Kazakh knowledge organizations –research institutes, universities, NGOs and private sector organizations met for the first time to plan joint programmes
On 28-29 August, the National Forum on agricultural extension was held at the Kazakh National Agrarian University (KNAU) in Almaty, which was the first of its kind in both Kazakhstan and Central Asia. The Forum was organized in cooperation with KNAU, KazAgroInnovation and the Food and Agriculture Organization and around 70 people participated.
Ms Gulmira Isayeva, Vice Minister of Agriculture, also participated in the conference and on the first day delivered a presentation on the Kazakh extension system. The Forum was attended by several current and potential suppliers of extension-like services, who shared their views on how to provide the best that can be offered to an expanded extension program for agriculture and rural communities in Kazakhstan.
The second day of the Forum was devoted to selecting and discussing projects aimed at piloting the implementation of three basic principles “deepening, broadening and increasing local citizen participation” in the Kazakh extension system.
The example selected to illustrate breadth was a youth program. The pilot will organize two youth camps that will expose pupils to the wide range of careers – beyond farming – that are part of the agricultural system in Kazakhstan. This program could lead to a national youth program featuring camps, clubs and other activities that enable young people to develop in the changing and growing agricultural and rural economy.
The depth part will introduce an aggregate wheat model that will allow Kazakhstan to link to the world markets for wheat, and provide an opportunity for developing projections on annual domestic and international supply and demand. It will also provide the capacity to investigate changes in domestic policy and the associated implications for domestic and international markets.
The local participation pilot will introduce two needs assessment trainings to elicit information from local producers and citizens about their desires for extension programming. The needs assessment will generate a set of issues that are of priority to the local producers and citizens, and suggestions about the design of extension programs, including how they should be implemented.
The pilot projects will involve Kazakh volunteers and are scheduled for the end of October and beginning of November this year in different locations across Kazakhstan. The results of the pilot projects will be fed into the National Forum in 2014 for discussion and to develop recommendations and lessons learned from these initiatives.
The Agricultural Extension project in Kazakhstan is a component of the Agrarian Structures Initiative, an FAO regional program in Europe and Central Asia. The aim of the project is to strengthen the cooperative effort of all agricultural knowledge providers in Kazakhstan, making them part of the Kazakh extension and innovation system; both formal and non-formal. Thus, the project should contribute to expanding the scope of the current programmes, improving their knowledge base and promoting farmer demand-driven approaches through inclusive local community participation in the planning process. Successful examples and good practices from the FAO initiative can be further applied by other countries in Central Asia.