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Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) crucial for rural development

What future do we want in international rural development, and how can agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS) contribute to this?

This September, Agrilinks is teaming up with several Feed the Future extension activities to highlight investments and programs that are working to build a stronger, global community of practice around EAS that helps build a better tomorrow.

Extension Challenge or Opportunity?

According to the IFPRI Global Food Policy Report, the world is facing issues around nutrition, trade protectionism, climate change, crises and conflict, and entrepreneurship. Extension also has some trends: competition in the information marketplace, growth of the private sector, and implications from the youth bulge.

Today, with access to smartphones and the internet, extension faces unprecedented competition in the information marketplace. Dave King from Oregon State University wrote a commentary called, “Hey, Siri, What Is the Future of Extension?,” where he writes that extension’s competitors are not just something abstract; they are in our homes and pockets in the form of applications and devices. Is this competition a threat or an opportunity (or both)?

The private sector has also been transforming traditional extension. It has a growing role in extension and advisory services and can be strongly linked to the youth bulge as we consider agripreneurship and ways to provide livelihoods for young people across the globe as—for instance—private advisory agents. However, while the private sector is growing and more development programs are investing in it, a recent report across 28 Feed the Future and aligned countries shows that the public sector still needs to be strengthened, as do support services and producer organizations.

We Can't Talk About the Future Without Talking About Youth

We can’t talk about the future without talking about youth, and youth in agriculture is a hot topic today. What are the problems and opportunities regarding youth in agriculture, and particularly in extension and advisory services? How do we provide livelihoods for young people in a competitive job marketplace when many youth don’t even want to remain in agriculture? Three country reports from Guatemala, Niger, and Rwanda explore these issues. They show that there is more and more interest internationally in engaging youth in agriculture, but there needs to be more holistic approaches as well as better monitoring and evaluation.

Get Involved in Extension

In addition to the webinar on strengthening private sector extension on Agrilinks this month, two upcoming events will highlight the future of extension. The CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) will host an event on November 7-8 called, “Future Extension: Innovations and Evidence,” and the Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity Project and AgReach will hold an event, “Foresight for a Future Extension,” early in 2020.

To read more visit their website www.agrilinks.org

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