The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach evolved from the concept that optimal learning derives from experience – in the case of farmers, from observation in the field. The FFS integrates the domains of ecology and non-formal education to give farmers the opportunity to learn about their crop and to learn from each other. Learning objectives of FFS are; i) grow healthy crop, ii) conduct regular field observations, iii) conserve natural enemies of pests, iv) farmers understand ecology and become experts in their own field.The FFS based IPM approach was institutionalized in Pakistan in 2001.
Technology, Development and Demonstration
The FFS approach starts with Training of Facilitators (ToF) in which initially 25 facilitators are trained over a cropping season. For first two days in each week, the ToF participants observe a selected field and do the agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA), draw their figures on charts, present results and discuss their observations of the field on the soil, the crop health, need for water, pests and their natural enemies, establish small experiments on identification and behaviours of pests and their natural enemies through insect zoo. For next two days the ToF participants break into groups of five, each group to run 2 FFS (25 farmers per FFS). There, the farmers are passed through the same experiential learning of AESA, and discussions on the above mentioned field parameters. In addition the farmers are facilitated for social organization.
By the end of 2004, a total of 425 IPM facilitators (8 women) were trained in 12
ToF courses (including 5 Farmer ToF, FToF). A total of 525 crop season long FFSs were conducted. The total numbers of beneficiaries were 12,999 farmers (including 231 women). For sustainability of knowledge and skill of the facilitators/farmers annual facilitation skills enhancement workshops, farmers’ congresses, workshops on community and leadership management were organized. As a result of this process, 59 associations/organizations of IPM facilitators, farmer facilitators and women facilitators have emerged and working sustainably by generating their own resources/with support of NGO’s. The FFS based IPM initially experimented on cotton crop has now expanded to the cropping system (i.e. cotton-wheat) and to high value crops like fruits (apple, mango, citrus, peach, guava), vegetables (onion, tomato, cucumber, Pumpkin, okra). The FFS-IPM concept has also been upgraded to Integrated Crop Management, Best Agriculture Practices, Enterprise Development, Farm Service Centers and Livestock Management etc.
A short-term impact assessment carried out in 2003 showed:
- 30% increase in cotton yield
- 43% reduction in use of chemical pesticides
- 54% reduction in use of highly toxic pesticides
- 33% increase in number of farmers joining community organizations
- 16% reduction in poverty of the target farmers group
Khan, M. A., I. Ahmad, and G. Walter-Echols. (2005). Impact of an FFS-based IPM approach on farmer capacity, production practices and income: evidence from Pakistan. In: The Impact of the FAO-EU IPM Programme for Cotton in Asia (eds. Peter A.C. Ooi, S. Praneetvatakul, H. Waibel and G. Walter-Echols). Pesticide Policy Project, Hannover. Special Issue Publication Series, No. 9. pp. 45-58.