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Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS)

CARE / Jorja Currington

CARE / Jorja Currington

CARE's Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) offers a proven, scalable model for strengthening nutrition, livelihoods and women's role in their communities. This approach helps small-scale farmers and producers build the skills they need to increase production, improve resilience, adapt to climate change, and diversify diets.

Originally developed under CARE’s Pathways to Empowerment program, FFBS is a hands-on, learning-by-doing extension approach that integrates gender equality, market engagement, climate resilience and nutrition. Women farmers meet regularly during the cropping cycle to experiment on group-managed demonstration plots and learn about new agricultural techniques they can adopt in their own fields. The approach also helps women farmers build the collaborative skills necessary to become successful businesspeople, accessing inclusive markets and selling at competitive prices.

Improving gender equality is core to the FFBS approach. We use dialogue sessions to engage men and village chiefs to become gender champions, helping to change the traditional systems and mindsets that keep women farmers and communities from reaching their full potential.

The FFBS support and training cycle follows the seasonal calendar, ensuring that learning and other activities do not require extra commitment from already time-constrained women farmers. FFBS builds on existing village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) and producer groups that already have established social capital and basic governance mechanisms.

A Holistic Approach to Building Resilience

The FFBS model integrates eight components that work together to provide transformative results.

Sustainable Agriculture

To maximize the quality and quantity of their crops, livestock and fisheries, participants learn climate-smart agricultural practices aligned with the seasonal calendar. Through demonstration plots, farmers gain hands-on experience with techniques proven to improve management of water, soil, fertilizer and other relevant inputs.


Group members learn how to prevent and solve nutrition-related problems in their households. Lessons cover food-related topics such as how to identify the root causes of undernutrition, grow a home garden and prepare balanced, nutritious meals that provide a diversified diet.

Market Engagement

Each group establishes a common marketing vision and works together to build business skills and engagement with various market actors. Over the course of the seasonal cycle, participants learn relevant marketing concepts such as conducting market research, determining the profitability of different value chains and designing a business plan. FFBS graduation-ready farmers receive further training on food safety standards and certification to enable their linkage with global markets.

Facilitation Skills for Group Empowerment

Through facilitation training, community-based trainers learn how to empower groups with practical lessons based on adult learning principles, creating ownership and sustainability of adoption.

Gender Equality

FFBS engages men and leaders who can facilitate important changes that assist women farmers and communities in reaching their full potential. CARE’s proven Social Analysis and Action (SAA) and Engaging Men and Boys Approaches are used to lead a community-owned change process on discriminatory gender and social norms.

Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning

Community-based participatory monitoring and evaluation are built into the FFBS model, enabling farmers to track their own progress, costs, profits and losses. Group members then use this information to make decisions and develop action plans based on their specific circumstances.


FFBS participants typically operate in groups of 25-30 farmers drawn from diverse collectives such as Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) and other common interest groups that coalesce around the production and marketing of a particular enterprise. Prior to implementing FFBS in a community, project teams learn how to map, profile and select collectives and establish a visioning process with the group.

Service System Strengthening & Social Accountability

Through advocacy tools and CARE's Community Score Card© — a citizen-driven accountability approach for the assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of public services — FFBS fosters citizen empowerment, helping farmers demand social accountability from governments and institutions. By amplifying the voices of farmers, especially women and girls, FFBS helps them shape the policies that affect them and be part of the decision-making process.

The FFBS Four Pathways to Scale

Over the next six years, CARE will scale up the FFBS approach in at least 35 countries (18 of which will be new) to improve the income, resilience, nutrition, agricultural yields, and gender equality of 25 million producers and their families. This will be accomplished through four pathways.

Expanding FFBS to 18 new countries

Deepening FFBS Programming to reach new populations and impact areas

Engaging farmers with global markets via a certification model

Promoting the adoption of FFBS by governments


FFBS Innovation Brief

This 4 page document highlights the approach and evidence behind CARE's Farmers Field and Business School.

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Farmer Field and Business School Toolkit – Second Edition

The Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS), an approach originally developed under CARE’s Pathways to Empowerment program, focuses on improving rural, small-scale women farmers’ productivity and profitability by empowering women to more fully engage in equitable agriculture systems, using an integrated, gender-transformative, market-based and nutrition sensitive extension approach. The Scaling Up FFBS Globally program, funded by the Sall Family Foundation, now influences over twenty global programs spanning over 30 countries, and aims to reach 25 million producers by 2027.

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Farmer Field and Business School Toolkit – Livestock Edition

The Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS), an approach originally developed under CARE’s Pathways to Empowerment program, focuses on improving rural, small-scale women farmers’ productivity and profitability by empowering women to more fully engage in equitable agriculture systems, using an integrated, gender-transformative, market-based and nutrition sensitive extension approach. This toolkit provides guidance on implementing FFBS in programs with a specific focus on livestock value chains.

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CARE & FAO’s Partnership for Gender Transformative Farmer Field Schools

This brief provides an overview of CARE's partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the scaling out of FAO's Farmer Field Schools (FFS) to ensure more gender transformative outcomes. Through CARE’s Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) approach, which is an adaptation of FFS, CARE is promoting and implementing a gender transformative, market-based, and nutrition-sensitive approach to agricultural extension to help address a range of challenges and close the gender gap. The FFBS approach works by empowering women to address social and gender norm barriers, engaging men and boys to champion gender equality, supporting women small-scale producers, and increasing food security and good nutrition.

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FFBS: A Pathways Programming Approach

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented in Ghana, Malawi, Bangladesh, India, Mali, and Tanzania, Pathways is designed to improve the food security and livelihood resilience of poor smallholder women farmers and their families.

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Developing Country-Specific Gender Monitoring Indicators for Men and Women

An award-winning case study on our work with gender equality and measuring outcomes.

Read the report on USAID Learning Lab

FFBS Guidance Note for Minimum Standards

The FFBS Guidance Note for Minimum standards is targeted for CARE staff, and implementing partners including governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, academic institutions, and multilateral organizations in the agriculture and food system sectors to support their engagement with small-scale producers to multiplying impact at scale through the implementation of FFBS. This guidance will serve as a reference document to understand CARE’s work around the Right to Food, Water and Nutrition and is a reference document for implementing the second edition of the FFBS crop and livestock curriculums.

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CARE International Pledge

UNHCR, WFP, FAO and the Global Compact on Refugees put forward a Multistakeholder Pledge aimed at expanding opportunities for refugees and displaced people to engage in productive agricultural livelihoods. This initiative seeks to provide improved, sustainable access to food, enhance economic inclusion, and build durable solutions for them and their host communities. CARE has decided to join this pledge with a very concrete commitment. By the end of 2026, CARE will have piloted the FFBS model in at least three refugee-hosting countries, including Uganda, Lebanon, and Turkey. This initiative will target both refugee populations and host communities, focusing on integrating considerations of food security, nutrition, gender, livelihoods, and building relationships between refugees and host communities, particularly women.

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Soil Literacy & Soil Testing Guidance Note

This note is intended to serve as guidance and recommendations for staff working on sustainable agriculture initiatives. Specifically, this note is intended to support new business opportunities, bolster program development, improve existing programs and projects, and promote collaboration.

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