NSP - Advocacy and training

There is a need to expand the education process to: a) build capacities at field and planning levels for integrated agro-ecological approaches at all levels, from schools to universities; b) to educate and sensitise policy makers on the importance of soil biological functions and sustainable agriculture; and c) to empower communities and civil society organisations for lobbying and decision making.

Integrated plant nutrient management (IPNM) approaches are strongly advocated through FAO technical support, documentation and consultation.

The use of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) is currently being adapted by FAO with partners in Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to promote farmer experimentation on techniques and options for soil productivity improvement (SPI). A curriculum and training materials are being developed and the approach being piloted through training of trainers (farmers and extensionists) adapted to local farming systems and contexts. Involvement of NARS, extension, university and a range of projects is expected to lead to its wider adoption and adaptation to other farming systems. The farmer driven approach, which is based on participatory diagnosis of constraints and opportunities and adapted training curricula, should allow rapid outscaling building on experiences. Conservation agriculture approaches including no till, cover crops and crop rotations, are being introduced among the various options for soil productivity improvement. This is expected to include a focus on soil biological management once training materials will be available. The programme is being executed by national bodies (NGO's, governmental institutions and networks). The Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of CIAT (TSBF-CIAT) is already involved as a partner, as well as resource persons in universities. A joint workshop among partners is planned for February/March 2003 to build on lessons learnt in the development of a wider programme for sub-Saharan Africa. For more information on the activities developed by FFS process visit the FFS-SPI website.

A set of guides on soil health and soil biodiversity are already available:

This training guide consists of 31 exercises with accompanying reference materials which were compiled and edited by Dr William Settle, currently Senior Ecology Consultant to the FAO Programme for Community Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Asia. All exercises have been field tested in training sessions in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Bangladesh. The document has a total of 101 pages and includes many tables and diagrams. To make it easier to download it has been split into 5 pdf files.

A brochure on standard methods for assessment of soil biodiversity and land use practice. This document is included within a set of lectures notes prepared under the alternatives to Slash-and-Burn project and edited by Prof. Mike Swift and Dr. David Bignell. Download[864 Kb]

This training module is included within a broader Soil Productivity Improvement toolbox.

A soil macrofauna field manual intended for trainers and farmers is being prepared by IRD and partners with FAO support.

A document (in Spanish) prepared by Cornell University together with "Escuela de Agricultura Zamorano" in Honduras (Central America).

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