The efficiency of extension systems in sustainable agriculture and rural development for food security is a major concern of FAO's Natural Resources Management and Environment Department NR). Priorities of its work in agricultural extension include assessing alternative extension systems, policies, strategies, and approaches, addressing extension management and extension-research-education linkages, and developing extension programmes and methodological tools tailored to farmers' needs in various agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts.
Major activities of NR include providing advice and technical support to FAO Member Nations on extension policies and strategies, programme development and management. It also carries out studies on current issues such as the planning, monitoring and evaluation of extension programmes, and the introduction of participatory and cost-effective extension methodologies and gender-sensitive programmes based on participatory rural appraisal.
NR also organizes and conducts regional and international workshops, conferences and seminars to train extension staff on such topics as the integration of environment and population education and HIV/AIDS as a socio-economic problem into extension and training programmes. Training of extension trainers on innovative approaches supported by both new and conventional media also constitutes an integral part of its normative activities. It also develops training tools and publishes guidelines and reference manuals.