The Farmer Field School (FFS)
Donor: The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC)
Budget: US$ 43,054
Timeframe: 1 February – 31 December 2013
Location: Rice farming communities in Lofa County
Contact Persons: Koboi Lamine (Monitoring and Evaluation Manager)
Program area: Food and Livelihood Security
ADC cooperates with SDC and WFP to improve the food security and livelihood of rural Liberians. We improve technical layouts of lowland swamps in Lofa and Nimba Counties to better sustain food crops such as rice and vegetables. This is done through the development and rehabilitation of the land. To supplement this larger program, ADC is running a pilot program for 2013, called the Farmer Field School, in Lofa County, funded by SDC. There is much demand for this kind of grassroots training, not only to improve farming capabilities but to increase economic and community leadership.
Over half of the registered farmers from each community benefit from at least one training session per month. Our main strength is in our “learning by doing” teaching approach, which helps build the field technicians’ capacity to pass on their knowledge. It also enhances farmers’ capacities for informed decision-making. FFS is based on non-formal teaching practice (no pen and paper), largely due to the high rate of illiteracy. Our agronomists share knowledge with farmers, and take in their advice on how best to maintain traditional and low-cost practices. The FFS classes focus on agricultural techniques, but also other life skills such as health and HIV awareness, gender based violence and leadership. This, in conjunction with teaching basic accountancy skills, entrepreneurship skills for agribusiness and how to store produce safely, helps to economically empower the partner communities.
This project supports vulnerable agrarian families to become more self-reliant and enhances their food security overall. In Lofa county the effects of the Farmers’ Field School is readily seen, as the yields have increased as well as the farmers’ sense of ownership and autonomy.