Agricultural extension services: study visit
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CTA. 1996. Agricultural extension services: study visit. Spore 61. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47238
workshop to discuss the challenges facing agricultural extension services in Africa was organized in January, 1994 by CTA in collaboration with the Agricultural University of Wageningen. The workshop was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon
A workshop to discuss the challenges facing agricultural extension services in Africa was organized in January, 1994 by CTA in collaboration with the Agricultural University of Wageningen. The workshop was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and brought together participants from many African countries. One of the conclusions of this workshop was that effective exchange of knowledge and information through extension services, which must take proper account of local knowledge, is essential if the challenge of increasing agricultural production is to be met. During the course of the workshop in Yaoundé, participants discussed many different approaches to the provision of agricultural extension services but particular interest was expressed in the system of agricultural communication which has been established in Zimbabwe. CTA therefore undertook to organize a study tour to Zimbabwe in collaboration with AGRITEX, the Agricultural Extension Service of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Agriculture. This study tour took place from 13-23 November, 1995, and more than 25 experts representing 16 countries took part, among them those responsible for extension in government and in non-government organizations. During the course of the visit, participants were introduced to the organization and management of the AGRITEX extension services. It was an opportunity for participants to take on board ideas that could be adapted to the extension programmes within their own country or region. The study tour also provided the time for participants to discuss the way in which an extension services network might be established. The two weeks of visits, debates, and discussions with farmers and extension personnel allowed participants to appreciate the organization of the extension services in Zimbabwe, which are characterized by: · a wide variety of approaches which can be adapted to specific circumstances, · decentralization which gives complete autonomy to the provinces for deciding their own extension strategies, programme planning and budgetary provision, · easy access for women to extension services, · good facilities for production and distribution of technical training materials, · a comprehensive training programme, of which a core element is the Master Farmer scheme. This puts farmers themselves at the forefront of the extension work within their own communities. Agricultural production is further supported by, for example, help with credit and other inputs. A network for the exchange of information and experience in agricultural extension was discussed. Its objectives and a medium term plan of action, were also identified. Participants recognized the need to adapt to their own local conditions the approaches and extension strategies to which they had been introduced. Above all it would be necessary to be innovative when adapting the concept of farmers as promoters of extension messages, and the Master Farmer training scheme. Participants recommended that a study should be done for the preparation of a key working paper for a workshop which would be held, probably in 1997, to set up the proposed network. It was felt that extension services at national level should be strengthened and that strong links should be established between research, extension services and farmers. Participants also felt that the lines of communication between these different partners should be better defined.