FAO in Uganda

FAO launches Eastern Africa Field Schools Support Hub with key partners in Uganda



FAO, in coordination with key partners, officially launched the Eastern Africa Field Schools Support Hub in Entebbe, Uganda on 30 May.

The launch was attended by key field schools (FS) delegates which included FAO representatives from Ethiopia, Kenya and headquarters, permanent secretaries, directors of extension, international agencies, institutions, academia, farmers and private sector members from seven countries in Eastern Africa.

Since the introduction of the FS approach in the 1990s, countless FS have been implemented throughout Eastern Africa and Africa at large. As the approach becomes more popular, new issues and challenges arise and could threaten the quality of FS activities, especially in the East African region. These challenges include how to maintain the quality of FS implementation while scaling up, how to ensure networking and learning among FS actors and ensuring links between field level practice and policy and strategic development.

In response to the identified challenges, FAO, along with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation supported the startup of the Eastern Africa Field Schools Support Hub, which is now hosted by the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services in Kampala, Uganda. The creation of the hub stems from experience from the rapid expansion of the FS approach in areas like Farmer Field Schools, Pastoralist Field schools as well as other adaptations in Eastern Africa, accompanied with increasing demand for knowledge management, sharing and quality control.

The role of the hub is to support the scaling-up and the institutionalization of the FS methodology, policy dialogue and advocacy, enhanced quality of the FS learning process, spearhead knowledge sharing and dissemination among member countries, accredit and validate trainers, partnerships, resource mobilization and monitoring and evaluation of FS activities. The hub is actively operational in its eleven member countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

During the launch of the hub, Beatrice Byarugaba, Director of Extension from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda, said the occasion of the hub launch comes at a time when the ministry has implemented a policy where the FS approach is one of the acknowledged tools for implementation. "Now that extension services have been revived, there are challenges of working with methodologies and knowledge. Knowledge is existent, but the ability to manage it and promote it is a challenge. The ministry is glad the hub will intervene and promote knowledge sharing,” she said.