Developing Local Extension Capacity
Extract of a study by the The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project led by Digital Green, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Care International and GFRAS.
The National Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP) set out by the Department of Agricultural Extension was updated in 2012. The mission of the NAEP is to provide efficient, effective, coordinated, decentralized, demand-responsive and integrated extension services to help farmers in Bangladesh access and utilize better know-how, improve productivity, optimize profitability and ensure sustainability, thereby ensuring the wellbeing of their families. The 2012 revision contains a variety of modern and practical measures, including use of ICTs for linking marketing and production systems and establishing digitized databases and management and information systems (MIS) down to the upazila (district) level, better coordination among public and private sector actors, increased farmer-responsiveness, increased women’s participation, etc. From 2003 onward, there was no separate funding for the NAEP. Ownership from staff of the various government extension bodies was limited due to lack of consultation with all stakeholders in drafting of the policy and the need for a coordination mechanism between the various bodies (Karim et al, 2009). Whether the measures promulgated in the 2012 revision have been broadly supported or funded is unclear.
EAS in Bangladesh is dynamic, with a high number of actors from different sectors, and very decentralized. The high plurality leads to difficulties in coordination between different types of EAS actors (public, private and NGO/multilateral) as well as between different areas of EAS (crops, livestock and fisheries). There is thus need for a coordinating mechanism or incentive structure to facilitate cooperation among EAS providers (Swanson, 2011).
Public sector EAS actors generally act independently of each other and need a more effective system for taking farmer input or measuring farmer satisfaction or impact (Swanson, 2011). Also, many public-sector actors do not always have sufficient operational funds to effectively implement programs, with majority of funding going toward salaries and capital costs. The limited resources result in farmers in harder to reach areas, such as the riverine islands, not having the same level of access to EAS than in other parts of the country. Public extension institutions include the following:
- Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), www.dae.gov.bd
- Department of Fisheries (DOF), www.fisheries.gov.bd
- Department of Livestock Services (DLS), www.dls.gov.bd
- Agricultural Information Service (AIS), www.ais.gov.bd
- Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM), www.dam.gov.bd
- Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), www.badc.gov.bd
The DAE is the largest organization and employs 14,092 field-level extension agents,1 with each responsible for 900-2,000 farm families (Miah, 2015). The DOF and DLS have few field-level extension agents—usually only two to three at the upazila level (which includes 60,000 to 70,000 farms) and none at the union or block level (Swanson, 2011). These departments mainly have project-based funding. While welcome to infuse additional resources into government programs, project-based funding also has some drawbacks. According to the Planning Commission, “the major weaknesses of this project dependency are that certain areas seem to attract repeated projects whereas others get none; duplication of efforts, while similar approaches may be tried repeatedly without success; and the content of the extension may depend on the parameters set by the project rather than a consideration of local need” (Miah, 2015: 39).
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Bangladesh. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.