Understanding Aspects of Up scaling of the Farmers Field School (FFS) in Kenya
01 / 2005 - 03 / 2011
The up scaling and implementation of FFS in Kenya as initiated by FAO in 1995 has to date posed a big challenge and concern among the stakeholders in regards to quality of FFS. The issue of a coordination structure is another but related challenge. There has been a natural emergency of farmer networks within the FFS groups that have so far developed from local to district levels. FAO Kenya has spearhead forums for institutional stakeholders and farmers to meet and chart the way forward. One such effort was the National Farmers Field School Networking and coordination Workshop held at Blue post Hotel, Thika, and Kenya on 4-5TH May 2005 (Mweri and Debra, 2005).The need for a national FFS Coordinating structure for the FFS was identified as a gap that needs to be addressed in advancing the approach further both in quality and in scope (ibid).
As stakeholders in the Kenyan FFS scene debate and plan to formulate coordination structures or units at national levels, the FFS are showing their own dynamics on the ground, i.e. in the farming communities. Together, these dynamics represent different dimensions of upscaling that bear resemblance to the FFS spreading through Kenya like bushfire.
In order to understand the different components of the upscaling of FFS in Kenya, the aim of this research is to look at what drives the FFS process among the participants. Who participates and do farmers participate because of technology development or are other reasons at least as important. The study will therefore build on the MSc work that explored the impact of FFS in a number of communities in Coastal Kenya. In addition, the study aims to monitor and understand the emergence of an FFS network and structure in Kenya by identifying actors, analysing driving forces and interactions. Would such a structure bog down the very principals of participation, empowerment, and ownership of the FFS? What are the pros and cons of such structures? Is a coordination framework necessary or the emerging FFS farmer¿s networks at grassroots levels are sufficient to derive the FFS process in Kenya?
The growing demand for FFS coordination in the country and the development of joint strategy among stakeholders leads us to pose the central research question(s)? . What mechanisms govern the up scaling of FFS in terms of numbers, and structures? and what governance structures emerged with the introduction of FFS that stakeholders in the approach can harness to up scale/out scale.