Participants’ comments and questions

Key Challenges

·                     Appropriate evaluation of the comparative effectiveness of various approaches to extension

·                     Costing benefit analysis

·                     Government policy modernization

·                     Change public policy to promote, value private extension

·                     Connect farmers to markets

·                     Trained personnel

·                     Maintain competitive extension service

·                     2% well off farmers, 70% subsistence farmers

·                     To pay for extension services

·                     Sustainable financing tied with M&E  bot assisting in connecting to markets but also on places where there are market failures & thus externalities (NRM & social capital development)  how to balance skills with organizations

·                     Shift public focus to smallholder to make them visible, not bias on “winners”

·                     Provide solid experience based evidence on the theories of change regarding extension and advisory services

·                     Competing demands and diffusion/dispersion of effort

·                     Huge numbers of peoples who have lost their edge in extension systems needs retraining, early retirement, recruitment all at the same time

·                     Money

·                     Develop talent

·                     Collaboration

·                     Local language

·                     Show training tips

·                     At country level how does extension plan for climate change – as impacts and response needs will differ

·                     Key issue for M&E may be what to measure – differentiated and varied benefits are hard to aggregate

·                     Lack of legislated agricultural extension policy

·                     Policy inconsistencies in agricultural sector

·                     Inadequate and untimely funding

·                     Poor leadership and coordination

·                     Low private sector participation

·                     Weak research – extension – farmer – input linkage system

·                     Ineffective top-down, supply driven extension approaches

·                     Reach more farmers in a cost effective way  how do you achieve this?

·                     Bringing together different actors, who all have their roles to play  how do we get the best out of this complementarity

·                     How do we raise the necessary interest from decision makers?



·                     Lots of diversification

·                     Innovation, esp. in ICT opportunities

·                     Renewed donor and private sector interest

·                     National extension strategies

·                     Strengthen role of farmer coops

·                     Train extension workers as facilitators/business development agents

·                     Introduce private sector element

·                     Understanding markets to connect farmers

·                     Marketing capabilities of NGOs

·                     Need platform & people to compel ongoing sharing of best practices & collaboration between different actors in extension globally. Community practices. Particularly on 1. Financing and M&E, 2. Education/training

·                     Document and share best practices for ag extension and advisory services

·                     Reawakening of the need for EAP in a pluralistic way

·                     MEAS can be a great demo if it gets its strategy right with a drive towards projects that demonstrate sustainability

·                     MEAS can help outside of FTF countries to better globalize new thinking

·                     Foundations and CSR

·                     Training (participatory and practical)

·                     Involve private sector

·                     Work with local RARO (?, radio?)

·                     Use video

·                     Does it require a separate extension service to address climate change?

·                     Possibly?: Gender … women need services to get out of ag. This may be true and part of a livelihood extension strategy. There are places where this is a targeted, differentiated client strategy. Need more targeted women’s extension programs.

·                     There are so many “innovative” and interesting projects/initiatives all around the world, but how do we keep track and learn from these?


Recommendations for the BFR chapters

·                     Pluralistic approach is inevitable

·                     Overview of policy framework is necessary

·                     Continuous learning approach

·                     Develop library of national extension strategies

·                     Some “rules of thumb” for extension project designer – recommended clients/extensionist

·                     Recommended % of farmers in area to target, average time lag to income benefit

·                     Pluralistic extension and advisory services

·                     Sustainable financing of extension

·                     Important to focus on smallholder empowerment & viability to develop resilience, not pick winners and losers

·                     Important to develop skills of extension workers in facilitation, social organizing, marketing, NRM

·                     Private sector funded extension and its integration with public system

·                     Public goods and toll goods

·                     Recast extension from S & T delivery to business level services and tech services

·                     Big issue: This scared the pants off us on the New Normal. But the Old Normal has had huge NRM … poorly addressed by extension. Water conservation. Biodiversity. Conservation. Deforestation, etc.

·                     Nutrition – provide examples of nutrition extension, i.e., vegetable gardens in Bangladesh

·                     Can you tag Worldwide Extension Study to compare # of Home Ec (or nutrition) now with past?

·                     Recommended good practice for extension reporting systems

·                     Is there a concluding chapter that brings together the different chapters, because that would be useful


Priority areas for pilot action research, evaluations, or case studies on defining good practice for EAS

·                     Best, cost effective delivery methods for extension

·                     Very little discussion of pastoralism and livestock agriculture

·                     HR strategies for volunteers vs. public sector vs. private sector focusses inked to financing models

·                     What models are there on principles for sustainable market information?

·                     Pluralistic systems – partly to serve different client (farmer) groups. How – in system design – can these be separately targeted and served by different providers

·                     How can value chain extension services be developed on sustainable basis  - differentiate by type of product or market

·                     Disaggregated data collection to understand point of entry for extension services

·                     Marketing extension as business opportunities

·                     Is there a tension between market-driven, demand … extension approaches and the need to also ensure long term natural resource base?

·                     Market info/ICT and post harvest

·                     “SCALE” promotion (or something similar) in extension to raise awareness

·                     Is food safety and nutritious food production the key topic for extension?

·                     Cost effectiveness of different approaches/methods

·                     Impact of different approaches / methods on specific issues, such as gender, empowerment





•     World Bank Ag Innovation Sourcebook




From the Comment Cards

General Questions/Suggestions/Comments

·         Will you do a seminar at USDA once this book is finished to share lessons learned? Particularly on M&E, human resources, market linkages, and NRM

·         There should not be no one topic without gender differentiation

·         To all panelists: How much money do your projects put into day-to-day communications?  Not advertising.  Not materials development….but stakeholder mobilization through a communications team

·         To all panelists: social capital?  How can we ignore the returns on investment in social capital by NOT more fully funding the building of social capital?  How much money do your projects invest in social capital?  What is your priority?

·         Use of the MEAS product.  Outreach with the final book/information will be critical!!  Important to communicate with USAID mission staff, BFS, Admin Shah, and USDA’s Chief Scientist and NIFA director.

·         For a pluralistic extension to be effective, we need a system for quality assurance.

·         There should be a panel on extension and corporate social responsibility

·         It would be helpful to recommend specific skills for extension agents and specialists at which levels at end of book.  1) Natural Resource Management, 2)Conflict resolution and peacebuilding, 3)Scientific Literacy, 4)Whole Farm Planning/business, 5)Education/Communications, 6)Group Organizing/Facilitation

·         One neglected topic in conference is farmer-to-farmer extension and how this can be promoted both in projects and outside of projects where farmers are doing this on their own. (Steve Franzel, World Agroforestry Center)

·         In addition to formal grouping of farmers, bulking centers + warehouse receipts programs may also reach larger #’s of farmers regardless of whether they are part of an association or not.

·         Be careful about focusing on “home economics,” a terrible term steeped in the 1950’s era of women in aprons.  Food preservation, storage and preparation is not unimportant; but has little to do with nutrition, per se (as currently understood).  Promote this information as lined with how food is used but do not conflate too much with food utilization, which refers more to the body’s use of food + health intersections

·         Thank you for all of your hard work!  Can Kenya ag info centers also work as info point in ag dealers?  Can local language video help?

·         Focus chapters more on best practices

·         Develop set of recs for further work.

·         Need a government model for coordination of plural systems

·         Need more advocacy

·         Need more research on returns to extension

·         While the focus is on business development caution must be taken not to put production on the back burner.  Donors, NGOs, etc, should think on the cascade training presented by Paul, especially in S.S Africa, where in many places farmers have not yet adopted innovative technologies.  They have to understand that it is the increased production that feeds the markets.

·         The keynote presentation and the panel seemed to ‘avoid’ the paradigm shift from a vertical technology transfer approach to an innovations systems approach to agricultural development and the implications for an M&E system.  This was evidenced in the separation of the evaluation of technology from the evaluation of the process of delivery of that technology.  I think that in the new paradigm these two cannot be separated.  It is no longer acceptable to lay the blame/success for the poor/good performance on the technology or on the delivery process.  The two need to be evaluated together-attribution is a major challenge, but it should not be a reason for going back to our comfort zone.

Introduction/Overview Panelists

·         Can you talk about any successful linkages you’ve observed between extension and vocational schools, and, if not, what opportunities do you see for synergies between extension and vocational education to improve knowledge transfer? (both to and from farmers)

·         (For Paul and Brent, from Can you please summarize the number of MEAS projects/activities in each of the three planks of your program platform: a)training, b) assessments/studies, c)project implementation

·         It would be great to see a comparison of different organization/models for extension in various countries.  It would be helpful to have graphical representations of these.


Comments/Questions directed towards specific presenters               

Paul McNamara: (Q sent to him 7/2/2012)

·         Public health often builds its programs within education structures.  How can you build relations with MoEs for Ag Extension so that true partnership will enhance extension?

·         There was some reference to public policy on extension but there has been no talk of the role, good or bad, that the CAADP process has had in defining African priorities for extension and their related approaches


Jock Anderson (Q sent to him 7/2/2012)

 ·         (from FTF and USAID have reinvigorated support for agriculture, especially in its $3.5billion 19 focus countries, the majority of which are in Africa.  If the GAFSP manages to collect all $22billion in pledges, more countries can jump on the train-Let’s hope!

o   Do you see any spontaneous shifts in [unclear word] financial support in less developed countries without donor support?

Burt Swanson (Q sent to him 7/2/2012)

·         Governments no longer have the capacity to fully serve the small farmers (lack of HR, $, skepticism, etc).  What is the role and how can we use private extensionists to respond to these needs?  Any successful examples?

·         And, rural development.  How does it interact with extension?  How can we use extension investment and tools to enhance rural development and vice versa?



Human Resource Development

·         A bit short on good practice on successful/unsuccessful models. Two examples:

o   The EARTH university model Costa Rica – with outreach at Makare University in Uganda

o   (second example not given)

·         The issue of community paraprofessionals – and how these are motivated, can access to retraining, incorporate new skills and quality control

·         (To Mercy)Encourage [intake?] of female staff.  This is important, but how do you do that?  Any successful cases available?

·         (To Mercy) In the SAFE experience, have you seen differences in results between francophone and Anglophone countries as we know that the educational system is very different in such countries?

·         (To Mercy) Farm based learning: Using school farms for experiential learning and raising interest of youth for agriculture—there is a good example of this under the “Farmers of the Future” initiative of ICRAF

·         I would like some opinions on the challenge to reward successful training with financial promotional opportunity.  My experience is that in developing countries, most extension staff are lowly paid and inclined to leave for better financial opportunities upon being trained.

·         Training delivery and 3rd party capacity development: Please illustrate and share Indonesian case.  Also role of farmer organizations

·         From Godwin Asumugha, National Root Crops Research Institute in Nigeria, on Mercy’s paper.  Frequent changes to models by donors affect sustainability of extension system eg World Bank experience in Nigeria (NARP) and the T&V system, which states governments in Nigeria could not sustain.


Gender (Q sent to panelists on 7/2/2012)

·                     What is their experience with budgeting processes that support women’s activities

·                     What key areas should be “beefed up” if any, should there be % targets for Ministries of Finance?

·                     Are budgets gender neutral?

·                     Why is gender scholarship unable to cross from its conceptual perspective to frontline development solutions, despite its excellent analytical understanding of gender and feminist philosophy.

·                     1) Framing of rural women and gender in agriculture-need to be placed in social context social relations 2) Our app [?] to focusing on women and gender outcome focused—perceived as bias. Processes of change and issues of trans[?] 3)GM + specially designed progs CGIAR 4) Evidence

·                     (Deborah) Are there studies that looked at different extension systems and methods and their performance in terms of reaching women and their impact on women?

·                     (Cristina) Focus of a lot of gender studies is on differences between men and women, but very little research has looked at differences between categories of women, e.g. single and unmarried, women (polygamy, monogamy), widows, which are often even more important factors to be taken into account when designing EAS, because of the huge differences in their position in society, level of decision-making and access to resources.

·                     What is gender disaggregated data?

·                     Gender is only one area of social differentiation-caste, clan, ethnicity- have equal or greater relevance for EAS in different contexts—Gender has been singled out by donors and others—how do we ensure the appropriate focus?  Change focus from gender to social differentiation?

·                     Need for reality check.  What is working, where with what results/outcomes (increasing gender in EAS)

·                     Becoming an extension agent?  Is it attractive to women who have passed high school?

·                     Unattractiveness of farming to small holder children?

·                     Gender is still being used as a code world for WID in 90% of the cases.  How do we move on?



·         Paying for extension: Give examples (where, for whom, what services)

·         Where are the specific examples (of farmers paying for services) countries/projects

·         What kinds of farmers for what kinds of services (wrt farmers paying for services)

·         (To McNamara) The issue is not whether agricultural extension is a public or private good, but rather what elements of agricultural extension could be privatized and/or for whom.  Is there evidence/research done on this? Examples available?

·         Do you think smallholder farmers will be willing to pay for [can’t read text]? (from Godwin Asumugha[?], National Root Crops Research Institute-Nigeria.


·         Cost-benefit analyses need to include impact on nutrition, e.g., enhancing dietary diversity, decrease in malnutrition rates; looking at quality of consumption staple crops/fruit/veg (esp)

·         (to Emily) Pre-service training of nutrition workers—would like to know more about the Thailand experience

·         Need to simplify messages to agriculture crowd re nutrition.  It’s not so complicated to prioritize the focus for agriculture extensionists.

·         First: supply side--agricultural extension needs to raise priority to supporting efforts to diversify diets by promoting fruit and vegetable production, including home gardens as well as local, year round supply.

·         Second priority is demand side support for messaging for behavior change where appropriate--simple supporting messages for nutrition promotion.

·         It confuses people to refer to ‘nutrition extension.’  Better to talk about how to promote and support nutrition objectives through agricultural extension/advisory services.  Given national and global food issues , it is easy to make the case that support is twofold in intent: 1)enhance/diversify/strengthen agricultural livelihoods, but also- b) to contribute substantially and substantively to food and nutrition security (by increasing availability to and access to diverse food AND support nutrition/messaging re consumption

·         Note: global committee on food security in their meetings 2 weeks ago have decided to focus on food and nutrition security (and promote use of this term) as the overarching objective for agriculture and food crisis response.  Volumes might reference this as part of linkages discussion – how does agriculture extension link into big picture-this means support for diverse food crops and animal production…not just major cash and staple food crops.

Linking Farmers to Markets (Q sent 7/2/2012)

·                     With a focus on linking farmers to markets & responding to market needs, now do we maintain a focus also on sustainable management of the natural resource base in the long term?

·                     This becomes a question of what skills do extensionists need and what kind of balance?


·         IPTA-Innovation Platform for Technology Adoption is a dissemination pathway being promoted by the FARA project across Africa.  FARA can share more about this method with MEAS if required.

·         Government of Uganda just halted all development of m-health application because they were out of control-dozens of standalone applications creating a lot of wheel spinning. No discussion on panel of [?] with governments for the ‘bigger’ info and data systems, e.g. the broader development with NGO’s and [?], eg. Disconnects (Ina Schonberg)


Climate Change and NRM (Q sent 7/2/2012)

·         (Gaye Burpee) Has there been any effort to connect farmers in one area with those in another (where current climate in one is similar to that of the other in the future)?

·         (Brent Simpson) What is a list of the “multi win” interventions that improve resilience? (conservation ag, agroforestry, organic soil matter)—make this prominent in your paper.

·         How do you manage conflict between market-driven immediate needs of extension and long term needs of NRM/ag?

Monitoring and Evaluation (Q sent 7/2/2012)

·         Are there differences between projects that include M&E capacity building and those that simply monitor and evaluate the project?

·         Is there longer term success (10 years 20 years later) if the extension agents you are working with are learning M&E along the way?

·         Is it standard practice anywhere to fund follow up studies of impact 5,10,15 or 20 years after a project has ended?  (This must be fueled along with the project initiation)

·         Attribution: 1) How do you separate impact from one EAS input in a context where there are multiple EAS providers? 2) How do you separate effectiveness/impact of the technology form the EAS providers?

·         Extension service champions-The example you have of private sector involvement in support/investment in extension was cash-crop based.  How can such interest be stimulated or brokered for small scale farmers in food production, security and nutrition issues?  And how feasible is it?

·         What have people done to connect M&E information with budgets, researchers, policy makers and other date at multiple scales (so they can be aggregated and evaluated)?

·         Murari Suvedi, from Singh, Anant you have any examples of good M&E systems that have worked across the world? I am especially interest in systems that are relatively inexpensive.

Resources for HRD



Agricultural Extension in Transition Worldwide

A free online course in 9 parts prepared by Bill Rivera and Magdalena Blum for FAO (posted in 2009). Note: this is currently under revision by Rasheed Sulaiman. New sections will include gender and extension and ICT and extension.


National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, MANAGE, India


Rural Extension, Volume III: Training Concepts and Tools [Ed. by Maria Gerster-Bentaya and Volker Hoffmann]

The completely new third volume is of special interest to those involved in the training of extension workers as well as to academic staff. It provides comprehensive guidance and assistance in areas such as training concepts and tools, course outlines and modules. This publication is available free of charge to citizens of ACP countries via the CTA. 

More info, also about Volumes I and II, is at

Note that the print version of Volume III does not contain specific workshop material (i.e., presentations, handouts, examples, photos, graphs). However, these are available for download at In the field below "Softlink", enter ruralvol3, and click go. The material posted there is being expanded overtime. Downloading and modification of the material is encouraged!