Horti-economics of Farmers Field Schools

October 2018


Over the last two seasons (2016/17 and 2017/18) Horticultural Livelihoods, Innovation and Food safety in Ethiopia (Horti-LIFE) supported development agents in 65 villages in Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples and Tigray regions to create Farmers Field Schools (FFSs) on head cabbage, onion, tomato and green pepper production.

The 30 members of a FFS observe and discuss a package of 20 innovations that are applied on a learning plot of 200 m2 in the fields of four lead farmers. The innovation package consist of technologies that proved to work on commercial farms.

After the harvest the Farmers Field School members calculate the Cost of Production (CoP) for the learning plots and the traditional farmers’ field. The costs include opportunity costs of land and labour, irrigation costs, marketing costs.


The Returns on Investments show very positive results as well:

  • for normal farmers plots is 0.8; every 100 birr invested generates a net income of 80 birr. Long term crops (tomato, pepper) have much better returns than short term crops (onion, cabbage) due to the higher capital requirements and more complicated plant protection.  
  • for the learning plot is nearly double: 1.5
  • for the additional investments on the learning plot this is again doubled: 3.1 
  • for the additional forex used on the learning plot it is 9.7[1].

We are proud that three additional donors (Dutch, Canadian and Finnish) approached us with the question whether they could co-finance our work. This means we can expand our work to 324 Farmers Field School in 180 villages in the new season.

For detailed information click here.


[1]      The additional forex is calculated as half of costs for the seed and the additional costs for fertiliser and pesticides. The assumption is that the import price of these inputs is half the price that the farmers pay. This is based on an input supply survey that Horti-LIFE did with the Plant Health Regulatory Directorate of MoALR.


Gerrit Holtland

Project Team Leader

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