DIEMUTH PEMSL, HERMANN WAIBEL
University of Hannover, Department of Economics and Business Administration, Germany
Farmer field school (FFS) training is part of a FAO programme in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal that started in 2001. Training activities concentrate on rice and vegetable crops with the aim of i) improving farmers' agronomic practices (e.g. transplanting of rice, production and application of compost) in order to increase yields and ii) reducing pesticide use via introduction of integrated plant and pest management (IPPM).
Preliminary results show that under the West African conditions (prevailing lack of irrigation, limited production technology knowledge), the yield impact of farmer training can be significant.
A pooled data set from all three countries containing information on the training attendance and drop out rates, facilitator characteristics and performance, outcome of FFS experimental plots (IPPM and Farmers' Practice) from each field school (250 FFS) as well as household data from some 600 farmers (field school participants and control group) is used for the impact assessment.
The analysis consists of two steps, firstly looking at the performance of training and secondly the impact of training by assessing technology adoption at the farm level. The methodology used provides a measure of the quality of training and the short-term impact of training on crop production performance. The fact that training quality has an impact on the farm level adoption is often ignored in assessment of farmer training.
By pooling data from several countries and different crops, factors that limit impact of farmer training can be identified and potential impact of training for each crop and country can be assessed. The results of the impact assessment show the huge potential that farmer training has under the West African conditions to improve farmers' livelihood. It is anticipated that this kind of information is useful for the ongoing debate on the profitability and suitability of farmer training.
Keywords: Farmer field schools, farmer training, impact assessment, West Africa