Extension is more than it used to be. Its function and tasks are increasingly assumed by multiple public and private organizations. In developed countries, and in countries where extension reform has been pursued, pluralistic involvement of extension providers now exists - including non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), for-profit private companies, rural producer organizations (RPOs), private advisers, as well as national, state and municipal extension services.
The complexity of sources and supply of extension also places greater demands on extension (FAO/World Bank 2001; Rivera et al. 2001; Alex et al. 2002; Qamar 2001; Berdegue 2002; Qamar 2002, World Bank 2002). In high-income as well as middle- and low-income countries, governments are being pressured to reform and reprioritize public sector agricultural productivity programmes and confront related issues, such as food security, the management of natural resources, rural development, the environment, and health. Institutions that provide extension are important players in efforts to respond to these critical issues. Integrating food security issues into agricultural research is also increasingly a concern (Earl et al. 2001). FAO is developing a Technology for Agriculture (TECA) data system, which seeks to promote information on appropriate technologies from a global platform and thereby advance technological change. This evolving Web-based system may be useful particularly in selecting appropriate technologies for smallscale and marginal farming units22.
National government's role will not be understood in the same way in every country and will differ even when countries employ similar strategies. Major differences exist in countries within the same geographic region, or even within the same social indicator range, viz. high-income, middle-income and low-income countries. Nonetheless, there are a number of roles that governments will likely be challenged to perform:(1) public policy formulation and implementation, (2) emerging concerns, both agriculturerelated and non-agricultural-including environment impact (Rivera and Alex 2003).
Agricultural extension reform requires policy vision and determination, and a nationwide strategy that can be implemented. Whether to decentralize and devolve, totally privatize or institute contractual arrangements with the private sector (including venture capital companies, non-governmental organizations, rural producer organizations, and extension advisery service firms), or promote end-user financing (or co-financing) of extension - these are country-specific questions requiring systematic analysis and preparation, gradual change, system coordination and system oversight.
In putting together a strategy for extension and information services, it will be useful to refer to the diversified strategies and the emerging consensus on lessons learned mentioned in section I of this paper, to the proposals regarding the design and implementation23 of communication for rural development cited in section II, and also to the considerations in section III regarding food security.
A new vision of rural development must extend beyond agriculture, recognizing the income potential and economic importance of diversified interests such as on-farm non-agricultural activities, ecotourism, cottage industries and off-farm activities. Physical infrastructure and also social infrastructure such as recreational activities are needed.
A multisectoral extension network offers an inclusive approach to rural development. It brings together agricultural extension providers, promotes communication for rural development, and establishes rural extension activities for non-agricultural populations in rural areas as well as an agricultural extension/communication strategy. In all cases where nationally integrated food security systems are being advanced, multiple sectors are encouraged to work collaboratively to combat food insecurity and generate income24.
An integrated food security network consists of a range of different sectors, including international organization projects, involving different agencies and organizations in the network. For example, in some countries along with the ministries of agriculture and science and technology, the ministries of transportation, public works, health and education may be involved. Each country will likely have a diverse set of national and transnational companies and third-sector organizations that may be part of a multisectoral network for public sector extension development.
An insidious problem is how to reverse the topdown attitude of extension agents and managers toward farmer groups in need of food security. Some of them hold the view that resource poor farmers are ignorant and incapable of managing production technologies and financial resources. These managers and extension agents think that as professionals they have the answers to all the farmers' problems. Experience and findings in the literature show neither perception to be true. New attitudes are required if development is to move forward on an equitable basis (Holding-Anyonge 2002).
A further challenge is to strengthen the human resource capacity of poor farmers' organizations, as well as the self-help group capacities that enable them to access useful extension services. There is often inexperienced governance and leadership in many of the resourcepoor farmer groups. Some resourcepoor farmer groups are led by people who perceive the group as an avenue for accessing financial resources from support organizations, while in some cases it is for political ambitions. These are the most troublesome in that they inhibit the farmers' ability to establish an institutional capacity for self development. Weak or inappropriate leadership in farmer groups also inhibits their capacities to address their needs, e.g., by failing to mobilize their resources to reasonable levels before seeking external support. Weak leadership tends to create dependency (McKone 1990; Wollenberg et al. 2002).
A related challenge is to help poor farmers gain access to capital either through savings or credit for agricultural production or through micro-enterprise development, whether agricultural (Steele 2003) or non-agricultural. This is especially true for women's organizations. New credit arrangements and financial mechanisms are needed to assist people who live below the poverty line. Farmers' groups and farmer organizations provide an important channel for dialogue with service providers. Non-farm community groups also deserve attention.
Actions to support food security and, where appropriate the SPFS, will require (a) strengthening the management and programme development skills of public sector agricultural extension staff; (b) developing both the ongoing services and collaboration with the private sector; (c) appraising the private sector's potential to contribute to agricultural extension delivery services for productivity purposes and to involve the various entities in that sector in calculated costbeneficial agricultural extension delivery services; and (d) training national, district and local agricultural extension staff in the skills required to assist in related projects, such as SPFS.
Review of institutional constraints will likely identify multiple reform needs: structural, fiscal, managerial and field operations. Sustainable, autonomous farmer group capacities, such as those developed in Mali (Bingen 1998) and being developed in Uganda (Abrew 2003), are needed to empower farmers to access government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and private sector services and to take innovative initiatives on their own.
There is no single solution to what needs to be done to serve poor and food insecure populations. Some experts emphasize growth and greater production. Other experts fear overproduction and price slumps, and focus more on quality and marketing. Broadbased and sustained growth will be essential to reduce poverty, according to the World Bank (2003a). If action is not taken to ensure proper rural livelihoods, the cities will be further swamped with unprepared poor people seeking a better way of life.
Assisting rural populations to enhance agricultural productivity helps, but it is not sufficient. There is also the need to prepare farmers in non-farmrelated micro-enterprise development. Rural education and extension for health and nutrition require cooperation of various services. HIV/AIDS is a particularly troubling phenomenon (Qamar 2002). It should not be forgotten that in much of Africa but also elsewhere the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other diseases have affected large numbers of rural households. When they survive, the people in these households devote much of their time to just staying alive. What can be done that is not already being done?
Clearly agricultural enterprise represents only one pathway to rural development. Thus, rural extension activities are needed in addition to agricultural extension to serve non-agricultural clientele. The State of Food and Agriculture 2000 (FAO 2002) asserts:
"Reducing poverty and food insecurity involves enhancement of agricultural productivity and production, and income generation among producers as well as among those in rural areas who do not work the land. Institutions are the structuring features that command access of people to assets, to voice, and to power over their own lives, and that regulate competing claims to limited resources. Agricultural and rural extension (communication) programmes are needed to reach out to those in rural areas who often enough constitute the majority population. It is fundamental for government to address those institutional, governance and politico-economic factors that tend to exclude individuals and population groups from progress. "
From the 1980s until the beginning of the 21st century contemporary thinking on extension downplayed the role of the public sector especially of national governments in agricultural and rural extension activities. But only the public sector can effectively and efficiently carry out certain functions and indeed only national governments can assume those responsibilities that affect the state as a whole (Rivera and Alex 2003).
While national governments and/or lower levels of government are responsible for ensuring that extension services deliver needed public goods25, at the local level, however, often enough little money is allocated to technical assistance or training, and very few municipalities presently have an agricultural department to assist farmers with their technical problems (Bojanic 2001). Nonetheless, government institutions at all levels are well placed to promote increased institutional pluralism in extension and oversee the quality enhancement and assurance necessary for rural development.
Three major recommendations are put forward for consideration by governments (4.2.1, 4.2.2, and 4.2.3). The first requires a strong, forwardlooking policy favouring agricultural extension and communication for agricultural and non-agricultural rural development with a focus on food security. The second proposes the establishment of a platform to promote dialogue and collaboration among all relevant sectors to favour extension/ communication activities for food security. And the third proposes public sector institutional change to enhance the new and expanded policy and strategy. Supporting these recommendations are a number of suggestions as to their accomplishment.
In a new vision of the public sector role in promoting food security, governments will focus national attention on agricultural extension and rural development and their role in fostering food security26.
Formulate a National Policy Agenda. In line with recommendation 4. 2. 1, governments will need to create a national policy agenda on food security and income generation of the rural poor. A national policy agenda would include actions:(1) to re-prioritize agricultural extension and information services as part of a national multi-sectoral integrated food security network; (2) to plan and budget for pluralizing and strengthening agricultural extension/communication systems by allocating funds for institutional and management reorganization (including organizational development training, integrated monitoring and evaluation systems), and human resource development at all levels; and (3) to review and respond to the training needs of those agencies and organizations willing to cooperate in responding more keenly to the food security challenge.
Establish Alliances with all Sectors. A national policy agenda would seek to establish alliances with all sectors in effort to develop programmes for food security and income generation among the rural poor. A rural agricultural extension/communication27 strategy embraces issues that include but go beyond those of production and access to food, thereby requiring linkages and collaborative efforts with other organizations, public and private, concerned with other, related basic human needs such as health, sanitation, and employment.
A pluralistic institutional framework would promote the advancement of "mixed economies, " whereby public and private sectors cooperate more closely. There is evidence (Box 2) that high rates of adoption of improved agricultural technologies occur when government organizations, NGOs, and private organizations form partnerships in extending agricultural technologies to farmers (Ojha 2001). Adoption of improved technical recommendations appears to be partnership specific, and in turn partnerships are context specific, as noted in Box 2. A pluralistic institutional framework would mandate that programmes be planned, implemented and evaluated jointly by multisectoral service providers on a location specific basis in cooperation with farmers.
Box 2 suggests that a coordinated, collaborative effort to serve various farmers might be organized as follows: (1) large farms appear to be best served by producer organizations and the private sector through a coordinated, collaborative approach; (2) medium-sized farms seem to work best when government, producer organizations and the private sector cooperate; and (3) small farms will need to depend on government and NGO services, including universities and volunteer programmes such as farmer-to-farmer.
In any case, the local units of different sectors need to be provided with resources to plan and implement location specific programmes that support integrated partnerships. Governments may need to request assistance from donors in developing location specific partnerships; these funds will best be allocated with pro-food security agendas in mind, and involve the public sector, NGOs and the private sector, including RPOs.
Box 2: Partnerships: context specific and specific to farmers' category
In Nepal, when government organizations (GO) alone extended technologies, only a few farmers were motivated, but those motivated farmers adopted more components of technology. More farmers were motivated with NGOs yet they adopted fewer technical components. With private organizations (POs), fewer farmers were motivated but those motivated used highcost technologies. When these organizations formed partnerships, the weakness of one was complemented by the strength of the other. In GO+NGO partnerships, more farmers were motivated and more technical components adopted. A similar trend was noted with GO+PO and NGO+PO arrangements.
This finding is, however, context-specific. The Nepal study noted that partnerships were also specific to farmers' category. GO+PO partnerships were specific to the large holders whereas GO+NGO partnership to the small farmers. The NGO+PO partnership was intermediate. Thus, the study found that the effectiveness of partnership was context-specific: dependent on the organization's resources, namely its staff, materials and programme support. Also, the extension agent's time, extension materials and the programmes, such as demonstrations, field visits, and farmer training were found to affect adoption of technology. Likewise, input supply, agent residence, location of partners' offices and other factors are important in partnership arrangements affecting adoption of technology. Additionally, informal contacts and formal joint meetings were found to contribute to the effectiveness of the partnership. (Ojha 2001).
Review Decentralization Options. In developing a new and expanded policy for agricultural extension/communication for rural development, governments may review the decentralization options analyzed in section one of this paper. In exploring options to decentralizing agricultural extension activities, the outcome sought would be one or a combination of the following: (a) greater authority shared with sub-government, (b) subsidiarity to community based organizations, and/or (3) enhanced partnerships with NGOs and private sector. (See Box 3 on "Decentralization".)
In the case of devolution, fiscal transfers should be dependent at least in part on the creation and maintenance of extension programmes aimed at food security and income generation of the rural poor. In reviewing the question of why progress in the alleviation of poverty and food insecurity in recent decades seems to have been slower in some regions than in others, The State of Food and Agriculture 2000 (FAO 2000D), argues that the reason for slow progress results from the weak and fragmented quality of government intervention, not from the interventions per se.
Box 3: Decentralization
Over the past two decades many countries have undertaken to decentralize government functions and transfer authority and responsibilities from central to intermediate and local governments, and often to communities and the private sector. Decentralization is potentially important to agricultural knowledge and information systems, but decentralization is not an end in itself, and successful decentralization strategies must address three challenges-establishing a national framework for decentralization, developing subsector approaches, and enhancing capacities of various participants for coproduction of decentralized goods and services.
Agricultural extension services are under pressure to become more effective, more responsive to clients and less costly to government. Decentralization is an increasingly common aspect of extension reforms. Field extension advisery services are well suited to decentralized approaches, but a comprehensive extension system requires a range of extension support services and programmes, some of which (strategy formulation, training, monitoring and evaluation, specialized technical support) are often best carried out at the central level.
World Bank. (2002). Decentralization of
Agricultural Extension: Lessons
Decentralization does not mean that the national government is to withdraw into a minimalist role of classical liberalism. On the contrary, government should play an activist role: (a) enabling the mobilization of people in local participatory development, (b) providing local support by pump-priming local finance and underwriting risks, (c) supplying technical and professional services to build local capacity, (d) acting as a watchdog for service quality standards, evaluation and auditing, (e) investing in larger infrastructure, and (f) providing coordination in the face of externalities (FAO 2000D; Rivera 2001; Rivera and Alex 2003).
Enable a Private Sector of Competitive Extension Providers. In seeking to develop a multisectoral, integrated network of extension provision, a major consideration is whether and to what extent an enabled private sector exists. If so, what is its capacity to complement public sector goals. And, what is the capacity of the public sector management and field staffs to carry out coordinating activities with this and other sectors. There are areas of agricultural extension advice which are best suited to private sector provision (Smith 1997). In some countries, farmer associations often hire their own agricultural extension agents rather than rely on those from the public extension service.
In cases where an enabled private sector does not exist and where there is lacking an integrated view of what should be undertaken, government's first steps may be toward exploration, developing a kind of marketplace of ideas and projects as a preliminary to a more integrated network of extension provision.
The operative question is whether multisectoral networks will increase effectiveness in the delivery of needed agricultural and rural extension services. Experience and evaluative studies of the multisectoral extension efforts in various countries (Brazil, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Tanzania and South Africa) are still required; however, studies by the FAO Rural Institutions and Participation Service indicate that the functioning and governance of Chambres d'Agriculture networks in Mali, Senegal and Togo have brought positive results. Preliminary evidence suggests the value of developing nationally integrated multisectoral networks for food security. (See Box 4 on "Initiatives worldwide to promote food security".)
Box 4: Initiatives worldwide to promote food security
The government of South Africa decided in 2002 to initiate a nationwide Integrated Food Security Strategy (South Africa 2002). The government of Brazil has set itself the goal of eradicating hunger within four years through its Programme Fome Zero (Zero Hunger Programme). Tanzania has extended the Special Programme for Food Security, providing technical opportunities for improving the output of small farms and raising the incomes of rural families (Tanzania 2002). Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Venezuela have also started to forge partnerships with other sectors of society to promote extension and foster conditions to end hunger. Some national governments have begun to ensure local governments possess the resources and authority to confront hunger and poverty. Numerous countries in Latin America have moved toward decentralization, including privatization, of their extension systems since the 1980s (Berdegu 2002) and more recently toward poverty reduction (Berdegu and Escobar 2001).
Public Financing is Critical at the Beginning. The cost of organizing and coordinating a multisectoral network of extension providers is a human capital investment. The benefits at first will be social but hold the promise of uplifting this huge population to the point where it will be able to contribute to the costs of development. Thus, investment in non-formal education services that purport to move the rural poor into mainstream society is long-term but promises major cost recovery over time.
There are at least ten different traditional ways of financing agricultural extension organizations (Van den Ban 2000), viz.: (1) government service paid by taxpayers; (2) government service paid by a levy on a specific agricultural product; (3) commercial company selling inputs to farmers and/or buying their products, which in its relationship with its customers also uses agricultural extension; (4) farmers' association which pays for agricultural extension from its membership fees; (5) farmers' association which is subsidised by the government; (6) NGO which is financed by donations from inside or outside the country and/or by commercial companies for public relations purposes; (7) NGO which is financed by subsidies from or contracts with the government (either the national or a donor government); (8) consulting firm which charges a fee from the farmers, who are its customers; (9) publishing firm which sells agricultural journals or other publications to the farmer; (10) different combinations of the above. For example, a government pays the salaries of agricultural extension agents, whilst most of the operational expenses are covered by a farmers' association, or for a commercially oriented cooperative or input supply company to send a farm journal to its members/customers.
The mechanisms through which an agricultural extension organization is financed can affect the decision made by the agricultural extension organization relating to: goals; target groups; extension methods used; extension messages; internal organization; and cooperation with other organizations promoting agricultural development (Van den Ban 2000). Decisions regarding these issues carry with them a number of implications for the ways in which extension supports farmers. Van den Ban asks, for example: Does one teach farmers to use technologies, which incorporate information and skills in specific devices and products (seeds, agrochemicals, machinery, etc. ), or the information and skills of management practices?
Financing is generally defined in terms of the actors involved, the flow of funds and services, and conditionalities as to use of funds (Neuchatel 2002). Most of these mechanisms should combine empowerment of users with co-financing for specific services, e.g., member fees paid to farmer organizations and levies on agricultural production. While not immediately realizable with food insecure populations, these funding mechanisms may be desirable as eventual end goals when and if they promote competition between service providers and contractual relationships between the funder and the service provider. Funding and accountability may be dramatically altered under these new mechanisms and put farmers in the driver's seat.
Competitive and contractual mechanisms are two useful approaches to allocating public funds for agricultural extension. Competitive funding involves time-bound projects, and usually provides seed money for initiating activities. Bottom-up proposals are solicited from user groups alone or in partnership with a service provider. Open-ended proposals often result in special emphasis on innovations and the piloting of new ideas. Community demand-driven development projects, based on proposal selection by World Bank officials, parallel the idea of competitive mechanisms.
Contracting mechanisms tend to involve longer-term programme-type activities. A contracting agency such as a public funding agency draws up the contract and enumerates a list of services to be provided under the contract, usually in consultation with users. Contracts in contrast to competitive mechanisms tend to be more programme-delivery oriented. This type of mechanism was highlighted in the lower-left quadrant of Table 1. It has become a popular approach for promoting environmental, input, and commercial advisery services, as well as various other specialized agricultural ventures (Rivera and Zijp 2002). In addition to competitive funding and contracting to private service providers (Rivera and Zijp 200228), additional sources of funding may be tapped through community development funds, and eventually through user fees and cost sharing.
Community-driven development funds offer an opportunity for funding extension for agricultural as well as related activities aimed at rural development. Donors and some governments now provide a large share of support to agriculture through these funds. The process operates as follows: extension micro-projects at the community level are identified through participatory diagnosis involving agriculture staff and approved at that level by a selection committee with a majority of producers' representatives. Producer organizations contract the necessary technical expertise to prepare the micro-projects and implement them with some co-financing from users (Collion and Rondot 2001). A similar mechanism is used in Kenya where private service providers, often NGOs, and users prepare proposals on technology transfer that are then screened by a local stakeholder committee.
Developing and especially when upscaling programmes, the question of costs is not only highly significant but also closely linked to sustainability. This supports the argument for promoting self-help, demand-driven, income-generating programmes. A multisectoral network of extension providers may find numerous avenues for funding programmes directed toward the poor and their food security needs.
Create Social Safety Nets. In addition to promoting farm related, income-generating activities with the help of agricultural extension services, government must consider the plight of those who for whatever reason cannot support themselves, either by farming or other enterprise. These are the rural poor who either temporarily or permanently lack resources to either feed themselves or acquire the money to access food. Some may simply lack the potential for producing marketable surpluses. Others may have suffered losses for reasons due to changes in market prices, or lack of markets. Many are otherwise incapacitated, individually or because of poor land resources. These people require public sector safety nets. Some may require assistance during and following natural disasters.
A significant cause of food insecurity often arises from disasters, some of which appear to be occurring with increasing frequency. National government as well as communities and their local authorities must consider long-term approaches to be better prepared for disasters and including rehabilitation so that communities are less vulnerable to the next disaster.
Social safety nets may be the only means of enhancing food security for the very poor. But safety nets are part of what government is, or should be about, the well being of its people. Safety nets also prevent other potential problems, such as pandemic diseases that may threaten the entire population, or civil unrest. In some cases, permanent subsidies will be needed. Notable is the fact that countries with a strong middle class tend to be more peaceful. Helping the poor to help themselves, and introducing them to mainstream society, may ultimately be less expensive and more productive than ignoring their plight.
Organize a Platform for Collaboration. Governments will need to organize a platform to bring together the various relevant sectors engaged in extension and information services. This platform would stimulate a review of food security programmes across sectors, an acknowledgement of gaps and constraints, and a pledge to initiate new efforts and actions to confront the causes and seek new solutions to eliminating food security among rural populations.
Organize a national conference and local workshops involving relevant public sector agencies, NGOs, producer organizations, private sector representatives and commodity groups, as well as donors, to review agricultural extension best practices elsewhere and begin planning (short, medium and long-term) to develop agricultural extension within a pluralistic network to combat food insecurity. An initiative along these lines was organized in Tunisia (see Box 6 on a national workshop held in Tunisia in 1994).
Regional, district and local meetings to pursue the decisions made at the national level would then follow national workshops. The outcome sought would be a structured, financial and management strategy to establish an inclusive, integrated agricultural extension/communication approach to food security with, where appropriate, strong support for SPFS.
This initial process would analyze the country's constraints, the institutional situation and the various efforts already underway by the non-public sector with regard to food security. The final purpose is to develop a consensus to integrate agricultural extension into a coherent food security programme.
The poor must have a role in this consensus making as well as in programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. To empower communities is a high priority. Government needs to help communities to create their own food security and income generation measures until these communities can help themselves. Government's task will be to negotiate mutually acceptable mechanisms for coordinating actions through administrative oversight, quality control and feedback.
Effective rural development strategies require new ways of seeking stakeholder participation in decision-making processes, multisectoral collaboration, and equitable partnerships (FAO 2003b). "Partnership is another way of saying coordination". There are numerous, and interrelated, actors involved in development. Recognizing this pluralistic environment means, in turn, that institutions like extension systems must become more "extraverted" institutions, and seek out linkages and relationships of a cooperative nature with other agencies within the public sector and with various organizations in the private sector" (Sandstrom 199529).
Adopt a Nationwide Strategy. In line with the different orientations of the relevant institutions and programmes in the various sectors, governments may adopt a nationwide strategy that envisions diversified approaches to extension and information services for food security. A new, diversified vision for agricultural extension is needed - one that nevertheless views agricultural extension as a main pillar in serving the public good of food security, taking into account the immediate and potential impact of external forces, such as globalization and trade liberalization.
Box 5: National Workshop on Options for Institutional Reform
In 1994 in Sidi Thabet, Tunisia, a pioneering national workshop was organized under the aegis of the UNDP/FAO and the Government of Tunisia to highlight the diverse funding arrangements adopted in the previous ten years by governments worldwide to fund agricultural extension services. Over 100 national leaders from public agencies and private and third-sector organizations attended.
Following the opening plenary sessions, participants formed workgroups to examine the operations and lessons learned in multiple funding arrangements by providers of extension services in eight selected countries worldwide. Participants were provided brief (2-3 page) case studies intended to stimulate their thinking and not just to inform. Longer background papers were made available to those who wished more information on the sample countries, their basic data and institutional development process. The rationales and implications of both public and private providers of agricultural extension were considered against the background of the Tunisian extension system. Each workgroup analyzed the eight cases provided for its usefulness to Tunisia, made preliminary recommendations, and then met again in plenary to review their individual workgroup findings. These findings were then synthesized into a short list of recommendations, and forwarded to the Minister of Agriculture.
The diverse alternatives indicated in the sample countries provided a valuable menu of options, and an initial stimulus to consider avenues for reforming the national extension system. This national workshop approach to promoting national awareness of alternative systems of extension funding and provision proved a valuable means of fostering comparison and analysis of possible institutional change in extension funding and delivery.
Rivera, W. M. (1994). Assistance technique
Future economic and social development must be considered in the light of production, marketing and micro-enterprise development of poor peoples in the rural sector.
Formulate a Communication Strategy. To support a full-fledged policy for agricultural as well as non-agricultural rural development, a communication strategy is needed. Only government can realize an extension/communication strategy that will be part of an integrated nationwide network providing practical information to rural populations, including the food-insecure. While extension for agricultural purposes has been underscored above, it bears repeating that such a strategy would best be directed at both the people who work the land for a living and those who do not. It would improve accessibility of financial services, provide investment incentives and increase access of the poor, including women, to these support services and productive resources. (see Box 6 on Communication Services. )
Box 6: Communication Services
Communication and information services promote agricultural and rural development and provide important networks and tools for the success of food security and food safety programmes. These services often contribute a more participatory and integrated focus to projects limited strictly to technology demonstration-such initiatives as participatory, community based and targeted communication activities.
Radio is the most widespread and popular medium of communication in rural areas of developing countries. Radio serves a special role in helping to achieve awareness and dissemination of improved technologies.
Video for effective training and farmer-to-farmer communication has become an important tool for development enhancement.
Increasingly new information and communication technologies, such as computers, cell phones, and satellites, are being adapted to rural development needs. Multimedia approaches integrate traditional and new media, thus contributing further to technology advancement and development objectives.
An agricultural extension communication strategy can be fostered in two ways. First, agricultural extension communication support units need to be strengthened, to develop content on production, distribution and evaluation. Second, extension communication units need to be linked aggressively with communication networks that have wide thematic interests - at local, national, regional and global level. The outcome sought would be a nationwide network of communication services contributing to an information network aimed at serving poor agricultural producers and rural communities.
Communication for rural development initiatives demand attention: the advancement of extension cooperation with regional networks such as AMARC (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters), ALER (Latin American Association for Radio Education), and global initiatives such as DCFRN (Developing Countries Farm Radio Network), UNESCO's Community multi-media centres, and FAO's VERCON (Virtual Extension Research Communications Network) and FarmNet initiatives. The outcome sought would be to promote various programme methodologies by various communication providers to reach food-deficit producers and communities.
Promote Demand-Driven Agricultural Extension. Agricultural extension programmes based on the needs and demands of food-deficit producers and communities needs to be strengthened through a wider variety of institutional intervention than just public sector extension. If the poor are to benefit from agricultural extension, extension reform must promote local programmes within the framework of a national integrated food security strategy that helps the poor enter society's mainstream. This is not only a moral and social obligation but also in the economic self-interest of Member States30.
Public sector agricultural extension services may need to be prioritized for areas having some market prospects, with alternative, lower cost arrangements for more marginal areas. On the other hand, in an integrated national network, different agencies may be brought into areas where distinct needs exist. Mapping food insecure areas serves to distinguish potential, marginal and emergency populations and thus determine which organizations might best respond to the needs of each population group.
The current Integrated Food Security Strategy initiated in South Africa promises to provide many lessons in tackling some of the hard problems of meeting the public good goals of food security. A synthesis of the FAO's SPFS reports and case studies31 should also provide numerous overall lessons.
Promote Management for Change. To promote the new and expanded policy on extension and food security and the determinations instituted by the nationwide platform, governments will need to promote management for change.
Two sequential management actions are required in developing new partnerships. The first is within organizations themselves, and involves an internal strategic management paradigm for change. The second step in a participatory management action involves working directly with communities in an adult education modality, for example the Farmer Field Schools programme (FFS) that fosters participation in decision-making and promotes client determination of programme goals.
Allied to the participatory management theme is the promotion of "learning organizations" emphasizing management empowerment and self-managed workteams. A learning organization is not so much characterized by a flatter and less hierarchical structure and the redesign of work that emphasizes teamwork, but on the transformation of the relationship of the organization to the individual and increased capacity for adaptation and change.
A learning organization expects its members to "act as learning agents for the organization, responding to changes in the internal and external environment of the organization" (Senge 1990). Senge distinguishes five characteristics of the learning organization: (1) systems thinking - the interconnectedness of persons in teams, of teams in the organization, and organizations in the larger environment; (2) personal mastery - individual dedication to enhancing interpersonal competence, personal awareness, emotional maturity and enlarging understanding the ethical/moral dimensions of the organization; (3) mental modes - overcoming the fear or anxiety that prevents members from challenging established ways of thinking and doing; (4) team learning - improving the processes in a team (e.g., department, unit, division, committee, etc. ) to improve its effectiveness; and (5) shared vision - values and mission shared and owned by persons throughout the organization.
A management strategy needs to be developed and acted on at the highest level. Appendix 2 outlines the institutional and management reorganization process employed by EMBRAPA, Brazil's national research organization. As noted in this process, combating resistance to change is often one of the most difficult tasks of management re-organization. While stronger capacities need to be developed, the attitudes of administrators and staff toward the rural poor need to change. In the multisectoral network initiative, government will likely be called on to provide staff training opportunities to all sectors with regard to the needs of the poor in their programmes.
Maintain Ongoing Collaboration with All Agencies and Organizations. The public sector institutions will need to consult with all sectors on (a) food security issues and problems, (b) best means of sharing information among sectors, (c) indicators for evaluating food security programmes, and (d) organizational capacities at management and field levels. The outcome sought would be participation with all agencies and organizations in establishing rural extension communication networks and training programmes to promote a food security agenda. This agenda sets the stage for all sectors to develop extension programmes linked to the food security goal - including targeted and commercialized extension programmes, demand-driven programmes and broadcast and narrowcast communication programmes.
In fostering an agricultural extension/communication network of providers from all sectors, coordinated to combat food insecurity, a central task will be to develop client-driven programmes involving client participation in all phases of programme development, and to promote cost-effective delivery methods and media. The ultimate goal is to attain that point where farmers take responsibility for programmes and thereby create demand-driven development.
NGO projects, such as the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) efforts in Ecuador (Selener, Chenier, Zelaya 1997), as well as FFS and other adult education and community-based programmes promote farmer-led/community-led development from the start. In 2003, over 1000 FFS on integrated pest management (IPM) and/or integrated soil management were being implemented in Kenya - and many more in Africa as a whole32. Nonetheless, it bears noting that countries worldwide claim to have adopted or are experimenting with a variety of reform measures to adhere to the current paradigm shift toward market-oriented economies and democratic society.
Develop Leaders33. Poor leadership is a serious problem. Organizations work the way they do because of the way people work in these organizations, and often enough the way they work is a reflection of their leadership (Heaver 1982). People expect leaders to show personal commitment to the organization's vision and provide conceptual clarification as to the direction of the organization - where are we going and why! To be truly effective, leadership involves all leaders - not only executive leaders, but also networkers (frontline workers, in-house consultants, trainers, and professional staff who spread ideas throughout and outside the organization) and local line leaders (branch managers, project team leaders, and other frontline performers). All have an essential role in bringing about development.
Create agricultural development teams to respond to community-expressed needs. A multisectoral agricultural extension network needs to incorporate a variety of partners, including but reaching out beyond those involving agricultural research, education and extension. Certainly an important task will be to re-enforce research/agricultural extension linkages34 by creating incentives such as grants for teamwork. But a new kind of teamwork is needed, among various rural development organizations, bringing together specialists from across disciplines and from various sectors knowledgeable about the agricultural process, including marketing and price relatives.
Research institutes and agricultural extension personnel as well as university researchers will of course need to be included in these agricultural development and community assistance teams. However, a positive team attitude toward change and community demand-driven organization will need to be developed, and incentives provided so teams will respond positively to community-expressed needs. The outcome would be integrated teams of specialists working together to clarify the needs of food-insecure producers and communities and to provide the requisite assistance to meet these needs.
In countries where the public sector research system is not functioning well in providing adaptive technologies that producers can use, agricultural extension needs to get innovations from the private sector, as well as from international programmes and also from traditional indigenous and other knowledge sources as CIAT has done by creating Comit s de Investigaci n Agr cola Local (CIAL) in Latin America35. Additionally, researchers and agricultural advisers need to understand more in depth how users shape innovations and that innovations are not just "adopted" (Douthwaite 2002).
Promote capacity building of all advice providers and users. Re-envisioning extension necessarily entails capacity building, in management negotiations and the establishment of national and district work plans and budgets in line with a new, pluralistic extension strategy, as well as with producers and communities. Pluralistic communication systems will be needed to operate in this larger arena. Both the food security network and the extension communication arena will be challenged to decentralize activities in favour of knowledge and information exchange and development.
Capacity building and institutional strengthening widen the pool of qualified service providers and ensure strong links with and modernization of the various components of the formal and non-formal agricultural education system. Although costly at first, capacity building at all levels is critical.
In many countries a bimodal separation of agricultural extension systems exists for large and small farms. Large farmers tend to have access to international markets, producing commodities for export; and they will not require government to provide extension services, which in many cases are through contract farming arrangements between farmers and private sector companies. (see Box 1 on contract farming.)
From the perspective of smallscale agricultural producers, necessary backward and forward market linkages are needed so that these producers can access both reliable and costefficient inputs (such as advice, mechanization services, seeds, fertilizers and credit) and be assured of profitable markets for their output.
Establish and Maintain Links between Policy Makers, Support Services, Small Farmers and Markets. Often the most binding constraint for smallscale producers is a lack of marketing information and inability to meet quality standards that stifle agricultural production. Niche market information provided by such texts as World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables (FAO 2001) needs to be synthesized and disseminated to small producers. Producers need to know where the market is, who their competition is, what preferences and standards have to be met, how to technically meet these standards, how to minimize price and marketing risk. If these hurdles were overcome, financial intermediaries will not be so reluctant to lend to the sector. (see Figure 1.)
Figure 1: The critical links
Because largescale farmers are already adequately served by the private sector, agricultural economists claim that governments should best concentrate agricultural development efforts on the mass of small farmers in lowincome countries, rather than seek to serve a bimodal structure of small and large farms. Some maintain that concentration on small farmers leads to faster growth rates of both aggregate economic output and employment (Johnson and Kilby, 1975; Eicher and Staatz 1984).
Explore multiple programme methodologies. Given the variety of programmes likely to exist among the various sectors, multiple methodologies will inevitably be part of any arrangement involving diversified strategies and multiple agricultural extension providers. Providers utilize different agricultural extension approaches such as, targeted agricultural extension services, producer-led (demand-driven) agricultural extension services, commercialized agricultural extension services36, and communication for development services-all have merit in a full-fledged food security effort.
High priority is the creation of producer-led, demand-driven extension services that promote producer organization at the local, community and village level and generally lead to greater self-help, community-driven programmes.
Community based organizational activities cover a wide array of approaches, including Farmer Participatory Research (e.g., farmers and researchers working towards original knowledge), Participatory Technology Development (e.g., farmers and researchers working toward adopting known knowledge to new situations), FFS, Farmer-to-Farmer programmes, and Study Circles, not to mention farmer fora, farmer networks and workshops. Farming knowledge is varied and includes original or new knowledge, known and proven practices, as well as traditional indigenous knowledge.
For purposes of community involvement and the development of effective client-driven activities, decentralized management approaches will be necessary.
Programme processes that focus on food security and income generation, such as those utilized by the SPFS, are particularly important. The SPFS process tends to promote the following series of actions: (a) a participatory diagnostic, (b) training in the areas expressed as most needed by the populations involved, (c) field demonstrations of new practices relevant to the population's needs, (d) production of agricultural goods, (e) consumption and then sale of products remaining after consumption. In between the stages of demonstration and production, community or special interest groups organize around one of more practices. And in between the stages of consumption and sale, individuals and/or groups engage in construction of production-related facilities such as greenhouses, input production (such as feed for animals)), and processing centres.
A strategy that envisages programmes along these lines can expect that communities of poor people will soon be seeking credit-for purchase of inputs, investments in the improvement of their quality of life. This is not a hope, but what happens in well run projects dedicated to poverty alleviation through food security and income generation.
Establish a national programme to monitor and evaluate programmes, especially for the purposes of upscaling. Oversight of institutional alliances and partnership arrangements will require new approaches to evaluation. Once projects aimed at enhancing food security at community and household levels have been implemented, some of these initiatives will create immediate positive impact. The result may be long-term food deficient communities being able to feed themselves within the first years of joint operations. In such cases, evaluation should be thorough but quick to promote up scaling of these successes.
Governments will need to plan and establish monitoring and evaluation systems from the beginning. All programmes need to be systematic and include monitoring and evaluation systems based on performance indicators and rates of adoption. The outcome sought would be agreed area of action, clear objectives, performance indicators, service delivery standards, a communications network (both within the extension service and between extension and existing broadcast networks), monitoring and evaluation systems, and preparedness for emergency situations. The ultimate object of the programmes would be food security and income generation, but the immediate result would be to empower individual producers and communities by helping them form producer associations or community based organizations.
Monitoring and evaluation are critical elements of effective planning. A good plan involves consideration of analytic data and consultation with programme participants. Close consultation with the stakeholders is vital. Although consultation may seem time-consuming, especially at the beginning, it is the basis on which programme ownership by participants is developed.
Programmes can quickly become outdated as circumstances change, and rapid responses to the changing situations may be necessary. Monitoring is essential for purposes of seeing that programme agents are doing the things right in their efforts to accomplish the programme goals. Managers need to know where the programme has succeeded and where failed. Thus, data collection is central to planning further progress toward the plan's objectives. Indeed, effective monitoring depends on the adequacy of basic data gathering systems. Without reasonable systematic data, policymakers and managers cannot adequately address important issues as they arise.
Evaluation is important for sustainability, as well as for determining results and the prospects of project sustainability, not just with performance. All the elements are important, and affect one another. Performance affects results, and results affect sustainability.
Also, it is sometimes forgotten that in the long run, evaluation is not just about doing things as planned, but about making sure that the programme is the right thing to do to meet the challenges or problems facing the policy-makers - whether these be at the ministerial, municipal, producer organization, or community level. In any case, a monitoring and evaluation (M and E) unit should be a part of any programme-with a specific team, work programme and budget, and its findings a critical part of programme development and review.
Promote linkages between institutional and ICT as well as personal networks. Linkages may be institution based, community based or simply directed toward individual awareness.
Linkages, and the structure and management of linkages, between institutions significantly affect their relative success or failure. This is especially true for the "agricultural knowledge triangle" of research, education and extension. These services may be linked in various ways:(1) housed together; (2) administratively integrated; (3) coordinated through a council; or (4) integrated by way of on-farm research and extension activities. A new first step would be to create teams that work together in the field on issues relating to food security, and cooperate in projects such as the SPFS. In addition, today's technologies allow for other linkages via ICTs such as the Internet. International linkages to research and appropriate agricultural technologies are available through systems such as the FAO's TECA. http://www.fao.org/sd/teca/
Increasingly with globalization and liberalized trade, agricultural extension benefits from institutional linkages to input suppliers, markets and policy mandates that provide an overview of pertinent macro-economic realities. Information is needed on markets and production. Farmers (including poor farmers) require competence in linking agricultural production with agroprocessing, marketing and the creation of farmers' organization. The domain of each agricultural discipline is only a small part of the total system. Ultimately, the concept and practice of extension needs to be expanded to include a variety of rural development purposes, and to prepare extension specialists to respond to on-farm agricultural37 (Steele 2003) as well as off-farm livelihood opportunities.
Another kind of linkage is the individual's professional network(s). Two kinds of sources and tools serve the individual in acquiring professional information: interactive and non-interactive. Non-interactive sources include for example professional journals, books, and information obtained from the airwaves. Non-interactive sources provide information but not an interactive process - i.e., you cannot talk back to them. Interactive sources of professional information include, for example, friends, professionals, community radio, openline TV programmes, computer chatrooms, e-mail listserv systems, etc. These interactive and non-interactive sources and tools contribute to the individual's base of information and serve as part of his or her individual professional network. Interactive sources of information also serve as tools for the individual to contribute to the networks of others by distributing known or new knowledge acquired through his or her own professional network. Encouragement and support of the individual's professional networks deserve attention as well as the more formal connections with established institutions.