Research and Extension Systems

Transforming extension and advisory services

Over the last 30 years, national Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) worldwide have undergone some major changes. Single main public extension systems have made way for pluralistic systems, where services are provided by different actors, including the private sector, non-governmental organizations and farmer organizations.

There has also been a movement from centralized top-down systems to ones where decisionmaking has been delegated to the local level; and from systems that are entirely publicly funded to ones in which an increasing amount of the financial support comes from other sources and where specific advisory services have been privatized. In addition, digital technologies are now increasingly accessible and being used by EAS providers to reach smallholders and family farmers.

EAS providers also offer a much broader range of services than before because farmers are increasingly part of value chains that extend from input suppliers to consumers. More information is required as farmers may need to adapt their farming systems to climate change and other environmental and external threats.

All of these changes mean that providers of EAS have increasingly taken on new, non-traditional roles and functions. However, they often lack the human and technical capacities, adequate investments and incentives for these changes.