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.
To establish a shared understanding of the significance of harvest and post-harvest management.
Flip chart, marker pens
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:
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:
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
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
Flip Charts, Marker pens, seed, crop and other relevant samples
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