Assessing the role of farmer field schools in promoting pro-adaptive behaviour towards climate change among Jamaican farmers

  • Jhannel Tomlinson
  • Kevon Rhiney


With the vulnerability of Jamaica’s agricultural sector to climate change being well established, there is a compelling need to incorporate useful adaptation strategies. One such pro-adaptation strategy is the farmer field school (FFS) which is currently being used to promote climate-smart agricultural practices among Jamaican farmers through a number of social learning and capacity building initiatives. A hallmark of the field school methodology is its promotion of adaptation by empowering farmers to plan for and cope with the effects of climate change by improving knowledge, awareness and adoption of best practices, while providing a viable income stream to participants. Though the FFS program has been touted as a huge success, with several community groups sustaining their income diversification and adaptation efforts even after the formal project has ended, the extent of participation in these field schools has however been uneven and limited in numbers. Amidst claims of the program’s achievements to date, and plans to replicate and upscale the field school methodology in Jamaica as a climate adaptation strategy, a comparative assessment of the role participation plays in shaping local farmers’ cognitive and behavioural responses towards climate change is very timely. The case study reported in this paper is informed by a comparative mixed methods approach, undertaken in three communities in northern Clarendon, Jamaica. The study assesses the particular ways that participation in the farmer field school program has influenced the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of FFS trainees about climate change compared to their non-FFS counterparts. Preliminary results indicate that FFS participants perceive themselves as having a higher adaptive capacity in comparison to non-field school participants, amidst both groups having access to similar stocks of assets. Ultimately, our results highlight that cognitive factors (e.g. perceptions of adaptive capacity) and involvement in social networks may be as important as the more commonly researched asset-based indicators in shaping individual adaptive behaviour.


Farmer field schools Climate change adaptation Agriculture Jamaica 


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© AESS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography & GeologyUniversity of the West IndiesKingstonJamaica
  2. 2.Department of GeographyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

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