Know Your Friends
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 1997. Know Your Friends. Spore 68. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48664
Farmers' Field Schools provide the opportunity for groups of 25 farmers to attend a half-day period of field work anddiscussion on a weekly basis for a complete cropping season of approximately four months. The site where the activity takesplace is...
Farmers' Field Schools provide the opportunity for groups of 25 farmers to attend a half-day period of field work and discussion on a weekly basis for a complete cropping season of approximately four months. The site where the activity takes place is normally in the midst of land cropped by the group; in Ghana, Field Schools are on rice irrigation projects. Each group is sub-divided into five groups of five, and both men and women are included. All are voluntary and none receives payment in cash or kind for attendance. A typical plot of land is chosen and divided equally: one half is to be managed according to traditional methods (variety choice, irrigation practice, fertilizer and pesticide use) while the equivalent plot is managed by each of the five groups according to what they observe and to what predators and pests they find in their plots. An hour spent in the crop capturing insects, measuring crop growth and water level and assessing pest and disease presence is followed by groups discussing their findings and deciding on their management approaches for the forthcoming week. Major aspects for demonstration and teaching are 'to know your friends': the recognition of pests and predators, the beneficial activities of predators and the ability of crops to compensate for what may appear to be significant pest damage. Ultimately it is clear that crops can yield well without gross use of pesticides and that crops may even yield more where little or no pesticide is used, provided that other aspects of soil, water and plant management are good. 'Farmer participation in our Field Schools in Ghana has been almost 100% and they come every week for four months without payment,' says Dr Sulayman M'boob, FAO Regional Crop Protection Specialist in Accra. 'In all cases farmers are making profits in their IPM fields; some are saving over US$100 per hectare by practicing IPM.' (See Spore 64 Viewpoint).