Collective learning and solution finding being at the core of its mechanism in Farmer Field Schools (FFS), MVIWATA has for a while been organizing the FFS through different approaches to facilitate learning among smallholder farmers.
Farmer Field Schools are organized in different places to allow farmers to learn together on sustainable production practices (agro-ecology and agroforestry), governance and business skills.
Farmer Field Schools among smallholder farmers is a dynamic methodology, which treats the family farmers as central character of their own destiny. Unlike conventional agricultural extension, which disempowers family farmers by force-feeding them prefabricated techniques in a top-down fashion, this new method unleashed rural people’s creativity in solving their own problems.
Mechanisms used to organize farmer field schools among family farmers.
Through established training centers.
MVIWATA currently has two (2) training centers located in Morogoro Rural District where farmers from different parts of Tanzania periodically come together to learn agro-ecological farming practices, governance, business skills (marketing and rural financing), and gender and peasant feminism.
Located in rural setting the centers provide a room for in classroom and outside classroom learning among family farmers. The various trainings sessions are organized regularly for all farmers or for specific groups like youth and women
Through established demonstration plots.
Smallholder farmers’ network or group based demonstration plots are set in villages to facilitate participatory learning. In some places, like Morogoro rural there are permanent Spice demonstration plots. The demonstration plots carter for farmers’ trainings in spices’ (cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger) all stages of growth.
The permanent demonstration plots are also established in schools through MVIWATA Clubs of students as part of providing students with a collective forum of learning and practicing agro-ecological farming skills and environmental conservation.
Likewise, demonstration plots set for family farmers enhances collective learning on different agro-ecological farming practices and knowledge and the demonstration plots established provide the basis for preserving local seed systems and indigenous knowledge. Up to March 2021, about 1,958 (670 men, 1288 women) were recorded to have directly visited 44 different demonstration plots established throughout the country.
The established demonstration plots provide family farmers with a platform to conduct collective actions (learning, production, storage, and serving of local seeds).
In 2021, about 110.25 acres of land are under Integrated Sunflower Production in Singida and Manyara regions. In Kiteto District, the Farmer Field Schools through open fields have been supported with oxenization technology, which is accessible, affordable, and sustainable and improves agricultural labor efficiency especially among women and youth.
Through organized exchange visits.
Exchange visits are organized at different levels to allow farmer-to-farmer learning and experience sharing. MVIWATA has been facilitating its members to organize exchange visits among their networks. Also non- MVIWATA members have been using this initiative to learn and exchange ideas with smallholder farmers in Tanzania.
Additionally through different radio programs at MVIWATA FM, MVIWATA is able, currently to disseminate various practices, methods, approaches practiced by family farmers through its radio station where other family farmers can learn and share the experiences.