Global Farmer Field School Platform

Farmer Market School: Sharing Innovation


ADRA (Denmark Adventist Development and Relief Agency), a global humanitarian organization working to alleviate poverty, successfully undertook the first-ever Farmer Market Schools Master training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event brought together participants from eight countries, including representatives of NGOs, Ministries of Agriculture and FAO.

Addis Ababa, February 2019 - The master trainers’ course in Ethiopia aims to further disseminate the FMS approach after ADRA implemented pilot activities in Malawi and Zimbabwe in 2016-17.  The Farmer Market School builds on similar principles and discovery learning as used in Farmer Field Schools (FFS). In a FMS, smallholder farmers gain knowledge and skills on how to explore markets, what the market can offer and how to develop market decisions. FMS however differs from Farmer Business Schools in its pedagogic approach, as FBS are based on a theoretical and individual approach, emphasizing less on practical and collective experiences.

An evaluation of the two pilot projects in 2018 identified many positive findings. Farmers had responded very well to the challenge of researching the market for their products, many had established new business relations with value chain actors and started to bulk for collective marketing. The evaluation report recommended that to enhance capacity on FMS, a three-level Training of Trainers system is effective. Training master trainers is the first step. They then will train farmer representatives in Farmer Market Schools, and these representatives will train the other members of the groups they belong to.

Building on the field experiences ADRA planned to organize two FMS master trainings in 2019 in Eastern Africa and in Southern Africa. The first training was carried out in Addis Ababa in February.

The first-ever Farmer Market Schools Master training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The duration of Master Training was two weeks. A total of 19 men and 2 women participated from 7 different countries: Ethiopia (6), Sudan (6), Uganda (2) Malawi (4), Zimbabwe (1), Eritrea (2) and Kenya (1). These included a smallholder, extension workers, project managers, and FFS trainers with experience within agriculture at different levels and broad knowledge of production, administration, field-schools, VSLAs (Village Savings and Loans Association), ASC (Action for Social Change), etc.

The training allowed participants to gain skills and insights on marketing, with emphasis on putting theory into practical action. The value chain approach was used throughout the training by carrying out a participative in-depth analysis on one specific subject relative to the market. 

The trainees also benefited from a practical exercise, where all participants - in groups of three – went outside the training premises into Addis Ababa and tried to follow the value chains of different crops/products by visiting markets, traders and companies.

These trainings attracted a number of organizations, where the approach has not yet been tried, such as Friends of Peace and Development Organization in Sudan, Danchurch Aid in Ethiopia, Total Landcare in Malawi, Pwani Univesity in Kenya and much more. The FMS master trainers are encouraged to start pilot projects to test how well the FMS approach fits the needs of smallholder and the market contexts in the countries or regions.

At the moment there are such pilot projects underway in the following countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Kenya. ADRA expects having more promising pilot projects after the next FMS master training – to be held in June 2019 in Zambia.


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