Plateforme mondiale des Champs-Écoles des Producteurs

Creating virtual learning spaces through the weekly field schools hub webinars


In the last two decades, Farmer Field Schools (FFS) have contributed greatly to the attainment of food security in the Eastern African region.  The Eastern Africa Field Schools Hub (FSH), currently hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) was launched in 2018 to to provide a platform for the institutionalization and oversight on quality implementation of the field school (FS) approach among 11 countries and other FS actors in the region. Through an ambitious physical outreach programme in the 11 countries, the FSH aims at enhancing the quality of FS implementation through technical backstopping.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented challenging conditions have called for alternative ways of learning and exchanging. As such, the FS-Hub adopted Zoom webinars, scheduled every Wednesday of the week, to provide continuous learning and support to the global farmer field school community. These webinars have since then covered a wide range of topics, from technical matters such as aquaculture field schools to more organizational topics such as investments programs.

The inaugural webinar was held on 13th May 2020. Mr. Max Olupot, the FSH Coordinator, highlighted the mandate, goal and planned activities of the FSH. 

Experience sharing at the heart of the weekly webinars

Tapping on existing partnerships and exploring new ones, the Eastern Africa FSH have welcomed a wide range of actors and organizations to share their experience on FFS and open a discussion on the challenges they experience, such as COVID-19, FFS scaling-up and more:

  • Mr. Shinji Ogawa, presented the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) social forestry programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya. The institutionalization of the FS approach within the Kenya Forestry Service and the development of a Social Forestry Manual are the products of this initiative. 
  • Madam Annam, a seasoned JFFLS facilitator, elaborated on the introduction and scaling up of the approach in Kenya. Borrowing heavily from the original context where JFFLS was used to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on farming households
  • Mr. Thomas Ameny from FAO Malawi and Ms. Catia Marianhero from FAO Angola, described how they have integrated COVID-19 messaging in the FFS programmes.
  • Tapping on the existing partnerships with the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, Mr. Isaac Bwire, presented the lessons learned from implementing the Community disaster risk reduction among agro pastoral field schools in South Sudan.

When it comes to FFS sustainability, there is no clear formula to go about it. Taking cognizance of the need for FS-led community investment initiatives, one of the beyond FS strategies is the use of solar floppy sprinklers for large scale farming operations. This was presented by Dr. Chip Stem, the Eastern Africa franchise holder for Solar Floppy International.


To ensure continued learning, the EA-FSH also organized capacity building sessions to support facilitators, master trainers and project implementers to set up quality FFS, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, Mr. Baha Nguma from Kenya, described a “new normal” prescription for FS facilitators. This included the proposal to integrate disaster risk reduction strategies within FS implementation.

Ambassador Benjamin Mweri presented a case study of institutionalizing the FS approach in Higher learning institutions in Kenya. The presentation focused on the six steps of the generic institutionalization pathway namely: a) sensitization and buy-in b) Curriculum development and revision c) training of facilitators, d)season-long training of facilitators e)FS curriculum implementation and f) Outreach and scale-up.

The FS-Hub collaboration with the Global Farmer Field School platform was accented by three presentations.

  • To respond to the COVID-19 emergency, a webinar was organized with the global FFS platform to further enable farmer field school networks at local, national and global level to be a starting point to build positive responses to the pandemic. During the webinar, many experiences. were shared on how FFS were adapting to the situations, but also provided essential information such as basic precaution measures and key considerations when running an FFS and suggested FFS activities on COVID-19 and how to implement them. The webinar was such success that a re-run has been organized counting in total more than 300 participants.
  • Support to aquaculture through FFS was jointly presented by Mr. Martin van der Knaap and Ms. Alice Jesse. The global aquaculture statistics were provided, giving the rationale to invest in aquaculture for sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The third presentation was on the FAO e-learning academy. Dr. Cristina Petracchi, informed the FS-hub forum on the great strides, FAO has gone through in developing accredited training courses. The greatest accolade is on the issuance of digital badges upon successful completion of e-learning courses. On the 16th of September, the webinar will focus on a stakeholder consultation on the development of a Farmer Field Schools E-Learning course, that will be soon accessible to all. 

Aside from the rigorous weekly presentations, on two occasions, the FS-Hub organized  open fora that gartered for a free flow of consultative ideas. Some of the emerging discussion topics included accreditation of FS facilitators, funding of the FS-Hub, partnerships and the need for regional networking.

These webinars, with an average attendance of around 30 interactive participants, up to 160 participants, have opened a virtual knowledge sharing space as a response to the current travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 pandemic. The webinars are recorded on the an online repository for posterity. The videos are being uploaded on the YouTube channel of the Eastern Africa Field School Hub:

Post-webinar discussions are sustained on the FS-Hub WhatsApp platform and other social media channels. For more interaction with the Eastern Africa Field Schools Hub, please subscribe to all or any of the following: