190,000 happy farmers in a healthy environment - Strengths of the FFS approach in Rwanda
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190,000 happy farmers in a healthy environment - Strengths of the FFS approach in Rwanda

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Every day, millions of farmers work in their fields to produce food for home consumption and sale on the market. Most Rwandan farmers have small plots only, so it is important to get the most out of ...

Every day, millions of farmers work in their fields to produce food for home consumption and sale on the market. Most Rwandan farmers have small plots only, so it is important to get the most out of the land. Therefore, Rwandan farmers are keen to learn and apply practices to increase their productivity and income. And that is why already 80,000 farmers have joined a Farmer Field School (FFS) group under the Rwanda FFS Initiative, which is implemented by the Rwanda Agricultural Board with assistance from BTC - Belgian development agency.

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190,000 happy farmers in a healthy environment - Strengths of the FFS approach in Rwanda Document Transcript

  • 1. WWW.BTCCTB.ORG INFO@BTCCTB.ORG Strengths of the FFS approach in Rwanda 190,000 HAPPY FARMERS IN A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT The secret behind the successful Farmer Field Schools is training farmers in an interactive and experimental way. © BTC / Dieter Telemans Every day, millions of farmers work in their fields to produce food for home consumption and sale on the market. Most Rwandan farmers have small plots only, so it is important to get the most out of the land. Therefore, Rwandan farmers are keen to learn and apply practices to increase their productivity and income. And that is why already 80,000 farmers have joined a Farmer Field School (FFS) group under the Rwanda FFS Initiative, which is implemented by the Rwanda Agricultural Board with assistance from BTC - Belgian development agency.
  • 2. Learning by experience and fun Farmer Field Schools create an interactive, practical and fun learning experience for farmers. Selected farmers are trained and coached to become facilitators of groups of farmers. Most importantly, farmers are not told what to do, but are taught to make decisions based on evidence from field observation and experiments. “In the FFS group, we compare varieties as well as practices and evaluate all the findings ourselves. I really loved the ‘insect zoo’ experiment in which we put bean leaves and plant lice along with a ladybird beetle in a bottle and we checked what happened. The plant lice sucked the sap from the leaves but the ladybird beetle ate all the plant lice! That is how we learned which insects attack our plants and which insects are our friends. I am confident that we are now better prepared for what the future will throw at us. And, if we can’t find the solutions ourselves, we can always call our facilitator,” says Aimable Gatambire who joined an FFS group in 2011. Farmers’ income more than doubled The impact of the FFS is very significant. Overall, 92% of 2,897 FFS groups report an increase in productivity of at least 50%, but in some crops the results are even more impressive. The average income of the farmers has more than doubled (+164%). Furthermore, FFS farmers use less pesticide and conserve local genetic resources. “We really could not believe our eyes when we harvested our cassava in the FFS plots. We just had never seen such big cassava roots. I think it was 6 or even 7 times bigger than what we are used to!” explains Ernest Kabeja, a cassava farmer. “Luckily enough, the big ones taste good as well!” Another group member adds: “We are so happy to be members of a FFS group. It is agriculture that brought us together, but there are more benefits to being a member. We established a savings component in our group, we now all have health insurance and we make sure that every member can pay the school fees. We even discuss HIV during our meetings.” The success of the intervention has been well noted by the decision-makers. The FFS approach is now recognized as the most performing extension approach to increase productivity. The ultimate ambition of the Rwanda FFS initiative is to establish 3 FFS groups in every Rwandan village, allowing practically every Rwandan farmer to be a member. If the necessary funds can be raised in time, this goal could be achieved in only 5 years’ time. The approach is efficient and effective on a large scale. Now it’s a matter of continuing expansion and taking it from large to huge and transform Rwanda’s agriculture on a massive scale! Farmers achieving research to solve their challenges Participatory research is continuously the driving force for FFS implementation and has allowed farmers to: ›  ecrease of the frequency and quantities of pesticides used D for crop protection, ›  elect appropriate varieties for adaptation to local conditions S and to preference of farmers and market, ›  ecover the most preferred crop varieties, R › ncrease significantly crop productivity by using the best I agronomic practices, ›  chieve active on-farm conservation and exploitation of A genetic resources. Farmers, in their quality of active actors of the agricultural research contribute thus to a higher ownership of innovations/ technologies. Quick win spin-off The trained FFS facilitators also act on the forefront of a quick win approach which was developed as a spin-off of the FFS approach. The FFS approach provides farmers with a deep understanding of their farming activities, but it takes time. Yet sometimes urgent interventions are needed to stop an emerging disease. The quick win strategy called ‘Community Mobilization Campaigns’ allows a rapid scaling up of a technical intervention which has proven to be successful in FFS. Thousands of farmers are mobilized by local leaders and work together on consolidated land under the technical guidance of the FFS facilitators. Since 2012, already 110,000 farmers were involved in campaigns to control BXW disease in banana and Striga in cereals. © BTC / Dieter Telemans For more information on this project, please contact info@btcctb.org