Farmer Field Schools

A Farmer Field School (FFS) consists of 25-30 farmers who meet one morning every week for an entire crop growing season. A FFS is facilitated by extension workers or skilled farmers. Employing non-formal education methods, the field is used as the primary resource for discovery-based learning. The process is facilitative and respects the experience that farmers bring with them. Farmers work in small groups to ensure that each one’s ideas are shared. In the FFS, there is acceptance of the uniqueness of each participant. The activities are designed to respond to the immediate needs of farmers and are geared towards encouraging creativity and independence. The FFS Trainers play a crucial role in ensuring that the environment and all resources contribute to the farmers’ learning experiences.

Basics of a typical farmer field school

The field is the primary resource for learning
The FFS meeting place is close to the study plots.
FFS educational methods are experiential, participatory and learner-centered.
Each FFS meeting includes the following activities: recapitulation of the previous week’s session, the agro-ecosystem analysis, a special topic, insect zoo, a group dynamics activity and evaluation of the day’s session and planning for the following week.
All FFS include a field in which farmers collect information and materials to learn about, develop observation skills and practice making informed management decisions.
A pre- and post-test are conducted as part of every field school.
Preparation meetings precede a FFS to determine needs and develop a learning contract.
Final meetings of FFS often include plans for follow-up activities.

The FFS uses crop production and protection as entry points because these are closest to the farmers’ hearts but the FFS experience allows farmers to experience group formation that becomes valuable in addressing other community concerns.

The Farmer Field School Guidance Document
 
provides essential advice for the design, implementation and assessment of FFS programmes, develop quality FFS programmes based on a solid footing of field-based and season-long training of national trainers, from Master Trainers to local Facilitators. The document also provides guidance for FFS programme growth and adaptation.  

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For more information on Farmer Field Schools, go to:

Rice IPM in Asia: Ecological Principles Underlying the FFS

http://www.vegetableipmasia.org/docs/Scientific%20Papers/dilts_scaling_up_ipm.pdf

Farmer Field Schools to promote Integrated Pest Management in Asia: the FAO Experience

You can also access the link to the FAO HQ FFS website on: http://www.fao.org/farmer-field-schools/en/