Many extension education approaches have been tried in Eastern and Southern Africa with varying degrees of success. Extension approaches that contribute to the reduction of poverty in this region are needed. One important model right now is farmer field schools (FFS), based on adult education principles such as experiential learning. Farmer field schools are usually an intensive, season-long program where farmers meet weekly to learn and experiment on a given topic. Using document analysis, key informant and group interviews, and personal observation, this paper reviews the FFS philosophy, history, and experiences of applying FFS methodology in the region. It discusses whether FFS could be an alternative to existing extension systems in Eastern and Southern Africa. The paper concludes that FFS are not an alternative to existing systems, but that certain principles of FFS could be picked up and incorporated into various systems, including agricultural extension, research, and even health, to make them more effective at reaching small and marginalized farmers and in alleviating poverty and food insecurity.
Keywords: Extension, Education, Africa, Farmer Field Schools