Agropastoral field schools build resilience in Uganda
In its series “Best Practices and Lessons Learned”, FAO has published a 25-page report on Supporting communities in building resilience through agropastoral field schools (2013). Building resilience of vulnerable communities to the vagaries of climate change calls for transformative approaches that can organically evolve to suit the dynamic and unique needs of different farming systems. However, most of the service-delivery mechanisms are built on the conventional model of one-way extension messages based on broad recommendations. The ecosystem-based Farmer Field School (FFS) approach provides a flexible and responsive platform for meeting the needs of different farmers, including livestock keepers.
Over the last 15 years, the FFS approach has been adapted in Uganda to suit the complex and diverse smallholder farming systems found there. It has been used to empower communities in three different contexts: i) improving productivity for food security and reducing rural poverty; ii) restoring agricultural productivity among internally displaced persons and refugee communities; and iii) building resilience among agropastoral communities faced with recurrent hazards like drought, floods and transboundary animal diseases.
The FFS programme has adopted a holistic livelihoods dimension ensuring that – beyond productivity – entrepreneurial, marketing and savings skills are core components of the learning process. The implementation has been done in collaboration with local governments, the national agricultural research system, the private sector and civil society. Through this arrangement, FAO has trained 58 master trainers and 796 facilitators and supported the establishment of more than 3900 FFSs. A network of over 50 NGOs with full-time facilitators has been vital in supplementing the government extension services to achieve this.