Глобальная платформа фермерских полевых школ

Farmer field schools proving effective in reaching more of Malawi’s farmers


197 extension workers and lead farmers graduate from farmer field school master trainers’ course

June was a celebratory month at Mzuzu, Lisasadzi and Thuchila Residential Training Centres (RTCs) with 197 extension workers and lead farmers graduating from season-long Farmer Field School (FFS) Master Trainers’ courses. The graduates are now FFS master trainers (MTs) and community based facilitators (CBFs), respectively, having completed training facilitated under the KULIMA project, ‘Revitalizing Agriculture Clusters and Ulimi wa M’ndandanda through Farmer Field Schools’. The project is enhancing institutionalization and strengthening capacity development on the FFS methodology within the framework of the District Agricultural Extension Services System (DAESS) in the country.

During the graduation, Dr. Friday Njaya, representing the Ministry of Agriculture, showed its strong support to Farmer Field Schools, claiming that it is “one of the most relevant methodologies in addressing critical challenges in the agricultural economy”. On his part Dr. Jerome Chim’gonda-Nkhoma, Director of Agricultural Extension Services, said at Thuchila RTC that FFS is “empowering farmers to increase household food and nutritional security, increased incomes and resilience to climate change”.

The success of the FFS approach to strengthen food security has also been acknowledged by the newly graduated Master Trainer Blessings Kidnie Malimba, who expressed his gratitude for these “new skills that will change the districts of Mulanje, Chiradzulu, and Thyolo districts when it comes to food, nutrition and income security".

The first graduating class of the project is already reaping results with farmers on the ground

 Mary Ngowe, part of the first cohort of Master Trainers, has witnessed the strength of the FFS approach which she says is helping to close the gap in the ratio of the Agricultural Extension Development Officers and farmers, reaching out to farmers faster and to more households with technologies that help to improve their production and productivity, which necessary to uplift livelihoods. Between two Master Trainers, they have established 62 FFS reaching 1680 farm families.

 On the communities’ response to FFS so far, she said that local leaders have been asking for the establishment of more of them, having seen the impact that existing ones have had.

“Local leaders have observed and agree that there is a difference in field performance of community members’ agricultural enterprises in areas where FFS exist versus where they are none,” Ngowe continued.

The FFS in the area are also carrying out participatory research to improve local agroecological conditions. Lead farmer and community-based facilitator of Tanyadira FFS Justin Phiri presented findings from a study of the effects of plant population on rosette virus disease in groundnuts, which the FFS is conducting in their field: “through AESA, […] indications are that double row planting is better for prevention of groundnut rosette disease,”

Since the tailored training courses kicked off in January 2018, 185 (30% female) extension workers and 196 (31% female) CBFs have completed courses at the three RTCs. By the end of the project (2022) the target is to train at least 600 extension workers and 8000 community based facilitators.


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