Learning in the social wild: Farmers Field Schools and the politics of agricultural science and development in Ecuador
As a result of its impressive success as a knowledge-based, community-led approach for change in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, Farmer Field School methodology (here referred to as Farmer Field Schools or FFS) was introduced in the Andes, initially to help communities overcome pesticide-health concerns. Eventually, the approach was adapted to address other concerns in agriculture and natural resource (ANR) management, including the sustainable management of small and large animals, local seed systems, soil fertility, and water for food production and climate change adaptation. Beyond helping to solve technical concerns, FFS was explicitly inserted as a political device for shifting the designs of ANR management away from technology-to people-centred approaches. In this paper, we examine the arrival and rise of FFS in Ecuador, followed by encounters with the socio-technical regime organized around agricultural modernization and subsequent transformations and counter-movements. The exercise sheds light on the conflicts between present institutional designs and needed re-direction towards more adaptive agricultural science and development practice.