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.
This report presents an in-depth analysis of the extension and advisory services (EAS) system in Nigeria. The document produces actionable recommendations for improvement of EAS using the “best-fit” framework that examines the services from a systems perspective and then analyzes the EAS system through six EAS characteristics – the governance structures and policy environment; organizational and management capacities and cultures; advisory methods; market engagement; livelihood strategies; and community engagement. The recommendations are intended for any EAS stakeholder interested to improve extension, be they federal or state governments, donors, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or others. This report is based on a literature review on the Nigerian extension system and interviews with a variety of EAS actors during the period November 2016 - January 2017.
The overall frame conditions (political, business and community environments; agroecology; and the overall agricultural innovation system) affect EAS. Nigeria is a large federal country with close to 80 percent of land available for agriculture (both crops and livestock). Approximately half of the available land is being used for crop production. Support to extension and advisory services has changed over time, as has the role of agriculture in the Nigerian economy. Currently Nigeria is struggling with economic recession due to its dependence on oil exports and depressed global oil prices.
With regard to governance structures and the policy environment for extension, Nigeria has an impressive infrastructure for agricultural extension, including dedicated extension offices or Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs) in each state, a large number of agricultural research institutions and extension training programs, a system to connect them to farmers called the Research-Extension-Farmer-Input Linkage System (REFILS), and a body of 7,000 extension agents (28 percent female). Most of these structures were established with World Bank funding in the 1980s and have since suffered from a severe lack of funding and coordination in times of both economic growth and recession. However, there is growing involvement of the private sector in EAS.
While government revenues to support programs are consequently lower at the moment, there is a renewed focus and political will in both agriculture and extension. Today, there are several policies and programs to support agriculture, and new initiatives involving EAS. This shift can be seen from the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES), which launched an e-Wallet system to distribute fertilizer subsidies directly to farmers through mobile money, and through the Agriculture Promotion Policy. In EAS, this increased support is evidenced through the development of a new extension policy and the establishment of the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Services (FDAE) in December 2012. These are significant framework conditions that can be leveraged for more sustainable, effective and efficient extension. We recommend the legislation of the draft extension policy to optimize and coordinate roles of local, state and federal governments, NGOs and the private sector, as well as financing each with an annual, non-project based budget.
Pluralism, especially private sector involvement in EAS, has been growing. Various initiatives across public, private and NGO actors point to increased pluralism within EAS, but coordination among actors continues to be a challenge. Public-private partnerships are clear areas of opportunity. One of the largest public-private partnership on extension in Nigeria is the Anchor Borrowers Programme, launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
To coordinate, set standards and promote and regulate pluralistic extension, we recommend a mechanism at the federal level to provide oversight. Also, we recommend the federal government revitalize the REFILS system to link extension, research, the private sector and farmers.
With regard to governance and management capacities and cultures, adequate staffing of the EAS system and agent capabilities to deal with issues, such as markets and climate change, have presented challenges. With renewed focus on EAS in recent years, several initiatives have been launched with the aim of mitigating these challenges. These initiatives include the N-Power program, which is hiring some 100,000 youth in extension, as well as renewed state interest and support for extension services, including those by agro-dealers and other private sector actors.
To address these issues, we recommend reforming and expanding public and private extension agents’ basic training, and ensuring continuing education to increase skills, reach and job motivation. A performance-based management system for extension staff linked to salaries and promotions is also recommended.
With regard to advisory methods, Nigerian EAS uses a wide variety of approaches. However, we see the biggest opportunities in ICT-enabled extension, which we define as EAS systems and programs that utilize appropriate information and communication technologies for information sharing, capacity strengthening, program and performance management, and other EAS activities. Key opportunities for ICT-enabled extension include the use of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to enable farmers to authenticate input quality and for the private sector to establish ICT-enabled extension that is profitable and sustainable.
Additionally, we recommend coordination of information provision through the Farmer Helpline with input provision from the e-Wallet system. Another opportunity is to adapt the Anchor Borrowers Programme to right-size loans for inputs, use group loans instead of individual loans and verify that people signing up are farmers by leveraging the existing Nigerian e-ID system. Finally, the government can facilitate public-private extension partnerships that leverage low-cost ICT directly with private-sector companies and establishes what level and kind of extension can be profitable and sustainable in the long-run.
There are also many opportunities with regard to market engagement by EAS providers. For instance, the One-Stop-Shop agro-input centers were launched by the federal government under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda to ensure the availability of inputs and markets for small-scale farmers. Farmers’ access to credit and quality agricultural inputs has been a problem. Thus, we recommend the development of a sustainable, ICT-enabled public-private extension model enabling training for agro-dealers and other private providers; bundling of extension advice with other market services, like inputs, outputs, finance, transport and storage; and the use of ICTs, such as IVR, to enable farmers to authenticate the quality of the inputs they purchase.
Finally, we present recommendations with regard to livelihood strategies and community engagement, both of which pay particular attention to women and youth farmers. Livelihood strategies should focus the content of extension programs; specifically, on commodities and agricultural activities that are socially acceptable and appropriate for women and youth. Community engagement opportunities include support to the N-Power program to help youth to establish profitable agribusinesses, and strengthening of agricultural clubs for secondary and university students.
With this holistic picture of extension and advisory services in Nigeria, it is clear that some of the most pressing needs are for sustainability and scalability in Nigerian EAS, so that many producers can be reached by a well-coordinated pluralistic set of providers in a manner that is financially sustainable and meets government development objectives. In this regard, private-sector engagement and information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be of enormous assistance. However, ICTs are a stand-alone method or tool that must be incorporated into an effective system that also has supportive policies, appropriate governance structures, sufficient human and organizational capacities and relevant outreach methods.
In conclusion, this is an opportune moment to revitalize extension and advisory services in Nigeria due to the private sector activity, existing EAS infrastructure and renewed government interest. There are many options for investors to make to revitalize the extension system. Among the many options, we highlight several different types of investments, each of which has tradeoff with regard to scale and outcome desired. Annex 1 of the report outlines opportunities for future investment and collaboration under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project.
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Nigeria. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.