Indiscriminate use of chemical inputs, both fertilizer and pesticides, puts agricultural production at risk. In particular, the overuse of pesticides is known to eliminate important ecosystem services resulting into secondary pest outbreaks which could potentially jeopardize national and regional food security. Intensive use of extremely and highly hazardous chemicals by small-holder farmers also continues to cause high incidence of farmer poisoning.
For over a decade, the FAO Regional Vegetable IPM Programme, working with government and nongovernmental organizations, has carried out farmer education and participatory research activities to promote and support Integrated Pest Management in vegetables by Asian smallholder farmers.
Integrated Pest Management IPM is an ecological approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides.
The training approach used by the FAO Regional Vegetable IPM Programme is primarily the Farmer Field School (FFS). In the FFS, 25-30 farmers meet weekly facilitated by qualified extension staff and/or experienced farmers.
Employing non-formal education methods, the field is used as the primary resource for discovery-based learning. Farmers acquire management skills, generate knowledge, carry out experiments, and learn how to make better informed decisions. The process seeks to empower farmers in applying the principles learned to other spheres of their daily lives aimed at improving rural livelihoods.