Equipping the locals for the New Extensionist


The African Forum for Rural Advisory Services (AFAAS) in partnership with GFRAS invest in developing capacities of Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) personnel at individual, organisational and systems levels to better provide relevant services within the context of the agricultural innovation systems framework. GFRAS have produced a position paper on the “New Extensionist: Roles, Strategies, and Capacities to Strengthen Extension and Advisory Services” as one-way to advocate for the transformation of rural advisory services in response to the multifaceted challenges in the current dispensation.

GFRAS and AFAAS are working together with international experts through the GFRAS Consortium on Extension Education and Training, to develop the new extensionist learning kit that forms the basis through which core competencies can be developed.  

There is an increasing demand by individuals and country fora to be trained on the various aspects of the New Extensionist. At the moment, these training are tailor made to suit the needs of the countries. In addition, efforts are currently made by GFRAS and AFAAS to complete the learning kit that will be made available to a wider audience for both self-directed learning as well as face-to-face where resources allow.

The Ethiopian country Forum catching the fire

ethiopia ne trainingFollowing the first training of Country Fora (CF) in Ghana in August 2015, the Ethiopia’s recently established Training and Advisory service Directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource Management requested AFAAS and GFRAS to conduct Training of Trainers (ToT) for its staff and CF members on the New Extensionist and multi-stakeholders facilitation skills for development. Consequently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Management in partnership with AFAAS and GFRAS carried out a 5-day intensive training of Trainers on the 14th -18th December 2015 at Top Ten Hotel Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A total of 17 personnel were trained, with (13) representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resource (MoA & NR); (01) from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR); (01) from Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (EATA); (01) from Ethiopian Society of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension (ESRDAE) and (01) from Sasakawa Global (SG-2000).

Some highlight from the training

Course content and training mode

The course covered the following:

  • Introduction to the New Extensionist concept
  • Overview of Extension Approaches and Tools – what it means for Ethiopia?
  • Facilitation for development in the context of Agricultural Innovation Systems
  • The basics of monitoring and evaluating rural advisory services
  • Strengthening CF for Extension and RAS advocacy and linkages with AFAAS
  • Professionalisation of Extension and RAS, what does it mean for Ethiopia?

The content was directly extracted from the New Extensionist learning kit, and modified to suit the local context. The training was participatory, allowing the trainees to share their real life experiences. Some participants also took turns to in facilitating some of the sessions- thus putting theory into practice.

Some key outputs

Some key outputs include participants identifying key challenges of AEAS in Ethiopia and make key recommendations for improvement. The participants committed to present the findings during the upcoming CF Annual General Meeting (AGM) for further discussions and validation. Participants also felt a strong need for improvement of the Agricultural Development Partners Linkage Advisory Council (ADPLAC), CF in Ethiopia, guidelines to be in line with the AFAAS-CF guidelines and the new extensionist concept. A small team was therefore constituted from MoA & NR, SG-2000, EATA, and EIAR to review the ADPLAC working guidelines (with AFAAS providing the backstopping support).

Acknowledgment:  The development of new extensionist learning material is supported by GIZ and the training was conducted with a financial support from the European Union funded Multi Donors Trust Fund Project.       

 By Samson Eshetu, Hamalani Ngwenya, Silim Nadhy and Kristin Davis