Lifelong Learning for Farmers

Inadequate human resource development among millions of farm families in many Commonwealth countries has been one of the major causes for the livelihood insecurity. The didactic mode of agricultural extension has limitations in addressing this problem. In addition, capacity building becomes effective, only when it is linked to social capital and financial capital.

The Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) initiative developed a  model linking the capacity building of farming community particularly women through ODL and flexible and blended learning and linked the process with social and financial capital. The evidence during 2012-2015 showed that the Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) model could reach large number of farmers at a lesser cost and was able to enhance the empowerment and  livelihood security of marginalized farming households, particularly women in countries like Kenya, Uganda, India, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius.  Research studies established that every $1 invested yielded $9 worth of social returns to the farming communities. Financial institutions discovered that they earned 8 times more income from L3F participants and the cost of capacity building using ODL was 6 times lower than that of conventional face-to-face training.   These results have attracted the attention of major government and international agencies, private sector and financial institutions as a win-win strategy leading to development which includes viable business opportunities. Thus the effectiveness and efficiency have been established and the stage is set for expansion.

Until now the “development” in L3F was perceived from social, economic and financial angles. However, the experiences during 2012-2015 showed that there is the need to transit to “sustainable development” emphasizing a process which is socially equitable, economically viable, financially feasible and environmentally sustainable.

During 2015-2021, the focus would be to scale up L3F at the provincial, national and international level convincing governments, civil society, industries, financial institutions and development institutions/organizations regarding the viability and advantages of the L3F approach for all the stakeholders.  They will be encouraged to reach large number of farming communities, particularly marginalized communities, women and youth, and provide them with opportunities for strengthening their livelihoods in a sustainable manner. This period will signify the transition from the local level model to a self-sustaining proliferation and internalization process at the provincial, national and international level.

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