FAO in China

“Development of SDG Villages” project launched its first Farmer Field Business School training


From November 5th to 8th, the “Development of Sustainable Development Goals Villages” project (SDG Villages Project), jointly developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), GF Securities and China Agriculture Science and Education Foundation (CASEF), launched its first Farmer Field Business School (FFBS) training in Hubei Province of China. The training provided technical support for the “Internet + Agriculture + Finance” model promoted by the SDG Villages Project.

Yukitsugu Yanoma, Policy Officer of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stressed at the training that “the SDG Villages Project directly contributes to SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger)”. He added that FAO will continue to work with partners to provide FFBS training in China's national poverty-stricken counties, train local agricultural technicians, and promote the transition from traditional agriculture to sustainable agriculture."

 “For a long time, FAO has actively supported rural reform and agricultural development in China, and has played a positive role in China's improvements in crop yields, agricultural technology and industrial development,” said Tong Yu’e, Director of the Centre of International Cooperation Service (CICOS) of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) of China. She hopes that FFBS could prepare farmers with skills of farming, marketing and managing, which are the driving forces for the industrial development of poverty-stricken counties.

The 3-day FFBS training trained about 70 farmer tutors in class and more than 400 farmers in the villages. The content of the training were decided after field research and in-depth discussion, which includes:

  1. How to use pesticide correctly and safely;
  2. Multi-dimension solutions for controlling crop pests and diseases;
  3. Bee industry development in China and the protection of pollinators;
  4. Policies on farmers’ cooperatives;
  5. Branding of agricultural products;
  6. E-commerce skills for selling agricultural products online.

Li Yan, Deputy Governor of Enshi, Hubei Province, highlighted: "The training carried out by the SDG Villages Project will definitely play an active role in improving farmers’ skills on using pesticide correctly and safely, ensuring the quality of agricultural products, protecting ecological environment, promoting agricultural sustainable development, and implementing the rural revitalization strategy.”

Farmer Field School (FFS) is a FAO flagship concept. It has been implemented in over 90 countries, with more than 20 million farmers, pastoralists and fishermen trained. With the support from the National Agricultural Technology Extension and Service Centre (NATESC) of MARA, FFS has been providing technical assistance to Chinese farmers since 1990s. Zhang Shuai, Deputy Director of Pesticide and Machinery Division of NATESC, said that since 2000, NATESC, together with its partners, has organized more than 20,000 training workshops on pesticide using and has trained over 10 million people.

What is different from the traditional FFS is that the training this time added some “business” content and has become Farmer Field BUSINESS School (FFBS). Experts from Alibaba, Daily Amoy and other e-commerce platforms were invited to the FFBS training to guide farmers on selling agricultural products via e-commerce platforms.

In July 2019, the SDG Villages Project was launched in Beijing and became FAO’s first private-sector-fully-funded project in China. FAO, GF Securities and CASEF have started strategic cooperation to implement the SDG Villages Project in 16 poverty-stricken villages in China from 2019 to 2021. Adopting the “Internet + Agriculture + Finance” model, the selected 16 villages will receive FFBS training and other resources.

Since GF Securities established its Social Welfare Foundation (GF-SWF) in 2011, poverty alleviation and supporting students have been the two focuses of GF-SWF. After the SDG Villages Project was launched, the E-Commerce Department of GF Securities, GF Leasing and GF Futures have actively participated in the implementation of the project. Cheng Huaiyuan, Secretary General of the GF-SWF, said, "the FFBS training marks the beginning of the substantive implementation phase of the project which is jointly developed by government, international organization and financial institution. GF Securities will continue to bear social responsibilities as a corporate citizen and serve China’s poverty alleviation strategy."

After the training, the trainees of the FFBS will transfer the knowledge and skills they have learned during the FFBS training to local farmers. The FFBS training was sponsored by FAO, GF Securities, and CASEF, organized by the Agricultural and Rural Affairs (ARA) Department of Hubei Province, and supported by CICOS and NATESC. It is hosted by ARA Bureau of Enshi, ARA Bureau of Laifeng, ARA Bureau of Longshan, and the Agricultural Broadcasting and Television School of Laifeng. It also received support from CropLife China and China Crop Protection Industry Association.