The New Extensionist is a global view of extension and advisory services (EAS) that reinvents and clearly articulates the role of EAS in the rapidly-changing rural context. It argues for an expanded role for EAS within agricultural innovation systems (AIS) and development of new capacities at different levels to play this role.
The Learning Kit contains 13 modules designed for self-directed, face-to-face, or blended learning and can be a useful tool for (not exclusively) individual extension field staff, managers, lecturers and non-governmental organisations, and other training institutions. The development process was designed and managed as an iterative journey of broad consultations, discussions, and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders.
Modules should be used in conjunction with the workbook provided. It is encouraged that each user starts with Module 1: Introduction to the New Extensionist, as it provides foundation and the context through which the other modules can be understood.
Or take a module as an online course and get a certificate!
Module 1: Introduction to the New Extensionist
GFRAS has elaborated the envisaged role of the “New Extensionist” and has identified the capacities required at the individual level. In this module you will be introduced to the changing context of the rural community and the implications of this for extension activities. This will be done in order to understand how the currently dominant (or preferred) agricultural innovation system came into being and to understand the individual roles of different types of extension advisory service providers and how they are linked. In the second part of the module, you will be introduced to the vision, mission and guiding principles of GFRAS that form the core of the Global Forum. In doing so you will be able to understand how the learning kit relates to you as a future extension professional and what is to come as you further your studies.
Module 2: Extension Approaches and Tools
In this module, you will learn about the role of extension in innovation and development. An overview of the history of extension, its development and its status as a science and profession will be investigated with the second half of the module focusing on the tools and approaches available to you as an extension practitioner, and how apply them.
Module 3: Agricultural Extension Programme Management
Over the years, agricultural extension has moved towards a participatory approach. This has created a need for extension organisations to be more responsive to those using their services. Economic crises have triggered a need for increased accountability, restructuring and reform in agricultural extension since the early 1990s. At the national level, inappropriate public extension policies, limited public funds, lack of accountability, and growing rural poverty have prompted developing countries to re-examine the relevance of agricultural extension in rural development.
Agricultural extension faces the challenge of establishing a well-managed, effective, and accountable system that meets the needs of many farmers engaged in diverse and complex farming systems, as well as effectively monitoring, evaluating and assessing the impact of extension services. These challenges are the result of how dependent extension is on the performance of the agricultural research system and its feedback linkages as well as the inherent problems in ensuring political commitment and the economic sustainability of agricultural extension.
Module 4: Professional Ethics
During the last decade, extension and rural advisory services have been increasingly recognised as professions. This module will briefly discuss the concept of ethics and the importance of professional ethics and codes of behaviour in the workplace. This module will look at the meaning of a profession and professionalism and what it means to be a professional. You will learn what qualities and characteristics define a profession and a professional and the importance of professional development. The final part of this module will look at what competencies you will need as a professional extensionist to perform your duties effectively.
Module 5: Adult Learning for Behavioural Change
Rural advisory services are called to help stimulate behaviour change amongst the clients they serve. However, change is not an easy process. There are many components which can influence change, one of those being the educational training received. Agricultural extension professionals provide much of the educational training to farmers about new and existing agricultural and environmental practices. Educating farmers within the agricultural innovation system requires the extension professional to be well equipped to provide programming that meets the needs of the learner, facilitates behaviour change and ultimately leads to the adoption of innovations. This module will provide an introduction to behaviour change and some of the factors that can influence it. Secondly, it provides an overview of important concepts for the facilitation of learning. You will also learn what factors to consider in order to develop a successful training programme. Finally, this module will explain why evaluation is vital in education programmes and show you how to evaluate the educational experience.
Module 6: Basic Knowledge Management and Extension
The success of agricultural innovation systems (AIS) are greatly dependent on effective communication of knowledge. This module outlines the different types of knowledge that you as an extension agent will need to deal with as well as the different sources through which knowledge can be gained. You will learn that different situations may require you to take on different intermediary roles in order to facilitate the transfer of knowledge. This module also describes the different communication media and tools available to you to support your role in stimulating the flow of knowledge.
Module 7: Introduction for Facilitation for Development
The goal of agricultural extension professionals is to influence development change in the societies where they work. In the AIS context, this change will happen when good relationships are formed. A new extension approach that aims at participatory and group learning as well as networking, where the extensionist acts as a facilitator is needed. It is important that you, as the extension professional, try to develop good facilitation skills to increase your effectiveness in this approach..
Module 8: Community Mobilisation
In this module, you will learn what community mobilisation is and why it is important by discussing the roles of culture and diversity in a community and by describing the roles of gender and youth. You will learn about using appropriate approaches for community mobilisation including planning and carrying out a livelihood assets assessment and analysing, interpreting and applying the information from these assessments. You will also learn to recognise different problem solving approaches. In designing process and methods that involve women and the youth, you will be able to discuss the role of leadership development in community mobilisation and apply resource mobilisation strategies in community mobilisation.
Module 9: Farmer Organisational Development
This module will provide basic guidelines to extension agents on how to help farmers form strong organisations that are able to effectively provide services to their members. Specifically, the module will discuss the definition of a farmer organisation (FO) and how different formations of farmers play different roles in the agricultural sector. Various factors influence the successful operation of FOs and this module will discuss several of these internal and external challenges, as well as suggestions on how to address them. This module will also look at issues that affect the sustainability of FOs and will help you as an extension agent guide farmers in forming and managing sustainable organisations. Lastly, the module will discuss the most important functions that FOs fulfil in the agricultural sector.
Module 10: The Role of Extension in Value Chains
Part 1, Theory
The purpose of this module is to help extension agents, who are new to working with markets, understand the basic components of marketing value chains and the way in which extension agents can work with farmers and other key chain actors to target market opportunities and to develop an action plan that farmers can use to engage with markets successfully.
In the theoretical part of the module the focus is on the importance of agricultural marketing for farmers, the analysis of the agricultural market and the value chain, as well as market linkage methods.
Part 2, Practical
The purpose of this module on marketing and value chain development is to help extension agents, who are new to working with markets, understand the basic components of marketing and value chains. This module will also focus on the way in which extension agents can work with farmers and other key chain actors to target market opportunities and to develop an action plan that farmers can use to engage with markets successfully.
In this practical part of the module, you will be familiarised with the use of market analysis tools and value chain upgrading strategies, as well the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in value chains services.
Module 11: Agricultural Entrepreneurship
Over the past 30 years, there has been a major shift in agricultural markets and the international trade of agricultural products. The world is moving from local and national markets towards a global system of trading, which means that neighbouring farmers working on small plots of land may be competing with large industrial farmers from another country in a single marketplace.
This module familiarises extensionists with the key terms and concepts required to introduce agricultural entrepreneurship to farmers, farmer groups and agricultural businesses and to support improved productivity and market engagement. The module provides a practical approach to improving the knowledge, skills and attitudes of extension agents as they seek to help the farming community take on new enterprise skills.
Module 12: Gender in Advisory Services
In order to deliver on their mandates and contribute to positive change, extensionists need a well developed understanding of, and the skills necessary to address critical issues around gender in rural livelihoods. Men and women, young and old, all play vital roles in rural livelihoods, but assumptions are often made about who does what and who makes the decisions. These details of gender and decision making are critical to targeting efforts and helping everyone involved in rural livelihoods and agriculture benefit from innovations and improved technologies.
This module on gender is designed to help you understand why these concepts are important in extension. You will learn how to identify why different community members have different needs from extension, and how you can begin addressing them. By understanding these different needs, you will be able to better match the best technologies to opportunities, deliver successful programmes, and avoid making anyone’s situation worse. This module will also help you improve in your role(s) in extension to better meet critical needs in rural livelihoods.
Module 13: Risk Mitigation and Adaptation in Extension
This module aims to familiarise you with risk management and adaptation planning in EAS. You will be introduced to the concepts of risk and uncertainty in order to better understand the impact of factors such as market and climate variability in the agricultural sector. You will also be provided with skills, tools and knowledge to address these factors through the use of risk management and adaptation strategies. Remember that this module not only focuses on improving your own risk management capacity but also focuses on your ability to improve the capacity of rural farmers; a primary goal of EAS.
The NELK Plus
There are three more learning modules that deal with topics outside the framework of the New Extensionist:
Module 14: Developing Capacity for Evaluation of Rural Extension and Advisory Services
In this module you will first learn about rural advisory services (RAS) in agricultural innovation systems (AIS) and the basics of monitoring and evaluating RAS in order to understand the role of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in RAS and its basic principles and uses. You will also learn how M&E can be used to improve the policies and practices of RAS, what the current main global challenges are, and finally what this means for the M&E of RAS interventions such as reform processes, developing RAS organisations, or delivering a particular RAS service.
After completing the module, you will be able to enable, implement, and use M&E for documentation, accountability, and internal learning in RAS systems and organisations, as well as for particular RAS interventions.
Module 15: Policy Advocacy for Rural Advisory Services
There are few global examples of validated national agricultural extension policies. Policies that affect the provision of agricultural extension and advisory services are more typically written in the larger context of policies for the agricultural sector overall. As
an extension professional, you are at the forefront of making development happen. You, therefore, constantly encounter situations where existing policy constraints development interventions or where new policies could better support development. While policy is not your day-to-day function, you are in better position to generate evidence in order to inform good policies and organise the relevant stakeholders in articulating policy needs to the relevant authorities.
Module 16: Nutrition-Sensitive Extension
Every country on the earth is affected by poor nutrition and the results of poor nutrition affect most families. What can agricultural extension professionals do to support better nutrition? And what might be unrealistic to expect of extension? By completing this training, you will have the opportunity to consider these questions and others and to find the right answers for the situations in which you work. This module covers the basics of a nutritious diet and the results of poor nutrition, ways that agriculture and nutrition impact each other, things that extensionists can change in order to improve nutrition and how to effectively partner with others working on improving the nutrition of different communities.