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Lessons learned

Several lessons have been learned from the different models.

Long-term political commitment: Institutional development  of a demand-driven AAS system including demand-side financing is a long-term affair involving great efforts in institutional and human capacity development, and requires consensus among stakeholders. Publicly funded models depend on continuous political commitment for as long as it takes for the systems to mature. This often conflicts with the political reality of governments needing to show fast results within an election period. Governments are therefore often impatient with the delivery of results of long-term institutional development.

Organisational capacity and experience are crucial: The participation of FOs and local institutions with good capacity strongly stimulates the demand drive and empowerment of farmers. At the same time, the organisational experience that farmers and their FOs gain through their involvement in AAS policy processes and management are likely to be beneficial in other aspects of the agriculture sector, such as marketing cooperatives and breeding associations.

Availability of qualified service providers: Success requires that a pool of qualified service providers is available in rural areas, so that farmers have a real choice of providers. This may require that the demand-side financing of AAS is integrated with promoting pluralistic services, and reform regarding education, back-up services, and research.

Market opportunities: Demand-driven financing works most effectively and produces the strongest results when the services are connected to activities that increase market opportunities for participating farmers, hence improving their income and livelihoods, and the rural economy.

Gender equality in accessing services: ;Without a specific gender policy, women farmers rarely benefit from AAS financed via either the demand side or the supply side. Service organisations, whether service companies or FOs, need to have firm gender policies for women to be represented in decision-making so that service providers employ women advisers, and are in a position to respond to women’s needs and demands.