This field guide was developed by the Sowing Diversity=Harvesting Security program and its consortium partners in 2018: Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Asociación ANDES, and the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for community empowerment (SEARICE). It is based on Farmer Field School training experience in Zimbabwe, Peru, Myanmar, Lao P.D.R. and Vietnam.
The diagnostic stage is crucial to ensure that the FFS will address the primary needs and concerns of the farmers in the community. This is the only way to ensure the farmers’ commitment to the FFS. The results of the diagnostic stage form the starting point for a joint development of the FFS agenda, i.e. an agreed workplan for the upcoming growing season. It also functions as a benchmark against which the later outputs and impact of the project will be measured.
The information that the FFS group gathers during the diagnostic stage should be ordered by gender to distinguish and specifically address women’s positions and needs. This can be ensured by forming subgroups of women only. It can also help to form subgroups with farmers that have more or lesser access to assets, to make sure that the needs and preferences of all group members are taken into account. The diagnostic stage takes place prior to the sowing season and usually takes two sessions, both of approximately three hours. In the first session, the FFS group performs a Timeline Analysis. In the second session, the group continues with the Diversity Wheel exercises. These exercises help formulate the breeding objectives for the coming season(s). The guidelines in this module and the order in which they are presented are not written in stone. They can be regarded as ingredients, rather than as a recipe that needs to be
followed in a fixed order.
This module is part of the Facilitator’s field guide for Farmer Field Schools on Participatory Plant Breeding. It focuses on the diagnostic stage, as the moment when farmers perform a collective diagnosis of their situation and the problems and challenges they encounter in growing their crops and varieties, and identify the breeding objectives and activities of a Farmer Field School (FFS) season.
Facilitators’ Field Guide for Farmer Field Schools on Participatory Plant Breeding:
Module 2, Diagnostic Stage