How much do you know about Farmer Field Schools

Test your knowledge and that of your friends

03 Sep 2014

Farmer field schools (FFS) are essentially schools without walls that introduce new technological innovations while building on indigenous knowledge. In FFS, farmers are the experts.

Key features and principles of the FFS approach – TRUE or FALSE?

The FFS approach allows farmers to learn through testing changes in a controlled, group-based environment

TRUE:  Discovery-based learning is an essential part of the FFS as it helps participants to develop a feeling of ownership and to gain the confidence that they are able to reproduce the activities and results on their own.

In FFS, the classroom is the learning ground

FALSE: The field, herd or the landscape is the main learning ground, around which FFS activities are organized. Farmers learn directly from what they observe, collect and experience in their surroundings. They produce their own learning materials (drawings, etc.) based on their observations and experiences.

Trainers decide the FFS curriculum and what is relevant for the farmers to learn

FALSE: It is the farmers who decide what is relevant to them and what they want the FFS to address in their curriculum. This ensures that the information is relevant and tailored to the participants’ actual needs.

FFS training is based on the natural cycle of the study subject

TRUE: This allows farmers to discuss and observe aspects in the field in parallel with what is going on in their own fields, such as learning about weeding which takes place during weeding time.

In FFS the focus is on assimilating information regarding new technology options

FALSE: In FFS the focus is on developing skills and competences rather than assimilating information regarding new technology options. It refers to understanding the basic science behind various aspects of the agro ecosystem to enable farmers to carry out their own innovation process, i.e. understand the ‘why‘ behind the ‘how‘.

To succeed with FFS practices, learners have to forget their way of doing things

FALSE: The basic assumption of FFS is that learning is always rooted in prior experience, which is unique to each person, and that any attempt to promote new learning must take into account experience in some way.

Innovation and experimentation are vital components of the FFS process

TRUE:  Innovation and experimentation offer opportunities for learning and for building capacity among farmers to adapt continually and improve the way they manage their resources. Group managed trials, whether crop – or livestock-based form the nucleus of the FFS learning because the site of the trials usually becomes the meeting point and learning space of the group.

All FFS follow the same systematic training process

TRUE:  The cornerstone is to observe and analyze the field experimental activities. Every FFS includes at least three activities: agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA), a ‘group dynamic activity’ and a ‘topic of the day.’ The group dynamic activity leads towards team building and organizing skills while the ‘topic of the day’ usually includes technical information. It normally relates to a farming-related topic but could also include any other subject of concern to the group members. 

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