Глобальная платформа фермерских полевых школ

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO THE 16TH OF JULY! Innovation award on farmer field schools




Innovation is crucial for addressing the complex challenges facing global food and agriculture today. With the existential threat of climate change and increasing pressures on food security, ecosystems, and rural livelihoods, there is a growing recognition of the need for innovative solutions and knowledge generation processes that can enhance rural livelihoods, resilience, sustainability and equity in agriculture.

Renewing farmer education and rural advisory services and empowering innovation in rural areas will play an important role in the transformation towards more sustainable agrifood systems. 

Farmer Field Schools (FFS) have proven to be effective platforms in over 90 countries to support rural development, innovation and rural transformation at the technical, political, institutional and social level. Field schools provide opportunities for hands-on learning, experimentation, and collaboration, allowing producers to develop and experiment with new techniques, processes and practices and build collective action. 

But FFS have not yet achieved their full potential for territorial-level food systems and agroecological transitions; and there is huge potential to better identify, document, and scale successful innovations which are developed through FFS interventions, so we can maximize their impact and reach. This calls for a collective effort in pushing our understanding of how FFS can contribute innovatively to building more sustainable agrifood systems, driving transformative changes both now and in the future.

In 2023, FAO launched a process to take stock of recent innovations in FFS and to brainstorm on priorities for action, laying the foundations for upgrading FFS to fit emerging challenges. This process is aiming at setting collectively some global directions for the Future of FFS, involving key FFS stakeholders around the world.  

To encourage innovation and contribute to building the "FFS of the future", the FFS Innovation Award will help collect, celebrate and share impactful innovations in the implementation of FFS in support of transition towards sustainable agrifood systems, including through agroecology.

Why an FFS Innovation Award? - Objectives
  • To scout, recognize and encourage innovations developed by FFS practitioners and producers through participation in FFS interventions.
  • To provide a platform for FFS practitioners and producers to showcase their innovative solutions 
  • To fuel collaboration, debate and inspiration on the Future of FFS among diverse stakeholders including FFS practitioners, researchers, producers, civil society, private sector and decision makers working on agriculture, innovation policy and investment - by organizing events to share, discuss and help select the promising FFS Innovations
  • Provide innovations that can be capitalized in the work of future development interventions and of the Global FFS Platform, and in future publications on Agricultural Technology and Innovation (ATIO) of the FAO Office of Innovation. 
Who can apply?

All programme developers, programme managers and FFS practitioners (including but not limited to producers, producer groups, FFS facilitators or trainers and project/programme teams, development organizations, social entrepreneurs, private sector etc) can submit the innovative and impactful solutions or practices whcih they have implemented through participation in FFS. Submissions should demonstrate positive impacts achieved (or achievable), practical applicability, creativity and innovativeness in making use of FFS approach for innovation support and impacts.

The award welcomes all types of adaptations and variations of the farmer field school approach, including agro-pastoral field schools (APFS), junior farmer field and life schools (JFFLS), farmer business schools (FBS), farmer field and business schools (FFBS), farmer marketing schools (FMS) and so on.

Why apply? 
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to the FAO Science and Innovation Forum in October 2024 in Rome, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their experience to a global audience of several thousand participants. 
  • Recognition and visibility for their innovative solutions on the FAO FFS Global Platform and FAO reports.
  • Contribution to the design of a new generation of FFS interventions, for AFS transformation
  • Networking opportunities with donors, researchers, policymakers, FAO teams and other stakeholders in the food and agriculture sector during the Science and Innovation Forum, to explore collaborations and support to develop and scale their innovations. 
  • Participation in Rome workshop/Acceleration Zone event on the future of FFS
What kind of innovation? - Scope

Innovation consists of doing something new and different in a given context, whether solving an old problem in a new way, addressing a new problem with a proven solution, or bringing a new solution to a new problem (UN Innovation Network, 2019).

The award welcomes both innovative ways of implementing FFS as well as innovations coming out of FFS groups.

Types of innovations welcome in the award may include:

Innovations promoted by FFS/ emerging out of FFS groups
  • Innovative technologies or farming/farm management practices tested in and/or emerging out of the FFS (sustainable mechanization, innovative soil health practices, regenerative agriculture, agroecological pest management, agroforestry etc.)
  • Innovations that address new problems in specific contexts through FFS (e.g. urban agriculture for displaced groups in Sahel, climate refugees in South-East Asia)

Innovative ways of making use of the FFS approach for more impact
  • New methodologies to deepen learning and empowerment or scale the learning through FFS (e.g. use of ICT, participatory MEL systems; life-long learning approaches, behavioral sciences...)
  • Innovative partnerships to implement FFS (e.g. with private sector, research as co-innovator, civil society as evaluators, farmer organizations)
  • Combination of FFS with an innovation support facility (e.g. lighthouse farms, living labs, innovation platforms, agrilab, incubator, etc)
  • Combination of FFS with other approaches (e.g. territorial markets or value chains, landscape/water management committees, etc.)
  • FFS applied to new innovation domains (e.g. nexus energy-environment; gastronomy and hospitality; agroecology transitions; mechanization; etc)
  • New type of FFS audience and participants, especially more vulnerable (e.g. indigenous groups, refugees, displaced groups etc.)

In each case the added value of the FFS approach is relative to a given context.

Selection Process

A panel of experts from FAO and partner organizations will review the submissions based on predetermined criteria, including innovation, relevance, scalability, and proven and/or potential impact. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present their experience during the FAO Science and Innovation Forum, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a global audience.  
All innovations gathered during the award will be capitalized and will feed the vision of the future of FFS.

Orientative timeline of selection process:

When reviewing applications, the panel of experts will use criteria such as:

Minimum requirements:

  • The innovation should have been supported by or emerged out of farmer field schools' intervention or been creatively adapted through FFS interventions, following principles of co-creating knowledge. 
  • Applicants must illustrate how their innovation contributes to the shift toward sustainable agrifood systems, including through agroecology.
  • The innovation must preferably have already shown documented and measurable impacts/ outcomes
  • Applicants must illustrate to what extent their FFS approach is new in their intervention context and/or in the broader context of the global community of FFS practitioners 

Additional selection criteria may include: (NB eligibility criteria can be adjusted as new information becomes available; criteria below to be finetuned and possibly merged with minimum requirements).

Additional criteria:

  • Level of mobilization of a plurality/diversity of resources/actors in the design and implementation of the innovation, including but not limited to integrating elements of indigenous knowledge with a commitment to fostering diversity and promoting solutions rooted in local traditions.
  • The innovation should ideally exhibit inclusivity by addressing the needs of women and men, youth, Indigenous People, or poor, vulnerable, and underserved groups. 
  • Engagement between the community of users and diverse external partners around the innovation.
  • Low cost/low tech innovations particularly adapted to constraints of resource poor communities.
  • Geographical diversity.