New agricultural advisory services have grown in Francophone Africa following the withdrawal of the State from agricultural extension responsibilities. Agricultural advisory services are once again the subject of increased attention in some countries (Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, etc.), especially following the recent global food crises. Currently we observe a plurality of forms of advisory services provided by a variety of actors. Experiments in MAFF (Management Advice for Family Farms) conducted with French support for nearly two decades in many Francophone African countries have sought to promote comprehensive advice to farms, one that is based on learning methods. Support from various cooperative efforts (French, Dutch, Swiss, Belgian) also helped to test and adapt MAFF in different contexts.
Producer organizations (POs) form the interface between local societies and their economic, social and institutional environment. They are constructed around two main issues: defending producer interests and organizing access to agricultural services. In West Africa, their importance in rural development has grown since the 1990s following the withdrawal of the State from the agricultural sector. Some POs have extended the services they provide to their members by developing advisory services. This has been possible mainly due to the support of donors and of support structures involved in renovating and reviving advisory services. This article presents the main issues which confront POs and the entities which support them. These issues concern the effectiveness and sustainability of advisory mechanisms controlled and implemented by the POs. What type of advice to meet the needs and challenges faced by the POs and their members? How to make advisory services compatible with PO constraints? How to finance and sustain these services?
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