Farmer field schools: from agricultural extension to adult education

Findings from a global systematic review of 500 studies

Speaker: Hugh Waddington and others
Chair: Jeff Waage, Director, LIDC and Professor, SOAS
Discussant: Richard Strange, Editor-in-Chief, Food Security, Honorary Professor, University College London and Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck College, University of London
Date: 16 October, 5.30-7 pm
Venue: Room 728, Institute of Education, Bedford Way

Since the late 1980s, support to agriculture has moved from top-down agricultural extension towards more participatory approaches which better suit smallholder farmers. One such approach is the farmer field school (FFS), which has been used to train at least 10 million farmers in 90 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. FFS provide specialist agricultural skills, knowledge and – in some programmes – empowerment. However, the effectiveness of this approach has long been a subject of debate.

The authors will present findings from a global systematic review of evidence covering five reviews of some 500 papers. They conclude that FFS projects should be used selectively to solve specific problems in particular contexts – not as a one-size-fits-all approach. Although FFSs have changed agricultural practices and raised yields in pilot projects, they have not been effective when taken to scale, and therefore are unlikely to solve problems of agricultural extension delivery.

Download the full systematic review from the Campbell Collaboration library.

Download a summary of the full systematic review designed to be useful to policymakers and practitioners.

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