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April 2006

Announcement of a publication

Modernizing national agricultural extension systems

A practical guide for policy-makers of developing countries


Agricultural extension is taking on new dimensions because of a global movement for reforming the national extension systems in developing countries. New learning needs of farming communities are emerging as the world enters into an era of globalization, privatization, decentralization and market-liberalization, while the traditional public extension services have not yet transformed in order to meet those needs satisfactorily. This publication addresses an increasing demand for practical, action-oriented guidelines which policy-makers could use in reforming extension systems.

This paper makes the case that, in spite of criticism of public extension services, the function of extension whether performed by public or private institutions, or a mixture of both, remains very important in fighting hunger and rural poverty. Global developments that are posing challenges to the traditional form and methods of the extension organizations have been discussed. Two frameworks are presented, one to determine whether there exists a real need to reform the extension systems, and the other for assessing the extent of reforms in any extension system. A set of 15 guidelines, which is neither theoretical nor academic in character but based on years of experience and observations in the real-life situations, has been suggested for policy-makers along with the required key actions. The guidelines, if followed properly, could transform the traditional agricultural extension services into a viable force capable of meeting new demands in knowledge dissemination to men and women farmers of all categories.

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