Approaches, Tools & Guidelines
This document on Good Practices in Extension Research and Evaluation is developed as a hands on reference manual to help young researchers, research students, and field extension functionaries in choosing the right research methods for conducting quality research and evaluation in extension.
A growing variety of public and private rural advisory services are available today, leading to increasingly pluralistic service systems (PSS) – in which advisory services are provided by different actors and funded from different sources. PSS have emerged in many countries as a response to a decline in public sector extension and the increasing demand for tailored, diverse and market-oriented services. Private companies, non-governmental organizations and producer organizations, today play more active roles alongside traditional public sector providers. The diversity of service providers in PSS has the potential to make services more inclusive, responsive to demand, contextspecific and based on multiple knowledge sources. This is particularly relevant, as farmers are highly diverse, differing in resources, gender, market access, crops and livestock systems, and therefore require different types of information and services to achieve sustainable productivity growth and better livelihoods.
A growing variety of public and private rural advisory services are available today, leading to increasingly “pluralistic service systems” (PSS), in which advisory services are provided by different actors and funded from different sources. However, these PSS and the way they operate are still poorly understood. In particular, how PSS can effectively respond to demands of heterogeneous farmers in contexts where small-scale agriculture increasingly needs to exploit value addition and adapt to market requirements.
In this context, FAO organized a Side Event on Promoting Inclusive Pluralistic Service Systems during the 7th GFRAS Annual Meeting “The Role of Rural Advisory Services for Inclusive Agripreneurship”. The Side Event aimed to explore current thinking on PSS and facilitate a debate around the main themes of inclusiveness, coordination, accountability and scaling up pluralistic rural advisory services. This is a synthesis of discussions and outcome that was submitted to the GFRAS Steering Committee on 7 October 2016.
Extension and advisory services (EAS) are well recognized as a key factor in contributing to agricultural productivity and growth. However, rigorous evaluation of EAS approaches and assessment of complex national or subnational pluralistic EAS systems are rare. This working paper examines the literature on experiential and empirical insights and explores methods to assess complex pluralistic EAS systems. The authors present conceptual thinking on innovation systems and EAS, and review the IFPRI “best-fit” framework. This framework remains relevant because it is based on a holistic perspective with an impact pathway orientation. The paper aims to operationalize and improve the best-fit framework to guide the evaluation of complex EAS systems. The authors draw on and summarize existing literature to illustrate methods and tools used to analyze each component of the framework. The review pays close attention to the literature and methods for assessing the diversity of service providers and their various delivery tools and learning approaches. The discussion also pays close attention to the interaction of each component and how it affects the performance and impact of EAS from a systems perspective. This paper adds key points and considerations on how to operationalize the best-fit framework to carry out evaluations of pluralistic EAS.
Supporting agricultural extension towards Climate-Smart AgricultureAn overview of existing tools
The Compendium seeks to provide an overview of approaches and practical tools to support extension services in the field of climate-smart agriculture.
Globally, ministries of agriculture, universities, and the private sector employ more than 600,000 extension agents (Swanson, Farmer, and Bahal 1990). In the past, extension services, largely public, were equated with the transfer of agricultural production technology in pre-determined “packages”. Extension systems are now understood to be much broader and more diverse, including public and private sector and civil society institutions that provide a broad range of services (advisory, technology transfer, training, promotional, and information) on a wide variety of subjects (agriculture, marketing, social organization, health and education) needed by rural people to better manage their agricultural systems and livelihoods. This module seeks to summarize principles and good practice for investments in building effective and sustainable extension systems.
Since the development of the farmer field school (FFS) approach in the late 80s in Asia, thousands of FFS have since been implemented across the world, in over 90 countries and across a varied range of contexts and thematic areas. Demand for FFS programmes is increasing, and in several countries the approach is now institutionalized within public extension systems and NGO programmes. It is estimated that by 2015 millions of farmers and agro-pastoralists had benefitted from the unique ability of FFS programmes to address the technological, social and economic needs of smallholder farmers and land users.
Considering the expansion of FFS, both in terms of scale and in the application of the approach, concerns have emerged around how to best ensure a minimum level of quality of FFS program implementation and harmonization across programmes and actors, while still maintaining the flexibility required for the continuous adaptation and improvement of the approach.
An Action Research Project of the RELASER Network in Latin America
The Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) project, a USAID activity implemented by a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)-led consortium, has the objective of defining and disseminating good practice strategies and approaches for establishing efficient, effective and financially sustainable rural extension and advisory service systems. MEAS has focused its efforts in Latin America through partnerships with organiza-tions that have strong involvement with extension system development in the region. The Latin American Network for Rural Extension Services (RELASER) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) partnered in this initiative to provide six exchanges where innovative programs and practices are shared with extension organizations involving 12 countries in South America over the course of calendar year 2015.
The Community Knowledge Wworkers (CKW) system, a type of farmer-to-farmer extension, involves local networks of farmer-to-farmer peers serving as information intermediaries. They use smartphones and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to reach fellow farmers with agricultural (livestock management, agronomic practices for crops), weather (seasonal and daily forecasts), and market price information. Their smartphone connects to a remote server called Salesforce, which provides access to real time agriculture, market price, and weather information.
El documento fue elaborado por el Grupo de Comunicadores interesados en extensión rural de RELASER en base a la plantilla de buenas prácticas de FAO para la sistematización de experiencias para el aprendizaje continuo.
The present Guidelines for Establishing and Strengthening AFAAS Country Forums are intended to provide AAS stakeholders in African countries with advice and ideas to how they can establish their own collaboration networks to improve and strengthen the role of AAS in their countries and how they can link this to the AFAAS continental network as an AFAAS CF.
Development organizations rely on a number of different strategies to facilitate farmers’ awareness of, access to and ultimately adoption of improved production and marketing practices; to promote inclusivity; and to ensure program sustainability. The study revealed definitive trends in their approaches and methodologies. Most of the interviewed organizations (1) establish farmer field schools and demonstration plots, (2) build capacity of lead farmers and rely on them to foster continued knowledge exchanges, and (3) provide farmers with credit mechanisms and increase their access to markets, particularly through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). Another strong trend suggests that development organizations strive to ensure program sustainability by engaging the private-for-profit sector and building local capacities. Finally, our findings suggest that organizations attempt to mainstream gender issues, include participatory planning in project design, and pursue participatory monitoring and evaluation strategies throughout the project cycle, though implementing participatory approaches can be a challenge. During the interviews the organizations shared some particularly successful approaches and strategies that have helped them in pursuing their objectives, but also discussed implementation challenges.
This guide aims to provide a range of traditional and innovative technologies that make a positive contribution to strengthening food security in Melanesia in response to climate change. It aims to encourage rural farmers in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to think about, and start to prepare for, the impacts of climate change in their communities. It is written for farmers and field or extension workers, teachers and others who work with farmers.
Rural Advisory Services (RAS) could considerably contribute to breaking the vicious cycle of disability and poverty - if RAS would take more consciously into account the needs and the potentials of persons who are affected by disability.
The paper describes the challenge and provides some core facts and figures on disability. It also summarizes the framework for change.
Some elements are suggested on how RAS could boost their contributions to the reduction of hunger and poverty applying a disability-inclusive rural development approach.
This guide introduces 25 questions to help lead programme designers and managers of agricultural value chain projects to success. It aims to complement existing value chain development tools that focus less on bringing together technical and social dimensions. The questions focus on problems and complications that often occur during the different phases of value chain selection and analysis, and design and implementation of related projects.
An overview of tools, guides and other products that the SAI platform has published.