Access Agriculture provides insights to help shape the future of Farmer Field Schools
At the Global Forum on the Future of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) for Sustainable Agrifood Systems organised by FAO, 14-16 June 2023, in Blantyre, Malawi, Access Agriculture shared valuable insights from its innovative digital learning approach that combines adult education principles with quality audio-visuals, multiple digital technologies, and a network of digital service providers.
“Access Agriculture hosts over 250 training videos in 100 languages and has served more than 5,000 organisations over the past decade as part of FFS or other development interventions, reaching over 90 million people,” said Blessings Flao, Access Agriculture Coordinator for Malawi & Southern Africa at the Global Forum. “It has been internationally recognised as a unique digital service provider addressing both agroecology and climate change adaptation.”
The Forum was part of FAO’s efforts to take stock of innovations in FFS and brainstorm on priorities for action, laying the foundations for upgrading FFS to fit emerging challenges through a new FAO Value-Added Impact Area (VAIA) on Farmers as Agricultural Innovators for Resilient Agro-Ecosystems (FAIRE) focusing on FFS.
The main objectives of the Global Forum were to (i) Share innovative experiences in FFS Implementation; (ii) Increase the collective understanding of the opportunities and challenges of FFS in contributing to sustainable agrifood systems; and (iii) Discuss the way forward on the future of FFS, including strategy, priority areas and activities and implementation mechanisms.
During the Forum, Blessings Flao made a poster presentation on Access Agriculture’s work in the context of climate change and agroecology, citing examples of its involvement with FFS, especially in Uganda. FAO’s FFS project has supported the translation of 50 training videos in Nga-Karamojong language, spoken in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda.
Blessings also highlighted the support from the project for the recruitment and the equipping of three teams of Entrepreneurs for Rural Access (ERA) in Uganda with digital tools and skills, based on their business plan to serve as e-extension service providers in rural areas using a smart projector (containing all the Access Agriculture training videos). The innovative young entrepreneurship model of Access Agriculture targets youth and women in particular.
The three-day Forum included keynote addresses that provided global, country and stakeholder perspectives on the FFS, thematic presentations and poster presentations as well as field visits to Thuchira Residential Training Centre (RTC) in Mulanje District, and visits with farmers under the Umodzi FFS in Chiradzulu Ditstrict.
At the end of the Forum, FAO thanked the participants for their valuable insights and recommendations for the future of FFS. “We will be consolidating these in the next few weeks, and the exchanges and consultations with stakeholders will continue so that we get the most out of the Forum.”