Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Enhancing capacities for a country-owned transition towards CSA

Enabling Frameworks

Experiential learning and the use of modern technologies – Climate change learning approaches in the Philippines.


Between 2009 to 2012, the Philippine government and various UN agencies, implemented a Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund climate change project (MDG-F 1656) to strengthen institutional capacities to adapt to climate change. One of the project's components, which was led by the Department of Agriculture and FAO, used farmer field schools (FFSs) as an outreach vehicle to expand the pilot projects’ demonstration activities. Other methods, such as e-learning, mentoring and hands-on technical training, were also used.


FFSs, which have a long tradition in the Philippines, harness local knowledge and engage directly with farmers to adopt innovative management practices that are suitable to local conditions and based on a sound understanding of the agricultural ecosystem. Because they create opportunities for participatory testing and experiential learning, and empower farmers, FFSs have proved to be successful in building strong connections with agricultural communities. Initially, FFSs focused on integrated pest management, but over time their scope has expanded to cover other agricultural practices, including integrated crop management. The FFS approach has also expanded from a focus on farms to encompass the broader agricultural landscape. FFSs have been formed to address sustainable land management and watershed management, pastoralist production systems and climate change. 

E-Learning provides a powerful strategy for climate-smart agriculture capacity development. It can take various forms, from individual self-study to facilitated online courses, or blend different approaches by combining ‘face-to-face’ workshops and e-learning. The MDG-F 1656 project in the Philippines introduced an e-learning tool for planning community-based adaptation to climate change. The tool was developed by FAO and targeted to rural agricultural extension workers. It should be noted that bringing e‐learning to rural communities may be challenging if it is not carefully integrated with other learning processes. In the Philippines project, e‐learning was introduced after social mobilization and the identification of good practices had already begun. The e-learning was also followed by field demonstrations that were clearly communicated and easy to understand. In this way, everyone was able to relate e‐learning to their own situation and experience, and could easily define how to put what they had learnt into in practice. 


Compared with using either technique in isolation, there were a number of advantages of combining e‐learning with ‘face-to-face’ interaction in a blended learning approach.

  1. Face-to-face interactions allows the content of the training to be better tailored to the local context and make ad hoc adjustments.
  2. E‐learning allows participants to refer back to sessions of particular interest after the course has been completed, and CD‐ROMs with training materials can be copied and disseminated to others.
  3. Younger extension workers in particular are eager to use e‐learning and to improve their skills with new technology.
  4. The introduction of new e-technology using face to face interactions also increases the participation of older, often computer-illiterate extension workers who would otherwise have been excluded.

For these reasons, the combination of both methods for capacity development has been a key factor in the success of the climate change project.

Source: FAO, 2013b