Farmer Field Schools
Farmer Field Schools are farmer-led ‘schools without walls’ that build on farmers’ existing knowledge and experience, to enable them to come together to experiment and adapt farming methods to suit their own unique and often fragile ecosystems.
Farmer Field Schools are oriented to provide agro-ecological knowledge and skills in hands-on and participatory ways. The farmers themselves lead the process, meeting on a regular basis over the course of one full cropping season, after which they ‘graduate’ and continue on as facilitators for other farmers’ groups – creating a ripple effect of positive change. The topics range from planting and tilling methods through to experimenting with different vegetable and fruit varieties on a single acre plot.
“Farmers Field School is just like going to another level of education.”
- Maria, 30, Farmers Field School member, Karatu District, Tanzania
“The Farmer Field school approach has provided us with an opportunity to address crossing issues that affect agricultural production and sustainable development in general.”
- Community Extension Volunteer, Aloi Sub-County, Lira District, Uganda
The Farmer Field School approach allows CPAR to address the rights and needs of food producers in a larger context. In keeping with its commitment to strengthening the position of women and promoting gender equality in all of its work, CPAR promotes a ‘special topics’ component within its Farmer Field School curriculum. Chosen by communities themselves, the topics of discussion include gender dynamics, human rights, HIV and malaria prevention.
“I am liberated as a result of the Farmer Field School. I’ve seen the light. My brain doesn’t just have old traditional principles – my wife is happy with me.”
- Zakayo, 34, Farmer Field School member and facilitator, Karatu District, Tanzania
The ensuing years have seen Farmer Field School farmers double or even triple their crop production, all the while laying the groundwork for positive transformation in community development, personal empowerment and gender equality.