ACE RMAs receive Training to become Farmer Business School Trainers

Article posted on 25/10/2018,

Author: Daud Bula, Giorgia Prizzon

ACE RMAs receive Training to become Farmer Business School Trainers

Peter Pemba

MIERA/GIAE developed a business training tool called Farmer Business Schools (FBS) for smallholder farmers. The Farmer Business School is comprised of 12 training modules that aim to improve farmers planning, economic analysis and decision-making built on technical recommendations for the production of various commodities. The FBS also tackles issues related to nutrition, farm management and financial management for household and the farming business.
The FBS is delivered in the mornings of 5 consecutive days, to groups of about 30 people, by a trainer that has undergone extensive training courses. In this regard, GIZ would like to collaborate with its partner organizations and enterprises to use existing outreach channels to implement Farmer Business Schools.
GIZ organized a Farmer Business School (FBS) Training of Trainers workshop that took place in Lilongwe, between the 27th August 2018 and the 21st September 2018 with the of developing the capacity of possible FBS trainers. 17 trainees from 5 GIZ partner organizations namely ACE, NASFAM, Sunseed Oils and Exagris Africa were present at the training. The ACE participants were 3 Rural Marketing Advisors (RMAs); Daud Bhulla, Mirriam Chikaipa and Felix Kankhokwe from Lilongwe, Balaka and Dedza districts respectively.
In more detail, the FBS uses a comprehensive adult learning approach with Farmer Organisations who want to improve their profitability by developing their farm business skills. It sensitizes farmers on the following:
• Understanding farming as a business and becoming more business oriented
• Better managing money in order to increase income
• Planning small investments into agricultural business
• Understanding options for acquiring capital for small investments
• Taking advantage of improved technologies to increase income
• Taking informed decisions in relation to specific production and marketing opportunities
• Planning and adapting food production to assure food security for their families
• Leading negotiations with buyers, input suppliers and credit institutions
• Understanding how well functioning Farmer Organisations support members’ businesses
The Training of Trainers lasted for a total of 4 weeks. The first two weeks consisted of theoretical learning in Lilongwe, allowing for the assimilation of FBS concepts by participants, and giving them an opportunity to restructure the training materials. During the second two weeks the participants went to the field to implement the Farmer Business School with Farmer Organisations in Mlomba and Tsekwere Villages, in the outskirts of Lilongwe.
During the two weeks of theoretical training which took place in Lilongwe, at Riverside Hotel, the following topics were covered:
• The historical background of the FBS
• The objectives of the FBS
• The extension approaches to be used when implementing the FBS
• The difference between facilitation skills and teaching
• The actual contents of the FBS
• Monitoring and evaluation skills
Following this, the field staff entered a 2 week practical course, where they learnt to deliver the training in line with the principles of adult learning and the quality standards of the FBS. The Farmer Organisations trained in the first week were Kanyanda Cooperative and Tiyenderelimodzi Cooperative, whereas in the second week Kaphiritchuwi Copoerative was trained.
In the first week a total of 105 people were trained from the 2 Cooperatives; of these a total of 46 farmers for Kayanda Cooperative, and 48 farmers from Tiyenderelimodzi Cooperative were able to graduate. This was considered as a good success for the first implementation of the FBS, with a graduation rate of 90%. The training lasted from Monday to Friday, and on Friday farmers graduated and received certificates of attendance. During the second week Kaphiritchuwi Cooperative was trained on the FBS, 105 FO members participated, of which 91 graduated.
The FBS is a complementary training to the ACE Marketing School. At the end of this season, 3 of the ACE Rural Marketing Advisors will be certified FBS trainers. They will train FOs in their districts on the FBS prior to training them on the AMS. This will enable the farmers to maximise their produce and change their mindset to a more commercialized understanding of farming which will also increase incomes at household level. Moreover, when it comes to marketing, farmers will have already been introduced to some of the issues then discussed more in-depth through the AMS such as aggregation and collective marketing.

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