GFRAS-graphic IIRoles, Strategies, and Capacities to Strengthen Extension and Advisory Services

Is today's extension agent a superwoman (or superman)?!

Extension and advisory services (EAS) are expected to do everything now from organise farmer groups to teach on nutrition and health. In today's changing and complex world, what is the role of EAS? And what capabilities are needed to equip EAS to play their role in reducing hunger and poverty worldwide? 

The new extensionist is a global view of extension and advisory services (EAS) that reinvents and clearly articulates the role of EAS in the rapidly-changing rural context. It argues for an expanded role for EAS within agricultural innovation systems (AIS) and development of new capacities at different levels to play this role.

The AIS approach focuses on interactions among the wide range of actors critical for innovation, and the institutions and policies that influence these interactions. EAS include actors from public, private, and civil society sectors who support rural communities in many ways. EAS is an important actor within AIS and plays a major role in enabling innovation.

What is new is not necessarily the competencies needed by individuals, but the expanded role of EAS envisaged here and the focus on organizational and system level capacities. The new extensionist vision implies changes in EAS organisations, systems, and enabling environments, plus reskilling all types of individuals to better contribute to increasing the productivity and effectiveness of agricultural systems to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. 

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