In a rapidly changing world, farmers need a package of innovations and services, in addition to continuous access to knowledge and information. Having all this under one roof and in a rural setting can greatly accelerate adoption of innovations and increase benefits to farmers. Farmer training centres have been initiated by many actors, under different forms; for example, Maisons Familiales Rurales, Songhaï Centres, and Agribusiness Development Centres. These initiatives focus on training young individuals and preparing them for a career in agriculture. However, they are less useful in serving the wider farming community for large scale adoption of agricultural innovations. Therefore, new models of community-based extension are under development, such as the ‘Small Farm Resource Centre’ approach promoted in South Asia by ECHO and the ‘Rural Resource Centre’ concept, further described in this note.
Agroforestry (1) requires specific attention from extension because it is knowledge intensive, highly context-specific, and provides benefits in the long term. Therefore, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been developing rural resource centres (RRCs) since 2006; first in Cameroon,5 and later in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Nigeria. This good practice note uses the RRC experience to demonstrate how a community-based extension approach can complement public-run agricultural extension so that local realities are taken into account and to better meet farmers’ expectations.
Compiled by: Ann Degrande, Zac Tchoundjeu, Roger Kwidja, and Guillaume Fongang Fouepe, July 2015