The farmer field school (FFS) approach, based on group experimentation of innovative practices and/or farming systems, is in line with participatory farm advisory efforts. This approach has an ambitious goal: strengthening farmers’ skills so that they can adapt their practices, or even invent new ones, and move towards more agroecological farming systems. Assessing such an advisory intervention poses significant challenges. The purpose of this document is to propose fresh ways to update FFS assessment methods, notably the study of changes in farming practices and the detailed analysis of FFS outcomes. Project designers, managers, and evaluators are the target audience for this document, which may also interest teachers, researchers, students, and policymakers. The elements of the FFS assessment methodology presented here stem from the collaboration between three institutions, CIRAD, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), and the NGO AVSF (Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders), and fieldwork carried out in cotton-growing areas of Burkina Faso and Togo between 2018 and 2019.
This document is divided into four parts. We first define FSS and the principles of the approach, then we detail the methods commonly used to assess FSS and the challenges involved. We then present a comprehensive assessment method using a case study in northern Togo. The final part of the report provides a basis for placing the proposed method within the process of designing an assessment for a project involving FSS.