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Philosophy and principles

Helah Robinson

do we need demand-driven agricultural advisory services?
The rapidly changing economic, climatic, and social environment for agriculture worldwide is causing farms to become increasingly diverse in terms of size, resources, production patterns, access to markets, and household characteristics. (1)
FAO. 2014. The state of food and agriculture: Innovation in family farming. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
 So there is a strong need for more diverse and specialised agricultural advisory services (AAS) that are relevant to farmers. This requires rethinking ways of organising and financing AAS towards systems that are led and tailored by demand from farmers.

What are demand-driven agricultural advisory services?
Demand-driven AAS represent a break from the earlier understanding of agricultural producers as beneficiaries of services. Instead, in demand-driven AAS the users’ demands define the content, quality, and mode of delivery. (2)The main principles are:
  • services are based on user demand
  • service providers are accountable to users, particularly on content and quality
  • users have a choice of service providers.

What are the principles of financing mechanisms that empower users?
Demand-driven AAS require innovative financing mechanisms that enable farmers, their organisations, and communities to take greater responsibility and negotiate the services they want from a variety of qualified service providers who are accountable to farmers. Existing financing mechanisms that primarily support the supply side (AAS providers) are not appropriate for this purpose.

The Common framework on financing agricultural and rural extension provides policy advice regarding different financing mechanisms that promote empowerment of service users through increasing service providers’ accountability towards users. This may be achieved by:

  • financial participation by users
  • direct payment for services by users
  • indirect payment through membership fees, production levies, taxes, etc. combined with farmers/farmer organisations (FOs) being involved in decision-making on the use of these funds
  • public or donor funds channelled through users or their organisations to pay for services
  • service provision by producer-owned organisations.

Figure 1 illustrates the change in the flow of funds, with demand-side financing illustrating the new approach.

ggp 21 fig1