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A Shift In Global Perspective: Institutionalizing Farmer Field Schools










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    Book (stand-alone)
    Institutionalizing Farmer Field School approach: experiences from Latin America 2018
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    The Farmer Field School (FFS) is a group-based experiential learning approach first developed by FAO 25 years ago in Southeast Asia rice paddies for training farmers to apply the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Since then, its use extended successfully including multiple crops, aspects of crop management beyond IPM and encompassing non-field activities related to farm enterprise development and marketing and other sectors as nutrition, climate change and health care. Against this background of increased expansion, the need of institutionalizing FFS emerged to increase its impact and unlock its potential in the long run and ensure sustainability while maintaining flexibility in its implementation and preserving quality and relevance of FFS activities. This report summarizes the results of the FAO study on Experiences from Latin American countries on institutionalization of FFS. It aims to present the common features of the institutionalization process in Latin America delving into the experiences of Peru, Bolivia, Honduras and Costa Rica. FFS has been instrumental in achieving FAO’s strategic objective 2 on improving sustainable agricultural intensification, reducing poverty and building resilience.
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    Project
    Institutionalization of Field Schools (FS) in Extension Curricula of Institutions of Higher Learning in Eastern Africa - TCP/SFE/3701 2021
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    The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach was developed by FAO and partners as an alternative to the prevailing top-down extension method. The approach promotes farm-based experimentation, group organization and local decision-making. Countries have expressed strong interest in integrating FS into their national policies, strategies and programmes. Considering the expansion of FS in terms of both numbers and geographic scale, concerns have emerged about how best to ensure a minimum level of quality of FS programmes while maintaining the required flexibility. A Global FFS Review, conducted in 2012 by FAO, identified the steps and conditions required to set up strong and sustainable FFS programmes, including the need for institutionalization to harness quality FS through standardized guidelines and harmonized implementation procedures. Although FS are widespread in the Eastern Africa region, the mainstreaming of the approach within national extension systems varies widely and the integration of FS knowledge in mainstream Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) is minimal. As a result, extension graduates lack the level of FS expertise required in the field. This is exacerbated by the fact that policy-making regarding the integration of FS in IHLs cuts across multiple ministries, in particular, ministries of education, which govern colleges and universities, and ministries of agriculture, which host the majority of FS expertise and knowledge in the field. The project aimed to bridge this gap between ministries and IHLs in order to enhance harmonized, systematic capacity-building for future cadres of FS actors.
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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Good and promising practices. Integrating the methodologies of farmer field schools into universities’ curricula: The case of Kenya’s Pwani University 2021
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    Farmer Field School (FFS) was introduced by FAO and partners more than 30 years ago as an alternative to the prevailing top-down extension approach. FFS promotes farm-based experimentation, group organization, and local decision-making through discovery-based learning methods. FFS involves season-long learning of field-based groups of 25 to 30 farmers, who meet regularly to learn through discovery, experimentation, and share the experience. FFS combines local and scientific knowledge and aims at making farmers better decision-makers. Whereas the conventional technology transfer approach focuses primarily on developing and transforming technologies that work for farmers, the FFS approach, on the other hand, empowers farmers to become better decision-makers towards developing or adapting technologies that work and are acceptable to them. Farmers, agro-pastoralists, and fisherfolk worldwide have benefited from the unique ability of FFS programs to address their technological, social, and economic needs. As a result of this success, the demand for FFS programs continues to increase. In some countries like Kenya, the approach is institutionalized in extension systems and NGO programs. Since then, member countries in the Eastern African subregion have expressed their interest in scaling up existing FFS initiatives and integrating the methodology in national extension policies, strategies, and programs. In response to this need, the FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) developed a project, titled, “Institutionalization of Field Schools (FS) in Extension Curricula of Institutions of Higher Learning in Eastern Africa”, aimed at developing and putting into practice a contextualized and practical approach to mainstream FFS into the agricultural extension.

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