Friday, June 12, 2015

Agricultural Extension: an Opportunity for Providing Agricultural Services to Farmers

Here at Partners, we have wonderful interns who work alongside our Agricultural and Food Security team! Amanda Quintana, the Monitoring and Evaluation Intern for the AFS team attended a symposium on Extension services. Below is her reflectionary excerpt:

After attending the Strengthening Extension & Advisory Services for Lasting Impacts symposium coordinated by MEAS (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services), I asked myself, what IS ‘extension’ and how is this term changing international development and sustainability? In the context of agricultural and rural international development, “extension” is a resource that influences or transfers activities between organizations and firms to farmers and agriculture.

It brings the latest findings in research and science to practices in agriculture, maintains the way farms are kept, and contributes to farmer education. While at the symposium, I learned that a method called ‘Farmer to Farmer’, highlights that working with farmer groups is essential in strengthening the capacities of individual farmers. Functional barriers of farmer organizational development should be identified to better address future farmer to farmer extension programs and interventions. It is important to look at the origins of a group and their existing framework to: 1) properly address concerns, 2) improve farmer education, management, and leadership within a farm or company, and 3) target strategies and policies for improvement. Our Farmer-to-Farmer program here at Partners of the Americas (funded by USAID) addresses these key issues to train farmers and increase the sustainability and effectiveness of agricultural practices in developing countries. 

The symposium lecture concluded with a small table activity discussing future approaches, such as Community-based Participatory Action. During the activity. Overall, I learned that programs that work with extension and train farmers can assist in increasing food security and reducing the rate of poverty through sustainable practices. So the next time you hear the term "extension", remember that the idea is to "extend" key resources and scientific information to work and people on the ground. 

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