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3. The IPM farmer field school

There is a standard model FFS. This standard model establishes a norm for the implementation of an FFS. There is plenty of room for variation as long as the resulting process is learner-centred, participatory and relies on an experiential learning approach. There have been variations in the standard rice IPM FFS model; different situations call for adaptations. When an FFS is conducted in a crop other than rice, there are necessarily changes based on factors such as the key growth stages of the crop, local cropping patterns and specific local problems. Any FFS should rely on the same process; it is the content that changes as the FFS is conducted with different crops. The four IPM principles, of course, underpin any IPM FFS.

This chapter begins with a general description of the FFS approach followed by more detailed discussion of relevant implementation issues.

3.1 The typical rice IPM field school

The following is a list of rice IPM farmer field school basics.

3.1.1 To the field

The following boxes contain observation notes of FFSs that were made by members of the FAO technical assistance team while conducting FFS quality monitoring in Indonesia. A visitor to a rice IPM field school would see the things described in these notes. This section is organized around the schedule of an FFS meeting. Box 3.1 concerns the meeting place of an FFS. Experience has shown that FFSs that meet near the field in less formal situations, for example a participant's house, result in more effective meetings than those held in more formal settings, such as village offices, where the process is more likely to be interrupted by outsiders.

Box 3.1 The meeting place

Srijaya Farmers Group FFS
Orimalang village, Cirebon district, West Java

The Srijaya FFS meets next to the rice field in a shelter used by farmers when they rest from their field chores. Being next to the field makes it easy to get to the field for field school activities. The relaxed atmosphere in the shelter helps participants to concentrate on what they are trying to learn. The atmosphere is much better for the farmers here than in a more formal situation such as a school or village meeting centre. In those places the farmers would either disturb others or be disturbed by them.

The FFS does not depend on outside materials, but it does depend on having access to fields where observations can be made and studies organized. The materials that can be found in an FFS are those that learners use to construct experiments or in making analyses and presentations. Box 3.2 presents a discussion about the materials available to the farmers of Uma Bun FFS.

Box 3.2 Field and materials

Uma Bun FFS
Angantakan village, Badung district, Bali

The field school began one week after the rice was transplanted into the field. The practice fields of the field school are 20 m from the FFS meeting place. The IPM and non-IPM plots have been planted with IR-64 and on the third day after transplanting the non-IPM plot was treated with carbofuran. Applications of fertilizer have been the same for both plots, both in terms of kind of fertilizer and of time of application. In the non-IPM field a plant compensation supporting study was established this week and it will be monitored beginning next week.

Materials on hand included: newsprint, crayons, felt-tipped pens, masking tape, plywood sheets, small plastic bags, lengths of wood for measuring the height of plants, and pens and notebooks for farmers. There were also enough snacks and drinks for the participants.

07.30 hours: agro-ecosystem observation, analysis and presentation

Working in five member teams, participants enter the FFS learning fields to observe general field conditions, sample plants, collect insects, make notes and gather live specimens. The field provides all of the basic learning materials and subject matter for the FFS. Each team analyses its field samples and notes by creating a visual analytical tool known as the agro-ecosystem drawing. This tool is made up of key ecosystem factors such as pest/predator densities, plant health, field conditions, weather, and current management treatment. The output of the analysis is a field management decision. Following the analytical session, a member of each small group presents his or her group's analysis and decisions to the rest of the members of the FFS. The presenter and his or her group then defend their analysis in this open discussion. "What if...?" problem-posing questions further hone analytical skills during the discussion among groups. Box 3.3 provides a description of the agro-ecosystem process.

Box 3.3 Agro-ecosystem observation, analysis, and presentation

Tani Gabah FFS
Balai Panjang Bawah village,
Lima Puluh Koto district, West Sumatra

The 25 participants were divided into five groups of five people each and they all went into the field accompanied by the facilitator to conduct the agro-ecosystem observation. Three groups made observations in IPM plots and two groups observed the non-IPM plots. Each group sampled 10 hills of rice that have been staked to mark out sampling sites. The stakes run in a diagonal across the plots.

After the observation the small groups returned to the meeting site to draw the agro-ecosystem and complete their analysis. The members of each group were all involved in the activity and the discussions generated by the analysis of the data they collected from the field. The facilitator went from group to group helping them to answer questions about their data. The completed drawings contained all the elements that should be included in a good agro-ecosystem drawing: pests and natural enemies, weather conditions, plant condition, field conditions such as weeds and water, and action decisions.

The facilitator helped with the presentations that were made by a representative of each small group. The presentations were smooth and each group's drawing was carefully explained. After each presentation the presenter was asked questions such as: "A spider will eat how many pests?" "How long does a spider live?" "What is the name of the weed that you have drawn there?" The action decisions of the groups included:

  • There is a balance in the relationship of natural enemies to pests so there is no need to spray pesticides.

  • We need to make insect zoos to study spiders and their feeding capacities.

  • The water is enough for plants in their seventh week of growth.

  • We will continue our field observations.

10.30 hours: special topic

This activity is linked to the stage of growth of the crop and specific local issues. This part of the curriculum should be tailored for each FFS. The topic is selected from a large menu of potential topics that are mastered by FFS facilitators during their training. Special topic activities cover such issues as community rat control, crop physiology, health and safety, food webs, field ecology, economic analysis, water management and fertilizer use. Most but not all of these exercises require that participants again enter the field. The process involved in a typical special topic is described in Box 3.4

Box 3.4 Special topic: natural enemies

Rejomulyo Farmers Group FFS
Rejomulyo village, Magetan district,
East Java

The facilitator, Suwito, begins by stating that the topic today will be natural enemies. The facilitator follows up his opening by asking: "What are natural enemies? What's their role in the field?" Pak Karmo answers with: "Basically, natural enemies are those insects that prey upon pests in the rice field."

Next Suwito asks the group to list the natural enemies that they found in the field during their observation. The participants name the natural enemies they found and Suwito writes the names down on a piece of newsprint. Then Suwito asks the participants to describe the characteristics and habits of each of these insects and where they can be found. The descriptions are developed with the facilitator asking questions and the group answering. The questioning gets to be very interesting when the participants don't have any data upon which to base their decisions. For example, "How long does an ant live?" "How do dragonflies attack pests?" Then the group discusses other possible natural enemies in the rice field that weren't encountered during their observations. Several animals, for example snakes, are mentioned.

The discussion is not limited by the data collected during the field observations. Although discussion begins regarding what was seen in the field, the facilitator goes on to other probing questions: "Why do lots of natural enemies disappear? Who or what is the cause of this disappearance?"

These questions are interesting as they draw the group into a discussion of practices encouraged by the rice intensification package. The farmers point out that as part of the intensification package pesticides are applied as a preventive measure without paying attention to field conditions. "This results in natural enemies being killed." The group also notes that a common practice in the village is the collection of snake skins. "This also lowers the population of snakes in the rice field."

Suwito asks: "What do we need to do to maintain a balanced population among pests and their natural enemies?" This question generates a long discussion until one participant responds with: "How about if we talk to farmers here using the intensification package about its impact on natural enemies?" Again there is much discussion until, at last, the facilitator says: "Well, we need to talk more about this matter. I think each group should think of a way to spread the idea of a balanced ecosystem among farmers here."

11.30 hours: group dynamics

The goal of group dynamics exercises is to strengthen group cohesion, maintain motivation and help participants develop organizational skills. There is a large menu of group dynamics activities that facilitators learn during their training. Often facilitators will help farmers process the activity by asking them how the activity is relevant to the special topic of the day or to some local farming problem. The group dynamics activity described in Box 3.5 concerns communications.

Box 3.5 Group dynamics: the chain message

Tulus Tani Farmer Group FFS
Karang Talok village, Pemalang district,
Central Java

The chain message is the group dynamics activity. The point of the activity is to sensitize participants to the importance of listening to good communication. The participants were divided into three groups. The first member of each group was given the same message by the facilitator. Then that person was asked to whisper the message to the next person in line. This process was repeated until the last person in each group had heard the message. The facilitator then asked the final members in each chain to announce the message he received. Not one group was able to get the correct message to the last member in the chain. The facilitator helped the participants to analyse and learn from the activity by asking the following and other questions:

  • Why do you think the final message was incorrect?

  • How can we improve our listening skills?

  • What happens when we tell someone what we think a message means instead of repeating the message as it was told to us?

  • What kinds of problems can occur when messages are incorrect?

12.00 hours: review and planning

The FFS meeting ends with a summary of developments in the field in which results of the agroecosystem analysis are reviewed. Other long-term activities such as field studies in plant nutrition or plant compensation are also reviewed at this time. Plans for future field school activities (for example determining the topic for "insect zoo" studies) are usually discussed at this point.

3.1.2 Further notes on the FFS

There remain a few details on FFS activities to provide a picture of the FFS. The following notes add some details to the field visits.

Activity matrices: The following tables describe discreet steps and behaviours that an observer should be able to see when the agro-ecosystem analysis process, a special topic or a group dynamics exercise is being conducted. While these are primarily outlines, the "indicators" column presents the observable steps that are fundamental to the process. Note that for any of the activities the role of the facilitator is to help participants learn, not to teach them.

Table 3.1 Agro-ecosystem activity matrix


Critical steps



AESA (Primary FFS activity develops good IPM habits:

· observation

· analysis

· decision making

Observation & drawing of agro-ecosystem

Participants need to understand process of observation and its purpose or objective. Participants in field observing, taking notes, collecting specimens. Purpose of drawing to summarize observation, focus of analysis.

1. Before activity participants are told
a) goal of activity and
b) process to be followed in activity.
2. Participants all in the field.
3. Process of observation includes the whole plant.
4. Observations written down.
5. Specimens collected.
6. Drawings summarize observations.

Farmers become IPM experts)

Presentation & analysis

Results of analysis presented to large group by one member of each small group.
Problems posed, questions asked.
Purpose: to discuss field conditions & solve "what if" scenarios. Objective: to improve decision making & analytical skills based on ecosystem observation.
Facilitator helps group achieve objective by asking probing questions to help analytical process.

1. Presentations made by member of each small group.
2. Participants ask questions of small group presenter.
3. Facilitator asks questions appropriate to analysis
4. Groups discuss field conditions & agroecosystem relationships.
5. "What if" scenarios discussed.
6. Previous weeks agroecosystem drawings used for comparisons.
7. Field management decisions critically examined by group.
8. Other factors in addition to economic thresholds are analysed (eg. plant stage, natural enemies)
9. Facilitator uses leading questions to help participants analyse what was learned during activity.

Special topics activities are discovery learning activities. They depend upon the facilitator's ability to pose questions that will help participants to critically analyse what they have observed during the activity.

Table 3.2 Special topics activity matrix


Critical steps



Special topics such as ecology, rats, biology

Statement of goal

Participants must know purpose of activity and what they will learn.

1. Before activity begins participants told goal and process of activity.

Small group process

Participants clear about what they must do and why. All materials at hand.

1. All participants active and involved in the activity.
2. No small group dominated by one person to the point that others are totally excluded.


Activity analysed by participants. Facilitator asking leading questions so that participants know what happened during activity and why.
Special topics provide opportunity to learn of topics important to IPM.

1. Participants present results of their work during the activity summarizing what has happened and why.
2. Leader asks leading questions to help participants examine steps in process of activity and apply learning to"real life".

Many of the group dynamics exercises are physical and active; others are more like brain teasers. The role of the facilitator is to help participants analyse what they have experienced so that they reach a greater understanding of how people tend to behave in various situations.

Table 3.3 Group dynamics activity matrix


Critical points



Group dynamics (enhances teamwork & problem-solving skills)


Participants informed about objectives and process before activity begins. Materials for activity, if needed, are on hand before activity begins. Time allowed for activity is sufficient to achieve objective.

1. Before activity begins participants told goal and process of activity.
2. All participants involved/active, no single individual dominating activity.


Leader takes time to: review objective of activity; lead discussion concerning what happened during the activity, point out issues arising during activity; help participants to make conclusions based on their experience during activity.

1. Leader: a) reviews goal and process of activity; b) helps participants identify key learning points based on activity; c) asks questions which help participants learn from the experience.

The insect zoo: The insect zoo and cage studies should be conducted as part of any FFS. The insect zoo can be considered to be either a special topic or an additional study. This activity can focus on locally identified pest problems, but it is often used in any of several possible general topics such as pest and predator relationships, insect life cycles and plant and insect relationships.

Often the insect zoo is used to help participants discover the predatory capacities of natural enemies. In general, the insect zoo helps FFS participants to increase their understanding of ecological principles in their agro-ecosystems.

The insect zoo consists of a rice plant placed in a pot and enclosed either with clear plastic or very fine netting. The point of the enclosure is that nothing can get in or out. The photograph above shows the physical structure of the insect zoo. Several stakes keep the enclosing plastic or netting off the plant.

A fairly simple insect zoo study would be to examine the capacity of a wolf spider to consume BPH. The spider and a number of BPH - the number of BPH should be sufficient to provide the spider a couple of days of hunting, maybe 40 adults - are placed together in the zoo and the zoo is sealed. FFS participants are then asked to observe the insect zoo over the week between FFS meetings and take note of what happens. The following week at the FFS, they would be expected to report on what happened. The goal of insect zoo studies is to help increase the participants' understanding of relationships among insects found in the rice field agro-ecosystem.

Field studies: In contrast to special topics, which are usually short exercises or experiments, a field study usually continues for the entire season of the FFS. One example of an FFS field study is the comparison study of IPM-treated and non-IPM-treated field plots that is conducted as part of every FFS (see Box 3.2). These plots could be further divided into subplots to conduct additional studies, often known as supporting studies. In general the supporting studies focus on local issues identified in the needs assessment conducted as part of the preparation meetings for the FFS. Almost any study done as a part of the season-long training of IPM field trainers could be designed as a supporting study for an FFS. Participants begin to learn the process of doing applied field research from these field studies. Farmers who had gone on to conduct their own research pointed out that the exposure to various studies in the FFS provided them with the motivation to continue applied research in their own fields.

An example of a common supporting field study at an FFS is the simulation of stemborer damage by the cutting of rice plant tillers. In this study, plants in study blocks within one of the comparison study fields would have their tillers cut (see photo above). The study could be as simple as cutting 20 percent of the tillers in 1 m2 blocks at 14, 30 and 55 DAT. During the FFS, participants would make weekly observations of the growth of the treated plants and take note of the numbers of tillers in these plants. At harvest, the participants would compare the number of tillers and grains, grain weight, and yield of the study blocks with samples from the larger field in which the supporting study was conducted. The study is a good demonstration of the capacity of a plant to compensate for damage due to stemborers.

Preparation meetings: Preparation meetings have become an important part of organizing FFSs in many countries. In general these meetings are used to:

Local leaders will want to know about administrative issues such as the general timing of the FFS. The purpose for meeting with local leaders is to help them understand the FFS process and how they can contribute to making the FFS successful. The meeting with potential participants should be relatively structured and scheduled so that most of the farmers in the area, cooperative or neighbourhood can attend. This meeting can affect the make-up of the FFS in terms of the curriculum of the FFS, the number of women who will participate in the FFS and the understanding of participants about the FFS (this understanding will in turn affect their commitment to the FFS). Community mapping is a technique that can be used in these meetings to help participants analyse field realities.

The gender analysis activity is meant to raise the awareness of the group regarding the role of women in agriculture. The goal of the analysis is to recruit women for the FFS or to increase the number of women participating in it. Women play an important role in agriculture throughout Asia. A policy of actively recruiting women is almost the only way to guarantee that significant numbers of women participate in FFSs.

Materials: Some of the materials required to support FFS activities include plywood sheets (as bases 24 to draw on), large pieces of newsprint or poster paper, crayons, large felt-tipped pens, and notebooks and pens for farmers. Farmers generate their own learning materials, from drawings of insects to analytical tools. These materials are more consistent with local conditions, are less expensive to develop and are controlled by the learners themselves.

The ballot box: Usually an FFS has a pre- and post-test. The ballot box is a diagnostic test developed in the 1980s for IPM training in the Philippines. This is a field-based test in which 20 to 25 "balloting" stations (bamboo stakes with three small boxes and a multiple-choice question attached) are placed around the edge of a rice plot. The boxes have small slots in their tops through which ballots are entered. The ballots are usually cardboard paper "coins" that are numbered. Each participant is given an identifying number from one to twenty-five. Participants are given a set of 25 paper "coins" with their number inscribed. They then go from station to station and place their coins in the boxes that are lettered according to the choices associated with each question. The questions might include:

Balt box "polling station"

No drawings or pictures are used and no abstract questions are asked that cannot be based on a live sample. The pre- and post-tests should cover the same material and be of the same relative difficulty.

The tests are usually conducted as part of the first and last meetings of an FFS.

The results should point out weak areas of knowledge (in the case of the pre-test) or the learning needs of participants. The post-test, when compared to the pre-test, can be used to indicate improvements in knowledge among FFS participants and to determine needs for follow-up activities.

3.1.3 The role of the facilitator

The role of the facilitator is crucial in an FFS. In general the facilitator:

Organizing an FFS requires a facilitator to:

Leading an FFS appears easy in the hands of an experienced facilitator. The key is confidence and this only comes with experience. The above matrices detail what the role of a facilitator is in the various FFS activities. In general, the facilitator introduces an activity, clarifies the process, sets participants to work, asks open-ended and "what if" questions as groups make their presentations, and summarizes presentations underlining the important points that were learned during the exercise. This summary can also be done via questioning. An additional role that is important is the procurement of materials. Facilitators can best do this at the local level.

Administrative activities vary from country to country; they depend in many cases upon the needs of the organization taking responsibility for the implementation of the FFS. A few basic administrative activities would greatly help a "system" to know about how well FFS implementation is going as well as help the facilitator to improve his or her skills. These activities could include:

Bio data helps the facilitator to keep track of who has participated in FFSs in a particular village. Preand post-test data can help docment increased knowledge on the part of participants and provide a record for reference. Activity plans and reports help the facilitator and his or her supervisor to prepare for and review FFS meetings. Baseline data are useful if a programme wants to determine whether farmers changed their practices because of attending an FFS. Those participants who provided baseline data can be re-interviewed to determine what changes they have made based on their FFS experience.

Constructive communications with local leaders and supporting agency staff essentially means that the facilitator needs to keep these persons informed about what is happening in the FFS. Simple steps to good communications with local leaders include inviting them to FFSs, visiting their offices and perhaps taking them to see the FFS study fields. The field day, an activity late in the FFS schedule, is meant, in part, to let these leaders see the results of an FFS.

3.2 Implementation issues

This section examines some of the problems related to FFS implementation. Problems can arise concerning the conduct of FFSs regardless of the scale of FFS implementation. In general, the problems fall into two categories, facilitation and logistics.

3.2.1 Facilitation

Facilitation problems arise because of a few simple issues. Sometimes facilitators feel they lack technical knowledge (this may really be the case). This condition often leads to a lack of self-confidence which may lead in turn to an erosion of the participatory nature envisioned for FFS activities. For example, the facilitator may decide to lecture and/or limit discussion regarding topics that he or she is unsure of.

A second possible cause of facilitation problems arises when a training-of-trainer (TOT) session does not provide enough opportunities for participants to master the FFS process. This can occur when participants are conducting FFSs in parallel with their own training. Usually a group of TOT participants jointly conduct an FFS. The planned FFS activities may not be practised enough prior to the FFS meeting, or the shyer TOT participants may allow others to take charge of activities and "hide" in the group. In either case the result is that TOT participants complete their training lacking enough experience to confidently facilitate an FFS.

A third reason for poor facilitation skills results from inadequate support and supervision by TOT trainers of the FFSs conducted as part of the TOT. FFS activities conducted as part of a TOT need to be processed by trainers and participants to determine what went well, what needs to be improved and how to make those improvements. Supervising trainers need to spend time working on the facilitation skills of FFS facilitators.

A fourth reason why participants may complete their TOT without having achieved mastery of the facilitation skills needed to conduct an FFS is that those skills simply were not stressed. A common tendency is to focus on technical issues in a TOT and allow facilitation skills to take care of themselves. The point is that all activities in a TOT, as in an FFS, should follow an experiential learning process.

The steps to correct facilitation problems are obvious. First, the TOT needs to provide both practice in conducting FFS activities and time for participants to analyse these processes. Second, the TOT needs to include adult non-formal education topics in its curriculum. Third, trainers in TOTs need to be more than just technically sound from the IPM perspective. The best TOT trainers have experience in conducting FFSs.

Fourth, currently in most countries, participants conduct FFSs in parallel with their TOT. Participants need to master ecological principles or facilitation skills before beginning an FFS. When the TOT and laboratory season are conducted together, several measures can be taken to improve the quality of both the TOT and the FFS that are being conducted.

There is no real dilemma between technical skills and facilitation skills training. TOT processes for learning technical knowledge are much the same as those activities in an FFS. They are based on discovery learning via structured participatory exercises. If these exercises are well analysed as part of the TOT, participants will master the facilitation skills needed to conduct an FFS. We learn how to help others learn by observing how we learn. Facilitators set an example at the FFS; TOT participants will follow that example in the field.

3.2.2 Logistics

Logistic issues greatly affect the quality of an FFS. They include:

Location of the FFS: Often the decision criteria for distribution of FFSs are based on administrative boundaries. The more a farmer is dependent on farming, the more likely he or she will be interested in an FFS and the more he or she will participate in it. Conversely, part-time farmers may well turn out to be part-time participants in an FFS. Thus, it makes sense to locate FFSs in areas where farmers are more likely to be full-time farmers and full-time participants.

Synchronisation of the FFS with the planting season: There is often pressure to get field schools implemented. The FFS is designed to run parallel with the growing season so that farmers can observe field ecology issues through all stages of plant growth. If start-up of the FFS does not mesh with the planting season, two things happen. First, as the season wears on it becomes more difficult to establish field study plots for the FFS, since the farmers owning the fields may have already applied pesticides. Second, starting late in the season means that participants are not given an opportunity to study the rice agro-ecosystem at all of the important stages of plant growth. Therefore, many of the important lessons to be learned about early-season ecosystem balance, plant compensation and the emergence and development of herbivore and predator populations are missed. A rice IPM FFS should begin between the first and third week after transplanting. Figure 1 shows a timeline for a 12-week FFS that is synchronized with a planting season to start a week after transplanting.

Figure 1 FFS meetings and the rice planting season

Maintenance of a full meeting schedule: An FFS meeting should consist of the agro-ecosystem analysis activity, a special topic and a group dynamics activity. Not doing so has been shown to lead to low attendance and low interest by participants. Farmers demand quality as they make continual costbenefit evaluations of their time investment in an FFS. If they feel the activity is not worth their while they will choose not to participate. If five or six participants make this decision the FFS will be on a downward spin. The issue is not one of cutting off discussion or short-changing an activity so that a daily schedule is maintained. Farmers will willingly allow an FFS meeting to overrun its closing time if they feel that they are getting something out of it.

The causes of activities dropping off the agenda or meetings being shortened include:

The first issue can be negotiated with participants and another day in the same week be found for the meeting. Both facilitators and farmers should learn how to negotiate these issues. Poor meeting logistics refers to time wasted because of poor planning, poor facilitation and/or poor preparation. Too much time taken in walking between study fields and meeting place can seriously eat into a daily schedule. Keeping the learning fields close to the meeting place is very important. Lack of clarity in providing instruction regarding the process of an activity can lead to false starts and poor implementation and take time away from other activities. Materials needed for FFS activities may be on hand, but they have to be used effectively. This means that the facilitator needs to know what he or she wants to do, how materials can be used, and to have them available when they are needed.

Control over study fields: Study fields are the heart of the FFS. Besides the need for synchronicity and propinquity, there must be an agreement with the owner of the fields to abide by FFS decisions regarding management of the plots used by the FFS. This means that insecticides should not be used in the IPM treatment fields unless the FFS takes that decision. FFS participants need to feel at liberty to walk in the study fields. If they or the owner feel that doing so would cause a loss to the owner of the field, they are less likely to go into the field during certain stages of plant growth. Some form of compensation or "rent" may be needed for the owner to be agreeable to the above two conditions. The facilitator will have to negotiate with field owners in preparation for the FFS and the FFS budget should include compensation for owners.

Relationship of FFS to local needs: The push to get an FFS organized and under way may lead to overlooking the locally important farming problems that need to be addressed by the FFS, especially if they concern pests, diseases or growing a healthy crop. Good preparation meetings should turn up these problems. There are many ways to do needs assessments. The Indonesian programme has used a variety of mapping techniques allowing farmers to identify hot spots and hot issues. If farmers feel that they are getting a national curriculum they may avoid the FFS.

Inadequate materials and/or late arrival of funds: Taking for granted that materials and budget will flow on time can be a mistake. Financial systems have their own schedules that often do not mesh with planting schedules. This problem influences the synchronization of FFS meetings with planting time, the quality of activities, the number of activities conducted at a particular meeting, the compensation of study field owners, preparation meetings and the number of FFS meetings. If funds are inadequate to begin with or erode before they arrive in the field, all FFS activities will suffer. While mass-produced learning materials are not an issue for FFS implementation, materials that participants use for their own learning are an issue (see the section on materials under "Activities", above). They must be on hand when needed and their quality must guarantee that they can be used as planned.

These issues should be addressed from the beginning. Project design documents can ensure that there is sufficient budget available for FFS activities. The design can also detail a process for delivering funds to the field that will guarantee that adequate funds arrive in the field on time (i.e. so that the FFS is synchronized with the planting season). Purchasing materials is most effective when done locally. There are often mistakes when materials are purchased at the national level. Also the delivery of materials on time to trainers across the many scattered locations where FFSs are conducted can be difficult. IPM field trainers know the materials that they need and they can get them locally avoiding cross-country transport.

A final note on logistics: In successful programmes, the locus of decision making has been moved as close to the field as possible. This means that FFS facilitators have a chance to contribute to decision making and controlling logistical support. They are the people in a given system who are most involved with FFSs and the needs of farmers. They have an active interest in guaranteeing that what they do is useful to farmers. FFS facilitators care; they should have a voice in decisions regarding what they are doing.

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