Manual for implementing Cluster-based Farmer Field Schools for Integrated Striga and Soil Fertility Management

Manual for implementing Cluster Based Farmer Field Schools for Integrated Striga and Soil Fertility Management

Manual for implementing Cluster-based Farmer Field Schools for Integrated Striga and Soil Fertility Management

This guide is intended for researchers, field technicians and extension workers as a step-by-step introduction to the implementation of “Cluster-based Farmer Field Schools” (CBFFS) for Integrated Striga and Soil Fertility Management (ISSFM) in farming communities of the semi-arid tropics of West Africa.

These are areas where Striga hermonthica and soil fertility are major constraints to production of cereals in general and of pearl millet and sorghum in particular.

This region of Africa is home to a diversity of climates, soils, cropping systems and cultures. As a result, the CBFFS approach must be adapted to each situation. When facilitating farmer experimentation with technologies to manage and deal with Striga and poor soil fertility, it is important for field technicians and extension workers to remain flexible and to improvise where necessary.

Field agents need to assist farmersin learning how to observe in a structured manner how different varieties and crop management practices perform and relate this to crop growth, climate, soil conditions and constraints to crop production.

Based on these observations, the farmers can hold meaningful discussions, develop appropriate knowledge and make informed decisions for reducing Striga, increasing yields and soil fertility of their fields. Facilitating this process is not possible by only learningy from a guide; it is a skill that requires practice.

Before implementing CBFFS, it is advisable to train field technicians and extension workers in communication skills, facilitation of group dynamics and informal adult education.

This guide was initially developed during a collaboration between the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Institute d’Economie Rurale (IER), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) within the framework of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

The guide has been further used and adapted within an IFAD-funded project for

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the intensification of sorghum and millet cropping systems, called PROMISO. Technical assistance for the special-topic interventions was provided by researchers

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from IER and ICRISAT.

Draft versions of the guide have already been used for the implementation of CBFSS for ISSFM in Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Ghana.

This guide was written by:

  • Dr TA van Mourik (Striga agronomy in cereals, ICRISAT-Bamako, Mali)
  • Ir S Toure (Facilitator, IPM/FFS, Cowpea program, IER,Cinzana)


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  • Dr S Traoré (Weed Science & Agronomy in pearl millet, IER, Cinzana, Mali)
  • Ir MA Loeffen (Socio-economics, ICRISAT-Bamako, Mali)

Download the guide and its appendix