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SWOT analysis of extension service providers

A SWOT analysis makes it possible to assess the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) within an organization, or within the agricultural extension system as a whole. In this study, a SWOT analysis was carried out at the category level, and focused on the categories of extension service providers. The following table outlines the findings of that analysis.






Public agricultural extension service providers and public research organizations

- Highly qualified, competent and experienced personnel.

- Good in-house training programmes have produced credible staff.

- Extensive grassroots coverage with district- and/or village-level representation.

- Amalgamation of DR&SS and AGRITEX ensures collaboration between technology generators and disseminators.

- Public research system has a broad spectrum of researchers.

- Limited financial resources: more than 75 percent of budget goes on salaries; very little left for operational costs.

- Poor logistical support: no transport and equipment.

- Lagging technical knowledge in new enterprises (e.g. ostrich/crocodile farming).

- Bureaucracy and long channels of communication.

- Conflicts between line ministries and departments at the expense of rural development programmes and intended beneficiaries.

- Lack of self-discipline: few can work without supervision.

- High staff turnover leaves some projects/programmes unfinished.

- Politically aligned line ministries (e.g. Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation) are viewed suspiciously.

- Counterproductive policies (e.g. technical papers used for career promotion, no consideration of the ground-level impact).

- Improved collaboration and efficiency through department mergers.

- Collaboration opportunities among line ministries, departments and other system actors.

- Potential for improved effectiveness and efficiency through transformations (e.g. commercialization and cost recovery programmes).

- Inadequate budgets are declining in real terms (inflation).

- Prevailing economic situation: unlikely that government will increase budgetary allocations.

- Unstable macroeconomic and political environment.

- Donors are withdrawing or scaling down.

- Retrenchments usually start at the bottom with the community service providers.

International and private research centres

- Highly qualified personnel.

- Abundant financial resources.

- Better logistical support (transport and equipment).

- Programmes that are too short to have much impact.

- Programmes that are too narrow (sector-focused) to have much impact.

- Excellent opportunities for collaboration with public research and extension organizations, private companies and NGOs.

- Donor fatigue and withdrawal of investments.

Farmers' associations

- Grassroots representation.

- More grassroots contact: more aware of farmers' needs.

- Member-based (district- and village-level), so effective two-way communication.

- Specific interest groups provide specific, relevant information to clients.

- Inadequate budgets (despite donor support).

- Technical weaknesses.

- Better services and more tangible benefits for members would improve the membership base.

- Could be self-funding if membership base is improved.

- Most are likely to be affected by donor fatigue and investment withdrawal (but not the Commercial Farmers' Union).

NGOs and donor-supported rural development programmes

- Abundant financial resources.

- Better logistical support (transport and equipment).

- Use multidisciplinary teams and more holistic approaches.

- Good networking skills.

- Use of participatory and bottom-up approaches ensures effective grassroots and community participation.

- Provide training, extension and finance from one source.

- Greatly improved understanding of community needs (through accountability and demonstration of impact to donors).

- Small independent decision-making units facilitate quick decision-making and greater flexibility in project and programme implementation.

- Thin on the ground, so very limited coverage.

- Lack integrated approach (despite the rhetoric).

- Lack information and technical expertise.

- Lagging technical knowledge in new enterprises (e.g. ostrich/crocodile farming).

- Exist for financial benefits: are dollar-driven.

- Funds abused or not passed to the rightful beneficiaries.

- Work is too localized.

- Programmes that are too short to have much impact.

- Programmes that are too narrow (sector-focused) to have much impact.

- Ineffective umbrella body: the National Association of NGOs (NANGO).

- Overdependence on external financial resources and expatriate technical assistance.

- Potential for effective programme implementation: cooperative NGOs involve everyone.

- Donors will fund well-designed programmes with demonstrated impact.

- Unstable sociopolitical environment not conducive to normal operations.

- Donor fatigue and investment withdrawal.

- Political pressure to extend programmes or projects beyond the available resources.

- Programmes may be overwhelmed as economic decline and retrenchment lead more and more beneficiaries to seek involvement.

- Political pressure may force closures (e.g. NGOs accused of supporting opposition and banned from holding meetings in some areas).

Private agrochemical input suppliers and commodity processors

- Abundant financial resources.

- Tend to be collaborative: desire to maximize profits.

- Weak in-service training.

- Numerous but uncoordinated interventions resulting from scramble for clients.

- Poor grassroots representation.

- Improved impact on the ground through greater comprehensiveness (e.g. including input credit schemes in on-going programmes).

- Unfavourable socio-economic environment threatens operations and survival.

Bat actors

- Least-cost option for dissemination and accomplishment of extension objectives.

- Outdated communication methods (e.g. announcements at schools or shouting from hills) prevent messages from reaching intended receivers.

- Great opportunities for collaboration with all stakeholders.

- Unstable socio-politico-economic environment.

Pluralistic agricultural extension system

- Improved personnel qualifications, competence and experience.

- Strong in-service training.

- Understand need for rural development: work to improve rural communities.

- Improved understanding of community needs.

- Empowered communities demand fewer services.

- Improved coverage in rural areas.

- More officers working at grassroots level: better-articulated community needs; programmes adjusted to changing needs and environmental factors.

- Zimbabwe's comparatively high literacy levels.

- Lagging technical knowledge in new enterprises (e.g. ostrich/crocodile farming).

- Time wasting.

- Limited financial support.

- Lack integrated approach (despite the rhetoric).

- Duplication and repetition of failed projects.

- Channels of communication are too long to be effective.

- Inadequate extension (particularly for emergent farmers).

- Lack of collaboration: little effective community development.

- Greater need for interventions.

- Empowered communities demand more services.

- Donors will fund well-designed programmes with demonstrated impact.

- Opportunities for collaboration among all actors in the pluralistic extension system.

- Room to involve local communities in most intervention issues.

- Excellent opportunities for strategic government agency/NGO alliances (collaboration arrangements) with local private companies in various sectors, despite threat of donor fatigue and withdrawal (e.g. CAMPFIRE's partnership with local private safari operators).

- Withdrawal of investments (donor fatigue).

- HIV/AIDS is wiping out gains already made.

- Farmers' loss of faith in agricultural extension service providers.

- Political pressure to extend the geographic range of interventions designed for specific locations creates problems for programme management and sustainability.

- New skills may never be used because of lacking capital.

- Erratic fuel supplies can cripple operations.

- Natural disasters (e.g. Cyclone Eline) threaten effective and sustainable rural development.

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