NOTE 17: mExtension – Mobile Phones for Agricultural Advisory Services
In the last few decades, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have provided immense opportunities for the social and economic development of rural people, and some technologies have surpassed others. Mobile telephony is one such technology that has developed significantly in the past few years, and the subscription rate in developing countries has gone up from 22 per 100 inhabitants in 2005 to 91.8 per 100 inhabitants in 2015. Mobile technology goes beyond geographic, socio-economic, and cultural barriers and this large increase in mobile subscriptions, along with the recent roll out of 3G and 4G technology, can play a big role in the development of rural people.
NOTE 19: Service Provision by Agri-Cooperatives Engaged in High Value Markets
Markets for agricultural products with special quality, environmental, and social attributes can provide a profitable outlet for poor farmers in developing countries. However, participation in high value markets requires that farmers commit to deliver pre-identified volumes on time and in the required form and quality – a tall order in many cases. Agri-cooperatives play an important role in linking farmers to these markets; they forge business relations with distant buyers, realise economies of scale in processing and marketing, and provide advisory and other services to help their members respond to buyer demands
NOTE 15: Social Media for Rural Advisory Services
Social media refers to the web-based tools and media that allow users to personally and informally interact, create, share, retrieve, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media includes social networking sites, blogs and microblogs, online forums, discussion boards and groups, wikis, socially integrated text messaging services, videos and podcasts, and many more. Rural advisory services (RAS) have seen enormous changes in the 21st Century that require interaction among multiple stakeholders ‒ public, private, and non-profit – and learning to take collective action.
NOTE 6: Video for Agricultural Extension
Videos, especially digital ones, are a relatively new technology. Videos may help to meet the challenges of disseminating information to farmers and reaching the poor, marginalised, women, and young people. Some uses of video in agriculture include raising awareness, stimulating demand for support, farmer-to-farmer extension, training on agricultural innovations, stimulating creativity, and as a tool for documenting and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
NOTE 10: Rural Resource Centres: A Community Approach to Agricultural Extension
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 Rurales1, Songhaï Centres,2 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.
NOTE 14: Community Knowledge Workers for Rural Advisory Services
The Community Knowledge Worker CKW system, a type of farmer-to-farmer extension, involves local networks of farmer-to-farmer peers serving as information intermediaries. They use smartphones and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to reach fellow farmers with agricultural (livestock management, agronomic practices for crops), weather (seasonal and daily forecasts), and market price information. Their smartphone connects to a remote server called Salesforce, which provides access to real time agriculture, market price, and weather information.
NOTE 11: Navigating ICTs for Extension and Advisory Services
Improved availability of, and access to, information and communication technologies (ICTs) – especially mobile phones, computers, radio, internet, and social media – has provided many more opportunities for collection, processing, storage, retrieval, managing, and sharing of information in multiple formats. Some of these applications, such as tele-centres, web-portals, call centres, mobile apps, community radio, digital videos, audio and video conferencing, and e-learning platforms, have the potential to provide a wide range of services (information, awareness, promotional, advisory, knowledge, technology transfer, training, education, and much more) to farmers and other agricultural innovation system (AIS) actors in a timely, comprehensive, cost-effective, and interactive manner. However, the high number and rapidly changing availability of ICTs may leave extension managers confused as to which methods are available and when to use them. This note explains how to navigate the many types and gives tips on when to use them.
NOTE 5: Enabling Rural Innovation
Enabling Rural Innovation (ERI) is a participatory approach that puts family farmers in the centre of agricultural development. It strengthens their technical, organisational, social and entrepreneurial capacities to shift from subsistence to market–oriented agriculture. It aims at developing profitable agro-enterprises without jeopardising food and nutrition security. Farmer groups are supported in (re-)discovering social, technical, natural and economical resources around them, setting group objectives and monitoring their progress towards them, making market studies, experimenting with different technologies and setting up agro-enterprises while safeguarding their natural resource base.
NOTE 7: Farmer-to-Farmer Extension
Following the decline of investments in government extension services in the 1980s and 1990s, community- based extension approaches have become increasingly important. One such approach is farmer-to-farmer extension (F2FE), which is defined here as the provision of training by farmers to farmers, often through the creation of a structure of farmer-trainers. We use ‘farmer-trainer’ as a generic term, even though we recognise that different names (e.g. lead farmer, farmer-promoter, community knowledge worker) may imply different roles.
NOTE 2: Farmer Field Schools
Field Schools (FFS) is a group-based adult learning approach that teaches farmers how to experiment and solve problems independently. Sometimes called “schools without walls”, in FFS groups of farmers meet regularly with a facilitator, observe, talk, ask questions, and learn together. Farmer field schools as an approach was first developed to teach integrated pest management (IPM) techniques in rice farming, but it has also been used in organic agriculture, animal husbandry, and also non-farm income generating activities such as handicrafts.
NOTE 1: Innovation Platforms
Farmers, agri-business and service providers have to innovate continuously to adapt to an ever-changing environment (including markets, climate and resources). Innovation is about putting ideas that are new to a certain location into practice, and in this way changing the situation of those living in this area for the better. These “ideas” can be a new way of irrigating a field (i.e. a technology), a new way of organizing women farmers to bulk their produce (i.e. an organizational innovation), or a new policy that supports smallholders in getting bank loans (i.e. an institutional innovation). In agriculture, innovation often involves a combination of these different types of changes. For example: a new way of diverting water to fields requires that the farmers organize themselves in water use associations, which must in turn be supported by the local authorities.
NOTE 22: Edutainment TV for disseminating information about agriculture
The rapid spread of television (TV) channels offers a unique opportunity to disseminate knowledge via private and public information systems to millions of farmers within a short period of time. When agricultural themes and messages are woven into entertaining shows that use popular actors, comedians, and cartoon characters, information reaches out to a much wider audience who might not necessarily be interested in agriculture. Youths are becoming more interested in agriculture through watching reality TV shows that follow the lives of young food producers and stories of farmer ‘superheroes’, making these topics entertaining and at the same time educational, hence the term ‘edutainment’. Edutainment via TV is reaching a widespread audience in the comfort of their homes, creating a passion for farming, and delivering information on vital new technologies to farmers. Edutainment TV shows are aired in several countries (Table 1). All these examples except Farmers Love Safety are produced by private sector players.
NOTE 24: Extension campaigns
An extension campaign is a coordinated effort to inform many farmers in a relatively short period of time about an agricultural topic of widespread concern or interest. The aim is to achieve quick, large-scale change in farmer behaviour and practices through carefully choreographed efforts by different organisations, using a variety of communication channels. An extension campaign requires a sharp focus (Box 1) and a clear end point. It should deliver material benefits to farmers, whose needs and demands are paramount in shaping the campaign.
NOTE 20: Farmer Study Circles
The overall purpose of farmer study circles (FSCs) is to create learning, capacity, and empowerment among small-scale farmers. FSCs are part of a multitude of approaches to agricultural extension for groups of farmers that are based on adult learning principles. Such approaches are self-directed/autonomour, based on existing knowledge and life experiences, goal-oriented, relevant, practical, and collaborative.
NOTE 23: Plant Health Clinics
Farmers and extension workers face a constant challenge in managing plant health problems. Biotic causes (pests and diseases) and abiotic causes such as low soil fertility lead to regular and often significant losses in crop production and quality. Diagnosis is made difficult by a diversity of causes and symptoms with multiple possible origins. Choosing the best management options needs careful consideration.