The Farmers’ Club Program utilizes a bottom-up approach with respect to addressing farmer needs; it easily adapts to the requirements of an individual region and country (it is currently being implemented in the DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, and India).
The essential goal of Farmers’ Club is to create development momentum within rural communities toward positive, productive change that will improve food security and reduce poverty. The primary objectives sought are: 1) improved production and crop yields that increase income, 2) strengthened resiliency and the ability to cope with natural and man-made challenges, 3) improved nutritional status and health.
The best practices used by the Farmers’ Club Program to accomplish these objectives fall into three primary categories: 1) Provide farmers with the necessary training to improve methods and offer opportunities to learn by experience, 2) Organize farmers into sustainable clubs and cooperatives, 3) Offer small grants of equipment and introduce a sustainable system of livestock pass-on grants.
Training and Experimentation
The clubs are supported by a trained agronomist and other professionals and a government extension worker, who facilitate training sessions. The training emphasizes sustainable agricultural techniques, promoting conservation agriculture as a method to obtain higher yields. Farmers are able to experiment with the new techniques on a shared "experimental plot." Upon observing the results first hand, they are more likely to invest in a technique and apply what they have learned to their own fields. The program also recognizes that agricultural development does not occur in a vacuum and that farmers need support in other areas of life that can affect their livelihoods. Participants thus also receive training in health and hygiene, family economics, and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Partnerships with local organizations constitute an important part of Farmers' Club, ensuring that the program maximizes impact through widespread support and cooperation. Such partnerships also help facilitate links that farmers need to regional and export markets. Partners in these projects include the ministries of agriculture in each country, other agricultural organizations, companies that supply agricultural inputs and market produce, and organizations that provide low-tech solutions for sourcing irrigation and other agricultural materials.