Assessment of and Recommendations for Strengthening the Pluralistic Agricultural Extension System in Eastern Province, Zambia
At the request of the USAID/Zambia mission, the MEAS project (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services – a USAID funded project) conducted a rapid scoping mission (RSM) to examine the pluralistic extension system in Eastern Province and to develop recommendations for strengthening extension and advisory services. The fieldwork for the assessment work was carried out during the time period July 28 to August 15, 2014, and included in-depth interviews with Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) staff at all levels, international and national non-governmental organization (NGO) directors and staff, lead farmers, university faculty, agricultural researchers and private sector representatives. To the extent possible, interviews were carried out on the “shop floors” of the different respondents, allowing the MEAS team to visit farms, area and district extension and project offices, universities and training centers, and research facilities.
The primary objective of the RSM was to assess the pluralistic extension system in Eastern Province at district and provincial levels, including the relationships to the national level, in order to provide recommendations to both public and non-public actors, an institutional framework to guide the processes, and key areas for strengthening at local levels, highlighting processes to improve coordination, harmonization, planning and reporting between public and private extension delivery. The team focused on contributions and constraints of these different advisory service providers. The following recommendations include strategies for improving coordination across a diverse set of extension and advisory service (EAS) providers. The assessment team believes that MAL district and provincial level agriculture coordinators have an important role to play in the execution of these strategies. Ultimately, a coordinated, well-functioning system of EAS will require that the many and diverse organizations engaged in EAS at the local level engage in MAL-convened, district-level work planning, reporting and assessment – all with attention to development goals defined by local people.
The assessment concentrated on the five districts in Eastern Province that represent the Zambia FTF’s zone of influence. It is acknowledged that some of the key FTF implementation partners operate across all nine Eastern Province District. And, while the assessment focusses on Eastern Province, some of the results and recommendations should be applicable to the rest of the country.