The KARI Farmer Field School (FFS) pilot project was initiated in March 2001 with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. The project aimed at incorporating the FFS approach in the Soil Management Project (SMP) and Legume Research Network Project (LRNP) of KARI. The first phase of these two projects ended in December 2000 some six years on the ground. Ten technologies were developed and were ready for scaling up at the end of the first Phase.
The two projects adopted the FFS approach as one of the methodologies for scaling up the technologies because of the success it had had in Asia in dissemination of IPM technology. Since the FFS approach was new to most project staff in this region, the pilot project was designed to include a strong training component.
The project aimed at incorporating the FFS approach in the Soil Management Project (SMP) and Legume Research Network Project (LRNP) of KARI.
Methodology: Farmer Field School
The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach was one of the scaling approaches adopted by the two projects to disseminate the technologies. It was adopted because of the success it had had in Asia in scaling up IPM technologies for control of rice insect pests. The approach is a participatory approach that uses non-formal adult education methods based on experimental learning techniques and participatory training methods. It emphasizes learning by doing. The learning process takes place in the field and is normally designed to last for a full growing/cropping cycle. This enables farmers to participate fully in implementation of all components of the technology from planting to harvesting. The learning process accords farmers opportunity to observe and reflect the merits and demerits of the technologies and thereby make informed decisions of whether to adopt them or not. The FFS approach was adopted on pilot basis for three years beginning March 2001 with the aim of incorporating FFS approach into the SMP and LRNP activities for disseminating promising technologies.
Activities and outputs
- Holding of a FFS sensitization workshop;
- Training of Trainers course (TOT) on the FFS approach;
- Development of farmer training curricula based on the technologies to be scaled up;
- Development of monitoring and evaluation tools for the FFS approach;
- Support of three MSc. students; and Running about 45 FFS in five KARI centers.
FFS sensitization workshop. This workshop was held from 6-8th March 2001 in western Kenya. Its primary objective was to sensitize senior managers of KARI and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), researchers and extensionists implementing SMP and LRNP, and farmers on the FFS approach for information transfer and scaling up of agricultural technologies. About 90 participants attended this workshop.
Training of Trainers (TOT) course in FFS approach. The aim of this course was to equip the SMP and LRNP staffs with methods, skills, attitudes and knowledge to design, facilitate and implement FFS in their project mandate areas. The participants came from KARI centers at Kitale, Kisii, Kakamega, Embu and Mtwapa. The course was conducted in two parts; the first part covered the theory of the FFS, planning and running FFS. The second part was a season long training in the field where participants initiated and ran FFS. FAO Kenya provided two facilitators to conduct the training. About 60 participants went through this training.
Development of farmer training curricula of the technologies to be scaled up. During part one of the ToT course participants developed draft training curricula of the FFS they were to initiate in their respective project areas. These draft curricula formed the basis for preparation of weekly lessons of the FFS.
The ToT participants met once a week to prepare the lessons for the following week and also improve the contents of the lesson of the previous week using feedback from farmers. At the end of the ToT the weekly lessons were to be compiled into a farmer training curricula for each of the technologies to be scaled up. Participants were encouraged to document different stages of the technologies being demonstrated which were to be used to enhance the quality of the curricula.
Development of participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) tools for the FFS. This was to be done during a methodology development workshop and by four Msc. students who were expected to undertake research to refine the FFS process and test some tools developed during the workshop.