Impacts of farmer field schools in the human, social, natural and financial domain: a qualitative review

Henk van den Berg*, Suzanne Phillips, Marcel Dicke, Marjon Fredrix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Farmer Field School (FFS) is a widely used method seeking to educate farmers to adapt agricultural decisions to diverse and variable field conditions. Out of 218 screened studies, 65 were selected to review the impact of the FFS. An analytical framework was developed with effects (outputs, outcomes and impacts) arranged according to the human, social, natural and financial domains. Impacts on non-participants of the FFS were addressed as peripheral effects. The FFS demonstrated its potential to enhance human, social, natural and financial capital of rural communities. Human capital was built in the form of critical thinking, innovation, confidence, and quality of life. Effects on social capital included mutual trust, bonding, collective action, networking, and emancipation. Natural capital was enhanced through improvements in field practices, food production, agricultural diversification, and food security. Financial capital was enhanced through increased income and profits, savings and loans schemes, with a potential to reduce poverty. The available body of evidence was unbalanced across the capital domains, providing high coverage of the natural domain but low coverage of the human, social and financial domains. In-depth case studies are needed to elucidate the interactions between livelihood assets, and the influences of the policy, institutional and external environment, in order to adjust FFS interventions aiming to optimize their impacts. Considering the positive effects the FFS can have on rural livelihoods, the FFS has potential to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, quality assurance of the FFS and a balanced evaluation across the capital domains require attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1443–1459
JournalFood Security
Early online date19 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Adult education
  • Farmer field school
  • Impact assessment
  • Sustainable rural livelihoods

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