The factors in completion, non-completion, and non-participation in farmer field schools in Trinidad and Tobago



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The purpose of the study was to identify and analyze factors affecting completion, non-completion, and non-participation in five Farmer Field Schools (FFS) administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, and Marine Resources (MALMR) of Trinidad and Tobago. The research objectives used to accomplish the purpose of this study focused on the relationship between participation status and 1) personal characteristics, 2) individuals? motivations for participation, 3) perceptions about selected farming practices, 4) individuals? priority rankings of their sources of information regarding farming practices, 5) the deterrents to participation, and 6) perceptions of the usefulness of competitions as a means for increasing the popularity of FFS. This study employed an ex post facto, causal comparative research design. Three instruments were developed. The sample population (N=109) consisted of farmers classified as FFS completers (n=56), non-completers (n=15), and non-participants (n=38). Data were gathered from late May to late September 2007. Individuals with a greater number of participating friends are more likely to complete the program FFS completers 1) were more driven by social reasons to participate in FFS than were non-completers, 2) possessed a greater concern for the environment than did non-completers, 3) had higher expectations than did noncompleters that participation in a FFS would improve their occupational performance and status, 4) more likely than non-completers to be willing to take on the financial risks involved in the adoption of IPM on their farms, 5) believed more strongly than did noncompleters that IPM is compatible with agricultural practices and the market in Trinidad and Tobago. Completers most highly value the information received from MALMR whereas the non-completers and non-participants most highly value information received from the agro-shops. Completers vs. non-completers and non-participants held widely divergent views on the deterrents to participation in FFS. The contribution of this study to the field of agricultural and extension education is that policymakers and practitioners may use the information herein to employ strategies that impair or eliminate the factors leading to attrition and non-participation, thus making programs more accessible, prevent attrition, and may decrease farmers? expenditures on pesticides, and increase income.