With your help CPAR is transforming the way African farmers relate to each other and make farm management decisions.
To address low production levels and deteriorating soil conditions among subsistence farmers, CPAR is combining farmers’ existing wealth of knowledge and experience with new discovery learning through its adaptation of the ‘Farmer Field School’ (FFS) approach. The ‘FFS’ approach brings women and men farmers together on experimental plots to test farming practices using practical, hands-on methods that emphasize observation, analysis and collective decision-making. Discovery learning doesn't stop at farming activities; it includes ‘special topics’ of human rights, gender equality, family planning, gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS and other issues affecting farmers’, particularly women farmers’, quality of life.
Why does CPAR use the Farmers Field School approach?
• FFS represents an effective entry point for collective action and self-empowerment. Farmers are able to solve their own problems and make decisions about what works best for them on their own land. Women in particular gain self-confidence to take control, make decisions and aim for leadership positions.
• The FFS approach garners a very high rate of adoption of conservation agriculture methods, improved crop varieties, soil fertility management, biological pest control and effective livestock management, leading to increased agricultural production.
• The FFS approach stimulates a desire for continued learning and strengthens social and political skills which can prompt a whole range of local activities and relationships, including formation of marketing cooperatives and savings and loans groups, and FFS members spearheading important community development initiatives such as raising funds to construct schools and advocating for better health and education services.
GOAL 1: Improving on-farm livelihood assets of vulnerable rural households by implementing a set of activities to improve and increase agricultural production.
GOAL 2: Improving nutrition status among farming households, pregnant women, children under 5 and people living with HIV.
GOAL 3: Strengthened technical support capacity of district and community organizations and Farmer Field School groups.
GOAL 4: Improve market access and sustainable marketing mechanisms for crops and processed (value-added) farm goods.
GOAL 5: Integrate women’s and girls’ priority strategies and practical needs into every component of the project.
THE PROGRAM’S IMPACT
Families report improved health and nutrition due to a wider variety and different combinations of foods introduced to their diet and an increased number of meals consumed each day.
• Annual household income increases dramatically, on average by 150%, and families report increased ability to pay their children’s school fees and purchase household food items and other goods such as mobile phones. Some start construction of improved houses.
• Women FFS members in particular spearhead the establishment of savings and loans groups so that farmers start saving and have access to credit for the first time in their lives.
• Overall crop productivity increases on average by 50% per acre which means that households are able to store enough food to last through to the following harvest.
• Over 62 million trees have been planted so far, contributing towards improved soil structure and fertility, household access to fruit and improved climate resilience overall.