August 13th, 2016
Extension in motion
Published by KIT, May 1st, 2015
This paper by KIT is about the role that agricultural extension can play to rural development. KIT asked eight renowned experts in the field of extension to guide the reader on a narrative journey through the intricacies of agricultural extension. Agricultural extension has a significant role to play in rural development. Yet, ‘extension’ itself is also developing and so is its role in development. How extension is understood, coordinated, financed and implemented has evolved over time. While agricultural extension used to be almost exclusively publicly funded and implemented in a top-down manner to increase productivity and transfer new technologies to small-scale farmers, since the late 1980s and 1990s the private sector has gradually become engaged in different ways and extension has evolved to being more participatory and holistic, at least in rhetoric. Many observers now prefer to speak of ‘advisory services’ rather than extension to allude to the broadened scope of services that farmers need as agriculture is becoming increasingly knowledge-intensive. The authors conclude that extension in isolation is often very ineffective but if it is combined with other instruments that focus on creating an enabling environment, if services are more demand-driven and responsive to the dynamics and diversity of rural farming systems extension is in motion and can set rural development in motion.