The need for capacity building
Generally, most of the entry-level government extension workers do not have direct experience in farming. After completing 4 years bachelors’ course or 2 years diploma in Agriculture, they work as extension workers. Without direct experience in farming, their service is mostly limited to delivering crafted messages or recommendations to farmers generally developed by the centralized government extension or research systems. Farmers have hard time in believing these young professionals, as they do not have direct experience in farming.FFS, instead, uses a non-formal approach to educate farmers with opportunities to learn from their own observations and experiments in an interactive manner how to improve the management of their crops. The success of FFS is highly dependent on the skills of facilitators. To facilitate successful FFS two types of skills are essential; one is facilitation and the other is technical. Both the skills are equally important. To give the extension workers an appropriate opportunity to understand the FFS process and at the same time gain practical knowledge on various aspects of crop production and IPM, their capacity building is essential.
Capacity building of MAIL/DAIL
The project has trained 86 field level plant protection and extension officers from 14 provinces of Afghanistan through organizing season-long Training of Trainers (TOT) and other customized courses on wheat, melon, potato, rice and vegetable crops from 2011 to 2012.
This group forms the core group of facilitators in the project who are conducting Farmer Field School (FFS) to develop the skills and capacity of farmers. Along with them, a core group of eight master trainers/subject matter specialists have been developed who are involved in planning, coordination and monitoring of FFS activities in the provinces.In addition, 24 MAIL staff have been sent abroad to pursue higher studies in IPM and related subjects at M. Sc. level. 30 MAIL staff have participated in three exposure trips to Philippines (2010), Bangladesh (2012) and Indonesia (February 2013) to visit the National IPM programs of those countries. 15 MAIL staff have attended an advanced course on IPM at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok, Thailand (March 2013).