National Agricultural Information System
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Success Stories
Farmer Field Schools in Jordan   2012
The National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension NCARE has enforced the Farmer Field Schools FFS methodology as part of an Italian-funded regional pest management programme.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's FAO Regional Integrated Pest Management IPM Programme in the Near East started its activities in Jordan in 2004, funded by the government of Italy and FAO from special Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety.

The programme functions in 10 countries to improve food security by enhancing sustainable intensification of agricultural production with special emphasis on ecology based integrated pest management that contributes to the reduction of pesticideassociated risks.

It seeks to Promote local adaptation of IPM strategies to horticultural crops, build on farmers’ participation and improve the understanding of local ecosystems using the FFS method.

FFS is a core activity of the IPM community-based approach, to train and empower farmers on improving crop production and pest management, while reducing the use of pesticides, thereby contributing to the protection of farmers’ communities, their environment and facilitation of better access to high value crop markets.

FFS is a participatory methodology, based on non-formal adult education approaches and encourage hand-on active learning, testing and validating scientific concepts as well as local knowledge in local conditions reaching to the concept of farmer to farmer extension approaches.

The programme is focusing on the capacity building and strengthening of IPM/FFS approach, taking in consideration local eco-system, participating of women in the activities, improving access to markets and developing a comprehensive strategy to promote IPM and pesticide management in the country.

Using ecology-based IPM approaches to promote sustainable management of pests, about 170 FFSs have been established by NCARE in Jordan since its inception, training approximately 2,400 farmers.

With the support of the programme in NCARE, farmers have started organizing themselves in order to carry out field experiments, train other farmers, and interact effectively with research and extension.

NCARE Director General Faisal Awawdeh told Petra that FFS seeks to promote local adaptation to the integrated crop management mechanisms in order to achieve a healthy production through regular controls of farming fields and reduction of dependence on chemicals and pesticides.

Extension Approaches-Farmer Field Schools on Integrated pest Management Programme; a new Extension Approach in Jordan
 

Farmer Field Schools on Integrated pest Management Programme; a new Extension Approach in Jordan

Written by: Ashraf Alhawamdeh, Director of Participatory Extension Unit/NCARE-Jordan


Intoduction

IPM approaches in Jordan are not new, and have been promoted for a few decades now. However, at farm level overuse of pesticides is still common. A main reason for this is the lack of farmers’ knowledge on IPM and ecology that underpins informed decision-making. Ghor el Safi is a small region in Jordan, south of the Dead Sea with particular environmental conditions: high temperatures in summer and limited water availability.

Farming is a major occupation, with open field tomato a major crop. Farmers have limited access to information and advisory services in the area.

Overuse of pesticides in tomato is common. The Jordan Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), with support of FAO’s regional IPM programme for the Near East, selected Ghor el Safi as one of the target areas to promote IPM by educating farmers and their community to better understand and manage their agro-ecosystems. This would lead to reduced use of pesticides, lower environmental contamination and less health risks for producers and consumers.

The programme used a holistic IPM approach, building on an agro-ecosystem approach. To educate farmers in IPM the programme organized farmers in groups to implement Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) that use hands-on learning throughout a cropping season. Non-formal adult education approaches are used in the FFSs. Farmer groups set up studies to compare local practices with IPM. They are trained to make detailed observations using Agro- Ecosystem Analysis (AESA), looking at all elements in the agro-ecosystem (plants, pests, natural enemies, diseases, weeds, weather and soil conditions).

They analyze and discuss the situation using this information and come to a decision. A trained facilitator assists in guiding the process to come to sound technical decisions. This process allows integrating all elements of the system to be discussed and examined to come to IPM decisions.

Partners and development

The most important partners in the Ghor el Safi IPM programme are the farmers (both male and female) and their communities. The programme worked with them to better understand the situation, and to raise their interest in participating in Farmer Field Schools to learn about IPM. The programme developed a national network in Jordan for a FFS/IPM facilitation team to work with farmers, training them on the IPM approach and the participatory FFS methodology.

In Jordan, more than 85% of the government extension agents were trained. In addition, over 2000 farmers were trained to become facilitators to do farmer to farmer extension. Intoduction Partners and development The participants of IPM/FFS decreased the number of sprays from 8 to 3 per season on tomato open field, from 14 to 4 sprays on green houses tomato and from 13 to 5 sprays on cucumber which was based on the understanding of hazards of chemicals pesticides for human health as well the environment which increase farmers awareness of the important of preservation of the environment and natural resources. This reduced costs of production using less chemical pesticides and fertilizers; from 750 US$ to 125 US$/hectare in case of chemical pesticides and from 920 US$ to 250 US$/hectare in case of chemical fertilizers.

NCARE realized the value and potential of IPM and FFS approaches, and started the institutionalization of IPM/FFS into the National System of the Extension Service of NCARE and created a Participatory Extension Unit (PEU) to promote and expand the IPM/FFS approaches to new locations and new target crops to enhance acceptance of the IPM methodology over all Jordan.

Impacts

Economic aspects: results in IPM/FFS show that a significant decrease in production costs is obtained, while yields remain at similar levels or even increase. IPM production is more economic compared to local practices. This helps to promote the approach at national and regional levels.

Health aspects: reducing pesticides means reducing the exposure of farmers and consumers to toxic chemicals. During the FFS farmers increase awareness on the risks of pesticides. Moreover there is an increasing interest on food safety from consumers: the IPM approach contributes to produce a high value product of a better quality.

Environmental aspects: in general, participation at the IPM/FFS activity leads to different farmer attitudes and behavior towards biodiversity in agroecosystem and preservation of natural resources.

Social aspects: IPM/FFS approach leads to a major shift to the farmers’ attitudes to the nature of relationships among themselves, the community and with the government. Farmer-to-Farmer communication and exchange of information multiplies the diffusion of integrated pest management strategies, the introduction of alternative to chemical pesticides and the exchange of indigenous and scientific knowledge and experience. The Project contributes to promote the spirit of partnership and collective decision making among farmers’ community and in particular among farmers in marginalized areas.

Field management skills: IPM/FFS farmers can gain confidence to find solutions to some of problems they face, not only in plant protection but also in overall crop production practices. This is reflected in the participatory self-evaluation exercises conducted.