Distance learning for farmers: Experience during the pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of farmer training—a crucial component for enhancing the resilience and livelihoods of smallholder farmers—CIMMYT innovated educational solutions to sustain capacity building in agri-food systems. Addressing the challenges of limited mobile device access, poor internet connectivity, and digital illiteracy, CIMMYT implemented two pilot projects in Mexico. These projects facilitated distance learning for adult farmers in rural areas, employing both internet-based and non-internet methods. The non-internet approach utilized traditional media like print, while the internet-based approach leveraged WhatsApp for educational content delivery. Building on these experiences, CIMMYT expanded its offerings by creating micro -courses delivered through WhatsApp, hosted on the Co-LAB’s new Learning Network platform, specifically targeting farmers. This paper delves into the various strategies, methods, and techniques adopted, documenting the learning outcomes, results, and key conclusions drawn from these innovative training initiatives.