kenyaAgricultural extension in Kenya dates back to the early 1900s, but its only notable success was in the dissemination of hybrid maize technology in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The government through its Ministry of Agriculture provided the bulk of extension services to both small scale farmers and commercial producers. After the implementation of structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in the 1980s, the Kenyan government came under considerable pressure to scale down its dominant role in national economy (FAO 1997). Kenya’s agricultural extension budget together with extension staff numbers has plummeted significantly. At the same time, the performance of the public agricultural extension service in Kenya was questioned and its effectiveness became a very controversial subject (Gautam and Anderson 1999). The traditional public extension system was perceived as outdated, top-down, paternalistic, uniform (one-sizefits-all), inflexible, subject to bureaucratic inefficiencies and therefore unable to cope with the dynamic demands of modern agriculture

History

History

To respond to these challenges, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development formulated the National Agricultural Extension Policy (NEAP) to guide improvements in delivery of extension services in 2001. The NEAP recognized the need to diversify, decentralize and strengthen the provision of extension services to increase their sustainability and relevance to farmers. The NEAP was meant to form the basis for all extension work within the government and in its interaction with other stakeholders in agricultural research and development. To operationalize the NEAP, the ministry prepared a National Agricultural and Livestock Extension Program (NALEP) and NALEP Implementation Framework. The policy has been criticized for been ambiguous on the specific roles of various actors in extension provision and particularly for failing to specify how the private sector would be encouraged to play a stronger role in extension. Thus there has been a desire to reform the public extension into a system that is cost effective, responsive to farmers’ needs, broad-based in service delivery, accountable and with in-built sustainability mechanisms. There has also been a call for stronger involvement of stakeholders and beneficiaries at grass root level.

Rural and agricultural development is integral to any strategy to alleviate poverty and promote broad-based growth in Kenya, and the importance of agricultural extension in relation to the fight against poverty has been underscored in the Strategy to Revitalize Agriculture (SRA) (Republic of Kenya, 2004). It is envisaged that the economic expansion momentum will be consolidated further through Vision 2030 Strategy which is a successor to the ERS (MOA, 2008). Extension is identified as a critical area that requires immediate action and is one among the six SRA first-tracked interventions. Kenya’s small farmers had traditionally benefited from two major types of extension systems. The first is the government extension system focusing on mainly food crops. The government has tried a number of extension styles, including progressive or model farmer approach, integrated agricultural rural development approach, farm management, training and visit (T&V), attachment of officers to organizations, farming systems approaches and farmer field schools (FFS). The second type of extension system includes the commodity-based systems run by government parastatals, outgrower companies, and cooperatives. The commodity-based extension deals mainly, but not exclusively with commercial crops such as coffee, tea, pyrethrum and sisal. These extension services are deliberately motivated by profits, and tend to work well when both the firm and farmers clearly benefit from the extension expenditures.

As a result of flaws in the public extension system, a third type of extension service has emerged: the privatized agricultural extension initiatives provided by private companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs). Extension is now broadly seen as a complex system where services are provided by a range of private and public sector entities. The National Agricultural and Livestock Extension Program (NALEP), the main government extension program is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and supported by the government of Kenya (NALEP-GoK) and Swedish International Development Agency (NALEP-Sida). The program aims at enhancing the contribution of agriculture and livestock to social and economic development and poverty alleviation by promoting pluralistic, efficient and demand-driven extension services to farmers and agro-pastoralists (Muyanga and Jayne, 2006). But there are concerns about the effectiveness of the pluralistic agricultural extension systems involving both public and private extension delivery methods in reaching target farmers and producing expected results of lifting the standard of living of small holder rural farmers as well as boosting businesses for commercial farmers.

At the national level, Kenya public extension comprises 5470 staff members and is managed by a team of 910 senior staff according to the MEAS report (2011). One hundred and three staff member has a Master of Science degree, four staff was trained at the PhD level and the rest of the team studied at the bachelor level and agricultural diploma. Women account for 32.3% of senior management staff.  There are 3,086 subject matter specialists to provide backsopping support to the field staff, all of them have a bachelor degree and 33.0% of which are female. The total number of field workers is 1464, they all hold a 2 to 3 year agricultural diploma, and 32.2% are female. There are two other groups of workers: Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff and In-Service Training Staff. Although the public sector does not employ in-service training staff, 10 workers are involved in ICT support services (Table 1).

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Kenya (Government or Ministry -based Extension Organization)

Major Categories of Extension Staff

Secondary School diploma

2-3 yr. Ag diploma

B.Sc. degree

M.Sc./Ing. Agr. degree

Ph.D. degree

Gender

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

Senior Management Staff

       

246

553

48

59

 

4

Subject Matter Specialists (SMS)

       

1023

2063

       

Field Level Extension Staff

   

472

992

           

Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) Support Staff

     

10

           

In-Service Training Staff

                   

Total Extension Staff:   5470

 

 

472

1002

1269

2616

48

59

 

4

Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011

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