A Farmer Field School (FFS) is a season-long training activity that takes place in the field. It is season-long so that it covers all the different developmental stages of the crop and their related management practices. The training process is always learner-centered, participatory and relying on an experiential learning approach.
The basic elements of an FFS for Integrated Pest Management include:
- The FFS consists of a group of 20 to 25 farmers.
- The FFS is field-based and lasts for at least one cropping season (from seeding to harvest).
- The FFS farmers have regular (weekly) meetings during the cropping season.
- In the FFS, farmers conduct a study comparing IPM strategy with common farmers’ practice. They have an IPM plot and a Farmers’ Practice (FP) plot.
- The FFS includes other field studies, based on local field problems.
- The FFS includes special topics that deal with specific issues selected by the farmers.
- Each meeting includes at least an agro-ecosystem analysis activity conducted in the field (AESA) ending with a discussion of crop management decisions.
- FFS educational methods are experiential, participatory, learner-centered, and based on non-formal education.
- The FFS group is guided by at least one facilitator offering experiential learning opportunities, rather than delivering top-down instruction.