Transforming agricultural extension service delivery through innovative bottom–up climate-resilient agribusiness farmer field schools
Conventional approaches to agricultural extension based on top–down technology transfer and information dissemination models are inadequate to help smallholder farmers tackle increasingly complex agroclimatic adversities. Innovative service delivery alternatives, such as field schools, exist but are mostly implemented in isolationistic silos with little effort to integrate them for cost reduction and greater technical effectiveness. This article presents a proof-of-concept effort to develop an innovative, climate-resilient field school methodology, integrating the attributes of Farmers’ Field School, Climate Field School, Climate-Smart Agriculture and indigenous technical knowledge of weather indicators in one package to address the gaps, while sensitizing actors on implications for policy advocacy. Some 661 local facilitators, 32% of them women and 54% youth, were trained on the innovation across East Africa. The initiative has reached 36 agribusiness champions working with 237,250 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Initial results show that the innovation is strengthening adaptation behaviour of agribusiness champions, farmers and supply chain actors, and reducing training costs. Preliminary findings indicate that the process is rapidly shaping group adaptive thinking. The integrated approach offers lessons to transform extension and to improve food security and resilience. The approach bundles the costs of previously separate processes into the cost of one joint, simultaneous process, while also strengthening technical service delivery through bundled messaging. Experience from this initiative can be leveraged to develop scalable participatory extension and training models, especially scaling out through farmer-to-farmer replication and scaling up through farmer group networks.
Osumba JJL, Recha JW, Oroma GW. 2021. Transforming agricultural extension service delivery through innovative bottom–up climate-resilient agribusiness farmer field schools. Sustainability 13(7):3938.