Farmer Field Schools as a Springboard for Enhanced Uptake of New Agricultural Technologies: Lessons for Tanzania
The uptake of proven agricultural technologies in less developed countries has not been very impressive over the years. This is in spite of the different methods used to disseminate these technologies, including the
focal approach, the improvement approach, the transformation approach and others. With the collapse of the relatively expensive transformation approach in the late 1960s, more practical (in terms of resources and
clientele characteristics) approaches, namely, the persuasive and dialogical models were adopted. Thereafter the World Bank introduced the Training and Visit system which has been in use at different periods in Tanzania and at different levels of resource commitment. The latest approach in enhancing the uptake of agricultural technologies is through the Farmer Field Schools that have only a short history in Tanzania.This paper reviews the literature on Farmer Field Schools, first giving a brief description of the nature of Farmer Field Schools. This is then followed by experiences from selected countries in terms of: the purpose of introducing the FFS, the process used in implementing the FFS approach, impact of the FFS approach, conclusions on the effectiveness of FFS in promoting the uptake of agricultural technologies, and finally the lessons learned. This discussion is then followed by a brief presentation of the history of FFS in Tanzania. The paper then makes an assessment of the effectiveness of the approach in the uptake of agricultural technologies and the challenges it faces. The paper concludes by underscoring the importance of FFS, offers
some recommendations including the creation of more awareness on FFS and monitoring how FFS graduates sustain the FFS spirit. Finally, the paper gives a critical evaluation of the FFS approach vis-à-vis other approaches in use today.
Key Words: Farmer Field Schools, technology uptake, farmer empowerment, scaling up, scaling out, Tanzania.
FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE SOKOINE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, MOROGORO, TANZANIA