Farmer Life Schools

Farmer Life Schools (FLS) in Cambodia were conceived as a response to the threat of HIV/AIDS to sustainable agriculture and rural development by means of its systemic damage to farm communities. The IPM project was used as the entry point to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS due to the success demonstrated in strategies and approaches used in its farmer education programme. Initially, HIV/AIDS and other social issues were incorporated within the context of the IPM Farmer Field School (FFS) due to its focus on farmer mastery of the understanding of interrelated and complex systems, in this case, a rice crop and its health. FLS then evolved using the same training approaches but in a different context: what it means for farmers to have a healthy “quality of life”. Farmer Trainers were developed as to lead Life Schools which had expanded their subject matter from field ecology to human ecology.

The ecological approach to identifying problems and finding solutions applied to pests was applied to HIV/AIDS and the understanding of human behavior and development. An identification of the farmer’s socio-economic ecosystem and its vulnerabilities were adopted from the FFS. The farmer’s understanding of ecological principles provides a strong technical basis for IPM development, but also provides a particularly clear awareness of social relationships and norms useful in the prevention of HIV/AIDS in farm communities. Farmer Life Schools were designed to prevent adverse social and economic effects from HIV/AIDS in farming communities and strengthen farmer's understanding of how their socio-economic vulnerabilities relate to risk taking behavior with the end view of strengthening resilience to and reducing prevalence of HIV/AIDS in farming communities and to address other vital social issues.

More information about Farmer Life Schools is available at Farmers' Life School Manual and A Development Strategy to Empower Rural Farmers and Prevent HIV: Farmer Life Schools.