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Nearly all developing countries have evolved some type of pluralistic agricultural extension system, with distinct, but separate public, private and civil society organizations providing a range of different services. Many countries have decentralized their public sector’s extension programming to the provincial or district level; as a result, there may be considerable variability in quality and how these extension services are being provided, both within the public extension system, and in relationship to independent nongovernmental organizations and private sector firms.
Ideally, the assessment will be conducted by a team of MEAS consultants as well as local experts in the form of a Comprehensive Extension Assessment Study (CEAS). Such assessments typically cost between $150,000 to $250,000 and cannot be funded from MEAS Core funding. Rather, the USAID mission requesting such a comprehensive assessment will have to cover all or at least a substantial share of these costs. For countries for which extensive information on extension is already available, where the USAID mission can provide substantial local support for the study, or where the scope of the assessment work is more narrowly defined, a rapid scoping mission (RSM) funded in part or largely from MEAS core funding, may be sufficient. The typical costs for an RSM are $20,000-70,000. Thus, the analysis of the extension system in a given country can be conducted either in the form of an RSM or CEAS, as negotiated with the USAID mission requesting the assessment.
The MEAS team will conduct an institutional assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the overall pluralistic extension system within the country, with the objective of developing a preliminary MEAS investment plan for the country, and identification of one or more pilot activities that would test key recommendations. Findings of the assessment study would be presented in a validation workshop involving all major stakeholders, and then discussed in detail, along with the draft MEAS investment plan with the agricultural team at the USAID Mission and involving key government officials and other extension service providers who might be engaged in future project implementation
Once the initial assessment has been carried out by the MEAS team, set of recommendations to strengthen the appropriate areas of the pluralistic extension and advisory system (e.g., managerial, human resources, technical, etc.) will be crafted. These recommendations will be prepared and budgeted in the form of a comprehensive implementation plan, along with the identification of potential pilot activities to test key ideas.
It is critical that key stakeholders, often including national, provincial and local levels of government, be engaged in the review and vetting of recommendations, and stand fully behind them. Identified extension and advisory partner organizations will be asked to make feasible investments and take ownership in helping implement the proposed plan. Establishing a sense of ownership by the target organizations is critical to increasing the prospects of successful implementation within the target country, and will enhance the likelihood that the new extension practices can be scaled-up to the national level in subsequent years, and sustain through additional government and donor support. It must be clear to those participating that the overall goal is to develop a sustainable, pluralistic extension system that will continue to function effectively after donor financing has ended
MEAS provides assistance to selected host country organizations – public and private – for the analysis, design, evaluation and reform of rural extension and advisory services. The country studies are usually initiated by the USAID mission in that country.
Basic information on extension and advisory systems in countries around the world are available through the Worldwide Extension Study. GFRAS: Status of Agricultural Extension and Rural Advisory Services Worldwide A summary report
While MEAS did not conduct a country assessment for Mozambique, several activities were carried out there. An overview is available at:
NEW: Collaborative Country Level Assessments of Rural Advisory Services in Central Asia and Caucasus. Published September 2015.