Farmer Field School’s “FFS” Field Day and Graduation Ceremony On FFS Groups of Transformational Leadership Centre “TLC Rwanda”

In Gicumbi district under Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), TLC is running the Food Security through Conservation Agriculture (CA) program. In this project, TLC trains farmers from different sectors who are selected according to government and TLC discussions.

Farmers group together in Farmer Field Schools (FFS), where they can work and learn together. The topics covered can vary from conservation agriculture, organic agriculture, animal husbandry, and soil husbandry, to income generating activities such as handicrafts. TLC prefers focusing on Conservation Agriculture techniques because it is the only way to increase agriculture production and to overcome the hunger that Rwandan households face. It also provides opportunities for hands on learning and teaches basic agricultural and management skills that will allow farmers to become experts on their own plots of land. FFS is a space where farmers and trainers debate observations, experiences and present new information from outside the community, and creating an empowering and educational learning atmosphere.

An FFS group conducts various activities during the agriculture season, but the main task is to learn agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA). The AESA is a tool used to guide farmers in how to develop skills and knowledge about ecosystems and to make better agriculture decisions. It is broken down into three main components: Observation, analysis and decision-making (done through discussions and consensus among farmers).

Working in groups, farmers observe field situations and make notes about the ecosystem (e.g. crops, insects, diseases, weed, water, weather etc.) These observations are then written down to be examined before making crop management decisions. The Agro-Ecological System Analysis may include the following information: Location, date, crop age, variety, beneficial and harmful insects, diseases, weeds, plant height, weather and soil conditions, color of leaves, and flower and fruit initiation.

FFS groups started these trainings at the beginning of the season in August 2019. They worked on all the lessons mentioned above until the end of the season in January 2020. After completing their trainings, a field day and graduation ceremony was conducted so farmers can show what they have learned and celebrate their accomplishments.

A field day (or stakeholder workshop) is an occasion organized by FFS farmers and FFS Facilitators with the purpose of showcasing all activities and achievements to other farmers in the community who did not participate in the FFS. Field days are also an opportunity for sharing experiences and encouraging other people to participate in the scaling up of the project in the future. TLC schedules field days on a day preferable when the crop has reached the maturity stage. TLC is also sure to invite stakeholders, members of the farming community, policy makers, researchers, and community leaders to view the plots and share in the experiences and observations of the FFS participants.

On 23rd January 2020, five FFS groups were conducting a graduation. The Field Day took place at Rukomo sector, Munyinya Cell in Munyinya Village and all those five FFS groups were trained under TLC guidance through the MCC Project known as Food Security Through Conservation Agriculture. TLC was lucky to have David Bucura who is AGLI Coordinator, and Monica Maher from Ecuador visiting AGLI partners. 

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David Bucura, who is an advisor of TLC, enjoyed the program and congratulates the farmers graduation and local authorities.

Here are those 5 groups with more details                               

S/N

FFS Group Name

Contact person

Gicumbi Districts

Members

 

Location/Sector

F

M

Tot.

1

Ejo heza

NTANTUNGANE Jean D’Amour

Rukomo

16

10

26

2

Abakundumurimo

MUKANDIBUTSE Viviana

Rukomo

24

3

27

3

Imbere Heza

MUGIRANEZA Jean de Dieu

Nyamiyaga

24

3

27

4

Dukore

SINGIRANKABO Shabban

Byumba

18

9

27

5

Dukomezumugambi II

MUJAWIMANA Consesa

Byumba

28

2

30

 Contacts:

  • NTANTUNGANE Jean D’Amour: 0725573934
  • MUKANDIBUTSE Viviana: 0784919100
  • MUGIRANEZA Jean de Dieu: 0781781299
  • SINGIRANKABO Shabban: 0725607275
  • MUJAWIMANA Consesa: 0728630504

Each group started with 30 group members but at the end as the table shows, some members needed to leave the program for various reasons. The main issue that caused some members to leave was public work that they were assigned to because they were in economic category 1.

The guest of honor was the Mayor of Gicumbi district, but unfortunately he was unable to join the celebration day due to visits that were made by parliament members in Gicumbi district on 23 January, 2020.

Later, Vice Mayor was deputized to join the field day. He toured the FFS plots and listened to explanations of what have been done by the farmers. Mr. Vice Mayor NTEZIRYAYO Anastase appreciated the farmers and the explanations that they gave. He agreed with the farmers that Conservation Agriculture is the best method of increasing the production by using less inputs. He encouraged the farmers to go to their homes and practice what they have learned in their household plots in order to feed their households and supply their community’s market.

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