This study suggests that the majority of farmers – particularly smallholders – need to expand their understanding of markets and economic opportunities in order to run 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.
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.
This study reviews and analyzes different successful experiences in Central America where extension experts have had a key role in achieving results within the framework of an agricultural innovation system. Our goal is to generate inputs and raise questions about the new role that should be taken by technical advisory systems and how they should be supported and strengthened within national extension systems.
There is currently an enormous need to mobilize agricultural extension services for food security and to achieve a range of rural development goals. Urgent efforts
are required to enhance access to and knowledge about new technologies, to ensure that farmers and other actors in value chains can deal with changing markets, to enable farmers to understand new challenges arising due to the changing climate, to support rural communities to manage their natural resources more effectively, and to assist farmers to make optimal use of their available resources to ensure food for their families.
Evolution of extension services in Nicaragua
In the last two decades, it has been observed an evolutionary process in Nicaragua extension services, through the has had the opportunity to observe an evolutionary process in Nicaragua extension services. The main purpose of this study is to contribute to the design of the extension based processes, which are aimed at improving the conditions of underdeveloped agricultural systems, using the analysis and evaluation of different extension methodologies and modalities of contracting this service.
The objective was hence to put the emphasis on the process and on considering the features of pluralism, demand and market-orientation. There was no emphasis on a particular advisory model which gave room for developing a country-specifc system based on existing institutional and organizational capacities and targeted to the poor and vulnerable producers. Oone of the main objectives of the initiative was to promote farmers' participation in the design process and their empowered role in the future advisory system.