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Farmer Field Schools: Beyond Agriculture and Rural Development

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1 Farmer Field Schools: Beyond Agriculture and Rural Development
Alma Linda C. Morales-Abubakar, Programme Development Officer, FAO Asia Regional IPM/Pesticide Risk Reduction Programme Workshop on FFS and Post-harvest 29 November 2012, Myanmar

2 World population 55% of worlds’ total and 70% of world’s agricultural population are in Asia Pacific region Source: UN, 2011 2

3 Small Farmers: Producers, Consumers, Managers and Citizens

4 Farmers need to understand issues affecting their livelihood
Crackdown in Siem Reap WRITTEN BY VINCENT MACISAAC    Asia Sentinel, Monday, 27 April 2009 THE RULE OF LAW GOES BY THE BOARD FOR CAMBODIA'S LAND SHARKS . . . The Siem Reap farmers are the victims of both land grabbing and state-sanctioned violence, human rights groups say. At the root of the incident is a five-year dispute that escalated last December when two community leaders and one journalist were arrested following a court complaint from two businessmen who the farmers allege illegally obtained and then resold titles to 92 hectares of land they had been farming since, in some cases,

5 Farmers need to be able to select technologies

6 The Green Revolution: de-skilling farmers
Akshay Mahajan BBC

7 Farmers as Experts Ooi Ooi Ooi

8 Where did FFS come from? 1989: first FFS established in central Java as a response to a crisis situation of BPH outbreaks Since then, FFS have been carried out in other crops and various settings in many other countries in Asia, Africa, Near East and Latin America (currently 90 countries)

9 Innovation in Farmer Field Schools
These skills can be extended to: Sustainable crop intensification Agro-biodiversity: genetic resource management Managing water, soils and fertility, crop nutrition, SRI Conservation agriculture Fisheries and animal husbandry Health, nutrition, child care Climate Smart Agriculture Post harvest Farmer Life Schools Farmer Water Schools

10 Farmer Field Schools FFS are particularly suited for learning complex management skills, like natural resource management, diversifying production and accessing markets to increase rural incomes (Swanson and Rajalahti, 2010).

11 The FFS is a process; it is not a goal
Broad objective of FFS The FFS is a process; it is not a goal Brings farmers together For collective and collaborative inquiry To initiate community action in solving community problems

12 Specific objectives of FFS
Empower farmers with knowledge and skills to make them experts in their own fields Sharpen farmers’ ability to make critical and informed decisions that render their farming profitable and sustainable Sensitize farmers into new ways of thinking and problem solving Help farmers learn how to organize themselves and their communities

13 THAI ORGANIC FOOD CO. Technical backstopping to farmers – inc. ICS Pays staff who collects produce and management fees FARMERS Enters into contracts with the Company Signs commitment to follow standards of organic production Participates in training courses Maintains production records Self-monitoring Harvesting timely Ensures security in the fields and processing area Invests in tools/materials to be paid back by farmers Issuance of contracts to farmers Purchase of produce Enhancing Agricultural Competitiveness of Smallholder Farmers: Organic Chilli Production in Cambodia PDA Organizes farmers into Farmers’ Groups Conducts training courses for farmers (inc. data collection for production planning, organic production, marketing, etc.) Works with farmers in mapping each field as reference for management and technical support Provides guidance on complying with production standards Keeps/distributes inputs NIPM Conducts training courses for farmers (inc. data collection for production planning, organic production, marketing, group and financial management, etc.) Prepares materials and documents required organic production Technical backstopping to farmers – inc. ICS ACT THAILAND Carries out inspection to assure compliance with organic production standards Issues organic certification

14 Community Education Programmes on Pesticide Risk Reduction
Baseline surveys (inventory and flow of pesticides in the communities as well as health and environment related information) Training activities for local leaders, pesticide sellers, health workers and farmers Community action: Closure of pesticide shops that do not conform to local pesticide policies (e.g. selling banned pesticides) Community action: Posters on pesticide risk reduction have been developed and displayed in public places Community action: Cement tanks have been established by the local government for disposal of pesticide containers Developing core groups IPM FFS alumni who can coach other farmers in the community particularly on improved production practices and alternative pest management strategies Example: Pilot activity on producing potato seed tubers on rice straw using minimum tillage and reduce pesticides in potato seed production Community action: Development of local policies on pesticide management Community Education Programmes on Pesticide Risk Reduction

15 Factors for Success of FFS Programmes
a strong scientific/technical entry point a learner-centered approach to educating stakeholders a common vision a “Champion” (or Champions) a supportive environment a coordination system and clear roles among a wide – and expanding – composition of stakeholders/ institutions

16 Farmer Development Steps
Interdependent Farmer solves his problems wherever possible actively generates, adapts and extends innovations links well with other farmers FFS Farmer learns to observe, analyze and decide experiments with new ideas learns from own experience Group Farmer exchanges views and experience participates in group activities Dependent Farmer Research Innovations follows instruction adopts technologies

17 Facilitator Development Steps
Farmers’ Group Facilitator follows-up field school graduates coordinates inter-group activities encourages farming community activities FFS Facilitator uses experiential learning methods facilitates farmer field experimentation and ecological analysis gives holistic education in production management Non-formal Extensionist encourages group learning activities uses non-formal training techniques Extension Worker Training teaches farmers

18 Programme Development Steps
Farmer-led Development community development activities inter-group activities and networking self-promoting movement Autonomous FFS Networks (scaling-up phase ) self-financed, autonomous groups continuous, planned knowledge generation farming systems approach Alumni/Post FFS regular, continuing group meetings cropping approach water management exchanges among members Project-led FFS Government Policies tools testing quality system

19 FAO-IPM Asian Member Countries
India Bhutan Pakistan FFS Programmes in 90 countries

20 Email: Website:
For more information about the FAO Asia Regional IPM/PRR Programme Website:

21 Farmer Field School: Empowering farmers and communities through knowledge
Concrete Experience Observation and Reflection Generalisation & Abstract Conceptualisation Active Experimentation

22 “Before IPM field schools we planted our rice and prayed that we might have a good harvest. Now we know that we can actually control many of the factors which influence our harvests.” IPM farmer from Thai Binh province, Viet Nam

23 Testimony of an IPM Farmer
KASAKALIKASAN The Philippine National IPM Programme

24 Email: Website:
For more information about the FAO Asia Regional IPM/PRR Programme Website:

25 http://www. fao. org/asiapacific/rap/publications/pub-rap-results/en/

26 http://www. fao. org/asiapacific/rap/publications/pub-rap-results/en/


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