In 2017, I delivered Pictorial Evaluation Tool (PET) training together with Luca Innocente. The training involved the visual assessment of crop and livestock health. Visual assessment enables farmers to know the overall condition of their crop and herds without performing complicated calculations or relying on outdated data. Both are well-known challenges in improving planning for food security in remote rural areas. The method is easy to learn for experts and non-experts alike.
We worked in close cooperation with the local district officers when in Karamoja. We always asked permission from land and herd owners to assess fields or herds.
We mostly assessed maize, sunflowers and sorghum from a moving vehicle but also cross-checked our visual estimates by taking crop samples.
Methodological note: Cross-checking
The PET method trains the eye and links visual images of healthy, sub-standard and unproductive crops to an average of production per hectare calculated the season before. Visual assessment has the advantage of speed and is already intuitive to farmers who know their animals and crops.
In order to check that estimations are not systematically higher or lower than actual figures, estimates need to be cross-checked regularly especially during the first days of training. This allows individuals to check whether their estimates fall within the standard deviation and also become better at what they do.
Cross-checking is done by harvesting a square meter and measuring the dry weight of production in the field lab.