Research and Extension Systems

Extension and advisory services: at the frontline of COVID-19 response ensuring food security in Asia

19 May 2020

19 May 2020 - The recording of the webinar is available here

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding daily. Governments around the globe are confronted with multiple challenges related to minimizing the devastating health impact and protecting human lives, livelihoods and ensuring sufficient food supplies and the functioning of services to those most in need. Between present disruptions and future threats to the food supply chain, the COVID-19 outbreak has generated extreme vulnerability in the agriculture sector. 

Extension and Advisory Service (EAS) systems, through their network of actors (public, NGOs, private sector, Producer Organizations, farmer groups, etc.) can play an indispensable role in raising awareness of COVID-19 to reduce spread of the pandemic and assist in emergency operations, while ensuring that rural producers have relevant and accurate information, inputs and services to support their agricultural production, both during and in the post-emergency period. 

Recognising that the impact of COVID-19 and response measures are not uniform across the globe, FAO’s Research and Extension Unit jointly with the Regional Network of Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) will organize a series of webinars to discuss the role EAS in the context of the pandemic in different regions.

This first webinar focused on the Asia region:

  • Explore and discuss the potential roles of EAS actors in providing essential services to the rural population in a short and medium term including socio-economic recovery;
  • Share experiences of key measures that EAS actors are undertaking by adapting their capacity, activities, and operational mechanism to effectively respond to COVID-19.
  • Highlight specific country examples from China, India and Lao People’s Democratic Republic and responses to overcome challenges of COVID-19 impact and related measures.


  • Impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture sector in Asia
  • Extension and Advisory Services (EAS): at frontline of COVID-19 response ensuring food security - challenges and adaptations needed
  • Private advisory services to smallholder farmers for marketing perishable agro-products by E-commence strategy to mitigate impact of COVID-19 in China
  •  Remote consultation and digital services to smallholder farmers on crop pest monitoring and control in case of COVID-19 pandemic in Sichuan province of China
  • Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) tools to support farmers with technical advice and marketing support during Covid-19 in India
  • Could COVID-19 crisis be a turning point for youth in agriculture, and what are the implication for rural advisory services in Lao People’s Democratic Republic?


Ms. Nan Bai, the Director of Department of Public Affairs, PinDuoDuo e-commerce platform, China

It is China's second largest e-commerce platform based on their users and order numbers. PDD provide local governments and farmers with insights on consumer preferences and market pricing to help them better market and tailor their products. PDD works with local governments and agronomists through Duo Duo Farms to raise productivity and build sustainable models. With its existing network and infrastructure, PDD could quickly roll out measures in response to Covid-19 to help farmers sell their produce rapidly at better prices while providing much-needed resources such as training and farming supplies.

Ms Zhang Mei, Senior agronomist at Plant Protection Station of Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China.

He has 14 years of experience in agriculture extension, has done a lot of technical research and application promotion in green prevention and control of crop diseases and insect pests, integrated control, application of new pesticides and new drugs and devices. He participated in the Chinese – German Agricultural Exchange Program for Youth Professional 2019,  visited dozens of farmers and exchange experience in sustainable agricultural development, end he has experience in training farmers programs, for example,  the program of training on safe use of pesticides.

Dr. Rasheed Sulaiman V, the Director of Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP) at Hyderabad, India. 

Dr. Rasheed has a doctorate degree in Agricultural Extension and he has more than 25 years research experience in the area of Agricultural Extension and application of Innovation Systems Framework in Agriculture. Previously he worked as Senior Scientist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at the ICAR- National Institute for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research at New Delhi. Dr. Rasheed is a member of the Board of GFRAS (Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services) and he coordinates the AESA (Agricultural Extension in South Asia) Network.

Mr. Souvanthong Namvong, Deputy Head of the Division for Agriculture Information and National Project Director for Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services, Department of Technical Extension and Agro-Processing (DTEAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

He has more than 15 years’ experience in rural development and agriculture extension, expertise on training, organizational development and capacity building for government extension services, farmer organisations and private sector engagement. He also has experience in project design and management for projects funded by various international agencies (eg. World Bank, Swiss Government, Helvetas). He is Secretary to National Working Group on Farmers and Agribusiness and regional network of extension agencies (ie. Mekong Extension Learning Alliance, affiliated to GFRAS), and worked on Conceptual and practical development of the Green Extension approach, with a key feature being Farmer-to-Farmer learning (F2F), now being shared internationally.

Dr. Delgermaa Chuluunbaatar, Agricultural Extension Officer, FAO
Delgermaa has over 20 years of experience working in agriculture and rural development. She has a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies including adult education, extension and rural development. Presently, she works as an agricultural extension officer at FAO’s Research and Extension Unit, based in Rome. Her work covers a broad range of areas, including institutional reforms, extension policies and performance metrics, institutionalization of good extension practices, facilitation of innovation processes, and capacity development for strengthening national agricultural extension and innovation systems.

Mr. Sridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer and Group Leader of the Agriculture and Food Systems Team at the FAO Regional Office for the Asia-Pacific in Bangkok

He is co-ordinating a dedicated technical task force to deliver the regional response to the impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture. This includes country-level assessments, the provision of immediate policy and technical advice and the development of linked projects and programmes.  His technical experience covers implementing the sustainable and resilient food systems approach, strengthening core elements of national food control systems and enhancing trade through safe value chains.