This member participated in the following discussions
Over the years in Africa, Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) has been projected as a push model where the beneficiaries are the recipients and the service providers (NGOs or government) are the helpers. In such a philanthropic business model, incentives are not strong for effective participation and sustainability. Typically, farmers think of AEAS as an entitlement and consider the services to be a public good that they should have right to receive for free. Although there has been private sector involvement in AEAS provision, we are still behind because of (a) lack of adequate incentives for farm households to commit their own resources and (b) misconceptions about property right (farm households think they deserve to have it and not pay for it).
For AEAS to contribute significantly to gender equality and improve nutrition, the left and right sides of the equation need to be switched. Stronger economic incentives need to be built in for farm households. When there are stronger economic benefits (beyond those directly linked to the farm household's utilization of the services or products provided), there is a better chance that men and women are going to get more involved in AEAS. In our experience implementing biofortification programs in Nigeria, what we found out is that when we created entrepreneurs among the locals to be in the fore front of the AEAS provision in their communities, then we secure better participation and more local resource commitment. We created a concept called "Rural Facilitators" who are in addition to being a bulking agent are providing AEAS in their communities. We receive demand for food products from urban areas and then provided opportunity to the rural facilitators to access the database and fulfil the orders. This provides economic incentives to motivate the locals (both women and men) in helping provide nutrition education to farm households in their communities. Also, the fact that demand is constantly being created for their farm produce, farm households are motivated to produce more nutritious crops. This concept can significantly contribute to the process of behavioral change when supported with train-the-trainers program.
Getting the locals more involved economically in leading the AEAS provision has a potential in increasing the role of AEAS in contributing to gender equality and nutrition.