Farmers Field Schools (FFS): Strengthening capacities at sub-regional level

Farmers Field Schools (FFS) employ participatory learning processes to enhance capacities of rural communities to improve food production and livelihoods, tailored to local needs. FFS were initiated in Asia over 20 years ago in the context of FAO and Government led efforts on Integrated Pest Management (IPM). 

Since then they have spread across the globe and evolved, with support from different actors, well beyond IPM to become a widely used approach to education, community development and capacity building. There is an increasing interest and demand for FFS by governments and civil society, academia and donors, as a means to enhance capacities for sustainable food production, by building resilience and empowering vulnerable communities to cope with emerging challenges such as climate change.
In response to this demand, FAO led a Global FFS Review process, which involved 15 countries in experience sharing through national workshops; and two rounds of virtual discussions on FFS and quality FFS programming.
Building on the Global FFS Review, and in the context of the Strategic Objective 2, a process is now being promoted to support the development of quality FFS programs at the regional and sub-regional levels. For an example see the box below.
The key elements of this process include:

  • development of a “Guidance Document for quality FFS programming”
  • one sub-regional workshop on FFS, to be held in Zambia in December 2014
  • establishment of a sub-regional network of FFS experts

The sub-regional workshop, organized in partnership with the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa and FAO Representation in Zambia, will provide an opportunity to build the capacity of participants on FFS principles; map on-going FFS activities/programs in the sub region; develop a road map for further development of FFS; establish a network of FFS experts and practitioners and link with experts/networks in other regions; identify gaps/needs for specific training.
Based on the outcome of this workshop, similar workshops may be conducted and FFS networks established in other sub-regions.


In Jordan FFSs have been implemented since 2004: about 2000 farmers have been trained as well as 200 facilitators, in the context of the FAO Regional IPM Programme in the Near East. In a recent meeting with an FFS in the South Ghour, Ashraf AlHawamdeh (responsible for FFS activities at NCARE), and Nayel Kawalit (MOA), along with a group of farmers, discussed the impact of the FFSs on farmers livelihood:

  • The FFS approach can significantly contribute to poverty alleviation, risk reduction as well as better yield, increased profits and information sharing among groups of farmers;
  • The adaptation of IPM has changed farmers approach to pesticides use, making them less dependent on external advice, while raising their awareness on environmental issues;

  • One of the difficulties encountered is how to motivate other farmers to join. Some of the participants also stressed the importance of meeting with other fellow farmers to share information and create networks;
  • Need also emerged for more training on farm management, agricultural marketing, and new high-value crops and products;
  • The FFSs have lead to an increase of technical expertise among farmers, along with an awareness of sustainability and the importance of protecting the environment. As one participant put it “before this project we use to plant not to farm”;
  • The Government of Jordan provides full support to FFSs as they are considered an important approach promoted by the Extension Service of the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE).



Core Themes