Leta, Gerba Kelboro, Girma Stellmacher, Till Hornidge, Anna-Katharina
Year of Publication:
ZEF Working Paper Series 158
Since the 1960s, Ethiopia has been inducing changes in its approaches to agricultural extension through reforms. In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources adopted a Participatory Extension System. Farmers' group formation accompanies the reform process. This paper analyzes and discusses how the newly adopted system is structured and operates, the characteristics of extension services, and the evaluation system employed in agricultural extension, and assesses the challenges and opportunities associated with the system. Data are drawn from field research carried out in 2015/16 in two districts of Southwestern Ethiopia. A mixed methods approach was employed, combining qualitative and quantitative data-collection tools: household survey, expert and key informant interviews, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), participant observation, and desk literature review. ATLAS.ti and SPSS were used for data analysis. The findings show that, despite the reforms and a steadily increasing number of development agents, the advisory service has not yet satisfied farmers' demands. The formation of farmers' groups to increase extension coverage and promote collective action has limited effects and lacks uniformity across study sites. High input and low output prices are the other limitations on technology adoption and scaling-up. Despite the emerging opportunities, the agricultural extension system is constrained by multiple challenges and often perceived as an extended arm of the state, and less as a useful service provider. From the analyses, we identified a need to create a national strategy for an agricultural extension system that gives space for pluralistic advisory services while still nurturing the efficiency, effectiveness and inclusiveness of the public agricultural extension service. In addition, proper decentralization needs to be promoted to improve participation and encourage all categories of farmers to develop a sense of ownership and become beneficiaries of the agricultural extension system.
Agricultural extension decentralization farmers group participatory extension system pluralistic advisory services