To ensure increased production and productivity as well as increased food security and income to Nyeri County farmers, the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries uses different approaches to educate and capacity-build farmers. These approaches include; Individual farm visits, exhibitions, barazas, demonstrations, group training, field days, plant clinics and farmer field schools (FFS).
In this article, we focus on Farmer Field Schools popularly known as FFS, an approach that the Department is using and has proved to be very effective and efficient in providing agricultural advisory services.
The FFS approach is where farmers learn by doing, a process which is guided by extension officers. It is an innovative, participatory and interactive learning approach that emphasizes problem solving and discovery based learning. FFS aims to build farmers’ capacity to analyze their production systems, identify problems, test possible solutions, and eventually encourage the participants to adopt the practices most suitable to their farming systems. Trained groups graduate and receive certificates of recognition from the Department.
The advantages of this approach are such as:
• That it provides the farmers with an opportunity to learn and apply technologies that are more productive as compared to the traditional ones,
• It is facilitated not taught and field is the learning place,
• It is hands-on and discovery based learning, and
• Farmers identify problems and come up with solutions together with the help of the facilitator.
The Department has supported 8 Groups with a total of 250 local improved poultry each, 10 youth and women groups with 10 modern hives and accessories each, 10 groups with in-pig sows and 4 boars, rehabilitated 226 fish ponds and lined 67 fish ponds. In addition, the department is running coffee, fodder production, fodder conservation and other crops production FFSs’. The objective is to demonstrate new technologies, promote good agricultural practices as well as equipping farmers with practical knowledge.
Interested farmers are requested to take advantage of the running FFSs or even start one with the assistance of County Extension officers to acquire practical knowledge as well as research on innovative ways of addressing underlying problems.