportunities According to Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips (2011) major costs and challenges to collective action include the lack of trust between members, high internal transaction costs and issu es with free riding. Poor management can lead to a breakdown of trust among members and
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 18 leaders or managers, for instance. Poor management can come as a result of poor skills in key management tasks and functions like accounting or maintenance. Moreover, c ollective decision making also involves internal transaction costs that come with negotiation, monitoring, enforcement , and information activities. Negotiation costs in clude those related to decision making among diverse members, while monitoring and enfor cement costs encompass those incurred when ensuring members adhere to rules and agreements. Finally, information costs are product of information exchanges for decision making. High transaction costs can cause delays in the provision of services, which can lead to the dissolution of the PO. Another major challenge comes with decisions about how to distribute and utilize profits . This ca n lead to conflict of interests as some members may want to reinvest the profits in the organization , while others may want to be paid their dividends immediately. Establishing a well functioning system of profit distribution is key since it can influence members' motivations to invest in the PO and use its services. Ideally, POs should aim to distribute profits in a way that satisfies members and strengthens the sustainability of the organization (Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips, 2011). Similarly, Chamala ( 1995 ) points out some POs fail due to corruption, mismanagement, conflict , and a lack of cl ear goals. He identifies 26 factors that influe nce the effectiveness of community groups and POs . These inclu de internal factors like group composition, structure and size, cohesion, standards and norms, leadership styles, and group atmosphere; as well as serv ice agency factors (factors determined by government agencies) such as the extension staff 's capabilities and people skills , attitudes and commitment to gro ups, and planning methods (top down vs. bottom up, directive vs. participatory) . Yet, w hile POs fac e challenges, their members often have a higher incentive to be engaged with the business and committed to its success. Building on the latter and strengthening the governance and management structures of these types of organizations is key to ensuring the ir long term sustainability and success. This support can be provided through capacity building, the promotion of an enabling environment, the coordination of markets and chain development , and access to technology and research and development. This suppo rt thus can choose to strengthen both internal and/o r external factors for success. As Kasam, Subasinghe, and Phillips (2011) point out, internal factors include common and clearly defined objectives, technical and managerial capacity, sound governance and management, demand driven and benefit oriented service delivery, strong leadership, and group cohesio n. E xternal factors , on the other hand, encompass institutional partnerships, enabling institutional environments, and strong relationships with the priva te sector. P roducer organizations management & governance The management of a PO often encompasses four major functions: planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling. â€¢ Planning: determining objectives and approaches by which to achieve those goals and objectives. It considers multiple alternatives that should be judged soundly. This step is key in shaping the future of the organization.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 19 â€¢ Organizing: determining specific activities needed to accomplish the planned objectives and goals, grouping them into logical pattern or framework, assigning activities to specific people and determining how to coordinate efforts of individuals and groups. â€¢ Motivating: refers to the human dimension of cooperatives. Managers should have strong communication and leadership ski lls ; the ir ability to motivate others will help foster the achievement of the organization's goal. â€¢ Controlling: refers to the monitoring of progress of pla nned activit ies and strategies (USDA 1997). Management uses a variety of tools including functions accounting systems, control reports, training and evaluation, communications, incentive program, safety and security, and strategic planning. Governance is also a key factor for PO success. Scholl and Sherwood (2014) define cooperative governance, as "the act of steering cooperatively owned enterprises toward economic, social, and cultural success. It consists of answering key questions, defining roles and responsibili ties, and establishing processes for setting expectations and ensuring accountability" (18). They propose a framework based on four pillars that when strong, ensure the success of the cooperative. â€¢ Teaming: working together to achieve a common goal â€¢ Account able empowerment: empowering members while simultaneously holding them accountable for the power they hold â€¢ Strategic Leadership: establishing clear goals and a vision for the organization and determining strategies to achieve these â€¢ Democracy: promotion of a healthy democracy and inclusive participation Supporting producer organizations The literature also points to the changing role s of extension agents as they relate to POs and community organizations . Chamala (1990), for instance, explains how t raditionally, extension involved technology and knowledge transfer and then expan ded to include the translation of communities/farmers needs into research agendas to facilitate the development of new technologies. In this context , government s developed pol icies for rural development designed to help communities organize themselves through producer or farmer organizations. Yet extension workers often had no training in the principles of community organization and did not possess the knowledge or ski l l s to establish successful farmer organizations . In various cases, t his resulted in inefficient organizations that remained active while government s distributed subsidies but failed to create partnerships and mobilize resources to develop . Generally, there were also f ew efforts to develop the management capacities of PO's leaders hips or extension workers. Chamala and Shingi (1997) a dvocate for the need to transform the roles of extension workers to meet new development challe nges . They argue for four importan t functions extension agents can pursue in order to s trengthen POs : em powerment, community organizing, human re source development, and problem solving and education. These functions are part of a new philosophy in which the role of extension is to help farmers and rural communities organi z e themselves and take charge o f their growth and development to ensure commi tment and action
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 20 ( Chamala and Shingi, 1997; Chamala, 1990). The human resource development dimension speaks to the need of not only develop ing PO's technical capabilities but also their governance and management capabilities . Finally, the fourth component refers to the role extension workers can have in helping POs and communities identify problems and encourage them to seek solutions by combinin g internal and external knowledge paradigms . The authors finally point out that extension agents also need skills in conflict resolution, negotiation and persuasive communication to foster the development of these skills among P O's leaders and members. METHODS AND ANALYSIS This analysis was carried out at the community level . L iterature review s , interviews, and participant observation were the three main methods that helped identify the major components of the situational analysis, including the current state of the people and ecosystem in Palito, the major trends and pressures, and the driving forces and responses to these pressures. Even though time constraints prevented me from carrying out an in depth assessment of stakeholder interest, power, and inf luence, I do include some recommended stakeholder participation strategies in this report. Qualitative data were fundamental in this project and the methodologies used ref lect this. Since I wanted local men and women to be engaged with the creation and co llection of knowledge about their communities, livelihoods, and experiences, I chose participatory methodologies. The latter are helpful in generating collective information that can be used by both researchers and community members , and in promoting dialo gue among different stakeholders and actors to examine existing needs, resources, conflicts, and opportunities (Asia Forest Network, 2002, 1). A literature review was also conducted to identify Costa Rica's regulatory and poli cy framework for aquaculture , and to compile demographic, socioeconomic, and contextual information for Chira. Situational Analysis I use IUCN 's definition of situational analysi s in this report. A situational analysis is " a scoping and analysis of the broad context or external envi ronment in which a project operates " ( IUCN, n.d., 1 5 ) . Situational analyses (SA) can include an analysis of key stakeholders and of the state and condition of people and ecosystems, including the identification of trends, pressures, and major issues that require attention, and an analysis of key stakeholders. S ituational analyses ensure projects are relevant to local needs and address appropriate issues. SA s are key to identifying the right potential partners for a project, adapting to changing condition s, carrying out monitoring, and deciding who should be involved, in what way , and whether they require capacity building to ensure their effective participation (IUCN, n.d.). For my practicum, this analysis was key to develop ing recommendations to improve the operations of the group and contribute to the success of the oyster project. I included a preliminary SA in my practicum deliverable in hopes it would facilitate the development of future strategies to strengthen Palito's oy ster farming project. Participant observation In p articipant observation , t he observer directly engages in activities of the group it is observing. Throughout my 5 weeks on the island, I went to the oyster group's work area near the beach
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 21 Monday through Friday from 7am 1pm to engage in their daily activities. I partook in the cleaning and harvesting of oysters, the construction of lanterns, the collection of lanterns to be brought ashore for cleaning, the cleaning and purification of oysters, and their preparation for sale. While I did participate in various conversations, I focused on listening and observing. I took note of the way group members interacted with one another, who ta lked to whom, about what and in what tone, who was heard and whose opinion s were respected. I also noted the subject of conversations and the type of comments made (passive aggressive, positive, etc.). I kept a field notebook to record my thoughts and observations as often as I could. I purposely avoided taking notes during the observation process to facilitate my engagement with the group. In addition, I toured the community, partook in community school events, and interacted with community members. Since Palito is predominantly Christian and religion plays a major role in the community, I decided it would be useful to attend their church service on Sundays as an observer . I also attended the school's celebration of its anniversary and the commemoration of the incorporation of the province of Guanacaste to Costa Rica. Palito pr imarily lives off artisanal fishing, so I had planned to participate in this activity too. Unfortunately, the timing of my stay coincided with veda 1 season which did not allow me to participate in this dimension of community life. I did a homestay and my host moth er , DoÂ–a Rosita, was part of the oyster group. This facilitated my initial contact with the rest of group. She introduced me to most group members the weekend I arrived. The homestay also enriched my understanding of Palito's living conditions, c ulture, and reality as I lived the way the large majority of local residents live . Like them, I had to endure hot days where the best way to cool off was sit ting under the canopy's shadow while congos (monkeys) jumped from tree to tree searching for ripe mangos. The only downside to my homestay was that my host mom's involvement with the group and the lack of a private space in the house forced me to search for alternative spaces to write and work, especially whe n reviewing my interviews given the confidential status of the information shared. Given the small size of the community, I did not go unnoticed. Very soon, the community became aware of my presence and most knew who I was. Interestingly, the combination of being an outsider who was also a native Spanish speaker worked to my advantage as it helped me grasp the cultural and local context relatively quickly , communicate with locals with ease, and form tight bonds with community members. Participant observ ation was key to building rapport and earning the trust of the farmers and the community. I believe my continuous participation in the group's daily activities and my constant pursuit to learn more about the community and immerse myself in its customs, tra nsmitted a sense of engagement and care , both crucial to relationship building. Furthermore, this method allowed me to witness firsthand the gr oup's dynamics and interactions. This opened the door to the creation of my own perspectives, which could then be compared to theirs. It also allowed me to gauge the community and group's needs and better understand the local context. Finally, participant observation aided my comprehension of what oyster production entails Ã‘ not 1 Moratorium government places on fishing during active fish reproductive cycles to allow fish stock recovery.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 22 only in terms of steps and processes, b ut also in ter ms of the extent of effort and resources that go into it. To analyze the data collected through this method , I started with a review of my field notes . This led to the creation of a list of questions that I wanted to explore. I read over th e notes multiple times, each time looking for information that answered a particular question (i.e. what role does gender play? What reveals power dynamics among the group?). I used different color highlighters to differentiate among answers. These answers were then compiled and typed onto a Microsoft Word document. The information was reviewed once more to identify key trends and novel observations. The audiovisual material I recorded was also used. I saved the material in folders that were sorted into c ategories (i.e. production activities, facilitation activities, community activities). I used this material to create graphic results, primarily. Structured interviews I used this method to know more about the history, needs, challenges , strengths, mana gement structures, and operations of the oyster group. These interviews were key to my understanding of the areas listed above and to the development of the situational analysis and organizational diagnostic I delivered to the oyster group and collaboratin g organizations at the end of my practicum. I conducted eleven s tructured, in depth interviews in total. Question design The interview questions were designed prior to my arrival to the field and were inspired by questions generated by an initial literature review. The questions were targeted to different actors: Palito community members, members of the oyster group, and representatives from government institutions, universities, and organizations that were involved with Palito's oyster project. T he questions for co mmunity members focused on the community's history, characteristics, and resources. The questions for representatives focused on the nature and extent of th eir organization's involvement with the oyster project. Finally, the questions fo r the producer group concentrated on three areas: the history of the group, the production and commercialization process, and the management and dynamics of the group. These questions were modified two weeks into my stay to reflect my new understanding of the context. Implementation and changes Due to time constraints, I prioritized the interviews with group members and opted not to carry out interviews with other community members. To gain knowledge about the his tory, assets, and needs of the community I instead held a semi structured group interview with six group members (see Ã”semi structured interviews' below). My first interviewee was a biologist from UNA who had provided technical support to the group. This interview took place at University of Cos ta Rica's campus in Heredia. I also interviewed 10 of the 12 group members (1 man and 9 women). I was not able to interview the two remaining members due in one case , to reluctance to participate, and in the other , scheduling conflicts. Seven of the inter views took place at interviewees' homes while three were carried out at the group's workplace. For the latter, the interviewee and I sat by a tree about 1/3 mile from
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 23 where the rest of the group was situated in order to ensure the information exchanged rem ained confidential. Each interview lasted approximately one hour. Interviewees were asked for their written consent prior to the interview and were given the choice to decline participation. After interviewing eight of the members, I noticed that interviewees' responses regarding the management and dynamics of the group were short and negative. Since my attempt was to use an appreciative inquiry approach, I tweaked a couple questions to reflect this. The book by L ewi s, Passmore, and Cantore (2008) helped me during the reframing process. Responses to the new questions were longer but similar to prior ones in tone and content. I had planned to record the interviews with group members but decided not to due to the sensitivity of some of the questions (especially the ones dealing with trust among members, decision making, and group dynamics). I took notes instead. In retrospect, however, I wish I had followed my initial plan since it would have allowed me to have mor e accurate data to analyze , as well as more engagement with each interviewee during the interview process. Semi structured interviews Semi structured interviews collect information through conversations with individuals and/or small groups. Compared to t heir structured counterparts, semi structured interviews' questions are open ended to promote discussion and grant flexibility to explore new topics that may arise in conversation (Asia Forest Network, 2002). I conducted two individual semi structured int erviews and one group semi structured interview. I gained access to these participants through my connections to the group and the community. I recorded notes on the interviews once they were completed since I did not plan to conduct these in the first pla ce , and did not have a notebook at hand . My first interviewee was a Mar Viva consultant making a short visit to talk to the oyster group about their production recording systems . I engaged in a 20 minute conversation with her to learn about the role her or ganization played in Palito's oyster project and what her visit was intended to achieve. This interview was carried out at the group's worksite. Through this conversation, I discovered she was going to help the group revise and strengthen its recording tec hniques and develop an inventory. Since the latter mirrored one of my initial objectives, I refrained from executing it to avoid redundancy and to focus on other objectives and tasks. This decision proved useful given the time constraints I faced. My second interviewee was the former president of ASOPECUPACHI. This interview was longer as it lasted approximately 40 minutes, and was carried out at the individual's home . I asked about the characteristics of the community, the role of ASOPECUPACHI in e conomic development and conservation of community resources, and the relationship between ASOPECUPACHI and the oyster project. The group interview involved six of the oyster farmers and, as mentioned above, was a modification of my initial design. While the questions asked were the same ones I designed for interviews with community members, the semi structured format allowed me to ask follow up questions according to the answers received. This interview lasted about 25 minutes, was carried out at the grou p's worksite, and succeeded in capturin g input from all group members.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 24 To analyze structured and semi structured interviews, I transcribed the responses of each interviewee Ã‘ or my notes on the interview in the case of semi structured interviews Ã‘ ont o a Word Document. I reviewed the responses, identified broad categories, and differentiated them through color codes. I then broke down each broad category into specific components. I coded and entered the latter onto Microsoft Excel to derive trends and patterns f or the data. Excel's descriptive statistics and graphs as well as other graphing mechanisms (theme maps) were used to represent results. All i nterviewees were key stakeholders in Palito's oyster project . Due to this, the analysis and respective results should be taken as representative of Palito's situation, especially results pertaining group is sues Ã‘ history, needs, challenges, strengths, and management and operations issues. S ince I took notes instead of recording the interviews , the accuracy and depth of the data may have been somewhat compromised . Participatory production mapping This method can be thought of as a variation of a participatory mapping activity. It was key in understanding all the steps and processes involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and sale of oysters. Instead of drawing, I had different group members explain and demonstrate each step involved in the production process. The only steps I did not witness , but still got a description of , included the Ã”planting' of oyster see ds and the collection of water samples for quality monitoring. To learn about the oyster value chain, I also asked the group about the involvement of institutional, organizational, and private actors in the production and distribution process es . Difficulties and l imitations I experienced several difficulties and limitations while executing these methods. Many of these arose while observing participants . As an observant and researcher it is essential to remain impartial, especially when dealing wi th group conflicts and dynamics. While it was difficult to do the latter and uncomfortable to sit through the tension created by certain comments, impartiality was absolutely necessary. Any signs of me taking sides would have damaged my relationships with the group and my stance as a researcher and practitioner. My close connection with the community and my homestay made doing this work and maintaining neutrality a bit challenging. As mentioned earlier, I had to find a lternative spaces to work and would oft en be approached by community members wanting to chat or show me something. To not be disrespectful, I left my work to tend to whoever approached me. Having more experience managing situations in which a balance between building relationships and getting w ork done is needed , would have helped tremendously. Furthermore, t ime was the major limiting factor in the application of all these methods . I was o n the island for five weeks, two of which were dedicated to observation and relat ionship building, leaving only three weeks for data collection and preliminary analysis to produce deliverables. The original design of this practicum included the use of additional participatory methodology Ã‘ primarily vision and pathway planning Ã‘ and a greater focus on cap acity building through the planni ng and execution of workshops that address ed the groups' major needs. However, time constraints, difficulties in getting the group together after work, and little Internet access to plan workshops, made the latter activitie s unfeasible to ca rry out in the time available.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 25 I must acknowledge that the bu lk of the information co me s from the people I interviewed and my per sonal observations, making it a non exhaustive representation of the context . If time had allowed, I woul d have sought additional perspectives, especially from representatives of the organizations and institutions involved with the project, other community members, and even members of other oyster farms. The latter would have required more planning and signif icant traveling, but would have been valuable to the triangulation process, potentially m aking my data more accurate and a better reflection of reality on the ground. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Situational A nalysis The following results are presented in a narrative form. The analysis of the data gathered through the methods listed earlier was complemented with a literature review to create the overall situational analysis. Current state of people and environment Th e Ã”Context' section captured much of the current state of Palito's inhabitants and ecosystem. As the section describes , P alito is a poor comm unity that relies on artisanal f ish ing for income and sustenance . The gulf on which it depends , however is facing i ncreasing environmental pressures that are threat ing its major livelihood source. Palito is one of the multiple c ommunitie s in the gulf concern ed about the negative social and environmental impact of illegal fishing, contamination, and the over exploitation of re sour ces . They are also troubled by the low efficacy of the government authorities supposed to look after the sustainable use and conservatio n of co a stal marine resources (MarÂ’n, 2012) . Gulf communities identify fis h ing trawlers as major agents of conflict given their sizeable effect o n the gulf's resources. T hey also point to the permits INCOPESCA grants to large shrimp enterprises which rely on trammels that can result in serious damage to growing fish stoc k, as a problem . I llegal small scale fishing during the veda season is also an issue. The major driv ing factors for this illegal activity include the region's high cost of living , insufficient subsidies from IMAS to fishermen during veda , low education levels, and a lack of robust economic alternatives (MarÂ’n, 2012 ) . Pr essures on the Gulf of Nicoya: S ources The gulf of Nicoya is one of the most important fishing resources in Costa Rica due to its high productivity (Proyecto Golfos, 2013, 33) . While not yet fully contaminated, t he gulf is becoming rapidly degrade d . To begin with , the discharge of solid wastes, heavy metals, toxic organic compounds, and fecal matter from rivers that flow into it are contaminating its waters . Red tides have also become more common and frequent in t he p a st years , negatively impacting human and fish stock health . Furthermore, h uman activity has modified natural river flow s changing the quantity of fresh water that reaches the gu lf affecting multiple fish species . Accumulated sed iment from soil erosion and mangrove clearing along with overfishing are also problems .
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 26 Responses to pressures Since 2006, governmental and non governmental, domestic and international institutions have recognized the need to implement policies that guarantee the sustainability of the gulf and have started efforts to improve the management of gulf's resources Ã‘ MarViva's Gulfs Project is one of them. Oyster farming, as mentioned earlier, is one of the major response s to the pressures facing the gulf. Th rough the oyster projects, institutions sought to increase livelihood opportunities for gulf dwellers and promote the conservation of marine resources. As oyster producers explain, oyster farming has allowed them to make a living without extracting resourc es from the ocean. Palito's oyster project has benefitted from significant support from external institutions and organizations. Palito's producers openly recognize this. The y explain that support has primarily been financial and technical, although th ey have received training in topics like food handling and processing , first aid, en vironmental best practices, and sales. Yet, only a couple (1 3) of the group members attend each training workshop due to the high cost transportation entails (about $20 pe r person) ; and those who attend do not share what they learn with the rest of the group. Many group members also express a feeling of discrimination in the way certain institutions treat them versus other farms. They recognize, however, that their disorgan ization and governance challenges may explain the latter. A second response to the gulf's pressures was Palito's petition to become a Marine Area for Responsible Fishing (AMPR for its Spanish initials ). Unlike the first response, community members rather than external actors drove this strategy . In 2009, ASOPECUPACHI finally succeeded in getting INCOPESCA to grant Palito's coastal adjacent waters a protected status as a n AMPR. This success made Palito gain recognition in the area for its commitment to cons ervation and sustainability . AMPRs are marine coastal areas in which all fishing activity is regulated in a way that ensures rights for long term use of resources for which INCOPESCA counts with the support of communities and other institutions for the ir co nservation, use, patrolling, and management . In addition to ensuring the sustainable use of marine resources, the establishment of this AMPR sought to conserve marine biodiversity, improve the socioeconomic situation of the fishermen in the area, incr ease the quality of fish, and raise awareness of the need for responsible and sustainable fishing. According to the rules of p rocedure for the establishment of AMPRs in Costa Rica , their creation requires the establishment of a fishing ordinance (Plan de Ordenamiento Pesquero 2 ) to set regulations for fishing in the area. Palito 's ordinance designated the area between Coloradito and P aloma Island as its AMPR (see Figure 11 ). It also established the types of fishing allowed, banning the use of nets, trammel s, and other mid to large scale fishing technologies; only permitting line fishing (pesca con cuerda de mano) with hooks N. 6 and N. 7 , and live bait. 2 Palito's AMPR fishing ordinance can be retrieved at http://www.gaceta.go.cr/pub/2009/11/20/COMP_20_11_2009.html#_Toc246398587
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 27 Figure 11 : Marine Area for Responsible Fishing of Palito (Salas et al . , 2012) It should also be noted that the establishment of AMPRs represents a national strategy to comply with the principles of the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and to ensure that the fishing sector contributes to national and local sustainable development. Pressures for Palito's oyster farmers While oyster farmers in Palito are running their operations and selling oysters, they face various external pressures that could deter their success. Many of these are rooted in institutional and legislative limitations my law team and I identified. Costa Rica's Fishing and Aquaculture law , the main piece of legislation regulating fishing and aquaculture activities, recognizes aq uaculture as an important productive activity to promote national sustainab le development and food security . The law was created to outline and delegate regulato ry tasks to government agencies. It provides joint a uthority to the National Coast G uard and M INAE to regulate and protect natural resources that involve aquaculture. It also grants INCOPESCA the power to regulate aquaculture production for commercialization and to grant authorizations to carry out the activity but not concessions over the water us ed Ã‘ w hich is currently MINAE's respo nsibility. The law also establishes INCOPESCA must designate moratorium periods ( vedas ) and stipulates that the Executive branch must deliver financial assistance to t IMAS and INCOPESCA so that they can provide socioeconomic assistance to fishermen and shellfish extractors affected by the veda (Fishing and Aquaculture Law , Art. 36) . The law also makes INCOPESCA responsible for ensuring that sanitation standards are met (Fishing and Aquaculture Law Art. 9 3) . For this, INCOPESCA must collaborate with SETENA to regulate water quality. Additionally, INCOPESCA must work wi th the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct research on the aquaculture area of interest to ensure that water quality is not compromised by aq uaculture production (Fishing and Aquaculture Law Art. 95) . Our analysis identified several shortcoming s in aquaculture's institutional framework stemming from the failure of certain institutions to fulfill their regulatory and protection d uties . Palito , for instance, does not have full security over the marine resources and waters in the area despite the Coast G uard's responsibility to protect aquaculture resources and help enforce Isla Chira Palit o's AMPR
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 28 AMPRs . In fact, i llegal nocturnal incursions of boats using trammels have be en widely documented within Palito's AMPR (Salas et. al, 2012). While Palito's dwellers surveil the area every night , they have limited mechanisms to stop illegal activities. When community patrols denounce illegal activity, the c oast guard either arrive s too late or does not respond at all . The guard's location in Caldera, a town an hour away from the island, makes it extra difficult for them to act when needed. This poses serious problems for the community as their resources are being unsustainably extr acted, and for oyster farmers given the risk s of having their infrastructure damaged or their oysters stolen. Furthermore, INCOPESCA has an agreement with UNA to jointly carry out quality monitoring. The former is in charge of picking up water and oyster samples and transporting them to UNA's Marine Biology Station in Puntarenas for testing . Whenever INCOPESCA fa ils to pick up samples Ã‘ breaching a duty designated by law Ã‘ sales are banned, negatively affecting Palito's producers. In add ition to failures in compliance , there are other negative consequences that stem f rom shortcomings in the content and depth of the law . The law establishes that IMAS and INCOPESCA must provide subsidies for fishermen and shellfish extractors during moratorium periods. As producers, o yster farme rs do not benefit from these subsidies as they are not directly affected by the moratorium o n extraction . However, farmers are affected by other factors like contamination and institutional failures that impact their p roduction and sales negatively in the same way a moratorium would. Yet, they receive no financial compensation for negative extern alities that impact the success of their operations. Moreover, the law grants no property rights over the submerged land s and water column aquaculture producers use. The oyster farmers at Palito solely possess an authorizatio n to practice aquaculture as MINAE has yet to grant a concession . While a concession would give farmers some rights, these would be limited. A concession , as the Fishing and Aquaculture La w defines it, grants fe wer property rights than a lease would. This is because a concession d oes not grant right to property, it merely grants a right to land usage. Gaining property rights would give farmers a right to exclude others from the area and em power them with the legal mechanisms and legitimacy to dem and regulation , reparations , and enf orcement from government entities . Yet , the law is not the only source of pressures on farmers as the gulf's environmental state is also affecting production. Po llution is a latent threat . Several houses along the coastline have septic tanks that leak into th e area, for instance. Similarly, a fishing factory close to Palito disp oses of its waste directly into the gulf , an d the rivers that flow into the region's waters are contaminated with agrochem icals and pesticide s (Salas et al. 2012) . Pollution, along with periodic red tides, also prevents farmers from selling their oysters as they become unsafe for human consumption. Some final obstacle s for the success of oyster farming in Costa Rica include additional policy and regulatory weaknesses that must be addressed if this activity is going to be su stainable in the long term. These include the expansion of the SENASA's guidelines to grant the Veterinary Operation Certificate for oysters , as they curr ently lack standards for this product, and
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 29 the establishment of water use guidelines for oyster farming to comply with SETENA and MINAE's regulations. Current state of production Production figures, infrastructure and inputs Oyster farming is very labor intensive. The group in Palito dedicates 8 hours a day for 10 months to produce their oysters. Due to Palito's geographical location and the presence of few predators and sediment in the area, oysters grow large (8cm) relatively fast (5 to 6 months). They currently have 6 production long lines and produce an average of 2000 to 5000 oyster s a month. O ther farms in the region produce up to 35,000 40,000 oysters a month (Flores , 2013) . As mentioned before , Palito's oyster project received significant support in its early stages, primarily technical assistance and funds to build i nfrastructure and acquire key inputs. Thanks to this support and the group's own investments, in addition to the 6 production lines , the group currently has an offshore platform, a boat (with no motor), a depuration center, a small warehouse to store material, a power washer, and initial inputs to make lanterns and bags (rope, wires) and to clean oyster ( knives, protection gloves). Th e funds also paid for a yearlong supply of 60,000 seeds per month, but UNA has only been able to provide 5,000 20,000 per month on average, which has extended their period of receiving seeds. Producers revealed th at seed quantity and quality have not been optimal thus far since the use rate ( aprovechamiento ) is 30 35%, which happens to be high compared to other farms. Production recording and tracking mechanisms It is necessary to keep production records to aid with organization and keep t rack of the different sowings ( siembras in Spanish) Ã‘ as they can have over ten sowings at a time in the ocean and they all require cleaning and maintenance . They also need to have a count of how many oysters they are harvesting at a specific tim e and how many oysters d ie per siembra for when UNA asks for reports. The group expressed they had a need to establish a more efficient and organized system for tracking their production. T hey currently use colored pieces of plastic to label lanterns and identify each siembra . Wh en oysters are brought to the shore and placed on the table for cleaning (s ee Figure 12 ) , someone in the group records the d ate, sowing color, and oyster counts (dead and alive) in a notebook . From my observation and the producers' comments , I raise questio ns about their recording method. W hile resourceful, it does not seem accurate or efficient. This is due to organizational issues and a need for defined roles and responsibilities. The group sometimes mixes different sowings for cleaning, which can l ead to confusion. There is also no one person in charge of organizing, overseeing, and recording the cleaning process. The results are inconsistent records that make it challenging for the group to have an accurate inventory and make reports.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 30 Figure 12 : Members of the oyster group sit around a table where they clean oysters The group would significantly benefit from a computerized system and the designation of one or two people responsible for the recording process and trained to do so. Costs, income and revenue Some of the production costs the group has to fac e every month are listed in Table 1. Table 1: Monthly Costs for Palito's Producers Item Monthly Costs Gasoline to run the power washer and motor they occasionally borrow for their boat 60,800 Costa Rican colones (CRC) ($114) Supplies to make lanterns and oyster bags 28,000 CRC ($52) Electricity and water to run their depuration center 10,000 CRC ($19) Travel expenses to deliver oysters and coolers to transport them in, depurate them at UNA's depuration center, attend meetings with institutions, and workshops Minimum of 120,000 CRC ($225) * In the near future, producers will have to start buy ing seeds. Income depends on sale s and has ranged from 3'000, 000 CRC ($5630) to 75 ,000 CRC ($140) per month . After deducting current costs and leaving a percentage for future costs , the group pays each member a Ã”salary' , which varies every month. The highest sum they hav e paid themselves is 100,000 CRC ($187) . T he month before my arrival each received 50,000 CRC ($94) . Some months they have receive d as little as 12,500 CRC ($23) or no sum at all . Initially the group distributed the funds equitably to each member , but then decided to base pay on hours worked per week . However, they stopped this practice due to inconsistencies in payments, as some members would get paid less for the same hours of work.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 31 Group m anagement and governance In addition to the external pressures outlined earlier, the group is also facing internal difficulties. Figure 13, 14 and 15 show some of the thematic clusters identified in interviews regarding governance and communication, group dynamics, and management. Figure 13 : Thematic C lusters for Group Dynamics Figure 14 : Thematic C lusters for Governance
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 32 Figure 15 : Thematic C lusters for Ã”Management' Figure 16 shows the distribution frequen cies of each answer within the group dynamics thematic cluster. The frequency graphs of the other two thematic clusters can be found in Appendix 1.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 33 Figure 16 : Producer's Concerns Regarding Group Dynamics The results reveal significant concerns regarding management, governance, communication, decision making and group dynamics. T hese findings indicate that thes e are major challenges. While the majority of results in this area are negative, there are positive elements that should be highlighted . Many members expressed , for instanc e, that the project had help them work better in groups, and that their dynamics and relationships had improved significantly in the past 3 years. In addition, while they had no t formally created a vision , interviews revealed everyone wanted the same for t heir future: the success of their operations. T hey also recognize d everyone 's invested effort in getting to where they are today. The group has also shown creativity and initiative . Since they struggled to agree on basic roles for essential production ta sks Ã‘ like oyster cleaning, surveillance, and lantern making Ã‘ t hey opted to create random work teams through a raffle . They are also aware of their difficulties with organization and recognize everyone needs an attitude change to streng t h en the group's management and governance structures. It is crucial to build on the strengths of this group as they move forward. Its members seem to be so consumed by what is no t going well, that they often forget what is. Focusing on strengths , along wi th the necessary facilitation and capacity building Ã‘ i.e. team building exercises, conflict management , and management skills workshops Ã‘ will help enhance the group's governance and management to facilitate the success of its operations. Commercialization Palito' s producers currently have 5 main clients who order anywhere from 80 to 700 oysters per week. Every now and then , the group get s large orders of 1000 3 000 oysters , mainly from other oyster farms in the gulf. Current clients were obtained through ASOPECUPACHI, MarViva, UNA, personal connections, and agricultural fairs. An interesting point one producer !" #" $" %" &" '" (" )" '" &" #" !" $" *" %" +" ,-./.0"123-24"56789:" ;<4=/2>05">?903.7"
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 34 brought up during the interviews i s that in a couple occasions , they have struggled to meet their customer's demand due to insufficient seeds or high oyster mortality during the rainy season. The majority of members mentioned they have lost clients over time. Everyone express ed a need to put more emphasis on commercialization especially given future competition from ot her startup farms . They e xpress this area has not been a strength of theirs. They also point to difficulties in distributing oysters, as it is very expensive to deliver them to clients given the high transportation costs associated with their lo cation . To distribute their oysters, producers have to go to Puntarenas and either meet the client there to deliver the oysters after depuration, ship them to the client, or arrange for clients to pick up the oysters at UNA installations after depuration. All agree they need to be more proactive and start securing more clients and promoting their product more aggressively through product tastings , presence on social media, and fairs. Co mmercialization is key to ensuring the success of the group and othe r oyster farms in the country. A worrisome finding is the volatility of producers' revenues and salaries. When sale s are high, earnings are high, but when the opposite is true, producers bring no income home while still investing 8 hours a day in the work. This poses a great risk to the business since a lack of income can not only discourage producers and negatively affect their level of commitment, but also undermines the purpose of the project Ã‘ providing a livelihood alternative to the community of Palito. Commercialization and increasing revenues are also essential to increasing the group's autonomy and self sufficiency. In order for this farm to become a successful business in the long run, commercialization challenges will have to be addressed. While o y ster farming is an activity that genera tes revenue in the long term (5 years) and this group has only been producing and selling their oysters for 3 years, it is important to acknowledge and address the major market limitations producers face. Costa Rica 's domestic market for oysters is underdeveloped, as locals are not used to eating oysters. It is crucial for a commercialization and market strategy to be created. The latter should be accompanied by an in depth market study (in case one has not been done yet) and marketing and promotional activities specifically designed to introduce new products into markets. Institutional and organizational support will be key to this. It is also important to consider international markets. These have a much larger clientele and hold great p otential to generate income for Costa Rican oyster farmers . UNA and INCOPESCA have coordinated several meetings to talk about the possibility of crea ting a consortium among oyster farms to join forces and start exporting the product. However, efforts to move forward have yet to be pursued due to concerns regarding low production capacity and the need for quality sta ndards and sanitary regulations. Gen der considerations While the group is composed of both men and women, ten of its twelve members ar e women . As with every human group and effort, gender considerations ar e important to the discussion. I noticed subtle differences in the leadership roles men and women held . One of the female members expressed she had experienced a lot of push back from ASOPECU P ACHI male leadership when wanting to take on a c ommanding role in the oyster project . T he group itself
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 35 showed some attitudes that pointed to the hi gher perception of men and leaders . Men 's ideas tended to be taken more seriously and were paid more attention to. Gendered differences also became evident when discussing surveillance and security . Several w omen expressed concerns for their safety and eff ectiveness wh e n fulfilling overnight surveillance role s . Numerous mentioned that , as women , they are often perceived as harmless, and that i n the event that illegal fishermen tres passed their property, they would no t feel prepared to respond . As a result, the majority of women have their husbands absorb their surveillance responsibilities. The groups' primarily female composition also points to traditional roles associated with livelihoods in the community. From its start, the project was open to both men and women, and it attracted several men. However, many men dropped out since oyster farming was time consuming and interfered with fishing Ã‘ men's main livelihood strategy. An interesting finding is that w omen in the group have significant power over their work schedules and conditions. 9 out of the 10 women in the group were mothers or grandmothers with at least one school age child they had to care f o r . Due to this, the group had decided to have flexible schedules that would allow women to leave work for a coup l e hours or miss some workdays to tend to their children. While some gender dimensions outlined above seem to reinforce certain gender roles , they als o reveal the leverage women can have and how different their priorities can be . Women want to cont ribute to the household economy while also meet ing the ir resp onsibilities as mothers. By allowing them to do t he latter, learn new skills, and participate in an activity that c ontribute s to the conservation of gulf resources, the project has c reated a s ense of empowerment among these women.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 36 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Oyster farming is an innovative response to the pressures faced by the people and resources i n this region of Costa Rica. By creating new sources of employment and allowing the gulf's fish stock to recover , this activity can positively impact the l ivelihoods of gulf communities . Ensuring the sustainability and success of oyster farming is therefore crucially important. The long term success of this endeavor , however, will require multiple conditions to be met. These range from having enough inputs to produce quality oysters, to strengthening the nation's legal and institutional frameworks for aquaculture . In the latter regard, amending the law to gran t propert y rights to farmers will be particularly important , as this would give them a right to exclude others from their productive area a nd empower them with the legal mechanisms and legitimacy to demand regulation, enforcement, and reparations. Since r evising th e Fishing and Aquaculture law will take time , a n immediate need is to ensure the e nforcement of the l aw's current statues. Expanding local markets through a comprehensive commercialization strategy that taps into potential domestic and international markets will also be essential . Palito's farmers should take advantage of their proximity to Guanacaste, a province west of the country known for its beautiful beaches and renowned hotels, resorts, and restaurants that attract millions of local and foreign tour ists every year. Reaching this market could provide Palito's producers with the steady consumer base they need to increase their sales and revenues. While all the factors mentioned above are important, w eak governance and ineffective management af fect farmers the most as they impair their ability to function as a cohesive, effective, and efficient unit. Addressing this shortcoming in the next few years will be vital for success, especially as the number of oyster farms in the gulf increases . A new oyster farm is actually set to start in Montero, another major community in Chira. Palito's producers expressed their concern over losing clients to Montero's farmers since , in their words, " that community is m ore organized" . This not only reveals the urg ency of this matter but also the producers ' aware ness of the imminent need for strengthen ing their governance and management systems. As existing literature suggests , the governance and management challenges Palito's producers are facing are very common for producer organizations across the world. When people work in groups for the first time and there is money involved, conflicts and power struggles are bound to emer ge. Creating opportunities for the group to define common goals, learn to work together, and strengthen their administrative and management capacity will be key . The group would particularly benefit from workshops in basic accounting and management of fina nces, sales and marketing, computer applications, monitoring and evaluation, effective group communication, decision making, strategic planning, conflict manage ment, and good group dynamics. T his is a gap institutions and organizations assisting oyster far ms may work to fill. What became clear during my time in Chira was that the external support Palito's farmers had received so far had focused on technical and production aspects Ã‘ and successfully so since the group had mastered production techniques Ã‘ negle cting the many other piece s mentioned above. Interestingly, these actors did recognize a weakness in the organization of the group Ã‘
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 37 which was evident in MarViva's effort to help the group organize its production tracking system Ã‘ yet they did not seem to be f ully aware of the larger picture. Future support must target these issues to help Palito's oyster farm transform into a self sufficient, profitable, and successful enterprise. This gap reveal s the importance and relevance of my practicum. While time and resource constraints prevented me from carrying out capacity building activities that might have enhanced to some degree the producer's governance system, I was able to contribute by facilitating group communication and by highlighting this gap . I also g ave recommendations on how to address these issues on my final del iverable. Palito is a n incredibly resou rceful community that has demonstrated a commitment to conservation and sustainability. Th is made for a unique and enriching field practicum experience . Being immersed in the islander s ' culture and way of life proved invaluable to my understanding of their reality . Looking back, there are a couple things I would ha ve done different ly to further enhance my experience and the impact of my practicum. First of all, I would have planned to get to the island two weeks before the law progra m started to gain a preliminary understanding of the context and assess needs. This would have allowed me to carry out capacity building activities by giving me more time to plan . I would have also f ollow ed up with the institutions and organizations involved in the project and tried to collaborate more with them . If someone were to follow up on this practicum, a key next step would be to provide the support mentioned above. In order for this endeavor to be fruitful though, whoever carries this out needs to be willing to be immersed in the island culture and life long enough to build trust and understand the conte xt, have excellent facilitation skills, and speak Spanish fluently. I would like to end by acknowledging som e limitations in my analysis and conclusions . Realities are rapidly changing and it is impossible to be aware of all th e factors affecting such realities . This report reflects my own understanding of the situation in Palito based on available literature, my observations , and my conversati ons with relevant stakeholders. I have done my very best to understand and account for the diversity of element s involved i n this context, yet this report might contain inaccurate and/ or outdated information.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 38 REFERENCES AcuÂ–a, R. (2015). Golfo de Nicoya: Cuna de ostras. La Voz de Guanacaste . Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Retrieved from http://www.vozdeguanacaste.com/es/articulos/2015/06/09/golfo de nicoya cuna de ostras Asia Forest Network. (2002). Participatory Rural Apprasial for Commun ity Forest Management. Philiphiens and Santa Barbara: Asia Forest Network. Centro Centroamericano de PoblaciÂ—n (CCP) . (20 11 ) . Co sta Rica Population Census, 2011 . Retrieved from http://censos.ccp.ucr.ac.cr . Chamala, S. (1990). Establishing a group: A pa rticipative action model. In S. Chamala & P. D. Mortiss, Working together for Landcare: Group management skills and strategies, p. 13 38. Brisbane: Australian Academic Press. Chamala, S. (1995). Group effectiveness: From group extension methods to partici pative community Landcare groups. In S. Chamala & K. Keith (Eds.), Participative approaches to Landcare: Perspectives, policies and programs. Brisbane: Australian Academic Press. Chamala, S., & Shingi, P. (1997). Establishing and strengthening farmer orga nizations. In Improving agricultural extension: A reference manual, Swanson, B., R. Bentz, & Sofranko, A (Eds). Rome: FAO Natural Resources Management and Environment Department. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/w5830e/w5830e0n.htm Dontigney, E. (n .d . ). The disadvantages of cooperatives vs. traditional firms. AZCentral Business . Retrieved from http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/disadvantages cooperatives vs traditional firms 12745.html ECMAR. (2014). Laboratorio de semillas. ECMAR . Retrieved from http://www.ecmar.una.ac.cr/index.php/laboratorio de semilla de ostras ELDIS. ( n.d. ). Livelihood strategies. ELDIS. http://www.eldis.org/go/topics/resource guides/livelihoods and social protection/what are livelihoods approaches/livelihood strategies#.VvHOz8cjEmQ FernÂ‡ndez, C., Alvarado, J. J., & Nielsen, V. (2006). Golfo de Nicoya. In Ambientes Marino Costeros de Costa Rica. Ed. Vanesa Nielsen y Marco Quesada. CIMAR, Conservacion Internacional TNC. Retri eved from http://www.mespinozamen.com/uploads/4/5/7/6/4576162/infome_tecnico_ambientes_ma rinos_cr czee_2006.pdf Flores, M. (2013). Ostras : una alternative para Pescadores artesanales. La Prensa, San JosÂŽ.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 39 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).(n.d.). Situation Analysis: An Approach and Method for Analyzing the Context of Projects and Programme. IUCN Global M&E Initiative. http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/approach_and_method.pdf Isla Chira. (2015). Isla Chira website. http://chiracr.com/ Jacobs, C. (2011). Measuri ng success in communities: The community capitals framework. South Dakota Cooperative Extension Extra 16 (5): 1 2. Retrieved from http://pubstorage.sdstate.edu/AgBio_Pu blications/articles/ExEx16005.pdf Kasam, L., Subasinghe, R., & Phillips, M. (2011). Aquaculture farmer organizations and cluster management: Concepts and experiences. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 563. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome Italy. http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2275e/i2275e.pdf Lewis, S., Passmore, J., Cantore, S. (2008). Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management. London and Philadelphia: Kogan Page. MarÂ’n, M. (2012). Las redes de actors en la gestiÂ—n costera marina: Ã§reas marinas de uso multiple, Golfo de Nicoya u PacÂ’fico Sur. Proyecto Golfos. Retrieved from http://pr oyectogolfos.marviva.net/publicaciones/documentos tecnicos Mora, D. (2014). Mujeres de isla Chira decidieron cultivar ostras en lugar de sacar recursos del mar. Teletica Noticias . San JosÂŽ, Costa Rica. http://www.teletica.com/noticias/37621 Mujeres de Isla Chira decidieron cultivar ostras en lugar de sacar recursos del mar.note.aspx OurabahHaddad, N., & Chave z, M.E. (N.d.). Cooperatives & Producer's Organizations. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) & International Labor Organization (ILO). http://www.fao ilo.org/fao ilo coop/en/ Ovares, Z. (2005). National aquaculture sector overview: Costa Rica. National Aquaculture Sector Overview Fact Sheets. In FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Rome. http://www.fao.org/fishery/countrysector/naso_costarica/en#tcN70044 Salas, E., Salazar, R., & Arias, A. (2012). DiagnÂ—stico de Â‡reas marinas protegidas y Â‡reas marinas para la pesca responsable en el PacÂ’fico costarricense. FundaciÂ—n MarViva . San JosÂŽ, Costa Rica. Salas, O. (2010). Guanacaste destaca como destino turÂ’stico por excelencia. Universidad de Costa Rica. http://www.uc r.ac.cr/noticias/2010/07/26/guanacaste destaca como destino turistico por excelencia.html Scholl, M., & Sherwood, A. 2014. Four pillars of cooperative governance: A new model grounded in the cooperative difference . Cooperative Grocer 1 , 18 21.
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 40 Sustainab le Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD). (2007). SARD and Farmer's organizations. Policy brief 12. ftp://ftp.fao.org/SD/SDA/SDAR/sard/SARD farmers orgs%20 %20english. pdf Trejos, B., & Chiang L. N. (2009). Local economic linkages to community based tourism in rural Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Geography, 30 , 373 Ã 387. USAID & AIDSTAR Two. (2011). Organizational capacity building framework: A foundation for stronger, more sustainable HIV/AIDS programs, organizations & networks. Technical Brief No 2. USAID. VÂ‡squez, H. et al. (2007). GuÂ’a para el cultivo de ostra del Pac!fico. JICA , El Salvador. Retrieved from http://www.jica.go.jp/project/elsalvador/2271029E1/materials/pdf/2007/2007_04.pdf Vindas, L. (2013). Proyecto de UNA e INCOPESCA incrementarÂ‡ producciÂ—n de ostras en Costa Rica. El Financiero . San JosÂŽ, Costa Rica. Retrieved from http://www.elfinancierocr.com/negocios/ostras Incopesca UNA_0_233976614.html
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 41 APPENDIX 1 The frequency graphs of the two thematic clusters %" %" )(" #" '" &" '" (" '" #" $" %" )(" )'" !"#$%&'"()*+#,&'",(*-'./"$0,.*1#2'",/,&'* 3,4567* ,-./.0"123-24"568@.74=4>.5" >?903.7" !" #" $" %" &" '" (" )" '" &" #" !" $" *" %" +" !"#$%&'"()*+#,&'",(*-'./"$0,.*1"#%8* 9:,/;0&(*3,4567* ,-./.0"123-24"56789:" ;<4=/2>05">?903.7" ,-./.0"123-24"56789:" ;<4=/2>05">?903.7"
Polo MDP Field Practicum Final Report 42 APPENDIX 2 Figure 17 : Major steps in oyster production process (pictures taken by author or given by Palito's farmers)