This review aims to inform the evaluation of Chinese farmer training programmes through comparison with studies assessing public training programmes in the USA and Europe. The results of comparative analysis from 62 studies in the USA, Europe and Mainland China suggest that evaluation studies of the farmer training programme should measure the effectiveness of farmer training on agricultural income. Considering the cost and availability of data, cross-section estimation may be an effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of farmer training programmes in China, but on the basis of controlling the initial demographic characteristics of samples. In particular, political status (whether a party member of Communist Party of China or not), position (whether village cadre or not) and region of residence are considered to be important determinants that impact the effectiveness of farmer training programmes in China. This review sets out directions for the future study of Chinese training programmes, with particular emphasis given to the need for research into the causal effects of different training courses, the dynamic effects arising from variation in the duration of training, and the medium-run or long-run effects of training programmes.