Season: Pre-Sowing Objective


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Background: Learning in the FFBS process is seen as a four-stage cycle: first-hand experience and action, reflection, generalization of lessons, and application of lessons. Evaluation of the FFBS plots will elicit full involvement from the farmer, empower farmers to create concepts that integrate their observations into logically sound theories, and enable them to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems in their farms and lives.
Steps to follow for the activity:

Step 1. Workgroups: During each session, divide the farmers into groups of 5-6 people; each group will carry out observations on a different section of the farm. Ensure that the entire farm is covered by these groups by creating smaller groups or assigning larger sections. Provide each group with an observation sheet (included in Annex) and create a large observation table (based on the sheet) with lines for each farm section on the flip chart.
Step 2. Observations in the field: Instruct groups to carry out observations on crop plants on each of the FFBS plots and the environment in accordance with the form shown below. Make sure to note the following before the observations are made:

  • Develop specific data collection protocols for pest and disease surveillance for each crop/pest; use for data collection purposes.

  • Observe & record growth parameters of the crops (plant height, number of leaves) in a given number of plants per plot (about 10-15 depending on crop) per group. These plants should be randomly picked while the participants walk in the farm in a Z- or M-shape.
  • Collect samples of pests, insects and weeds that cannot be identified & seek guidance from agricultural extension/research facilitators. If anyone one has a camera, please take photos

  • List names in local language for translation later if not found

Step 3. Data processing: After observing and notating of all the important parameters, the group should come together to record their farm section information onto the flip chart.
Step 4. Group presentation and discussion: Select someone from each group to present findings at a plenary discussion as well as discuss recommendations for future actions. Ask a few questions to find out how group dynamics and leadership have evolved during the observation period. Note that:

  • Although farmers are free to criticize one another, this criticism needs to be constructive and restricted to the observations and the presentation itself.

  • It is important that everyone should have a say, even if some of the presentations and discussions are be lengthy.

Harvest and Post-Harvest Management


Vegetative; Harvest; Post-Harvest


To establish a shared understanding of the significance of harvest and post-harvest management.


2 hours

Materials needed:

Flip chart, marker pens

Ideal workspace:

There should be enough space for both standing and sitting

Background: Effective management during the post-harvest period is the key in reaching the desired objectives. There are many interrelated steps involved in all postharvest management, as produce is often handled by many different people, and transported and stored repeatedly between harvest and consumption. While particular practices and the sequence of operations will vary for each crop, there is a general series of steps in post-harvest handling systems that will be followed for the purposes of this toolkit.
Steps to follow for the activity:

Step 1: Ask farmers why they think post-harvest losses are important and to share some of their experiences around such losses. Allow them to come up with their own ideas, but make sure that they include the following topics in the discussion:

  • Food safety

  • Quality assurance

  • Better storage

  • Better protection from pests

  • Reduce losses (quantity & quality)

  • Better marketing opportunities

Step 2: Take the farmers through a brainstorming session on the causes of post-harvest losses. Allow them to come up with their own ideas, but make sure that they include the following topics in the discussion:

  • Inefficient harvesting and handling methods

  • Lack of technical knowledge on different components of harvest (i.e. processing)

  • Labor shortage during harvest season

  • Harvesting immature and over-mature crops

  • Poor processing techniques

  • Limited drying facility
  • Excess rain-fall exposure

  • Lack of storage facilities

  • Rough transportation/loading/unloading

  • Little or no access to new technology

  • Lack of farmers friendly business model

Step 3: Take the farmers through the three main objectives of applying post-harvest technology and proper management practices to produce. These are applied to:

  • Maintain quality (appearance, texture, flavor and nutritive value)

  • Protect food safety

  • Reduce losses between harvest and consumption

Step 4: Take the group through the crop specific post-harvest management practices on the three main objectives. Guide the conversation by discussing the following pieces of information:

  • The importance of: harvesting the crop at the right maturity; and ensuring the right moisture content at harvest and during drying and storage (using crop specific measures for moisture content)

  • Use of recommended harvesting practices and methods of preparation for specific crops, e.g. curing of root, tuber and bulb crops before further handling or storage. Note that harvesting practices should cause as little mechanical damage to produce as possible; gentle digging, picking and handling will help reduce crop losses

  • When sorting for rejects, remove any product that is decayed, damaged, or too small to avoid contamination from aflatoxin and other pathogens

  • Use of simple technologies for packing, ranging from a simple shed in the field or a separate structure with cooling and storage facilities

  • Use of simple and appropriate packing methods and packaging materials that can help to maintain product quality and reduce mechanical damage during handling, transport, and storage

  • Post-harvest insect pest control methods that offer alternatives to chemical treatments for insect and disease control, such as the use of indigenous technical knowledge. Note that sometimes produce must be chemically treated to control insects or decay-causing organisms

  • Indigenous technical knowledge plays a key role in post-harvest management. As the farmers to list some of the practices that they have traditionally used that are effective for postharvest insect and disease management. Encourage them to keep applying these methods

  • Use of storage structures, methods for ensuring adequate ventilation, and simple technologies for modified atmosphere storage for each crop

  • Transport practices that can reduce losses and methods for handling at destination (wholesale or retail markets)

  • Simple methods for processing fresh produce such as adding value by drying (e.g. cassava)

Farmer Field Days


Vegetative Stage; possibly multiple times throughout the season depending on objectives of the Field Day


To introduce the improved varieties/management options to the rest of the community to stimulate their interest for the collective engagement learning agenda


2 hours

Materials required:

Flip Charts, Marker pens, seed, crop and other relevant samples

Ideal Workspace:

Enough space for movement, a space for community members to sit

Background: Farmer Field Days are events where farmers evaluate the performance of their crops/livestock using a range of criteria determined by the farmers and facilitators. Field Days are attended by the farmers, community members who are not FFBS participants, extension staff, other NGOs working in the area, and other interested stakeholders. Field Days can be held during different times of the season to teach about different seasonal topics.
Steps to follow for the activity:

Step 1: The Field Day date(s) should be decided upon. They can be done at multiple points during the crop season, depending on the objective(s). A program and list of invitees should be developed for each planned Field Day, with number of invitees limited to the capacity of the field to avoid overcrowding.
Step 2: The facilitator and FFBS participants should ensure a good layout of field-day activities, with easy access and facility of movement around the field. Plots should be labeled clearly.

Step 3: The facilitator should guide the FFBS participants to develop a simple evaluation sheet to score each of the important attributes for that Field Day objective (sample in Annex). This sheet will be unique to each crop since attributes vary across crops. Make sure to have this form translated to the local language, and provide one form to each Field Day participant.

Step 4: During the Field Day the facilitator should:

  • Provide suitably large visual material and also, if necessary, a loudspeaker, to ensure that all can hear. Check that extension literature and other material are available for consultation and take-away.

  • Encourage the farmers in the FFBS to take most of the initiative; be ushers to ensure flow and guide the visitors by allocating roles to teach the invitees on what they have been learning on each of the plots

Step 5: Conclude the Field Day by bringing all the participants together, reviewing the day's proceedings and the main items seen and discussed, conducting a question and answer session, and explaining any future relevant Pathways and extension activities.
Remember to distribute any dissemination materials prepared to the community.

For help in planning future field days, a simple questionnaire can be administered to a sample of farmers (see example below).

Annex: Agricultural Tools
Activities During the Agricultural Season

Example of an Agricultural Seasonal Plan for Cassava

Weeks before/after sowing

Development Stage of Crop


6 wks prior


Field preparation and layout

2 wks prior


Selection of planting materials

1 wk after



3 wks after



4 wks after


Rouging (removal of the plants that have CMD, CBSD, and CGM)

4-18 wks after

Weed Control

4 wks after


1st weeding

8 wks after



10 wks after


2nd weeding

12 wks after



16 wks after


3rd weeding

18 wks after



32 wks after



Sample Daily Plan (to fill in timings for various areas/groups)




Attendance check

Presentation of daily schedule

Other important matters

Field work (Planting, weeding, thinning, manure application etc)

Observations (using observations form)

Discussions and recording of observations by work group

Plenary discussions of observations

Determination of way forward

Short story, joke telling, or fun exercise for team building –use one of the group strengthening tools for this purpose

Special topic

Evaluation of the day’s activities

Planning of future meeting(s)


Sample Observation Sheet

Name of FFBS:


Date planted:



Sunshine (clouded or clear sky)

Temperature (hot, moderate, cool)


Plant stand

(number of plants per plot)

Soil moisture:

(Dry, moist, very moist, flooded)

Diseases observed:

(List of all important for crop in area)

Insect pests observed:

(List of all important for crop in area)

Weeds observed:

(List of all important for crop in area)


(Yellowing for N, purple for K, etc.)

Weeds seen:

(List of all important for crop in area)


Recommended actions based on observations:

Evaluation of FFBS Plots

Sample Observation Sheet

Name of FFBS: ________________ Village:________________ District:_______________

Observation Number:

Farm Section:

Crop(s) planted:

Section Size:

Date planted:


Crop growth:


Sunshine (clouded or clear sky)

Temperature (hot, moderate, cool)

Plant stand: (number of plants per plot)

Soil moisture:

Diseases observed:

Insect pests observed:

Deficiency(ies) observed:

Weeds observed:


Members attended (M,F)

Recommended actions based on observations:

Farmer Field Days

Sample Field Day Evaluation Form

  1. Name (Optional): ________________________________________

  2. Sex : [ ]Male [ ]Female

  3. Education level: [ ]None [ ]Primary [ ]Secondary [ ]College

  4. Are you a member of a Pathways group? [ ]Yes [ ]No

  5. If member, what is your main activity? ____________________________________

  6. What time did you arrive at the field day? __________________________________

  7. How far is the Field Day location from home (or time taken to walk)? ____________

  8. How did you find out about the Field Day (select one)? [ ] Neighbor or friend

[ ] Pathways Group [ ] Public announcement (write which): _________________

  1. Which are the three key lessons (practices) you have learned today?

1. __________________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________________

  1. Which lesson will you apply on your farm as soon possible (name one)?


  1. Is there any practice you would like to apply but feel unable to apply?

If yes, which one? ___________________________________________________

Why? _____________________________________________________________

  1. Do you think this field day is a good way to share information? [ ]Yes [ ]No

  2. Is there another information-sharing method that you think works better for you?

If yes, which one? ___________________________________________________

  1. What did you like about the Field Day? ____________________________________


  1. Which aspects of the Field Day could we improve on to meet your needs?



Thank you very much for your time and participation in the Pathways Field Day.

Your feedback is very important!

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