SATNET Implements Farmer Fields
Sustainable Agriculture Trainers Network (SATNET) in collaboration with National Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) and Organic Denmark (OD) has implemented a pilot project on organic Farmer Field Schools in the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Bundibugyo through the SATNET member organizations. The major objective of this project is to develop Farmer Field School Concept for Family Food Security in Western Uganda, which would later be adjusted to suit other regions in Uganda.
So far SATNET runs 25 Farmer field schools in the 5 districts and have trained personnel on sustainable farming methods and value addition. A support structure for facilitators has been established, and this structure has been gradually enrolling internal facilitators (skilled farmers, selected by each farmer group and the external facilitator). Each external facilitator is to mentor and coach an FFS four days a month
The areas of focus are mainly on the FFS development and roles of external facilitators, organic farming principles and practices, participatory learning approaches, building social capital, working as a group (group dynamics), farm planning and AESA, organic livestock management, collective marketing, record keeping, savings and credit, facilitator networking, colleague supervision and internal and external facilitator development.
The program has received a positive reception from the community and most of the farmers in the community are changing to these sustainable methods of agriculture. However, there are challenges that are still faced by the program like; the level of commitment in some groups by farmers is not the same hence causing the FFS’ not to grow at the same time. Social cultural aspects like ceremonies in most villages affect some groups’ work hence slowing down the rate of progress. Some facilitators move quite long distances to their FFS and because of their commitment, they have to brave the weather to provide services. Locally there is no difference of organic and non organic products on the market especially by price and this hinders a lot the promotion of organic farming.
In general the FFS approach has been embraced by the farming communities, local leaders and partners as a good approach to agricultural extension and as a measure to Sustainability, continuity and contribution to positive change and farmers’ development.