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Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to having public extension departments, have a number of semi-government bodies, private companies, and NGOs, which provide extension services. The HIV epidemic has not only affected these organizations in terms of reduced capacity due to loss of staff but it has also created new institutional, technical and operational challenges for the organizations. Presently, there are no extension programmes and strategies to improve agricultural skills of inexperienced young farmers including a large number of women and orphans who have suddenly become clientele of the services The notoriously weak linkages between extension, research and other relevant agencies are no help in addressing the need for developing new technologies and equipment suitable for the new situation. The technical content of extension messages remains strictly confined to agriculture. Most serious of all, the extension staff themselves are ill equipped to cope with the situation because of their lack of knowledge on AIDS.

The remedial measures will obviously require additional human, financial and physical resources, appropriate training of staff, development of proper extension strategies, partnerships with relevant institutions, and above all, appreciation of the new situation and the establishment of fresh working relationships with the clientele. The crucial issue is how extension organizations that are used, for decades, to conventional, routine extension tasks and clientele, and which are suffering from shortage of staff, finance and morale due to HIV/AIDS, would be able to successfully handle the new challenges.

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