This guide has been prepared to provide a better understanding of benchmarking in farm management extension. It explains clearly what benchmarking is, discusses what to benchmark, suggests a series of steps which may be followed and shows ways to apply these to the process in the field. It introduces the concepts of profitability and efficiency as indicators of farm business performance, examines those indicators and applies them to work in the field. The guide explains also some diagnostic techniques that can be of use to identify problems of the farm business and resulting cause and effect relationships.
The purpose of this guide is to provide a better understanding of the concept and practice of entrepreneurship. This guide has been prepared for people who want to start a farm business for the first time and for farmers that want to make changes to their farming systems by introducing high value enterprises directed to the market. This guide can also help extension workers be better able to help farmers develop the skills and spirit of an entrepreneur. It is part of a series of booklets on farm business management designed to help extension workers support farmers.
The materials covered in this collection have been prepared for use by all service providers concerned with promoting farming as a business – whether they work for the private, NGO, or public sector. This could include the public sector extension workers who are involved in farm business management and marketing, private sector business service providers, NGOs and policy-makers. Further, it is hoped that the material will encourage decision-makers in countries where farm management extension positions have not been established to set up such positions.
The majority of farmers – particularly smallholders – need to expand their understanding of markets and economic opportunities if they are to achieve success in running their farms as sustainable and profitable businesses. To create a viable livelihood from farming, they need to move from a sole focus on production for home consumption to producing also for the market. Even though farmers are innovative and entrepreneurial, they often lack the know-how to do so alone. They need advice from others; they need services.
The core idea of the Rural Knowledge Network (RKN) was to make more information available, specifically about markets, to smallholder farmers. This was done by building a network of entrepreneurs who collected price information regularly and sent it to a central collecting Internet platform facility. Due to the demonstrated benefits the RKN project has shown, the report concluded that rural market access to business networks should be expanded to reach commercially viable scales through the ongoing IFAD, FAO and other development programmes in the region.
This brochure aims to share with institutions, organizations and possible donors the activities that FAO’s Research and Extension Branch (OEKR) is developing in the field of agricultural innovation systems in family farming. It is designed as a folder with a general description of OEKR work and definitions of agricultural innovation systems and family farming.
Experiences and Participatory process approaches to innovation in Agriculture: the case of PBA corporation in Colombia
In Colombia, the Foundation for the Sustainable and Participatory Development of Small Rural Producers (Corporación PBA) has developed a strategy for Participatory Rural Innovation (IRP), which prioritizes the development and promotion of farmers’ abilities and skills by using their own knowledge as the basis for this activity. It has also sought to encourage research institutions, state authorities, governmental and non-governmental organizations to work closely in the context of social processes at the local level, to promote innovation developed by the people themselves.
For the Rio+20 meetings GFRAS together with FAO, Farming First, IFPRI and WFO published a position paper entitled "Building Knowledge Systems in Agriculture". Knowledge sharing is critical to supporting the three dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic, and environmental). Extension and advisory services are crucial knowledge-sharing institutions and key for linking scientific research, field-level innovations and innovators, markets, education, and other service providers.
This paper presents an overview of current opportunities and challenges facing efforts to increase
the impact of rural and agricultural extension. The starting point for this analysis is in recognition
that the days when agricultural extension was synonymous with the work of public sector agencies
are over. The ‘extension services’ described here may just as likely consist of an input vendor
advising a farmer about what seed to plant, a television station broadcasting a weather forecast...
The case study report contains a number of recommendations for the AJK Government
to strengthen the demand-driven approach for demanding agricultural extension and
other services through the multi-disciplinary Village Development Plans prepared by
rural Community Organizations. As the recommendations are aimed at improving
a specifi c situation, they are not generic and therefore not being included in the Executive
Summary. The conclusions and lessons learned from the case study, however, are
being presented here for other developing countries in case they want to adopt the
demand-driven extension modality.