Farmer Field Schools: Unexpected Outcomes of Gendered Empowerment in Wartime Nepal

Annemarie Westendorp, Leontine Visser


This article is the outcome of an empirical study of technical training of women and men through Farmer Field Schools in rural Nepal during the last decade. When the Farmer Field Schools started in Nepal as part of the FAO Integrated Pest Management project in 1997, this was also the year that the Maoists declared the People’s Revolution. The article describes the increased participation of women in FFS and its positive effect on food security of their families. After initial failure of FFS to include gender in its policy and activities, the article discusses the gradual acceptance of gender issues in the training. Empowerment is seen as a developmental process rather than as a product somebody or a group can gain access to or own. Different forms and objectives of empowerment of both women and men are discussed, and the unintended outcomes of FFS intervention in the context of rapid social-economic and political change during the Maoist revolution in Nepal.

Keywords: Farmer Field Schools, gender, empowerment, Maoist revolution

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Journal of Asian Development  ISSN 2377-9594   E-mail:

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