Diverse Models of Providing Extension and Advisory Service
Farmers throughout the world benefit greatly from having access to extension and advisory services, EAS. There are many types of organizations that provide such services, and it certainly isn’t only done through public extension services under the ministry of agriculture or similar. Rather, the EAS landscape in most countries is diverse and typically described as “pluralistic”: not only are there many different types of providers (public sector, private for profit, NGOs and CSOs, farmer-based organizations , …) but also different models and approaches are used (e.g., through lead farmers, through volunteers, “answer plots”, ...). The type of advice provided differs. And there is pluralism also in regard to the underlying business models of service provision. In developing countries EAS are often provided in the context of broader rural and agricultural development, and as such often supported within the framework of foreign assistance and implemented by international for profit and not for profit organizations as well as local non-governmental organizations.
During the MEAS Symposium in Washington D.C. in June 2013 (www.meas-extension.org/workshops/symposium-2013) a number of invited organizations used the opportunity to present alternative models of how they provide EAS in the form of “speed dating” sessions. Each presenter had prepared the handouts that are compiled in each document, which were made available to all participants, and then moved from group to group to present the model verbally and be available for follow up questions and discussions.
In considering different approaches we set out to better understand about each of them:
- What clientele is being served and how (i.e., who are the intended users/beneficiaries)?
- How well suited is the approach for different types of technologies or practices (in terms of the sophistication and risk of agronomic/animal husbandry practices, farm management options, integration into value chains, social capital formation, etc.)?
- How does the approach enhance farmer learning and the adoption of new technologies and practices as well as their adaptation in use?
- How is the model being financed (donor funded, government program, user fees, public-private partnership, …)?
- How can the provision of this kind of service be sustained beyond what is most likely a defined project period? and
- How can the model be scaled up or applied in other contexts/countries?
- What are some of the, shortcomings/limitations of the approach?
The speed dating sessions were much appreciated by the participants as an effective form of learning and engagement. Through this publication we wish to make at least the handouts available to a wider audience and welcome feedback as well as future submissions of additional models or approaches to providing EAS.