What is agricultural extension? It is facilitation? Dissemination? Technology transfer? If we deeply analyze or define agri-extension, all these are related with. Since independency, most African extension services were still based on traditional model promoted by our colonial Masters. But with these new agricultural context (climate change, food security), traditional model are moving to new extension systems. Living Training and Visit system (Top down approach) to facilitation and participatory approach (button up approach).
To face with this new deal, the New Economic Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) has defined a strategy based on Agricultural policies. Thus the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) consider agricultural extension and advisory services as key elements for ARD and food security.
That is why, to meet with CAADP strategies, that African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) organized in Botswana a first edition of African Extension week couple with its 4th General Assembly. The main of this event held from 4-9 August 2013, is to bring new policies to agricultural extension and advisory services in Africa.
Why a new policies?
At the official opening of this event, Adophus Johnoson, AFAAS chair board emphasized that, AFAAS has the mandate to implement Agricultural Advisory services aspects of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development programme (CAADP) specially pillar 4. Also DR Silim, AFAAS executive Director, asked: “Why should not reviewing our extension strategy if there is more climate change effects an more food insecurity in Africa?”
This show as state by DR KEDIKLILWE, his Honorable the vice president of Republic of Botswana, that extension services will play a key role to agricultural transformation in Africa.
Who must be involved in refocusing of agricultural extension policy in Africa?
Hearing from participants and main speakers, farmers and extension agents must be the cornerstone of its strategies. Gender and youth are not to be forgetting according to the important role they play in food production.
What are the threats of extension and advisory services in Africa?
Lack of financial means is the argument presented on top follow by weak implementing policy and absence of monitory and evaluation of existing strategies. But when we look at the important financial support allocated for extension service from some institution such as World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Food and agricultural Organization of United Nation, United State Agency for International Development, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture ect.. We don’t understand why our extension policies is still weak. It is due to increasing farmer need? Changing in agricultural context? Climate change or low research capacity? It cannot be a low research capacity because Africa has a strong research institution working hard for agricultural development and food security like Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), ASARECA …
For me I think the challenge is not to redefine a strategy but to asset what have been achieved, identified the threats and constraints, capitalize the good experience and harmonize the approaches to each countries local context. By doing so we can fit with a good and strong agricultural extension and advisory policies that can help us meet CAADP vision and face food insecurity and poverty in Africa.Photo (C): Wiki