The Farmer Field and Business School concept (FFBS) is a participatory approach for dissemination of agricultural technologies and messages. FFBS uses non-formal adult education methods of experimental discovery learning techniques and participatory training methods. The FFBS is modified from FFS methodology to include gender mainstreaming, farmer business and marketing information, sustainable agriculture techniques and nutrition on one platform which emphasizes learning by doing.
Testing new agricultural techniques in the FFBS demo plot
Resource-poor farmers in northern Ghana still lack access to information on sustainable agriculture practices. The Pathways project designed FFBS demonstration plots with different treatments as a means to encourage good agricultural practices (called GAPs). The treatments were selected to demonstrate to the farmers the importance of applying a soybean inoculants to promote plant health, using a starter application for seedling development, as well as a folia application of organic fertilizer to increase the productivity of the soybeans.
The FFBS demo plots displayed the following treatments:
- No Fertilizer (Control)
- Inoculant only (5g/kg of seeds)
- Actyva (1 bag per acre)
- Green OK (250 ml/ha for foliar spray and 50ml/ton of seeds for seed treatment)
- ½ Green OK + ½ Actyva
Learning by doing in the demo field
FFBS trainings were linked to major activities carried out on the demonstration plots. Specifically, trainings began with land preparation, planting with recommended spacing, and weed control. Further along in cultivation, activities like pest and diseases identification, management strategies and harvesting were addressed.
Farmers gathered data in the demo plot to analyze so that they could make more informed decisions in their own soybean production without experimenting on their own land. Data included plant population estimates, and comparisons to adjacent fields, measuring plant spacing and height at flowering, counting nodules, and relating plant height at flowering to the number of pods per plant.
|Treatment||Nodules /plant||Plant height at flowering (Cm)||Haulm/Ha (Kg)||Grain yield/ha (Kg)|
|Green OK only||47.3||42.43||2537||863|
|Inoculant + Actyva||77.9||58.57||2891||1463|
Collected by participant farmers on FFBS demonstration plots, this data on the grain yield per hectare for each treatment (across seven communities under Conservation Agriculture) gives tangible evidence to support changes in agricultural practices.