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7 Conclusions

This Evaluation has come to the following major conclusions.

Results and impacts:

  1. Since 2006, around three million poor people (representing more than 500,000 households) in rural Bangladesh have benefitted directly from new knowledge and techniques related to agricultural production and nutrition provided through FFS in ASPS II. To this should be added what seems to be quite large (but not quantifiable) spill-over effects from FFS farmers to non-FFS farmers.
  2. The impact of FFS on household nutrition and food security is statistically highly significant, most notably among the households with the lowest income levels. FFS households have reduced their vulnerability and increased intake of most food items significantly more than control village households. Likewise, FFS households estimate that their probability of being hit by food shortage has decreased from 20% before FFS to 11% after FFS, compared to a slight decrease from 31% to 30% within control village households.
  3. The impact of FFS on household income is statistically highly significant. While income in FFS households on average has risen from BDT 52,000 before FFS (2007) to BDT 72,000 after FFS participation (2010), the increase within control village households within the same period was only from BDT 47,000 to BDT 57,000. The income increase within FFS households is most significant for the households with the lowest income levels.
  4. The impact of FFS on production diversification is statistically highly significant. The total number of agricultural products produced is significantly larger for FFS households than for control village households.
  5. FFS as applied through ASPS II in Bangladesh has been demonstrated to be a very efficient development investment. When costs are compared with benefits from the FFS interventions at household level, it shows a pay-back time of less than a year from the investment. Compared to cost experiences from FFS interventions in other countries, FFS within ASPS II in Bangladesh appears to be at an average cost level.
  6. FFS has become an ’eye opener’ for the FFS participating women, their husbands and families, for what women are capable of producing and contributing to household income and food security, if they are given the chance and permission.
  7. The successful ’FFS women’ and their husbands have become role models for other farmers in their neighbourhoods and for their children. FFS has been a major boost to women’s self-confidence. FFS has contributed to improving inter-household relations between men and women and contributed to increasing gender equality in decision-making, at least on ’smaller issues’, in relation to production and income.
  8. There has not been any verifiable and measurable positive impacts or effects so far on persisting socio-cultural problems (e.g. child-marriage, child labour, dowry, polygamy, drug abuse, sexual and gender-based violence, suicide, divorces, child accidents and abuse) in the FFS communities compared to non-FFS communities.
  9. There are indications that some unintended negative impacts could be directly or indirectly linked to implementation of FFS (e.g. increased work load for children, reports of drowning accidents of small children during women FFS sessions, land disputes and further social exclusion of marginalised groups within the villages and negative environmental impacts related to boro rice cultivation).

Organisational issues:

  1. The main motivation for farmers to join FFS is the possibility of obtaining new knowledge on farming practices and technology, based on the desire to increase production and, potentially, cash income.
  2. The CBOs are in general operating at a more advanced level than the Farmer Clubs and UNFAs in terms of both input supplies and marketing. This is also a reflection of the rather different types and levels of support these organisations have received from, respectively, RFLDC (CBOs) and AEC (Farmer Clubs and UN-FAs).
  3. Both Farmer Clubs and CBOs are becoming increasingly organised and able to identify opportunities and needs as well as creating links to local government structures at the Union level. Several of the Farmer Clubs and CBOs are also successfully involved in production and distribution of quality inputs among farmers. Progress is more limited in terms of establishing linkages to marketing and processing of the products.
  4. Women’s membership and participation in Farmer Clubs (village level) is much higher than in the case of the CBOs, which often meet or are located outside the villages where the CBO members live. Traditional restrictions on women’s mobility, combined with a generally decreasing absorption capacity for intake of new members in the CBOs and lack of proper information, is limiting women from participating in the CBOs. As for decision making and leadership of both Farmer Clubs and CBOs, it is a concern that the representation of women and minority groups in the executive committees is very limited, since this is where the more advanced marketing and other strategic activities are located. Women are therefore to a large extent excluded from these advanced activities.

Technical aspects and modalities:

  1. The FFS approach has been implemented through different modalities within ASPS II, which in general has been appropriate due to the differences among AEC and RFLDC target groups and focus areas. In terms of AEC, the use of AESA has in particular been shown to be highly relevant and well applied for the male sessions on field crops (rice), although it is a limitation that no other field crops have been included. Given the relatively more limited initial level of own experience and resources among the FFS participants in RFLDC, the use of more demonstration-oriented methods appear to have been appropriate for achievement of the livelihoods and production targets within this component, but not yet for the development of farmers as skilled, informed independent decision making experts. The current IFM piloting will provide useful experience from combining elements from AEC and RFLDC.
  2. Time allocated to some of the topics in the joint male-female FFS sessions, in particular awareness raising on different socio-cultural issues, tends to be too short to generate notable impact. Presentations are too broad, Farmer Trainers/Facilitators are just ’touching’ on the issues and there is no proper coverage. Socio-cultural issues are seen as an add-on in need of awareness-raising, rather than intra-household dynamics being seen as an integral part of livelihood management, which farmers need to analyse and address through FFS.
  3. Farmer Trainers and Facilitators become model farmers who are appreciated as being easily accessible in the local areas where they are recruited and live. This ensures continued access for the farmers to training and knowledge on vegetable gardening, livestock and fish farming.
  4. Practical demonstration skills are reasonably well developed among Farmer Trainers/Facilitators. However, their skills to ensure active contribution by all participants and stimulate interaction between participants are often limited, also with regard to gender sensitivity.

Policy and institutional aspects:

  1. The application of the FFS Approach within ASPS II complies to a large extent with Danida key strategies and policies on household poverty alleviation and inclusion of women, indigenous peoples and minority groups. However, it only partially complies with the goal of full gender equality, mainly because the approach does not sufficiently take into account gender specific intra-household differences.
  2. 19. In terms of GOB policies and strategies, the FFS approach is well reflected e.g. in relation to the PRSP II which focuses on poverty alleviation through increased targeting of extremely poor and vulnerable groups, including women. The FFS approach is also well anchored in relation to the new CIP which focuses on sustainable and diversified agriculture through integrated research and extension, with particular importance given to crop sectors, livestock and fisheries. In addition, the FFS approach is fully congruent with the suggestion in the New Agricultural Extension Policy, to apply a group approach for delivery of extension services.

Institutional arrangements and M&E:

  1. The potential synergy effects between AEC and RFLDC activities have only been achieved to a limited extent. Even within the two RFLDC sub-components, it has been difficult to coordinate activities.
  2. Although the set-up of AEC is more linked to existing GOB structures than RFLDC is, both components are to some extent implemented as ’projects’ with separate management units and procedures. The institutional sustainability of the FFS modality, applied within ASPS II, lies therefore mainly with the capacity that has been built at the local level with farmers, Farmer Trainers/Facilitators, CBOs/ Farmer Clubs/UNFAs as well as the local level Department of Agricultural Extension staff that has been trained (within AEC).
  3. After experiencing some initial constraints and shortcomings, the M&E framework for the FFS interventions has recently been improved within ASPS II. Data are now being collected more strategically within both AEC and RFLDC and are to some extent being used for analysis of progress. Limited efforts have however been made within the components to: i) gender disaggregate data; ii) collect data on socio-cultural, employment and spill-over effects from FFS interventions; and iii) trace Farmer Trainers/Facilitators.

This page forms part of the publication 'Evaluation of the Farmer Field School Approach in the Agriculture Sector Programme Support Phase II, Bangladesh' as chapter 11 of 14
Version 1.0. 22-12-2011
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