Taking the ‘New Extensionist’ to the Policy Dialogue Level

uganda policy dialogueAt the core of this policy dialogue were the results of the scoping study on the status of the AEAS policies in Africa and their alignment to the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development (CAADP agenda. Commissioned by GFRAS and conducted by Prof. Oladele Idowu, the study revealed that out of the 29 countries assessed, only five have fully legislated extension policies, while the majority have only provisional extension policies. Whether as stand alone or embedded in existing agricultural policies, there is a need for thorough review of AEAS policy processes in view of the current challenges. The meeting called for more political will and urgency in adopting evidence-based policy processes and for countries to have fully legislated AEAS policies that provide a legal frame for coordination of pluralistic extension services in response to the current challenges, thus providing enabling policies for the ‘New Extensionist’. Beyond the call for the political will, the individuals also made personal commitments to take the discussions further and stimulate change within their own mandates and areas of influence.

The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries of Uganda, Hon. Tress Buchanayandi, officially opened the meeting. When he addressed the gathering, the Honourable Minister put aside his prepared speech and spoke from the heart. Participants were glued to his speech with great interest as he shared about the evolution of agricultural extension in Uganda and the challenge for the ‘modern extension’ in coping with diverse challenges and assuring the profitability of farming enterprise.                                       

Dr. Silim Nahdy, Executive Director (AFAAS) likened the agricultural extension serve challenges to a broken pipe. While on one hand there are drops from research [and all innovation actors] filling the lake with innovations, the smallholder farmers on the other do not have access to these and hand have undying thirst as a result of the broken pipe.

Representing GIZ, Mr. Christian Koenigsperger shared about the One World-No Hunger initiative, within which the Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector program is anchored. Under this programme GIZ collaborates with GFRAS in strengthening agricultural extension and advisory services in the implementing countries.

Addressing the media Dr. Kristin Davis, Executive Secretary (GFRAS), explained the concept of the ‘New Extensionist’, which is organised around the agricultural innovation systems approach.   

Davis emphasised the critical role that extension plays in enabling agricultural innovation, and she advocates for renewed capacities at individual, organisational, and system (enabling environment) levels if extension is to better contribute to agricultural development amidst current complexities.

 By Hlami Ngwenya and Kristin Davis

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