Global Good Practice

  • NOTE 1: Innovation Platforms

    inno p sFarmers, agri-business and service providers have to innovate continuously to adapt to an ever-changing environment (including markets, climate and resources). Innovation is about putting ideas that are new to a certain location into practice, and in this way changing the situation of those living in this area for the better. These “ideas” can be a new way of irrigating a field (i.e. a technology), a new way of organizing women farmers to bulk their produce (i.e. an organizational innovation), or a new policy that supports smallholders in getting bank loans (i.e. an institutional innovation). In agriculture, innovation often involves a combination of these different types of changes. For example: a new way of diverting water to fields requires that the farmers organize themselves in water use associations, which must in turn be supported by the local authorities.

  • NOTE 10: Rural Resource Centres: A Community Approach to Agricultural Extension

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    In a rapidly changing world, farmers need a package of innovations and services, in addition to continuous access to knowledge and information. Having all this under one roof and in a rural setting can greatly accelerate adoption of innovations and increase benefits to farmers. Farmer training centres have been initiated by many actors, under different forms; for example, Maisons Familiales Rurales1, Songhaï Centres,2 and Agribusiness Development Centres. These initiatives focus on training young individuals and preparing them for a career in agriculture. However, they are less useful in serving the wider farming community for large scale adoption of agricultural innovations. Therefore, new models of community-based extension are under development.

  • NOTE 11: Navigating ICTs for Extension and Advisory Services

    ggp-note11sImproved availability of, and access to, information and communication technologies (ICTs) – especially mobile phones, computers, radio, internet, and social media – has provided many more opportunities for collection, processing, storage, retrieval, managing, and sharing of information in multiple formats. Some of these applications, such as tele-centres, web-portals, call centres, mobile apps, community radio, digital videos, audio and video conferencing, and e-learning platforms, have the potential to provide a wide range of services (information, awareness, promotional, advisory, knowledge, technology transfer, training, education, and much more) to farmers and other agricultural innovation system (AIS) actors in a timely, comprehensive, cost-effective, and interactive manner. However, the high number and rapidly changing availability of ICTs may leave extension managers confused as to which methods are available and when to use them. This note explains how to navigate the many types and gives tips on when to use them.

  • NOTE 12: Producer Organizations’ Roles in Rural Advisory Services in Developing Countries

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    Producer organisations (POs) form the interface between farmers and their economic, social, and institutional environments (Box 1). The involvement of POs in the provision of rural advisory services (RAS) has been identifi ed as a solution to the limitations of both the hierarchical public sector extension system and market- driven private sector extension systems. POs can make a positive contribution by articulating the demands and needs of their members for RAS, and directly or indirectly ensuring that these services are supplied in an effi cient and sustainable way. However, not all POs have the required capacities to carry out all these functions.

  • NOTE 13: Agricultural Innovation Systems

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    Generating and applying new knowledge is important for all enterprises, including farming. But, quite often, new knowledge that can enhance productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability in farming is not widely adopted at scale. This lack of innovation in agriculture has led to the search for new frameworks such as ‘innovation systems’ that help in understanding how the process of agricultural innovation takes place and how its relevance and quality can be enhanced.

  • NOTE 14: Community Knowledge Workers for Rural Advisory Services

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    The Community Knowledge Worker 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.

  • NOTE 15: Social Media for Rural Advisory Services

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    Social media refers to the web-based tools and media that allow users to personally and informally interact, create, share, retrieve, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media includes social networking sites, blogs and microblogs, online forums, discussion boards and groups, wikis, socially integrated text messaging services, videos and podcasts, and many more. Rural advisory services (RAS) have seen enormous changes in the 21st Century that require interaction among multiple stakeholders ‒ public, private, and non-profit – and learning to take collective action.

  • NOTE 16: Web Portals for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services

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    Agriculture is the largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for the majority of the world’s poorest people. As the backbone of many developing country economies, agricultural development becomes synonymous with global development. Research and development efforts to improve agriculture have been ongoing for nearly a century, but with new and ever-changing global challenges, agriculturists need to be equipped with the right information to tackle those challenges. Through advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs), most of the information needed is available on the internet. But the sheer volume and uncertainty about accuracy makes getting correct and credible information very difficult. Web portals aim to resolve this situation. They are specially designed single access points to information collected from diverse sources.

  • NOTE 18: Using Radio in Agricultural Extension

    ggp18 sRadio is considered one of the oldest information technologies, and is one of the most popular in the developing world, partly due to its accessibility and affordability. While many rural people own a radio, those who do not may access programming through family, friends, or neighbours. Traditionally, radio has been seen as a one-way communication tool, providing information, news, and entertainment to listeners. However, when integrated with other communication tools (such as mobile phones) it can serve as a two-way platform for dialogue, to further discussions about topics that interest listeners, and to create entertaining and interactive programmes.

  • NOTE 2: Farmer Field Schools

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    Field Schools (FFS) is a group-based adult learning approach that teaches farmers how to experiment and solve problems independently. Sometimes called “schools without walls”, in FFS groups of farmers meet regularly with a facilitator, observe, talk, ask questions, and learn together. Farmer field schools as an approach was first developed to teach integrated pest management (IPM) techniques in rice farming, but it has also been used in organic agriculture, animal husbandry, and also non-farm income generating activities such as handicrafts.

  • NOTE 20: Farmer Study Circles

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    The overall purpose of farmer study circles (FSCs) is to create learning, capacity, and empowerment among small-scale farmers. FSCs are part of a multitude of approaches to agricultural extension for groups of farmers that are based on adult learning principles. Such approaches are self-directed/autonomour, based on existing knowledge and life experiences, goal-oriented, relevant, practical, and collaborative.

  • Note 21: Innovative Financing Mechanisms

    Helah Robinson 2

    The rapidly changing economic, climatic, and social environment for agriculture worldwide is causing farms to become increasingly diverse in terms of size, resources, production patterns, access to markets, and household characteristics.1 So there is a strong need for more diverse and specialised agricultural advisory services (AAS) that are relevant to farmers. This requires rethinking ways of organising and financing AAS towards systems that are led and tailored by demand from farmers.

  • Note 3: Mobile Based Bundled Services

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    Smallholder farmers in developing countries face a number of challenges that impact their productivity and contribution to food security. These include lack of access to financial services (credit, savings, and micro-insurance) and limited access to rural advisory services.

  • NOTE 4: Integrating Gender into Rural Advisory Services

    K E Colverson s

    Rural women’s roles and contributions to agriculture remain undervalued and neglected by the sector’s policy- making and implementation processes. Women typically are involved in many aspects of the agricultural value chain, often contributing anywhere from 25 to 75% of the productive labour. However, they generally have less access to rural advisory services (RAS) than men. They also have less access to agricultural inputs, such as fertilisers, technologies, and veterinary services, which reduces their overall productivity. This is particularly a problem in countries in Africa, where women’s agricultural involvement varies from about 30% in the Gambia to 60–80% in Cameroon. 

  • NOTE 5: Enabling Rural Innovation

    thomas pircher s

    Enabling Rural Innovation (ERI) is a participatory approach that puts family farmers in the centre of agricultural development. It strengthens their technical, organisational, social and entrepreneurial capacities to shift from subsistence to market–oriented agriculture. It aims at developing profitable agro-enterprises without jeopardising food and nutrition security. Farmer groups are supported in (re-)discovering social, technical, natural and economical resources around them, setting group objectives and monitoring their progress towards them, making market studies, experimenting with different technologies and setting up agro-enterprises while safeguarding their natural resource base.

  • NOTE 6: Video for Agricultural Extension

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    Videos, especially digital ones, are a relatively new technology. Videos may help to meet the challenges of disseminating information to farmers and reaching the poor, marginalised, women, and young people. Some uses of video in agriculture include raising awareness, stimulating demand for support, farmer-to-farmer extension, training on agricultural innovations, stimulating creativity, and as a tool for documenting and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). 

  • NOTE 7: Farmer-to-Farmer Extension

    FAO sFollowing the decline of investments in government extension services in the 1980s and 1990s, community- based extension approaches have become increasingly important. One such approach is farmer-to-farmer extension (F2FE), which is defined here as the provision of training by farmers to farmers, often through the creation of a structure of farmer-trainers. We use ‘farmer-trainer’ as a generic term, even though we recognise that different names (e.g. lead farmer, farmer-promoter, community knowledge worker) may imply different roles. 

  • NOTE 8: Management Advice for Family Farms to Strengthen entrepreneurial skills

    marine rouchousse s

    In West Africa, during the 1990s, new innovative advisory methods were used that broke with the tradition of top- down public extension focusing on production, and instead helped meet the diversity of producers’ needs by using participatory methods. Management Advice for Family Farms (MAFF) is one of these approaches. MAFF has been adapted for diverse contexts and is today implemented by a wide range of actors, including non-government organisations (NGOs), producer organisations, cotton companies, and government agencies, in several African countries, reaching approximately 100,000 producers. MAFF has recently been further adapted to other contexts, including Myanmar (South East Asia), and Malawi (East Africa).

  • NOTE 9: Integrating Nutrition into Rural Advisory Services and Extension

    Burundi ECECHOMartin Karimi 2

    There is a heightened awareness globally and within development institutions and governments of the need to better understand the links between agriculture and nutrition, and to decipher the ways in which the agriculture sector can contribute to improved nutrition. The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of effectively delivering ‘nutritionsensitive agriculture’(1) services to rural households remain even less understood.

    Extension workers (through public, private, and nongovernment organisation (NGO) channels) are often thought of as a promising platform or vehicle for the delivery of nutrition knowledge and practices to improve the nutritional health of rural communities because they reach and interact closely with farmers in different settings. They act as significant service providers of crop, livestock, and forestry aspects of food security, consumption, and production.