Farmer-to-Farmer Extension: Issues in Planning and Implementation
Over the past decade a quiet transformation has been unfolding in Africa in the provisioning of extension and advisory services by state and non-state actors. The changes taking place, unlike the past, have not been led by a dominant paradigm supported through donor investments. Rather, the changes have been organic, arising from within the region in response to needs for greater cost-effectiveness, broader reach and aspirations for sustainability of their efforts beyond the investment cycle. The use of farmer field schools, and more recently expanded use of various information communication technologies, have been widely promoted and researched; farmer-to-farmer (F2F) extension approaches, have not. Yet in many countries F2F extension now constitutes the dominant approach.
F2F extension is defined here as “the provision of training by farmers to farmers, often through the creation of a structure of farmer promoters and farmer trainers” (Scarborough et al., 1997). We use the term “lead farmer” as a generic term for farmers serving extension functions within F2F programs, although we recognize that different labels (e.g., model farmer, volunteer farmer, farmer trainers, community knowledge worker) are also used and often have implications for the exact roles and tasks performed by the farmers involved.