Integrated pest management 

In Nepal, Farmer Field Schools aim to empower small farmers to adopt suitable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and realise greater crop yields, household food security and farm sustainability.

Women in a field in Nepal

About the program

Farmer Field Schools are available in both rice and vegetables courses, the separate sessions are held to allow trainers and participants to focus on the details specific to each food crop.

The program strengthens local partners and networks to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM), to market agricultural produce, and to facilitate networks at various levels to advocate for farmers rights (seed rights, land rights and food sovereignty issues).

Over the course of this 3-year program, 8,575 small farmers will be organised and trained in 343 Farmer Field School Groups for IPM in rice and/or vegetables. Fifty percent of participants will be from discriminated groups (ethnic groups and low castes) and 60 percent will be women. Participants are selected based on specific economic, social and environment deprivation criteria.

During a 12-month calendar period, 109 new Farmer Field Schools are conducted; training 3,005 small farmers in IPM techniques for rice and/or vegetables. An increase in crop yields in the range of 32.5 percent to 81 percent has been witnessed with the adoption of IPM principles. On average, farmers produced 115kg more rice, which translates to around 65 days more food. Witnessing this increased crop yield has motivated the farmers greatly and they adopt the previous year's learnings in each year's production.   

This program enables small farmers to practice IPM methods to improve household food security and farm sustainability.  Participant’s health is improved via adequate nutrition and reduced exposure to chemicals. The participatory nature of this program encourages decision making, confidence and capacity building within the community as well as ensuring participants gain the skills necessary to self-implement the farming techniques. This also allows the skills learnt to be passed on and replicated by other community members, and other villages.

The participatory nature of the program makes it highly sustainable. Students learn through experience. The Train the Trainer (TOT) objective makes farmers the experts by building their awareness and analytical abilities.

The Farmer Field Schools are seen as a strong platform to advocate for farmers rights and seed rights. IPM Trainers educate and advocate farmers rights, including accessibility to land; right to use water; patent and sui generis rights, and right to pursue sustainable agriculture or traditional agriculture (by choice of the farmers themselves). As well as land reform and utilisation of land, and advocating government for infrastructure development. 

Seed is an important factor for increment of production and productivity of the crop. Therefore establishment of seed rights is essential. IPM encourages farmers to be knowledgeable about the sources of seed, certainty of seed germination, and its qualitative as well as quantitative test results.

Kaluram, a Nepalese farmer

Kaluram’s story

Kaluram lives with his wife and three children in Nepal. Kaluram was featured in Project Compassion 2011:

"My field was often empty. We had no regular income and poor health," said Kaluram. "We couldn't always pay school fees. Our [straw] house was a fire hazard."

Kaluram joined the Caritas program and learnt early season rice and vegetable cultivation. He began implementing the new practices on his small field, which was soon able to feed his family. 

Eleanor Trinchera from Caritas Australia caught up with Kaluram in November 2012. He’s now leading a cooperative of three Farmer Field Schools, and along with his wife, Sita, is busy with farmers’ activities and pest management. They are happy as they have good rice production which provides them with a better income. Their youngest daughter, Juanita, is now in Year 8 at school; their son, Biplop, is in Year 5; and their eldest daughter, Sushima, has recently married but is still continuing her studies.
Read Eleanor's interview with Kaluram from November 2012.

The video below, from 2011, shows the early days of Kaluram's amazing journey with Caritas Australia.

Program details

  • Issues: Food security and agriculture; Water and sanitation
  • Partner Agency: Caritas Nepal
  • Funding in 2014/15 financial year: AU $262,380
  • Geographic location: 24 districts in Nepal
  • When established: 2009
  • This program is supported by Australian Aid.