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Innovation Brief: The Farmer Field and Business School
With the goal of increasing smallholder women farmer’s productivity and profitability, the Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) is a hands on, learning by doing approach through which groups of farmers meet regularly during the course of the cropping or livestock production cycle to experiment and learn about new production and marketing options. Building on the traditional Farmer Field School (FFS) approach, which places emphasis on hands-on management skills based on adult learning principles, the FFBS is unique in its inclusion of community approaches to visioning and planning, sustainable agriculture, market engagement, nutrition, gender, and performance monitoring. FFBS groups are made up of 25-30 farmers drawn from Pathways targeted collectives including VSLAs, producer groups, marketing groups and any other common interest groups that coalesce around the production and marketing of a particular crop or livestock enterprise. Sessions are led by a trained facilitator who works with a group of FFBS community-based facilitators. For Pathways, these community-based facilitators include community based extension agents as in Ghana, Farmer to Farmer Trainers in Malawi, paraprofessionals in Tanzania, Junior experts in Mali and community volunteers in Bangladesh.