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Women in sub-Saharan Africa are major contributors to the agricultural economy, but their lower access than men to productive resources and opportunities, limits them from achieving optimal production. This paper gives a snapshot of issues surrounding women’s participation in and benefits from agroforestry, challenges that women face and examples of opportunities to enhance their involvement. First and foremost, we acknowledge that women’s decision making and management power related to production systems is complex and highly context-specific. Despite their active involvement in diverse agroforestry practices (e.g. management of nitrogen-fixing and fodder trees, domestication of indigenous fruit trees), their level of participation and benefits are often constrained by cultural norms and limited resources. Agroforestry value chains are particularly important for women’s income, but again low access to capital, technology and information, constrains women from developing their enterprises further. Moreover, women’s roles in value chains are often poorly supported by policymakers (in the design as well as in the implementation of policies) and service providers. Interventions to help smallholders improve the marketing of tree and agricultural products have not always had positive effects on women, because when the business becomes more profitable, men often tend to take over. One of the major challenges for agricultural development, however, remains women’s low access to extension services. Profound reforms in African extension systems from a centrally-controlled, top-down approach to a more participatory and pluralistic system, are expected to improve women’s access to agricultural information and services. The paper ends with some recommendations in the field of technology, policy and institutions, to enhance women’s participation in and benefits from agroforestry, and agriculture in general.
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... Generally in Africa, women's participation is low in agroforestry enterprises that are considered men's domains such as timber, and high in enterprises that have little or no commercial value, such as collection of indigenous fruits and vegetables; and women are often confined to the lower end of the value chain of agroforestry products (retailing), which limits their control over and returns from the productive process (Kiptot and Franzel 2012). For women's income, agroforestry value chains are particularly important, but low access to capital, technology and information, constrain women from developing their enterprises further (Degrande and Arinloye 2014). In the case of the fallow system in eastern Zambia (a type of traditional agroforestry), Gladwin et al. (2001) found that female headed households are more likely to adopt improved fallows than male headed households. ...
... Despite the asymmetrical distribution of males and females in our sample, the results point out, and support the findings of many studies (Degrande and Arinloye 2014;FAO 2013;Kiptot and Franzel 2012;Doss 2001;Mehra and Rojas 2008; integrating trees on farms to improve income, while 6% is found among women. In addition, female headed households were less interested in adopting agroforestry due to lack of technical knowledge and labour. ...
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Consideration of gender aspects is needed to ensure that none of the sexes are marginalised in agroforestry interventions. Globally, women farmers are known to have played significant roles in agroforestry, especially at the early stage of tree establishment and maintenance. However, there is very little documentation about this phenomenon in Vietnam. Based on a household socio-economic baseline survey conducted by the Agroforestry for Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers (AFLI) project in northwest Vietnam, we examined women's participation in, and benefits from agroforestry, control and access to productive resources, decision-making, and the factors affecting agroforestry adoption. The study found that the key contraints to agroforestry adoption by both men and women is lack of technical knowledge on agroforestry technologies; however women, predominantly ethnic minorities, have more constraints in adopting agroforestry compared to men. For female headed households, this is due primarily to lack of land and labour, and collateral assets; for women in general, interlinked factors such as lack of knowledge, low educational level, and poor access to extension constrained adoption. The study recommends that agroforestry interventions should (i) promote practices that cater to labour-scarce female headed households; (ii) provide preferential credit access to female headed households; (iii) channel extension support to women's associations; and (iv) produce extension materials in the local dialect. The lack of attention to gender issues limits agroforestry interventions to deliver benefits for rural households in Northwest Vietnam. Spanish Es necesario considerar los aspectos relacionados a género para garantizar que ninguno de los sexos sean marginados en las intervenciones agroforestales. Se sabe que a nivel mundial las mujeres agricultoras han jugado un papel importante en la agroforestería, sobre todo en la primera etapa de establecimiento y mantenimiento de los árboles. Sin embargo, hay muy poca documentación sobre este fenómeno en Vietnam. Con base en una encuesta socioeconómica de hogares realizada por el proyecto Agroforestería para los medios de vida de pequeños agricultores (AFLI por sus siglas en inglés) en el noroeste de Vietnam, se analizó la participación de la mujer en la agroforestería, los beneficios que recibe de esta, el control y el acceso a los recursos productivos, la toma de decisiones y los factores que afectan la adopción de prácticas agroforestales. El estudio encontró que la principal restricción para la adopción de la agroforestería, tanto para hombres como para mujeres, es la falta de conocimientos técnicos en tecnologías agroforestales; Sin embargo las mujeres, principalmente las pertenecientes a minorías étnicas, enfrentan más dificultades en la adopción de la agroforestería en comparación con los hombres. En el caso de mujeres cabeza de hogar, esto se debe principalmente a la falta de tierra, mano de obra, y de activos que sirvan de garantía; para las mujeres en general, factores relacionados entre sí, como la falta de conocimientos técnicos, bajos niveles educativos y poco acceso a servicios de extensión limitan la adopción. El estudio recomienda que las intervenciones agroforestales deben: (i) promover prácticas que atienden la escasez de mano de obra de hogares encabezados por mujeres; (ii) facilitar el acceso a crédito preferencial para hogares encabezados por mujeres; (iii) canalizar servicios de extensión a través de asociaciones de mujeres; y (iv) producir materiales de extensión en el dialecto local. La falta de atención a las cuestiones de género limita los beneficios ofrecidos por intervenciones agroforestales a los hogares rurales en el noroeste de Vietnam. French La prise en compte des aspects genre est nécessaire pour s'assurer qu'aucun des sexes n'est marginalisé dans les interventions agroforestières. De manière générale, les agricultrices jouent un rôle prépondérant dans l'agroforesterie, en particulier dans les phases initiales de la mise en place et la gestion des arbres. Toutefois, des informations sur cette question au Vietnam sont très limitées. Dans une enquête de base socio-économique conduite avec des ménages dans le cadre du projet 'Agroforesterie pour le bien-être des paysans au Nord-Ouest du Vietnam (AFLI)', nous avons examiné la participation des femmes dans l'agroforesterie et les bénéfices qu'elles en tirent, le contrôle et l'accès de ces dernières aux ressources productives, la prise de décision et les facteurs déterminant l'adoption de l'agroforesterie. L'étude a montré que la contrainte majeure à l'adoption de l'agroforesterie est le manque de connaissance technique sur les technologies agroforestières, aussi bien pour les hommes que pour les femmes. Cependant, les femmes, et en particulier celles appartenant aux minorités ethniques, rencontrent plus de difficultés dans l'adoption de l'agroforesterie que les hommes. Pour les ménages dirigés par les femmes, les obstacles majeurs sont principalement dus à l'accès limité à la terre, à la main d'œuvre et aux biens collatéraux. Pour les femmes en général, les facteurs interdépendants, tels que le manque de connaissance, le faible niveau d'éducation et l'accès restreint aux services de vulgarisation, entravent l'adoption. L'étude recommande que les interventions agroforestières devraient: (i) promouvoir les pratiques qui prennent en compte la rareté de main d'œuvre dans les ménages dirigés par les femmes; (ii) procurer des crédits préférentiels aux ménages dirigés par les femmes; (iii) orienter les services de vulgarisation vers les associations des femmes; et (iv) produire du matériel de vulgarisation dans la langue locale. Une attention insuffisante aux aspects genre limiterait la capacité des interventions agroforestières à fournir, aux ménages ruraux du Nord-Ouest Vietnam, les bénéfices espérés.
... For example, women in Sub-Saharan Africa participate in indigenous fruit enterprises at rates much greater than for exotic fruit enterprises, the former being socially and culturally considered a domain for women and children. 80 Efforts to develop value chains or enterprises that focus on tree products traditionally managed by women can help empower them. Such enterprises allow women to pool labor, assets, and other resources to help overcome gender-related challenges. ...
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Human activities change the structure and function of the environment with cascading impacts on human health, a concept known as “planetary health.” Agroforestry—the management of trees with crops and livestock—alters microclimates, hydrology, biogeochemistry, and biodiversity. Besides the nutritional benefits of increased fruit consumption, however, the ways agroforestry affects human health are rarely articulated. This review makes that link. We analyze the pathways through which tree-based farm and landscape change affect food and nutrition security, the spread of infectious disease, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, and human migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. The available evidence suggests that, despite some increased risks of infectious disease, agroforestry is likely to improve a diverse range of pressing health concerns. We therefore examine the factors determining agroforestry use and identify three drivers of social and environmental change that will determine the future uptake of agroforestry in the region.
... Women play an active role in the agricultural sector and constitute the bulk of global agricultural producers (Mulugeta & Amsalu, 2014). However, they face various constraints and challenges that limit their capacities to achieve optimal production and agricultural development (Degrande & Arinloye, 2014). Their prospects in agroforestry are restricted to activities that men do not value. ...
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Despite the key roles of women in agroforestry systems, their contributions usually go unnoticed in male – dominated societies. This study was conducted in the Jaman South Municipality of Ghana to examine the forms and levels of women’s participation in agroforestry systems. The study used a concurrent mixed method design to collect data from 204 women farmers. It employed Agarwal’s typology of participation to describe the forms of women’s participation. The findings revealed that majority (85.3%) of the women farmers were active in the practice of agroforestry. Scattered trees on farmlands, alley cropping, taungya, and home-gardens were the main forms of agroforestry being practiced by the women farmers. Their participation was high in all farm management activities, except in the application of agro-chemicals and spraying of crops. The forms of women participation in agroforestry were found to conform to all the stages of Agarwal’s typology of participation. Lack of extension programmes and multiple domestic responsibilities were the main constraints to their participation in agroforestry practices. The study recommends training of women to volunteer as extension officers to enhance extension services delivery.
... @BULLET Rural women in African countries have traditionally been the primary domesticators of forest-based food and medicinal plants; they have highly specialized knowledge on trees and forests, species diversity, management, use and conservation practices. Yet their participation in tree domestication is often hindered by their limited access to and control over land and trees, lack of information, and heavy household workloads (Degrande and Arinloye, 2015). @BULLET Rural women make substantial contributions to labour in agroforestry systems; they often disproportionately bear the costs of tree management, but realize only a fraction of the benefits, and tend to be enlisted for decision-making only when tree resources are degraded (Rocheleau and Slayter, 2007; Teklehaimanot, 2004). ...
Research
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Agroforestry is increasingly recognized as having a central role in sustainable agriculture. Research has shown that trees can deliver multiple benefits in agriculture – from combating climate change and con- tributing to food production and household nutrition, to providing sustainable fuel and timber (Mbow et al, 2014; Righe et al, 2014). Women farmers – who are often responsible for managing trees, especially at the early stages of establishment – are key players in agroforestry systems (Kiptot, et al, 2014). Yet women’s roles in tree-based agricultural production and the complex gender relations that shape deci- sion-making have received minimal research attention. The World Development Report, published by the World Bank in 2012, states that gender equality is a core development objective in its own right. Increased focus on gender equality in production systems can transform agricultural livelihoods, improve development outcomes and make institutional cultures more enabling. This strategy and action plan approaches gender as a crosscutting element in agroforestry research and development and as a strategic research focus. It is aligned and contributes to the CGIAR strategies for integration of gender in research, at the consortium level and at the level of the different Consortium Research Programmes (CRPs) in which ICRAF participates. Integrating gender in ICRAF’s research will pave the way for scientists to improve their understanding of gender and facilitate the development of critical capacities to generate more and better quality research on gender and equity. This strategy and action plan systematically articulates key mechanisms and processes required to improve gender in agroforestry research and development. It also lays out a roadmap and action points to accomplish the objectives of the strategy. Objectives of the gender strategy: • Raise awareness and understanding of the importance of gender integration in agroforestry research and development in ICRAF and among partners through relevant gender sensitization and training; • Enhance gender research capacity in ICRAF and among partners through provision of expertise and robust tools; • Mobilize adequate resources to support the goals of this strategy and drive ICRAF’s vision of rural transformation in the developing world as smallholders increase their use of trees in agricultural landscapes to improve food security, incomes, health and environmental sustainability; • Generate a co-learning cycle between gender research and development practice and ensure that gender dimensions are fully integrated in negotiation support for relevant agroforestry landscapes.
Chapter
Agroforestry combines agriculture and forestry to generate integrated and sustainable land-use systems. It can be regarded as one potential solution in meeting the needs of the society and is influenced by many socioeconomic factors. These factors and their relationship to the agroforestry are highly important as this would help to ascertain the opportunities for the development of agroforestry system. The main socioeconomic factors that determine the actual occurrence of agroforestry are gender, household security, availability of planting materials, shelf life of forest products, access to market, information, and low income. A clear understanding of the influential factors in farmer’s decision-making related to the adoption and maintenance of agroforestry is important.
Technical Report
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Despite the central role that farmers play as agricultural producers in developing countries, they are often inadequately served by research, extension and advisory services. Extension approaches such as the farmer-to-farmer extension (F2F) approach were developed to improve service to farmers, but little is known about how this approach is being used in Cameroon. This paper examines the experiences of organizations using the F2F extension approach. Specifically, the study characterizes and assesses F2F extension approaches in Cameroon to determine which practices are most effective in different circumstances. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 24 selected organizations in seven regions of the country. The F2F extension approach in Cameroon is used by farmer organizations as well as national and international non-profit organizations. Neither governmental services nor private sector companies use this approach. Those organizations using F2F extension had on average five field staff (FS), and mainly targeted farmer groups. Fifty-eight percent of organizations interviewed had one woman or no women among their field staff. Though respondents stated that their organizations were using many different extension approaches, in addition to the F2F approach, 41 percent identified F2F as the most effective method. The main sources of technical information for FS were personal reading, information exchanged during seminars and workshops, staff members’ own experiences and research institutes. Field staff were in charge of capacity development and follow-up of lead farmers (LFs). On the basis of mutually agreed upon criteria, LFs were usually selected jointly by FS and the community. According to the organizations interviewed, individual FS were working with 17 LFs on average, and the latter were training approximately four groups, each with about 43 members, in addition to 48 individual farmers outside of these groups. These LFs were considered an extension of FS in their communities and usually offered their services on a voluntary basis. Some organizations supported LFs by providing per diem during training workshops and meetings, and helping them set up income-generating opportunities such as selling livestock or seedlings. Among the main motivations for one to become a lead farmer mentioned by respondents were altruism and early access to technologies, followed by job benefits and social status. To remain in the position, LFs were motivated by opportunities for income generation and altruism, as well as social networking. Most of the organizations gave F2F a score of 8 (on a scale of 1-10) for effectiveness, so it is clear that the F2F approach is considered highly effective in Cameroon.
Article
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This Campbell systematic review examines the effectiveness of farmer field schools in improving intermediate outcomes (such as knowledge and pesticide use) and final outcomes (such as agricultural yields, incomes and empowerment) in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs), as well as implementation factors associated with programme success and failure. The review sythesises evidence from 92 impact evaluations, of which 15 were of sufficient quality for policy‐oriented findings, and 20 qualitative studies. Farmer field schools improve farmers' knowledge and adoption of beneficial practices, and reduce overuse of pesticides. This leads to positive outcomes for farmers: on average, a 13% increase in agricultural yields and a 20% increase in income. Farmer field schools also reduce pesticide use and environmental degradation. However, the evidence for these outcomes comes from short‐term evaluations of pilot programmes, and no studies with a low risk of bias are available. In programmes that were delivered at a national scale, studies conducted more than two years after implementation did not show any positive outcomes from the programme. For large‐scale programmes, recruiting and training appropriate facilitators was problematic. Authors' conclusions Farmer field schools (FFS) are a common approach used to transfer specialist knowledge, promote skills and empower farmers around the world. At least 10 million farmers in 90 countries have attended such schools. FFS are implemented by facilitators using participatory “discovery‐based” learning based on adult education principles. Many different implementing bodies have been involved. Field schools have a range of objectives, including tackling overuse of pesticides and other harmful practices, improving agricultural and environmental outcomes, and empowering disadvantaged farmers such as women. We conducted a systematic review of evidence on FFS implementation to investigate whether FFS make a difference, to which farmers, and why or why not. We synthesised quantitative evidence on intervention effects using statistical meta‐analysis, and qualitative evidence on the barriers and enablers of effectiveness using a theory of change framework. The results of statistical meta‐analysis provide evidence that FFS are beneficial in improving intermediate outcomes relating to knowledge learned and adoption of beneficial practices, as well as final outcomes relating to agricultural production and farmers' incomes. The findings suggest this to be the case for FFS promoting integrated pest management (IPM) technology, as well as other techniques. However, the rigorous impact evaluation evidence base is small and there are no studies that we were able to identify as having a low risk of bias. There is no evidence that neighbouring non‐participant farmers benefit from diffusion of IPM knowledge from FFS participants. Therefore, they do not experience improvements in IPM adoption and agriculture outcomes. The evidence of positive effects on agricultural outcomes is largely limited to short‐term evaluations of pilot programmes. In the few examples where FFS have been scaled up, the evidence does not suggest they have been effective in improving agricultural outcomes among participating farmers or neighbouring non‐participants. Although empowerment is a major objective of many FFS, very few studies have collected information on this outcome in a rigorous manner. A few studies suggest farmers feel greater self‐confidence. What explains the lack of scalable effects among FFS participants, or diffusion of IPM practices among the community? FFS differ from standard agricultural extension interventions, which tend to focus on disseminating knowledge of more simple practices such as application of fertiliser and pesticides, or adoption of improved seeds. The experiential nature of the training, and the need for the benefits of the FFS technology to be observed, are barriers to spontaneous diffusion. Furthermore, the effectiveness of scaled‐up interventions has been hampered by problems in recruiting and training appropriate facilitators at scale. The review provides implications for policy, practice and research. Executive Summary BACKGROUND After almost three decades of decline in public support, agriculture is now back on the development agenda. Since the late 1980s, support to agriculture has shifted from top‐down approaches to those identifying technologies and methods of communicating technologies which are suitable to support farmers' livelihoods in a sustainable manner, including participatory approaches based on the notion of creating spaces for farmer self‐learning. One such approach is the farmer field school (FFS), an adult education intervention which uses intensive “discovery‐based” learning methods with the objectives of providing skills in such areas as integrated pest management (IPM) and empowering farmers and communities. FFS have been implemented in 90 countries worldwide, reaching an estimated 10‐15 million farmers. Farmer field schools may appear to be the latest tool, but what does the evidence say regarding their effectiveness? OBJECTIVES This systematic review synthesises evidence on interventions identified as “farmer field schools” conducted in low‐ and middle‐income countries. The review aims to provide answers to the following research questions: Review question (1): • a) What are the effects of farmer field schools on final outcomes such as yields, net revenues and farmer empowerment? • b) What are the effects of farmer field schools on intermediate outcomes such as knowledge and adoption of improved practices (e.g. reduced use of pesticides)? • c) What are the effects on outcomes for non‐participating neighbouring farmers living in the same communities as FFS farmers? Review question (2): What are the enablers of and barriers to FFS effectiveness, diffusion and sustainability? STUDY SELECTION CRITERIA Studies included in the review satisfied the following criteria. Eligible participants included farmers growing arable crops, living in low‐ or middle‐income countries at the time of the intervention. The review included those participating directly in the field school and also non‐participant neighbour farmers who may benefit through spillover effects or more formal dissemination methods. Eligible interventions were those identified as “farmer field schools,” regardless of the design or implementation, including FFS programmes providing training in IPM and other techniques. Studies combining FFS with other intervention components, such as input or marketing support, were also included. Comparisons eligible for the effectiveness review were farmers who received no intervention, or access to agricultural extension services from another source, including IPM (or equivalent) training. All outcomes reported were eligible for the review.primary Primary outcomes were agricultural outcomes, including yields and profits (net revenues). Secondary outcomes included other final outcomes such as environmental outcomes, health status and empowerment; and intermediate outcomes, including farmer knowledge and adoption of practices. Qualitative evidence on barriers to and enablers of effectiveness and sustainability were also included, including process and implementation information and measures of beneficiaries' attitudes and experiences with FFS. Eligible study designs for the effectiveness synthesis (review question 1) were measurable using counterfactual impact evaluations, including experimental or quasi‐experimental study designs and methods of analysis. Studies eligible for the synthesis of barriers and enablers (review question 2) were based on primary data collected from FFS participants, extension agents or experts, analysed using qualitative methods or descriptive statistics. The qualitative studies needed to report at least some information on the research question, procedures for collecting data, sampling and recruitment, and at least two sample characteristics. SEARCH STRATEGY The search included electronic academic databases, internet search engines, websites and theses, as well as handsearches of key journals and literature snowballing. Searches included general social science sources as well as agriculture subject‐specific sources of published and unpublished literature. All searches were updated in October 2012. The farmer field schools evaluation community has generated a large number of evaluations. We screened the titles and abstracts of over 28,000 papers, the majority of which were irrelevant to the topic. Four‐hundred‐sixty (460) relevant papers on FFS were assessed for inclusion based on full text. After the final screen by two authors, 134 quasi‐experimental studies comprising 92 distinct evaluations meeting the inclusion criteria were eligible for the review. The impact evaluations provide quantitative estimates of effects on outcomes for 71 FFS projects. However, only 15 of the impact evaluations meeting the inclusion criteria were judged to be of sufficient internal validity to make predictions for policy. The review also includes 20 qualitative evaluations meeting the inclusion criteria, which discuss the barriers to and enablers of change in 20 FFS projects. A portfolio review of 337 project documents was also conducted. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Two independent reviewers assessed the full text papers against the inclusion criteria; discrepancies were resolved by consensus or by a third author if needed. Two reviewers extracted data from included studies. Quantitative impact evaluation studies were critically appraised according to the likely risk of bias according to threats to internal validity (causal identification), external validity (generalisability) and file‐drawer effects (publication bias). Qualitative evaluations were assessed according to adequacy of reporting, data collection, presentation, analysis and conclusions drawn. We used a hypothesised programme theory of change (White, 2009) as the framework for integrating the evidence. We collected data on programme design, implementation, targeting and contextual factors, and linked individual studies by programme in order to assess whether heterogeneous programme effects were correlated with study design, implementation and context. For the quantitative synthesis (review question 1), we extracted effect size estimates from included studies, calculating standard errors and 95 per cent confidence intervals using data provided in the studies, where possible. We used random effects meta‐analysis, estimating average effects of farmer field schools on the different outcomes, and examining heterogeneity. The results of the publication bias analysis suggested under‐reporting of small sample studies with negative or insignificant findings for studies reporting evidence on agricultural yields, which is evidence for possible publication bias. For the synthesis of qualitative evidence (review question 2), we used a thematic approach (Thomas & Harden, 2008), combining predetermined themes based on the links and assumptions in the theory of change model, as well as any other themes emerging from the detailed coding of the included studies. In the final stage of analysis, we used an iterated approach in which some effect moderators identified during the qualitative synthesis were tested in meta‐analysis and meta‐regression. RESULTS Review question (1) No studies with a low risk of bias were identified for the review of effects and only 15 (out of 92) quasi‐experimental studies were assessed as being of medium risk of bias and therefore policy‐actionable. The results of these medium‐risk‐of‐bias studies (reported in Summary of Findings Table 1) suggest farmer field schools impact positively on intermediate and final outcomes for participating farmers in the short to medium term. Findings for intermediate outcomes were as follows: • There was a significant increase of 0.21 standard deviations on knowledge about beneficial practices among farmer field school participants over comparison farmers (SMD=0.21, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.07, 0.35; Q=5, Tau‐sq=0.008, I‐sq=55%; evidence from 3 studies). • There was a significant reduction in pesticide use by 23 per cent for IPM and IPPM FFS participants over comparison farmers (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.61, 0.97; Q=40, Tau‐sq=0.07, I‐sq=83%; 8 studies). Effects on pesticide use were particularly large and consistent for cotton IPM projects in Asia. • There was a significant increase in indices of adoption of other beneficial practices by 0.22 standard deviations over comparison farmers (SMD=0.22, 95% CI=0.06, 0.38; Q=10, Tau‐sq=0.02, I‐sq=80%; 3 studies). For final outcomes, the findings were as follows: • A significant increase in agricultural yields was estimated among FFS participants, by 13 per cent over comparison farmers (RR=1.13, 95% CI=1.04, 1.22; Q=53, Tau‐sq=0.008, I‐sq=81%; 11 studies). • A significant increase in profits (net revenues) was estimated, by 19 per cent among FFS participants over comparison farmers (RR=1.19, 95% CI=1.11, 1.27; Q=1, Tau‐sq=0, I‐sq=0%; 2 studies). The increase in profits was higher for FFS projects which also included complementary interventions involving input or marketing support (RR=2.51, 95% CI=1.51, 4.16, Q=1, Tau‐sq=0, I‐sq=0%; 2 studies). • There was a 39 per cent reduction in estimated environmental impact quotient (EIQ) score as a result of reduced pesticide use among FFS farmers over comparison farmers (RR=0.61, 95% CI=0.48, 0.78; Q=3, Tau‐sq=0.01, I‐sq=33%; 3 studies). • We could not identify any studies which provided valid estimates of impacts on farmer health outcomes. • Very few studies assessed empowerment using quantitative counterfactual methods, and only one provided estimates of statistical precision. However, there is no evidence of effects on outcomes over the longer term (follow‐up surveys greater than two years after implementation) in programmes which have been scaled up nationwide. For IPM farmer field schools, there is no evidence that diffusion from FFS participants to non‐participating neighbour farmers usually happens: • Overall, studies found no significant change in knowledge among FFS neighbours over comparison farmers. There was also no evidence for improvements among neighbours on pesticide use, yields or environmental impact quotient. • When relatively better‐educated farmers are targeted to participate in the IPM field schools, diffusion may occur for simple practices (such as reduced pesticide use) and yields. However, even in a few cases where diffusion appeared to occur, the evidence does not suggest diffusion to non‐participants is sustained over time. Review question (2) Qualitative evaluations (reported in Summary of Findings Table 2) in the review helped us to understand the different types of farmer field schools implemented around the world, the reasons for heterogeneous impacts among FFS participants, and the limited diffusion to non‐participating neighbour farmers. FFS use discovery‐based learning methods which differ from agricultural extension interventions that tend to focus on disseminating knowledge of more simple practices, for instance application of fertiliser and pesticides, or adoption of improved seeds. However, there are several barriers to spontaneous diffusion of knowledge and practices. The FFS curriculum is complex and the training should be experience‐based, so that farmers are able to observe that FFS practices have a relative advantage over conventional farmer practices. Existing levels of social capital, the reach of social networks, and approaches to targeting FFS participants were found to be potentially important factors in influencing diffusion. More generally, the studies identify some of the more common problems in implementation, notably where a top‐down “transfer of technology” approach has been implemented for an intervention which is intended to be based on a “bottom‐up” participatory approach. All qualitative evaluations presented some evidence of use of triangulation to verify their findings, although most studies had weaknesses in reporting on sampling, analysis, and presentation of data, making quality appraisal of this evidence base challenging. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PROGRAMMES Farmer field schools can have beneficial effects for participating farmers, in pilot programmes in the short term. The impacts on agricultural outcomes may be of substantial importance to farmers, in the region of a 10 per cent increase in yields and 20 per cent increase in profits (net revenues). The effects are particularly large when FFS are implemented alongside complementary upstream or downstream interventions (access to seeds and other inputs, assistance in marketing produce) for cash crops. However, the few studies of scaled‐up programmes measuring outcomes over the longer term (more than two years post‐training) do not find any evidence of effects of FFS. Farmers may also feel more confident, but again very few studies have assessed empowerment outcomes rigorously. There is little evidence of diffusion of improved practices or outcomes from FFS participants to non‐participating neighbour farmers. Field schools targeting more educated farmers may be better able to diffuse simple practices, such as on reduced pesticide use, than field schools that target less educated farmers. However, there is no evidence that any diffusion of practices is sustained over time, nor any evidence for adoption of more complex IPM practices via diffusion. As a method of rural adult education, FFS appear suited for gradual scale‐up provided there is a clear focus on ensuring local institutionalisation (i.e. favouring intensiveness of coverage in each community over geographical breadth of coverage). On the other hand, FFS seem unsuited to solve the problems of large‐scale extension. The approach may not be cost‐effective compared with agricultural extension in many contexts, except where existing farming practices are particularly damaging, for example due to overuse of pesticides. This is because of the highly intensive (and therefore relatively costly) nature of the training programme, the relative successes in targeting more educated farmers as compared with disadvantaged groups, and failures in promoting diffusion of IPM practices. Targeting FFS participants: Proponents of FFS have recommended targeting more highly educated farmers, those with greater land endowments, younger farmers and women, favouring those with relatively low opportunity costs of labour or farmers with relatively high pesticide costs. Problems were highlighted in targeting women who lived in household where they were not in a decision‐making position, and youth who were unable to dedicate sufficient time to the FFS plot or their fields. Where the aim is to include women and disadvantaged members of the community, implementers may need to tailor the intervention to enable their participation in the programme. The curriculum needs to be relevant and consistent with the needs and opportunities of women and the poor. Most obviously, in contexts where women are primarily responsible for growing subsistence crops, a curriculum that covers only commercial crops is unlikely to attract women participants. More generally, the curriculum and crops covered in FFS should also be adapted according to the local agricultural system and the needs of the farmers targeted by the programme. Curricula need to deal with the major challenges facing farmers. In most cases, these challenges will be multifaceted, highlighting the need to balance comprehensiveness with being able to cover all issues in sufficient depth to ensure appropriate learning. A cumulative approach over several seasons, including exchanges between field schools, may be preferable. FFS facilitators: The evidence also suggests that appropriate targeting and training of FFS facilitators is important. The theory of change suggests FFS should be delivered according to a participatory and discovery‐based approach to learning, including opportunities for farmers to experiment and observe new practices, particularly if farmers are to be empowered with lifelong skills capacity development. Attempts to target facilitators based on education or literacy levels may be less effective than targeting based on ability to communicate, and appropriate training which enables facilitators to use a bottom‐up approach. This is most obviously a barrier in scaled‐up programmes where FFS facilitators are recruited from extension staff who previously used more top‐down agricultural extension methods. Recruitment of facilitators should take into account personal attitude, maturity, literacy, leadership skills, knowledge in local language and experience with farming. In many contexts the gender of the facilitator should be carefully considered. Facilitators should have access to ongoing support and backstopping from supervisors and technical experts connected to local research centres. Regular monitoring of facilitators may help to identify schools where additional support is required. Complementary policies: Institutional actors involved in FFS should consider farmers' needs and interests in the design and implementation of the FFS programme. In some contexts stronger policies and regulatory measures may be necessary to counteract the activities of the pesticide industry, including the promotion and sale of pesticides by extension workers who are promoting FFS. New policies facilitating participatory agricultural extension approaches, replacing earlier extension policies aimed at promoting off‐the‐shelf technologies and input packages, may also be necessary. Local institutionalisation: Formal support and encouragement of FFS alumni, including technical assistance and backstopping, may be important for the sustainability of FFS practices and related activities. Given the skills‐based nature of the practices promoted in FFS, formal community‐building activities, support and successful attempts to institutionalise the approach, to encourage FFS graduates to train other farmers, are likely to be needed for any broader diffusion to non‐participating neighbour farmers, although the evidence base does not indicate that such attempts have been successful in the past. IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH The majority of FFS impact evaluations (68 out of 92) use designs of questionable internal validity, and are therefore of limited value in determining whether farmer field schools have made a difference to outcomes. We were not able to locate any completed evaluations which used randomised assignment, an approach which is feasible for FFS. In three‐quarters of evaluations, no serious attempts were made to control for confounding through statistical matching or other statistical analysis, and in one‐third of cases statistical significance tests were not reported. The likely consequence, as indicated in the meta‐analysis, was the systematic overestimation of effects for all outcomes. The extent of resources that has been devoted to farmer field schools evaluations might therefore be usefully re‐allocated to conducting fewer but more rigorous impact evaluations, particularly those based on a solid counterfactual, with prospective cluster‐level assignment (randomised or otherwise) to allow measurement of community‐wide diffusion and to assess effects on agriculture and empowerment outcomes in the medium to longer term (three years or more). Evaluations should report information on both intervention design and implementation processes so that it is possible to assess whether programme causal chains break down because the intervention design is simply not appropriate for the context or because of poor implementation. Many qualitative evaluations need to report aspects of the research process in greater detail to allow users to assess their credibility and applicability. In particular, clear reporting on objectives, on methods of sampling, data collection and analysis should be provided. Greater use of structured abstracts will facilitate easier access to quantitative and especially qualitative research. Future studies should include data on views and experiences of FFS facilitators and agricultural extension workers. Summary of Findings Tables Summary of Findings Table 1: Effectiveness studies (review question 1) Outcomes Summary of findings No. of studies (participants) Relative effect size (95% CI) Percentage change compared with control group Quality assessment³ Statement Final outcomes ‐ all farmer field school participants (review question 1a) Yields (primary outcome) 11 (3,198) 1.13 RR¹ (1.04, 1.22) 13% increase in yields of FFS participants on average relative to comparison group (4%, 22%) ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and publication bias strongly suspected FFS may increase yields of FFS participants by an average of 13% relative to comparison group, though there is notable variation across populations and contexts Net revenues (primary outcome) 2 (488) 1.19 RR (1.11, 1.27) 19% increase in net revenue of FFS participants on average relative to comparison group (11%, 27%) ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and small number of studies FFS may increase net revenues (profits) of FFS participants by an average of 19% relative to comparison group Empowerment 1 (200) 2.13 RR (1.46, 3.12) FFS participants 1.13 more likely to report positive empowerment outcomes relative to comparison group (0.46, 2.12) +ooo Very low Moderate risk of bias, serious indirectness and very serious imprecision The evidence on the impact of FFS on empowerment for FFS participants is inconclusive Environmental outcomes (environmental impact quotient) 3 (1,149) 0.61 RR (0.48, 0.77) 39% reduction in environmental impact quotient of FFS participants on average relative to comparison group (52%, 23%) ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and small number of studies FFS may reduce the environmental impact quotient by 39% on average relative to comparison group Intermediate outcomes ‐ farmer field school participants (review question 1b) Knowledge test scores 3 (426) 0.21 SMD² (0.07, 0.35) The knowledge test scores achieved by FFS participants are on average 0.21 standard deviations greater than in the comparison group (0.07, 0.35) ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and small number of studies FFS may increase knowledge of FFS participants by 0.21 standard deviations on average relative to comparison group Pesticide use (IPM/IPPM FFS only) 9 (2,335) 0.83 RR(0.66, 1.04) 17% decrease in pesticide use by FFS participants on average relative to comparison group (‐34%, 4%) ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and serious imprecision FFS may decrease pesticide use of IPM/IPPM FFS participants by 17% on average relative to comparison group though there is notable variation across populations and contexts Adoption of beneficial practices 3 (794) 0.22 SMD (0.06, 0.38) The number of practices adopted by FFS participants is on average 0.22 standard deviations greater than in the comparison group +ooo Very low Moderate risk of bias, serious inconsistency and small number of studies Evidence on the effect of FFS on the adoption of beneficial practices is inconclusive Diffusion to neighbour farmers (review question 1c) Pesticide demand neighbours (pesticide use, pesticide costs) 5 (1,115) 0.95 RR (0.64, 1.39) No statistically significant effect on pesticide use of FFS neighbours relative to comparison group ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias and serious imprecision FFS may not have any diffusion effect on pesticide use Yields 4 (986) 1.02 RR (0.97, 1.08) No statistically significant effect on the yields of FFS neighbours relative to comparison group ++oo Low Moderate risk of bias, serious inconsistency FFS may not have any diffusion effect on yields • Notes: 1/ RR = response ratio. 2/ SMD = standardised mean difference. • 3/ The rating guide used for the assessment of the quality of the evidence was adapted from GRADE and is available from • the authors. Source: authors based on GRADE. Summary of Findings Table 2: Barriers to and enablers of effects (review question 2) Outcomes No. of studies Statement Barriers to and enablers of knowledge acquisition 17 studies Barriers: FFS facilitators do not receive sufficient training and ongoing support (6 studies). Facilitators do not have enough farming experience and/or appropriate characteristics (2 studies). Lack of adequate and timely resources for FFS schools (3 studies). Farmers excluded due to restrictive targeting criteria or procedures (4 studies). Farmers unable to participate due to gender, cultural norms or poverty (7 studies). High levels of drop‐out due to incorrect expectations or lack of interest, access or time (7 studies). Training delivered in a top‐down manner, using transfer of technology approach (4 studies). Curriculum not appropriate or relevant to the local context (7 studies). Imbalance in relationship between farmers and facilitators (3 studies). Facilitators use national language, in which farmers are not fluent, or too many foreign and scientific terms (2 studies). Enablers: FFS facilitators have experience with farming, are literate and mature, and have a positive personal attitude and leadership skills (3 studies). Gender of facilitator acceptable to participants and their families (2 studies). Farmers motivated to learn and improve livelihoods (5 studies). Training delivered in a participatory, bottom‐up manner (9). Curriculum appropriate and relevant to the local context (7 studies). Facilitators use local language and concepts and metaphors common to farmers (2 studies). Barriers to and enablers of adoption 18 studies Barriers: Training delivered in a top‐down manner, using transfer of technology approach (4 studies). Curriculum is not appropriate and relevant to the local context (7 studies). Farmers do not observe benefits from FFS practices (2 studies). Practices too complex for farmers to implement (3 studies). Farmers lack access to inputs, capital and/or markets (5 studies). Low levels of social capital among participants (1 study). Enablers: Training delivered in a participatory, bottom‐up manner (9 studies). Curriculum is appropriate and relevant to the local context (7 studies). Farmers observe benefits of FFS practices (5 studies). High levels of social capital among participants and tradition of collective action (3 studies). Barriers to and enablers of effectiveness and sustainability 14 studies Barriers: Diverging institutional incentives and objectives (3 studies). Conflicting agricultural policies (2 studies). Institutional legacy from top‐down extension approaches (4 studies). Power of pesticide industry and continued links with the extension service (2 studies). Lack of technical assistance and backstopping from researchers and extensionists (4 studies). Enablers: Active follow‐up and continued support from implementing agency (11 studies). FFS groups with consistent membership, good leadership, collective goals and a supportive group environment (4 studies). Barriers to and enablers of diffusion of knowledge and practices 11 studies Barriers: Complexity and experiential nature of FFS learning (5 studies). Farmers unable to observe FFS practices (2 studies). Farmers are not convinced of the relative advantage of FFS practices (2 studies). Socioeconomic differences between FFS participants and non‐participants (1 study). Low levels of social capital and cohesion limiting communication (2 studies). Enablers: Concrete and relatively easy practices (2 studies). Farmers observe FFS practices (5 studies). Farmers perceive FFS practices to have relative advantage over existing practices (2 studies). High levels of social capital and social networks extending beyond FFS group (3 studies). Active promotion of FFS practices post‐graduation (1 study). Source: authors.
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