Depending on the context and purpose, FSCs may be implemented in various ways. Usually a network or organisation facilitates the mobilisation of a group and provides study material. The FSCs developed in Africa and promoted by We Effect are supported by farmer organisations. The steps involved in implementing an FSC through farmer organisations are as follows.
- Build awareness and capacity at all levels.The preliminary steps within the farmer organisation are to sensitise the staff, train core and field staff, and train farmers to become FSC organisers.
- Mobilise groups of FSCs. Farmer organisations implement FSCs through their existing local structures, such as information centres, cooperatives, and local area associations. The local structures choose representatives to be FSC organisers. The FSC organisers work in the community to encourage people to mobilise and form FSCs; facilitate the election of FSC leaders and orient them; distribute materials; and support activities. Once the FSC is formed, the group elects an individual to become the FSC leader, who takes responsibility for ensuring that everyone takes an active part in discussions.
- Choose the study topic. Participants plan for themselves what and how they want to study, based on the FSC’s principles.
- Access study materials. The FSC leader distributes the relevant study materials to the group. The materials are obtained from the farmer organisation via the FSC organiser. Participants decide how to share, use, and keep the material.
- Promote action. FSCs link the participants’ acquired knowledge to action and change through experience sharing, hands-on practice, demonstrations, visits, common field activities, and field days.
- Produce study materials. Learning materials may include booklets, radio (5), or video. The supporting organisations develop study materials to support group learning, based on the farmers’ requests.In Malawi, FSCs have access to community farm radio programmes.
Monitor the results
The FSC organisers monitor results in the field in terms of how participants’ lives have changed as a result of the FSC. They collect and consolidate information from the study groups’ self-assessments and pass it on to the farmer organisation.