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Good and promising practices. Integrating the methodologies of farmer field schools into universities’ curricula: The case of Kenya’s Pwani University









FAO. 2021. Good and promising practices. Integrating the methodologies of farmer field schools into universities’ curricula: The case of Kenya’s Pwani University. Addis Ababa.



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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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    Book (stand-alone)
    Introduction to Farmer Field Schools
    A Reader for Institutions of Higher Learning
    2019
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    The essence of farmer field schools (FFS) is to empower farmers to learn, understand, and make informed decisions. The FFS approach challenges conventional agricultural extension approaches, which are based on top-down delivery of technology packages. It is estimated that by 2015, millions of farmers and agro-pastoralists in the world had benefited from the unique ability of FFS programmes to address the technological, social and economic needs of smallholder farmers and land users. Because of this success, the demand for FFS programmes has been increasing, and in several countries, the approach is now institutionalized within public extension systems and NGO programmes. An output from an FFS workshop was a proposal by the stakeholders to develop a core reading material on FFS for use by universities as they undertake to institutionalize the approach in their institutions. The FFS Reader provides the audience with a common understanding of the salient aspects of the FFS approach. The document is not meant to be exhaustive but rather introduces the reader to the fundamentals of FFS methodology and provides specific references for further reading. It is expected that the document will contribute to the mainstreaming of participatory and experiential learning processes and knowledge on the FFS approach in tertiary education system in eastern Africa. It is also hoped that academia and especially students interested in researching or learning about FFS will find this Reader intellectually stimulating, informative and resourceful.
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    Policy brief
    What have we learned from trees? Three decades of farmer field schools on agroforestry and forestry 2022
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    Over the last three decades, Farmer Field Schools (FFS) have proven to be an effective discovery-learning-capacity building approach to help rural populations to innovate with more clarity and purpose while building the social skills needed for rural transformation and empowerment. The diverse forestry and agroforestry applications of the FFS demonstrate a high impact on fostering ecological literacy and unlocking creative capacities in problem solving. Producers are encouraged to take ownership of change occurring at the local level. FFSs in forestry and agroforestry can help rural families and producer organizations develop multiple ways of reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture and contribute to rehabilitating ecologies and restoring ecosystems. The experiences of farmer field schools (FFS) around the world show a tremendous potential to advance small-scale forestry and agroforestry. By applying the FFS approach to agroforestry and forestry, it is possible to: Enable family farmers to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and social organization to achieve a more regenerative natural resource stewardship in and through small-scale and family farming, and to collectively contribute to sustainability and climate change targets. Support people-centred forest extension and community-based forestry by demonstrating the key role of better education and ecological literacy in empowering change in rural communities. Develop “response-ability”, i.e. the capacity of small-scale producers to respond to challenges in agriculture, food and natural resources management with renewed creativity, knowledge and technological development. Develop multiple ways of reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture while ensuring food security and nutrition and contributing to ecosystems restoration, climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as biodiversity conservation.

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