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Farmer Field Schools as a successful approach to poverty reduction in Guangxi, China.

17/05/2019

Farmer Field Schools successfully improve poorer farmers’ livelihoods through improved agricultural production and commercialization in Guangxi region, China.

 

In China, most impoverished people are small farmers. In the context of “Targeted Poverty Alleviation” – the anti-poverty campaign set by the Chinese Government- Farmer field schools (FFS), an agricultural production-based training and farmer education tool, have been shown to play a vital role in poverty reduction among directly targeted poor smallholder farmers, ,

Guandai Village is a typical impoverished village in mountainous areas in Rongan County. Due to the steep mountains in the village and the long distance from the county downtown, the transportation cost of farm products is high, and impoverished residents face difficulty in increasing income, making the village one of the 120 impoverished villages in the county. In 2013, the plant protection station of Rongan County Agricultural Bureau first launched FFS. In 2017, the station established the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Farmer Field School of China/FAO Pesticide Risk Reduction Programme, targeting, among other localities, Guandai Village.

 

A positive impact for farmers: reduction of pesticides and improved social skills

 

After receiving an extensive IPM FFS training on field observations, plant growth maps, Agroecological system analysis (AESA) and insect zoos, farmers significantly improved both their agricultural practices and economic profits.

The use of pesticide among trainees has decreased markedly, and the use of banned and restricted pesticides has been eliminated. By running and developing the FFS, farmers reduced the amount of pesticides used by 40%, and the pesticide application frequency dropped by 5%. In the past two years, excessive pesticide residues have never been found in spot checks on the farm products planted by the trainees, and not a single case of pesticide poisoning has happened among trainees.

Trainees’ ability to participate and express themselves has also generally improved. Trainees have begun to actively participate in community decisions, and some of the best trainees have become key experts in the village. Some trainees have become facilitators, village officials and poverty reduction leaders by participating in the interactive training.

 

A new agricultural education model, economically profitable

 

The FFS training is based on participatory discussion which strengthen farmers’ independent decision-making capacity. The training sessions enabled them to make the right market decisions in different situations, balancing profits and risks. As a result, using their market knowledge and the intensified crop production, farmers significantly increased their economic profits.

Rong’an village is a good example in this regard. The cumquat is a famous featured farm product in Rong’an. With the development of the local FFS, more and more farmers developed their technical knowledge in agriculture, and the yield of cumquat has improved significantly, with a higher proportion of high quality fruits. The output per 346 acres (140 hectares) among trainees has increased by 500 kilos, an increase of 40%. The direct economic profit has reached 15,400 yuan (2,293 dollars) per 346 hectares, compared to non-trainees’ profit of 7500 yuan (1117 dollars), meaning trainees earned 105.3% more.

The success of these Farmer Field Schools qualified them to be included amongst  the "100 Best Cases" in the Global Solicitation and Challenge Prize on Best Poverty Reduction Practices, where officials from the World Bank, the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and many more organizations discussed and chose the best poverty reduction case studies.

 

Contact information: Le.Dong@fao.org