I was asked by Michael Joyce for an interview to share some of my thoughts and feelings about our first meeting. Before Michael came to my office I just typed the answers to his questions. Katie and Nicola requested me to share it with everyone so here it is.
Rice Survivor First Meeting Experience
Michael: What are your thoughts on the first meeting?
Weng: On the first meeting I was both excited and anxious. Excited because, I will meet the other participants who are eager to learn like me. I know most of them by face but I haven't interacted with them personally including Katie and Nicola to whom I was exchanging emails about the activity.
The discussion on choosing the criteria for judging who will be the best team is mind stimulating. Finally 3 points came out. They were 1) profitability 2) environmental impact and 3) comfortability. In the course of the discussion, people smiled when Noel suggested that instead of competing with one another the entire rice survivors can help one another in decision making and compete with Achim instead.
When each group was asked to convene I was very very uncomfortable, because we were only three in the group and the three of us (A
Grondin of Physiology Group, Judith dela Torre of Nutrient Manager Team, and I,
an 80% laboratory person, who didn’t have real experience in the field. When we
were asked to plan on what variety to choose, what sowing method we like, and
land preparation to make, fertilizer, weed mgt, pest mgt…..I felt totally lost
because I have no experience in it. Anyhow, I was relieved when Bhagirath, the
IRS member of our group, came.
Bhagirath suggested that Team 4 can go for dry seed method. Bhagirath is an advocate of of this method and a mechanization supporter because he said it is the future. James Quilty, a post doc in Soil Science, also a team member of our group but was not there on our first meeting due to some field work assignment, shared the same advocacy.
Each team of the four teams made their decision as to what land preparation and sowing method to choose. The other three teams will go for transplanting while our group is the only one who will go for dry seeding.
When Leigh came towards the end of the session because of a commitment in the field, he informed everyone of the situation of the area (824-827) that we are going to use. He said that the outer drainage system of the field is okay but the internal drainage of the field is not quite good- a word of caution particularly for us who will go for dry seed method.
Initially, I was personally not comfortable with the decision our group to go for dry seeding because of the fact mentioned by Leigh and because of some expectations I had before joining the Rice Survivor Challenge. When I joined the challenge all I had in my mind is the transplanting method. I said “Wow Im gonna learn how to make seed bed, Im gonna learn how to do the actual transplanting in the field…and so on and so forth”. I was initially dismayed, because what our team will do is entirely different to what I expected.
Anyhow, my views changed when I learned the overall goal of this challenge. I learned that after this challenge and several trials perhaps, IRRI will make a clear guideline on how to produce rice in the field which can be given to farmers. Nicola and Katie said that IRRI have this guideline but it is not up to date and not being used. So we we are the guinea pigs for making this new guideline based on the latest knowledge and technology.
So upon learning this, I realized that it would then be good to have a variety of set up which everyone can learn from. If a guideline will be made out of this activity then it will be like hitting two birds in one shot and its benificial for IRRI. In reality, not all farmers would like to go for transplanting method some farmers would like to go also for dry seeding depending on the condition of their field. Also, not all farmers would like to do the manual transplanting because of the rising cost of labor at some point they will be investing on machinery for the mechanization of their field. So with our Team going for mechanized dry seeding and the rest of the three teams going for transplanting- two benificial information can then be generated instead of us all doing the same method.
We finalized our decision on land preparation, when we go out in the field yesterday. Bhagirath, made an arrangement that all of us go there and have our meeting since he was not there on our first field trip in the morning of Wednesday, Dec 5 because of workshop in dry seeding. James made the detailed step by step field operation procedure, and the two explained to me and Jec (Judith) some of the field operation terms that we didn’t understand. Yesterday, I’m so happy. I felt the team was so solid.
Michael: What are the keys to succes for your team?
Weng: Team spirit, open communication and helping hand. I think those are the some of the keys.
Michael: What is the role of failure?
Weng: I think failure in itself is not bad. Failure goes hand in hand with success. How? Failure makes an individual stronger. It makes us to rethink and reevaluate the decision we made. It hones our personality as well for us to improve and persevere more.
In this kind of challenge, decision making is very important. Even if we fail, if we use it as a stepping stone to learn, we can then finally make the right decision to succeed. And we can then say we survived the challenge. We are Survivor!