Global Farmer Field School Platform

Field Schools in the midst of the 10th GFRAS annual meeting

19/11/2019

Royalton Negril, Jamaica – FAO widely participated in this year’s annual meeting for the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Systems (GFRAS), focused on the "Role of RAS in Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management".  

Between the 30 September and the 4 October 2019, various experts, practitioners and rural extension agents gathered for the 10th GFRAS annual meeting to discuss the role of extension and rural advisory services in climate change and disaster risk reduction.

During this meeting, various events were organized to highlight the role of the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) approach in disaster risk management and to share experiences on FFS activities and impacts:

  • A side event was organized on the Role of Farmer Field School for building climate resilience and adaptation in rural communities;
  • Shift and Share sessions on Pastoralist Field Schools and Agroecology principles;
  • A parallel session to present FAO/WMO/IGAD partnership on climate resilience in Eastern Africa;
  • A market place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of FFS.

With a total of 29 participants from all around the globe, FAO side event on role of FFS for climate resilience and disaster risk management (DRM) went with success. The discussions mainly focused on the Agro-ecological approach using examples from Angola and Mozambique, and the use of climate information to develop adaptation strategies in Jamaica. The side event also addressed the role of the FFS approach for developing resilience in communities, using examples from Eastern Africa.

The parallel session  featured key discussions on the role of FFS in  risk reduction strategies, presenting processes for enhanced integration of climate information in Ago-pastoral Field Schools. The discussions highlighted the critical necessity to strengthen local capacity to prepare, respond, restore, and mitigate disasters and climate change impact. Local extension workers are instrumental for this to support climate informed decision making. As such, the capacity of extension advisors need to be strengthened not only about technical issues but also other social and psychological issues to better understand and assist communities in order to build resilience and capacity to respond to the disasters. The Disaster Risk Management is inter-sectoral and requires a collaborative approach, especially between producers, extension agents and scientists, even if limited by a language barrier. Indeed, the capacity to make climate information relevant to producers is weak in many parts of the world and many times there exists a lack of integration between indigenous knowledge and science.

During as Shift and Share session, FAO's 10 Elements of Agroecology were presented as an analytical tool to help operationalize agroecology via RAS. Agroecology is an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems. Particular focus was placed on using the elements as an entry point for thinking about producer systems in order to contribute to climate change adaptation and resilience.   

Many innovative cases were showcased during the discussions, such as the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) project by the University of Reading (UK). PICSA approach uses options metrics to empower farmers to realize opportunities and take informed decisions. The focus was also on Climate Smart Villages in India in which stakeholders participated in a participatory research project tailored to provide location-specific information and services to farmers.

 

The GFRAS 10th annual meeting as a successful platform to advocate for Rural Advisory Systems and Services.

 

The Annual Meeting has become an effective platform to advocate for an enabling policy environment and appropriate investment in RAS, facilitate enhancement of effective and continuous knowledge exchanges and learning, and nurture networking and partnership among those who are working in areas of RAS.

In the context of Disaster Risk Management, the role of RAS is critical before and after the disaster. During disaster, many disaster relief organizations come in, but often, preparation before and recovery from shock is born on the shoulders of RAS providers on the ground. Even helping to deal with mental shocks. One of the key messages from the various events was that the role of RAS should be extended to assist communities and take a broader territorial approach to address community issues as a whole instead of targeting individual training and provision of extension advice.

GFRAS outreach at a regional and country level was significant. It has 17 regional and subregional networks of institutions and 30 country fora of RAS providers. GFRAS and its networks are strategic for FAO to reach out to family farmers who are the key stakeholders infeeding the world while preserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change and ultimately achieving the SDGs. Through collaboration, FAO, as a knowledge organization, in conjunction with GFRAS, could also play a critical role in bridging the contextualization of global knowledge and local knowledge.

 

 

For more information please contact: Delgermaa.Chuluunbaatar@fao.org and Abram.Bicksler@fao.org