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Training-and-visit system (T&V)

Under the transfer-of-technology approach, the T&V system was introduced to transfer the latest technologies and practices from research to farmers. The T&V system was used to address a lack of professionalism and improve the accountability of extension agents. Advantages include regular farm visits, continuous training for agents, and a more professional approach to extension. Disadvantages are that it is top-down, rigid, and financially unsustainable. The costs include large numbers of personnel, and their continuous training and management.

Farmer field schools (FFS)

Farmer field schools take an adult education, participatory, group-based approach. They are used in over 90 countries on many different topics, from integrated pest management to business management. Farmer field schools are especially good for teaching complex practices that must be experienced to be understood, and experiential learning and discovery learning are critical elements of this method. The approach can also be used for empowerment, and for building social capital. Farmer field schools do require a different mindset than most extension agents have – facilitation rather than lecturing. They have been shown  to be effective at reaching women and those with less education (4)
Davis, K., Nkonya, E., Kato, E., Mekonnen, D.A., Odendo, M., Miiro, R. and Nkuba, J. 2012. Impact of farmer field schools on agricultural productivity and poverty in East Africa. World Development 40 (2): 402–413.
. The intensive training offered over a long period is costly in terms of human and financial resources, and FFS have been criticised for being financially expensive. However, self-financed and semi-self-financed models can help to deal with sustainability issues and the costs of an external facilitator, transport, and setting up and maintaining demonstration plots – for example, farmers may pay back the costs of the facilitator using proceeds from sales from their plots..

Theatre

Theatre is a useful tool to put across key messages in a powerful, memorable way. While it has been used for some time for HIV/AIDS messages, it is now being used for climate change and other complex topics. Theatre is effective because it is entertaining and has an impact, but it is time- and resource-intensive. Special skills are needed to put together good scripts, and unless local capacity is developed and used, sustainability is non-existent.