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Interventions that raise agricultural productivity in poor regions have the potential to offer two benefits at once: increasing the food supply and providing income for farmers, who make up a majority of the world’s poor. Increases in yields of cereal crops have closely tracked with reductions in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank. Improved agricultural technologies can improve yields, but only if people know how to use them.

Farmer field schools – intensive group trainings in new agricultural technologies – have been effective at increasing yields, incomes and profits for farmers, in addition to reducing the use of harmful pesticides. That said, these programs seem to provide the most benefits for farmers who have relatively more land and better education than their peers do. So they may produce plenty of positive effects, but they also should not be viewed as a solution for the poorest of the poor.

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Farmer Field Schools can improve yields, raise incomes, and reduce pesticide use

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