RFS Tanzania supports the capacity development of Farmer Field School Master Trainers
06 June 2020
Capacity development is a critical cross-cutting theme of all RFS projects, focusing on introducing, strengthening and maintaining the capabilities of people, institutions and local organisations to develop resilient food systems within their communities. Within the RFS programme, the development of rural extension services and capacities of agricultural extension officers is essential to this process.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 60 percent of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, yet the continent’s agricultural potential remains untapped. Over 60 percent of Africa’s population relies on agriculture for employment, most of which are smallholder farmers operating on less than 5 hectares of land. These smallholder farms are characterised by low levels of productivity, constrained by a lack of irrigation, quality inputs, access to credit, mechanisation, and storage facilities. Moreover, participation in farmer extension and capacity development programmes is low and declining, further restricting the capacity of smallholder farmers to adopt good agricultural practices.
Without access or exposure to information and skills for yield-enhancing techniques and technologies, smallholder farmers often resort to unsustainable agricultural practices, which further degrade available natural resources, leading to declining agricultural yields. This dynamic traps smallholder farmers in a cycle of low productivity and leads to a worsening of poverty and food security in rural communities.
Capacity development and rural extension activities introduce RFS farmers to new techniques and approaches for sustainable food production and sustainable land management. Sharing lessons on effective farming techniques, innovative agricultural methods, market needs, and sustainability issues, such as land degradation and deforestation, will help smallholder farmers identify areas that are constraining production and implement best practices to sustainably optimise use of the available natural resources.
RFS projects are also focusing on the training of agricultural extension officers in order to broaden the scope of extension service. Beyond new agricultural techniques and technologies, RFS adopts a more holistic approach to rural extension development, incorporating SLM and IWRM approaches, introducing off-farm incoming generation activities, enabling farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and enhancing women and youth access to new skills and technologies.
RFS extension interventions aim to move away from a top-down approach to learning towards a new paradigm, one that promotes a two-way exchange between extension officers and farmers and between farmers themselves. The RFS programme works to document and scale this learning approach across all 12 RFS country projects.
Rural extension & Capacity Development is a cross-cutting theme that is central to all RFS country projects. Capacity development activities are implemented across multiple levels, from farmer beneficiaries to extension officers to government platforms and institutions. Activities are wide-ranging, including the establishment of knowledge exchange platforms, facilitation of practical field exercises and hands-on learning, establishment of demonstration plots and Farmer Field Days, and the organisation of exchange visits both locally and regionally between country projects.
In Burundi, FAO is working closely with Farmer Field Schools to train farmers in land and water conservation techniques through hands-on group learning, knowledge exchange, and field visits. The RFS Ghana project is holding a series of annual training sessions to improve the capacities of public extension service providers, as well as lead farmers who provide farmer-to-farmer extension services. In Nigeria, Farmer Field Days are used to showcase the viability and benefits of Good Agricultura Practices with a focus on Sustainable Land Management and Climate-Smart Agriculture.
Explore the RFS Country Projects to see more examples of how RFS countries are implementing Rural Extension & Capacity Development activities.
Stories from the Field
Explore our stories from the field to learn more about how RFS country project teams are implementing activities related to the programmatic theme of Rural Extension & Capacity Development.
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This handbook provides guidance and suggestions to farmer field school (FFS) facilitators, master trainers, project coordinators and rural advisors on running FFS and other agricultural training activities in times of COVID-19. It includes basic protective measures, important considerations, proposed FFS activities, links to the World Health Organization (WHO) resources and videos and more. The handbook has two main purposes. First, it contains guidelines that focus on reducing risks of COVID-19 community transmission when running FFS and other agricultural training activities, based on WHO recommendations adapted to the context of FFS. Second, it aims to guide practitioners in using FFS positively to disseminate basic protective measures and build effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, a set of 21 learning activities – jointly designed by education and technical specialists – take the readers on journeys to integrate COVID-19-related topics in their FFS and help communities respond to the challenges they face. The handbook was written with FFS activities in mind but will also be very useful for extension and advisory services and anyone running agricultural field training activities.
Implemented by IFAD, the objective of the CSARL project is to enhance the food and nutrition security, as well as promote the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, through diversified, climate-resilient agricultural production practices and associated market linkages. This factsheet provides an overview of the project, outlining the various components, stakeholders, and anticipated impacts, as well as key innovative elements within the project design and implementation.
Implemented by UNDP, the objective of the RFS Ethiopia project is to enhance long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems by addressing the environmental drivers of food insecurity in Ethiopia. The overarching focus is on integrated landscape management (ILM) to achieve food production resilience in landscapes under pressure. This factsheet provides an overview of the project, outlining the various components, stakeholders, and anticipated impacts, as well as key innovative elements within the project design and implementation.
The Knowledge Centre is a central platform for sharing resources and information generated by the 12 Resilient Food Systems country projects and Regional Hub.
Within the Knowledge Centre, you can find helpful resources, tools, case studies, and news stories related to the different countries and themes of the Resilient Food Systems programme.