Extension and Advisory Services Rural Extension Services

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Extension and Advisory Services Rural Extension Services

Transcript Of Extension and Advisory Services Rural Extension Services

BACKGROUND TECHNICAL PAPER
Extension and Advisory Services Rural Extension Services for Agricultural Transformation
Prepared by:
Dr. Abou Berthe, Country Director SG 2000 Mali

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS........................................................................................2 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .......................................................................................3 2. BACKGROUND .......................................................................................................7 3. CHALLENGES .........................................................................................................8 3.1 Participation ...........................................................................................................11 3.2 Coordination and scaling up of goods practices ...................................................12 3.3 Market-driven extension and rural advisory services ............................................13 3.4 Tailored advice.......................................................................................................13 3.5 Inclusiveness in extension and rural advisory services..........................................13 3.6 Financing insecurity...............................................................................................14 3.7 Institutionalization set up.......................................................................................15 4. OPPORTUNITIES...................................................................................................16 4.1 Up-scaling opportunities of technologies ..............................................................22 4.2 Institutional opportunities ......................................................................................24 4.3 Financial opportunities...........................................................................................24 4.4 Partnership opportunities .......................................................................................25 5. SUGGESTED ACTIONS/WAYS FORWARD ......................................................26 6. ESTIMATED COSTS (AS DETAILED AS POSSIBLE) ......................................28 7. RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION ...................................................29

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
AEAST : Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Transformation Agenda AIS : Agricultural Innovation System AVCD : Agricultural Value Chain Development CSO’s : Civil Society Organizations EAS : Extension and Advisory Services FLP’s: Farmer’s Learner’s Platforms IFAD : International Fund for Agriculture Development NARES: National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems NGO’s: Non-Governmental Organization’s RAS : Rural Advisory Services T& V : Training and Visit VC : Value Chain VCD : Value Chain Development
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1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In most African countries, small scale farmers constitute the major part of the supply base and are therefore key players in improving productivity and food production on the continent. However, to do so, they need to be able to compete in tradition (urban markets) and emerging institutional markets from the globalized agri-business system that is providing food and fiber to growing markets. In Africa, extension and advisory rural institutions inherited from colonies were commonly recommended by the donor agencies that helped create these public agricultural extension or advisory systems.
The practices of extension was based on three major paradigms: (1) public led Technology Transfer with Training and Visit system (T&V system); (2) public and private Advisory Services and; (3) Non-formal Education (NFE) involving Farmers Field schools (FFS) and Facilitation Extension where front-line extension agents primarily work as “knowledge brokers” in facilitating the teaching–learning process among all types of farmers (including women) and rural young people.
The evolution of extension services is related to changes in development objectives and goals which involved achieving national food security, improving rural livelihoods and maintaining natural resources. As governments consider how to strengthen their extension systems to achieve their national agricultural development objectives, they need to consider how these different extension functions relate directly to these overall national goals.
During the second half of the twentieth century, most national extension systems primarily focused on transferring agricultural technologies that would increase the productivity of major crop and livestock production systems in achieving national food security. This primary extension objective was greatly reinforced and enhanced during the Green Revolution, when improved technologies, especially for wheat and rice, were transferred to the many farmers who benefitted, particularly in Asia.
In Africa, where the Green revolution did not work, the extension goal was to help small-scale farm households, especially among the rural poor, improve their livelihoods by i) increasing their farm income, ii)achieving household food security, iii) organizing into producer groups (i.e., empowerment), and iv) increasing their access to health services and education for their children.
To increase farm income to Improve Rural Livelihoods, many nations and some agricultural extension systems are shifting their attention to the broader goal of improving rural livelihoods. To achieve this goal, national extension systems will need to enhance the technical, management, and marketing skills (i.e., human resource development) of all farmers, but especially small-scale men and women farmers, as well as the landless, indigenous populations, rural young people, and other vulnerable groups. In considering how best to implement the extension objective of improving rural livelihoods, it is necessary to differentiate among types of farm households (i.e., subsistence; commercially oriented, market oriented, and commercial farmers.
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Organizing or Empowering Farmers by Building Social Capital within Rural Communities helps to improve rural Livelihoods. This will be important, if not essential, to organize farmers, including women farmers, into different types of producer groups and then help link these groups to markets for appropriate high-value crops and products in addition to other information, organizations and research. Failure to do so may result in other value chain actors continuing to capture the majority of the profit from these high-value enterprises, while farmers continue carrying the risk of producing high-value, perishable products.
With the degradation of natural resources (soil poverty, negative climate change events), it became increasingly difficult for most small-farm households (i.e., under 1–2 hectares) to maintain their productivity levels. Some national extension systems began refocusing more attention on improving rural livelihoods by shifting more attention to the diversification and intensification of farming systems.
The Training and Visit system, was able to increase agricultural productivity without significantly raising costs. However, it did not allow the intensification and diversification of farming systems. Therefore, to achieve both agricultural growth and to increase farm income now requires a broader extension focus, including farm management, marketing, and credit programs. In pursuing this more farming systems approach, the extension system needs to switch from merely “delivering messages,” to engaging farmers in the learning process. The reason is simple: Every farm is different and farmers know more about their respective farms than any extension field worker can ever know. This shift in focus toward a more balanced teaching-learning extension paradigm not only helps farmers learn but also helps the extension staff learn from farmers, especially innovative farmers. Under the extension as teaching paradigm, extension field workers relied on research stations and/or central administration to determine what lessons should be taught to farmers. However, under extension as a learning paradigm, extension workers must learn from the farmers being served, as well as listen and link to research and markets, in setting extension priorities. Therefore, under the extension as a learning paradigm, farmers and extension agents should work together in setting priorities so that their annual work programs directly address farmer needs.
The challenges facing most public extension systems today is that due to their top-down organizational structure, continuing commitment to technology transfer, and their lack of adequate financial resources, most systems are neither prepared nor able to effectively increase farm income and improve the livelihoods of the rural poor. In addition, these public extension systems lack the necessary resources (especially training and program funds as well as information and communication technologies, or ICTs) to keep their staff up to date and able to actually carry out more innovative extension program activities in the field. As a result, many development specialists have called for alternative service providers or recommend that these public services be privatized or turned over to NGOs.
With emerging markets in urban areas as related to sustainable economic growth, there is an opportunity to move toward market-driven extension which place increasing emphasis on emerging market demand. African economies are in the process of transformation with
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changing food consumption patterns. Under these conditions, extension can shift its focus toward increasing farm household incomes and improving rural livelihoods.
In this changing national and global development context (availability of more technologies, information and communication technologies, changing consumption), public extension systems need to move toward a more facilitative role in working with small scale men and women farmers, and to work in closer partnerships with both private-sector firms and civil society organizations. However, one of the major difficulties with any government agency, including both agricultural research and extension, is how to bring about these institutional changes that will formally engage these primary stakeholders (i.e., small-scale men and women farmers), as well as with other key organizations in both setting priorities and collaborating on the delivery of needed services. For extension organizations to be effective in a dynamic market-driven economy, extension officials and their field staff must listen to the clientele served, as well as to private-sector firms, banks, NGOs, and other service providers. These changes will not happen unless there is formal agreement for a more decentralized decisionmaking structure, including formal mechanisms (e.g., farmer advisory committees, boards, etc.) at all system levels to get needed input from the clientele being served.
Transition from public to increasingly private extension services is undergoing in Africa and will experience strong development in the future under the partnership of multiple stakeholders. Various models to privatize a public extension system and to make it farmer-driven were carried out in Africa. Under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), farmer groups in each district were provided from NAADs, so they could contract with private-sector firms, NGOs, and researchers in providing specific services. In addition, district-level governments are involved in providing some funding for those extension activities and in helping set priorities.
Creating a totally new organizational and management structure for a national extension system takes considerable time, both in hiring new staff members and in getting farmers organized so they can help set extension priorities and then monitor extension programs and expenditures.
Building Public–Private Partnerships to Improve Technology Transfer can improve the efficiency of extension services in food staple value chains. Well trained input-supply dealers as retail outlets are selling a range of products (e.g., seeds, feed, fertilizers, and pesticides) in local communities in response to market demand. Most of these firms have limited technical and farm management capacity upon which to advise farmers. Much of the information they pass along to customers is what they learn from input suppliers and from other progressive farmers, not what they learn from agricultural research and extension institutions. However, nearly every farmer who purchases production inputs must go to these retail outlets, and in the process he or she will ask what the retail dealer recommends either to increase yields and/or to deal with specific problems.
Because input supply dealers are a primary source of technical information for many farmers, most public extension workers view them as unskilled competitors who “just want to sell more products to farmers.” Although that observation may be partially true, input supply dealers do
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improve their technical, management, and communication skills in order to pass along reliable information to their farmer clients and thereby remain competitive. Therefore, research, extension, input supply dealers, and farmer cooperatives must learn to work together to ensure that farmers receive consistent, up-to-date, and accurate technical information about how they can increase their agricultural productivity, as well as how they can diversify into new highvalue crops/products that can help increase their farm household income. Multi-stakeholder innovations platforms offers good potentials from one way to two-ways extension services approaches. One important way of achieving this goal is for research, extension, and private sector dealers to hold regular information-sharing meetings at the district level to discuss production problems, research findings, and recommended practices before and during each growing season. For example, under the SG 2000 Agricultural Development Support Program Model in SAA focus countries, private-sector representatives, and farmers organizations sat in stakeholders workshops to help review and assess annual extension work plans.
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2. BACKGROUND
In most African countries, small scale farmers constitute the major part of the supply base and improvements in productivity and food production will need to come from them. However, to do so, they need to be able to compete in tradition (urban markets) and emerging institutional markets from the globalized agri-business system that is providing food and fiber to growing markets. Most small scale farmers supply the price-driven wet markets, but have difficulties accessing the value-driven institutional markets. To compete and remain competitive, small scale must increase volume, quality and consistency of supply as well as productivity. However, endogenous constraints (small scale production, poverty, high illiteracy, ill-health) and exogenous constraints (poor transport, infrastructure, poor access to credit, insufficient government and institutional support, etc.) make it difficult for them to compete.
Consequently, because of lack of economies of scale (low volume of marketable surplus), they need to collaborate among themselves and with other actors in the market chains. However, they do not do so, as they lack information on the market and business skills.
Increased food prices in 2008 have forced national governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and International Organizations (World Bank and FAO) to assess the need for increased investment in agriculture. Increasing population, a decline in investment in agriculture productivity and the pressure of climate change have contributed to an apparent looming shortfall in production in the short and medium term. High food prices in some countries have led to social unrest and this will be a continuous problem with consequences for all nations if it’s not addressed.
While increased investment is part of the solution, the way these investments are channelled requires better coordination and a more integrated upstream and downstream approach from the agricultural sector.
Extension services can contribute by facilitating the development of collaborative markets groups of small family farmers, while building relationship with and development market required to deliver the product demanded by the various retail markets and consumers. Christoplos et al., (2011) define extension or rural advisory services using the Global Forum for Rural Advisory services definition as 'consisting of all the different activities that provide the information and services needed and demanded by farmers and other actors in rural setting to assist them in developing their own technical, organizational, and management skills and practices so as to improve their livelihood and well-being’.
The historical development of the agricultural extension and advisory services in Africa has been closely related to that agriculture and rural development. It has been characterized by variability and inconsistencies since the colonial era to the present and has been primary influenced by the interests and focus of the government in power/and/or by the primary funding agencies especially with respect to the external funded agricultural project interventions.
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Liberalization has bred different actors in extension delivery such as the public agencies, private service providers, produce organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Unsustainable extension system of the pre and immediate post-independence era, remained operational until the World Bank led Agricultural Development programs based on using the classical Training and Visit (T&V) extension system from 1975 to 1995.
The perceived lack of success of public agricultural extension services in many countries has led to new approaches being tried in reorganizing extension services. In some countries, such as India and China, public extension have been decentralized to the district/county level and these public extension systems are pursuing a more market-driven approach. In other countries, different models have been tried, involving both private sector firms and civil society organizations (CSOs) in an attempt to find more effective approaches of providing basic extension services. Also, in some countries, there has been an attempt to shift the cost of extension services to farmers themselves, with limited success.
Markets, not technology are becoming the primary driver of agricultural development and extension in many countries; therefore, more attention is now being given to the concept of agricultural innovation system (AISs). The difficulty is that agricultural innovations can come from many sources, from local to global and most are market-driven. Consequently collaboration among stakeholders of the AIS is required.
Current approaches to agricultural extension involve decentralized, pluralistic and marketdriven extension and rural advisory services approaches involving: (1) partnership, (2) people centered participation, (3) farmers organizations and (4) fund mobilization through shared responsibility among all the stakeholders. However, time must be given if these approaches are to stand the test of time. Effort must be intensified to see how the benefit from the approaches in the enclave coverage can be extended to every part of the nation. The enabling environment like development of viable markets, communication and other infrastructural facilities can be provided for the exploration of these approaches.
The crucial role of agricultural Extension (i.e. farmer education) in the social and economic development of the nation cannot be over-emphasized. Never before in African history has the necessity for educating and raising the productive capacity of our farmers been as importance as it is today. Increased agricultural productivity depends primarily on the acceptance of cultural and technological changes at the rural farm level.
3. CHALLENGES
Rural advisory services (RAS), also known as agricultural extension services (AES), as a broad function is supported by many actors including government workers, the private sector, civil society, and farmers themselves. Advisory services help farmers to access information on technologies, markets, inputs, and finance, and upgrade their farming and managerial skills.
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These services are indeed complementary to development of new technologies because they support their uptake.
Extension is a much needed investment in the human and social capital of the rural population. There is currently an enormous need to mobilize agricultural extension services for food and nutrition security, health and to achieve a range of rural development goals (poverty reduction, preservation of the natural resource base, etc. However, urgent efforts are required to:
• enhance women’s and men’s access to and knowledge about new technologies;
• ensure that farmers and other actors in value chains can deal with changing markets;
• enable farmers to understand, mitigate and adapt to new climate change challenges;
• support rural communities to manage their natural resources more effectively;
• assist farmers to make optimal use of their available resources to ensure access to food and income for their families.
Rural extension services must also address rural livelihood needs related to better nutrition, dealing with the impacts of HIV/AIDS on labour for farming, local institutional development (e.g. cooperatives, women’s associations) and promoting job creation. There is a growing realization that many of the urgently needed reforms in addressing food security, market development and climate change will only be effective if strong advisory institutions are in place to empower and provide a foundation of support to rural populations to reach markets, to access technologies and to influence the policies that affect their lives.
Today, few agricultural extension service providers can meet this challenge. Capacities are limited in terms of human resources, effectiveness of organizations, funding and, most importantly, leadership and direction. In relation with the complex issues of agriculture development for food security and climate farming livelihoods, there are mounting calls for ‘more extension’, but this has not yet led to a consensus on what these scaled-up extension services should actually consist of. If mistakes of the past are not to be replicated, more awareness is needed of what has worked and what has not, what has proven sustainable and what has not, and who has accessed and benefited from different forms of extension services. Challenges that need to be addressed if the potential of agricultural extension is to be realized include:
Ø Decentralization
Decentralized extension services are becoming a feature of evolving agricultural extension services in many countries. Extension services are decentralized in the expectation that the services will be closer to the client, and thus more relevant. The main reasons for decentralization of rural services by governments include: -a desire (or demand) to roll back the role of the State due to central government failings or complexity of local issues; -an inability of the State to continue to finance a whole range of services, and;
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