Improving the quality of sheep farming in Azerbaijan by establishing Farmer Field Schools
25 January 2023
The "Farmer Field Schools" approach is a unique participatory approach that aims to help farmers to take ownership of their own development and training. The farmers determine the training agenda and curriculum. The approach aims to empower local farmers to analyze their own production systems and identify key constraints.
In the framework of the project FAO–Azerbaijan Partnership Programme "Development and application of sustainable sheep production and food value chains" project, refresher training for the establishment of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in the field of sheep farming is being carried out for selected master trainers and facilitators. The activities are carried out by Jurjen Draaijer, an international expert on Farmer Field Schools at FAO, with the support of the national expert on training and capacity building – Elshad Rzayev.
The "Farmer Field Schools" approach is a unique participatory approach that aims to help farmers to take ownership of their own development and training. The farmers determine the training agenda and curriculum. The approach aims to empower local farmers to analyze their own production systems and identify key constraints. The FFS group will then find local solutions to these constraints, by doing on-farm experiments in order to test and validate new technologies, and/or, if needed, with the assistance of outside expert advice.
The training sessions were held in the Aghjabadi, Beylagan and Zagatala regions of Azerbaijan (the project's pilot districts). The project will now establish several FFS groups in the three districts that will meet every two weeks.
The FFS approach is new and unique in Azerbaijan," said Elshad Rzayev, FAO consultant on Farmer Field Schools. “So far, the facilitators and sheep farmers have been very enthusiastic. During the first meeting with the newly established FFS group in Kabirli village of the Aghjabadi district, we observed the willingness among the additional sheep farmers to be involved in FFS, which can be considered as existing big potential to establish more than one FFS group in each village”.
During the sessions, the facilitators' guide for sheep-related Farmer Field Schools (FFS) provided information to local farmers, helped them to understand their production systems, and identified the main constraints in sheep production. It also helped to facilitate possible solutions that can be tested and adapted within the FFS experiments.
The publication merges traditional knowledge with international expertise and practices, and farmers can choose and select the most suitable methods and technologies.