Agricultural extension uses a number of different terms to describe specific concepts and approaches. Also, because there are different schools of thought about how agricultural extension systems should be organized and function, these different points of view can lead to interesting debates. It is important to agree on the key functions, programs, and tasks that need to be carried out to achieve specific development objectives. Then, it will be much more straightforward to determine which organization(s) has a comparative advantage in carrying out specific programs, as well as how these activities should be organized and implemented.
Click this link for a list of acronyms used in the context of MEAS.
Please let B. Swanson email@example.com or A. Bohn firstname.lastname@example.org know if you are looking for the definition of a term that you find relevant for the project but do not find it listed here. Ditto for any acronyms that are not defined.
- 1 Advisory Services
- 2 Agricultural Extension
- 3 Agricultural Innovation Systems (AISs)
- 4 Agricultural Technologies
- 5 Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA)
- 6 Animation Rurale
- 7 Biofuels
- 8 Civil Society Organizations (CSO)
- 9 Commodity-Based Advisory Services
- 10 Cooperative Extension Service
- 11 Decentralized Extension
- 12 Demand-Driven Extension
- 13 Diffusion of Innovation
- 14 Extension Education
- 15 Extension
- 16 Farmer-Based Organizations (FBO)
- 17 Farmer Field Schools (FFS)
- 18 Fee-for-Service Extension (FSE)
- 19 Four-H Clubs
- 20 High-Value Crops (HVCs)
- 21 Human Resource Development (HRD)
- 22 Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
- 23 Innovation/Innovation System
- 24 Input Supply Advisory Services
- 25 In-Service Training
- 26 Institution Building
- 27 Integrated Rural Development (IRD)
- 28 Market-Driven Extension (MDE)
- 29 Natural Resource Management (NRM)
- 30 Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)
- 31 Participatory Extension
- 32 Participatory Farm Management (PRM)
- 33 Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
- 34 Pre-Service Training
- 35 Private Advisory Services (PASs)
- 36 Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
- 37 Social Capital Development (SCD)
- 38 Staple Food Crops (SFCs)
- 39 Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP)
- 40 Technology Transfer
- 41 Training and Visit (T&V) Extension
- 42 Value Chain
Advisory service(s) is commonly used as an alternate term for extension services. These systems involve a broad spectrum of market and non-market entities, and agents are expected to provide useful technical information about new technologies that can improve the income and welfare of farmers and other rural people. Apart from their conventional function of providing knowledge and technology to improve agricultural productivity, agricultural advisory services are also expected to fulfill a variety of new functions, such as linking smallholder farmers to high-value and export markets, promoting environmentally sustainable production techniques, and coping with the effects of HIV/AIDS and other health challenges that affect rural people.
Agricultural extension was once known as the application of scientific research, knowledge, and technologies to improve agricultural practices through farmer education. The field of extension now encompasses a wider range of communication and learning theories and activities (organized for the benefit of rural people) by professionals from different disciplines. There is no widely accepted definition of agricultural extension, but to see how this field has evolved over the past 50+ years, look at ten examples from different extension books found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_extension).
Agricultural Innovation Systems (AISs)
An innovation system can be defined as a network of organizations, enterprises, and individuals focused on bringing new products, processes, and forms of organization into economic use, together with the institutions and policies that affect their behavior and performance. The agricultural innovation systems concept embraces not only the suppliers of new technologies but is also concerned with the role and interaction of different actors within agricultural innovation systems, especially in connecting with new and emerging markets for different types of high-value crops and products. Increasingly important players within AISs at the local level are innovative farmers who successfully determine, through trial and error, which crops/products, as well as the necessary technologies, are most profitable in supplying different and emerging markets.
Until recently, agricultural technologies have largely been created and disseminated by public research institutions. However, during the past 50 years, the private sector has played an increasingly important role in producing and selling proprietary technologies in the form of production inputs, such as hybrid seed, pesticides, and mechanical technologies. Over the past two decades, biotechnologies have developed rapidly, especially as the agricultural economy has become more globalized and liberalized. This development has boosted private investment in agricultural research and the transfer of these technologies, which is expanding the influence of national and multinational corporations in supplying new technologies, especially to commercial farmers. At the same time, the public sector still has an important role to play in providing oversight of these new technologies; conducting research to fill the important technology gaps not being addressed by private-sector firms, especially for small and marginal farmers; and in continuing to develop and transfer sustainable natural resources practices to all types of farmers.
Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA)
An Agricultural Technology Management Agency is a district-level, registered civil society organization in India that directly involves key stakeholders in assessing the resources, constraints, and market opportunities for different groups of farmers within rural communities. It is a focal point for integrating research and extension activities at the district level, and it provides day-to-day management for all types of extension activities, including assistance to different farmer groups in pursuing potential new high-value crop, livestock, fisheries, and other enterprises within their district. As a registered society, each ATMA can receive and expend funds from government and other sources; enter into contracts and agreements with other civil society organizations; and maintain revolving accounts that can be used to collect fees from farmers and, in the process, recover some operating costs.
Animation rurale was developed by French colonialists in the 1950s and adopted by socialist African governments during the early 1960s, but it faded away several years later as a result of political changes in government. In animation rurale, an indigenous change agent (an “animator”) attempts to breathe life into a community in order to spur it to collective action for community improvement.
Biofuels can be broadly defined as solid, liquid, or gas fuels consisting of, or derived from, recently dead biological material, most commonly plants. This definition distinguishes it from fossil fuel, which is derived from long-dead biological material. Biofuels can be produced from any (biological) carbon source. The most common source is photosynthetic plants that capture solar energy. The biofuel industry is expanding in Europe, Latin America, Asia and, especially, in North America. The most common use for biofuels is automotive transport, particularly in the Americas and Europe. This expansion has led to deforestation and, more recently, to food shortages that created the 2007–2008 world food price crisis.
Civil Society Organizations (CSO)
Civil society organizations are composed of voluntary civic and social groups that form the basis of a functioning society, as opposed to the force-backed structures of the state (regardless of that state’s political system) and its commercial institutions.
Commodity-Based Advisory Services
Commodity-based advisory services are similar to value-chain extension systems (defined later in this glossary), in which an economically important crop or product, generally for export (e.g., cotton, coffee, other high-value crops or products), requires that producers use specified genetic materials or varieties and follow strict quality-control standards in producing and harvesting the crop or product.
Cooperative Extension Service
The Cooperative Extension Service is a joint effort of national, state, and county governments within the United States (US) to advance the practical application of knowledge through a wide variety of extension and outreach activities. At the present time, this system pursues the following program areas: youth development (4-H), agricultural and rural development, natural resource management, family and consumer sciences, and community and economic development (i.e., helping local governments investigate and create viable economic options for community development). The US extension system has traditionally focused on all aspects of rural development at the household and community levels.
The concept of decentralized extension is based on three major factors: (1) transferring specific decision-making functions to local levels, starting with simple managerial functions, then setting priorities and allocating funds and providing other administrative functions, including accountability and financing/co-financing; (2) encouraging public participation, reflecting the degree of authority that is formally transferred to rural people, starting in an advisory capacity for program planning and implementation, and eventually assuming control over selected financial planning and accountability functions; and (3) expanding local involvement in organizing and delivering extension services, which reflects the level of control that local governments and/or other institutions, including private firms and NGOs, have for implementing specific extension activities. For more information on decentralization, see Module 3 of the Agricultural Investment Sourcebook (World Bank 2006a).
Demand-driven extension is concept that is viewed differently by economists and other social scientists. As Birner and Anderson (2007) point out, “demand-driven refers to the economic concepts of supply and demand” (p. 4). However, most people view technology systems as being “supply-driven” by research institutions; therefore, extension scholars relate “demand-driven” to the technology system itself and are aware that research and development (R&D) is seldom farmer-led. Therefore, in this book, we generally refer to demand-driven extension as a concept in which the farm household is the central focus of a farmer-led or participatory extension system. As Wennink, Heemskerk, and Nederlof (2006) indicate, “Farmer-oriented knowledge services are a prerequisite for innovation” (p. 1). Also, Section 6 in Chapter 4 on market-driven extension illustrates that the changing economic demand for products is becoming an increasingly important focus of extension systems that seek to increase farm income.
Diffusion of Innovation
Diffusion of innovation is the process by which new ideas and technologies spread through different farming systems, countries, and cultures. Everett Roger’s innovation theory (2003) states that innovation diffusion is a process that occurs over time through five stages: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. Accordingly, the innovation–decision process is the process through which an individual or other decision-making unit passes through the stages of (1) having awareness and knowledge of an innovation, (2) forming an attitude toward the innovation, (3) making a decision to adopt (or reject) the innovation, (4) implementing the new innovation, and (5) confirming the decision (p. 161).
During the past century, extension education developed into a discipline or field of study with its own philosophy, objectives, methods, and techniques that should be understood and used by most extension workers if they are to be effective in serving the needs of all farmers, especially small-scale and women farmers. The basic principles, methods, and techniques of extension education are applicable to all fields within agricultural and rural development, including crop, livestock, fisheries, and other rural enterprises, as well as rural youth programs and home economics/science, including family health, hygiene, and nutrition. Extension education primarily focuses on the teaching-learning methods needed to train and to provide small-scale and women farmers with the necessary skills, knowledge and information they will need to increase their farm income and, thereby, improve the livelihoods of these rural families.
The term extension was first used to describe adult education programs in England during the second half of the 19th century (starting in 1867); these programs helped extend the work of universities beyond the campus and into neighboring communities. In the early 20th century, when this extension function was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, these activities were renamed as advisory services. The term “extension” was adopted in the United States during the late 19th century and integrated into the Land Grant Universities as a central function of these institutions, and there non-formal educational services continue to the present. Also, as outlined in the Wikipedia website on agricultural extension, a number of other terms are used in different parts of the world to describe the same or a similar concept:
- Dutch: Voorlichting (“lighting the path”)
- German: Beratung (“advisory work”)
- French: Vulgarisation (“simplification”)
- Spanish: Capacitación (“improving skills”)
- Thai, Lao: Song-Suem (“to promote”)
- Persian: Tarvij & Gostaresh (“to promote and to extend”)
Farmer-Based Organizations (FBO)
Organizing farmers into groups—generally known as farmer-based organizations (FBOs), but including all types of farmer organizations, such as farmer cooperatives (FCs), farmer interest groups (FIGs), producer groups (PGs), farmer associations (FAs) and/or self-help groups (SHGs)—has the potential to strengthen the bargaining power of farmers in the marketplace (both for input supply and in supplying markets). In addition, getting farmers organized into groups can increase the efficiency and effectiveness in supplying needed extension and advisory service to all types of farmers. Specifically, group formation can facilitate the dissemination of agricultural technologies, help transform farming systems among different farm households, and encouraging farmers to use environmentally friendly farming practices. Also, FBOs can influence government policies that may also help to increase farm income and, thereby, improve rural livelihoods. For more information on how to organize farmer groups, see Chamala and Shingi (1997).
Farmer Field Schools (FFS)
Farmer Field Schools consist of groups of people with a common interest who get together on a regular basis to study the “how and why” of a particular topic, such as integrated pest management (IPM). Farmer Field Schools are comparable to programs such as study circles or specialized human resource development (HRD) programs. Farmer Field Schools are particularly adapted to “field study,” where specific hands-on management skills and conceptual understanding is required. Originally, the FFS methodology was developed by the FAO to transfer IPM technologies to farmers in Indonesia. More recently, these schools are being used to both promote the development of farmer organizations (social capital) and to pursue new technologies or enterprises (HRD) that will increase farm incomes.
Fee-for-Service Extension (FSE)
Under fee-for-service extension programs, the provider may be a public entity (e.g., ATMA), an NGO, a private-sector firm, or even a consultant, but, in developing countries, FSEs normally require considerable public funding on a long-term basis even if the provider is private (as in Chile). Under such an arrangement (e.g., using government-funded vouchers), groups of farmers typically contract for specific extension services to address their needs. When it is the intension of government to shift most extension costs to commercial farmers, such as in Europe, the results are mixed. Generally, shifting the cost of extension services directly to commercial farmers must be done incrementally over a number of years (as in Ireland), especially for public goods. Otherwise, these formerly public extension systems will rapidly downsize, seek new funding opportunities (as in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands), and/or collapse altogether.
Four-H clubs are youth organizations with the mission of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.” These organizations serve over 6.5 million members in the United States, and 4-H clubs or similar organizations now exist in many other countries. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills of youth, primarily through experiential learning programs. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization, 4-H today encourages both rural and urban members to learn about many topics, such as youth leadership, youth–adult partnership, working together to achieve common objectives, entrepreneurship, parliamentary procedures, and public speaking. The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands, and health.
High-Value Crops (HVCs)
High-value crops such as fruits and vegetables are receiving considerably more attention in helping to close the income and nutrition gap in the process of achieving both household and national food security. For example, several Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centers work on various high-value crop species, as well as more efficient livestock production systems. Most HVCs can be grown on small farms and require more labor, both in production and post-harvest processing; therefore, the potential net income from these HVCs is generally higher than from staple food crops (see discussion of staple food crops later in this glossary). However, to begin producing HVCs, most small-scale and women farmers will need suitable agro-ecological growing conditions and access to reliable markets for these products. Equally important, interested farmers will need training about the necessary technical, management, and marketing skills if they are to successfully produce and market these crops.
Human Resource Development (HRD)
Human resource development is a term commonly used in formal organizations and is generally associated with improving the skills and knowledge of employees so that they can become more effective on the job and can advance within the organization. In Chapter 4 of this book, considerable attention is given to improving the skills and knowledge of extension workers so that they can take on new and different tasks within a more decentralized, participatory, market-driven extension system. It should be noted that agricultural extension organizations are currently putting more emphasis on strengthening the HRD skills of small-scale and women farmers to help them diversify their farming systems and increase farm income. However, in most rural communities there is considerable diversity among farm households as a result of differences in land, labor, water, education, and other resources. Therefore, it is important for extension workers to be able to assess and determine the most important skills and knowledge that different categories of farmers, including farm women, will need to increase farm incomes and improve rural livelihoods. In addition, engaging farm women and rural young people in new crop and/or livestock enterprises will help increase farm household income as well as change their role and status within their respective farm households and rural communities, generally in a positive manner.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Information and Communications Technology is an umbrella term that includes all types of technologies for the communication of information. It encompasses any medium to record and broadcast information, as well as technologies for communicating information through voice, sound, and/or images. Information technology (IT) has become a hub for communicating information, most often using computers.
“ICT (information and communications technology – or technologies) is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. ICTs are often spoken of in a particular context, such as ICTs in education, health care, or libraries. The term is somewhat more common outside of the United States.According to the European Commission, the importance of ICTs lies less in the technology itself than in its ability to create greater access to information and communication in underserved populations. Many countries around the world have established organizations for the promotion of ICTs, because it is feared that unless less technologically advanced areas have a chance to catch up, the increasing technological advances in developed nations will only serve to exacerbate the already-existing economic gap between technological “have” and “have not” areas. Internationally, the United Nations actively promotes ICTs for Development (ICT4D) as a means of bridging the digital divide. (retrieved 9/21/2010 from http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid183_gci928405,00.html)
Innovation can be defined as a new way of doing something, ranging from changes in the way we think to the way we produce new products or use new processes or procedures. It also includes institutional innovations that change the way an organization carries out new or different functions. For example, shifting toward a bottom-up, rather than a top-down extension system; or moving toward a more market-driven, rather than a technology-driven, extension system. Also, in a rapidly changing economy, innovative farmers are frequently the source of production technologies for market-driven innovations involving different high-value crops/products. Because innovation is a major driver to economic change, it is important to consider all factors that make life better for people, such as increasing the value of products for the producer and/or consumer of new or different products. An innovation system generally involves the flow of technology, information, inputs and products among people, enterprises, and institutions. However, it also involves interaction among actors who can turn an idea or technology into a new process, product, or service that is desired or needed within accessible markets.
Input Supply Advisory Services
Input supply advisory services are one-on-one advisory services provided by private-sector input supply firms (and input-supply cooperatives) to farmers who purchase production inputs from these firms. This is the dominant model in most industrially developed countries because it has become a “win–win” arrangement. Farmers get sound technical advice from certified crop advisors, and the input supply firms are able to recover the cost of advisory services through profits generated from the sale of inputs, especially to commercial farmers.
In-service training of agricultural extension workers has received little or no attention from either governments or donors in recent years. Because most agricultural extension systems continue to be highly resource constrained because of declining budget allocations, there are few, if any, resources available to train current extension staff in up-to-date agricultural technologies or farming systems, especially for high-value crops and products or in using more participatory extension methods. One immediate opportunity to help transform most agricultural extension systems would be substantial investments in human resource development (HRD) for extension field staff. Also, faculty and staff of schools of agriculture and agricultural universities will need to be transformed and updated.
The primary focus of this book is the process of strengthening and increasing the economic impact of existing extension institutions and other organizations that provide different types of extension and advisory services to rural farm households. Reorganizing an existing extension institution is a time-consuming process that generally takes five or more years to complete. For example, modifying the management structure (i.e., from top-down to bottom-up) and retraining current extension staff in needed participatory, technical, and management skills takes time. In addition, extension staff needs time to reconnect with the farming community and introduce these new approaches to increase farm income. However, establishing new extension and advisory systems (public, private, or NGOs) will take longer to develop, and they will likely require even more time before they begin having a measurable impact on farm incomes and/or agricultural productivity. Also, most extension organizations, especially those serving the needs of small-scale farm households, will require long-term government funding if they are to provide effective and sustainable extension and advisory services.
Integrated Rural Development (IRD)
According to Nemes (2005), integrated rural development is “an ongoing process involving outside intervention and local aspirations; aiming to attain the betterment of groups of people living in rural areas and to sustain and improve rural values; through the redistribution of central resources, reducing comparative disadvantages for competition and finding new ways to reinforce and utilize rural resources” (p. 23).
Market-Driven Extension (MDE)
Market-driven extension is a relatively new concept in which the focus of a technology transfer-driven agricultural extension system shifts 180 degrees—or from “research” to the “market,” especially for high-value crops, livestock, fisheries, or other products. This change in focus is consistent with the concept of a market-driven agricultural innovation system (AIS), because market opportunities and access depend in part on the location of each farm (or groups of farmers), farm size (to produce specific products), and many other factors, such as agro-ecological conditions, transportation infrastructure, available labor, and, possibly, access to other production resources, such as irrigation, greenhouses, etc. Therefore, the decision by groups of farmers to supply specific markets with different high-value crops or products will depend in large part on the relative size of accessible markets for particular products and the strategic advantage of producer groups to supply these markets with high-value crops or products.
Natural Resource Management (NRM)
Natural resource management can be defined as the responsible and broad-based management of the land, water, forest, and biological resources base—including genes—necessary to sustain agricultural productivity and avert degradation of potential productivity. Most donor agencies encourage the sustainable use of natural resources, from the community level to projects at national and international levels. Accordingly, the key issues and/or institutional dimensions of natural resource management include the following sectors: (1) forests and forestry, (2) land resources management (including drylands management and combating desertification), (3) water resources management (including irrigation and drainage), and (4) biodiversity.
Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)
Nongovernmental organizations are legally constituted organizations created by private individuals or organizations with no participation or representation by any government agency. NGOs can be categorized into two types: operational and advocacy. The primary purpose of an operational NGO is to design and implement development-related projects. Operational NGOs can be community-based, national, or international. The primary purpose of an advocacy NGO is to defend or promote a specific cause. These advocacy organizations typically try to raise awareness, acceptance, and knowledge by lobbying and organizing activist events.
The participatory extension paradigm is essentially a combination of technology transfer, advisory services, and human resources development and involves two key elements. The first element addresses how extension systems are organized and emphasizes the fact that all types of farmers, especially small-scale and women farmers, must play an important role in setting extension priorities and shaping extension programs. By so doing, farmers will take more “ownership” over these ongoing extension programs and operations. The second key element of the participatory extension approach generally encompasses more participatory extension methods, such as experiential learning and farmer-to-farmer exchanges. It emphasizes that knowledge is gained through interactive processes that include extension field staff, private-sector firms, NGOs, and/or innovative and progressive farmers within local or nearby communities. Participants are expected to make their own decisions, especially about how they will intensify and/or diversify their farming systems.
Participatory Farm Management (PRM)
The participatory farm management approach uses simple methods to enable small-scale farmers, working on their own or with a facilitator, to quantify and analyze their use of farm or household resources in order to assess the potential impact of different decisions on farm income. The methods can be used to assess the resource implications of modifying the current farming system by diversifying into one or more new enterprises and comparing the impact of these potential new enterprises, in comparison with current enterprises, on both farm resources and incomes.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
Participatory rural appraisal is a label given to a family of participatory approaches and methods that emphasize local knowledge and enable local people to make their own appraisal, analysis, and plans. The key tenets of a PRA are participation, teamwork, flexibility, and triangulation to ensure that information is valid and reliable. For more information on PRA, see The World Bank Participation Sourcebook, Appendix I (no date).
Pre-service training of agricultural extension workers has been given limited attention and resources in most developing countries since the 1990s. In most countries, field extension workers obtain a two- or three-year diploma from a school of agriculture, which is normally a terminal educational qualification. These diploma-level programs typically teach a cross-section of agricultural courses, including crop and livestock production, plus basic skills in extension methods using the “diffusion of innovations” framework, which primarily focuses on technology transfer to larger, commercial farmers. In most cases, the educational content of both agricultural and extension courses is grossly out of date if these agricultural extension systems are expected to become more decentralized, participatory (farmer-led), and market-driven in improving rural livelihoods. To do so, however, the skills and knowledge of faculty and staff at schools of agriculture and agricultural universities will need to be updated in course content and teaching methods, as well as being provided with up-to-date, relevant teaching materials (see Zinnah, Steele, and Mattocks 1998).
Private Advisory Services (PASs)
Under a system of private advisory services, a private-sector firm (or NGO) is contracted by a government, donor, or even a farmer organization to provide different types of advisory services to farmers, but generally using government or donor funding (e.g. the NAADS model in Uganda). This approach uses the same basic tools and approach as public extension, but the management has the capacity to hire and fire employees and to provide incentives based on performance, as well as to allocate adequate program and operating funds. Therefore, the short-term performance of PASs can be efficient and effective. However, this approach appears less sustainable over the long-term, because policy changes (e.g., when a different political party takes over government leadership) may directly affect the availability of government funding. Also, donor funding is generally not long-term, and donor priorities may change, as evidenced by World Bank investments in T&V extension. For a general review of privatized extension services, see Rivera and Alex 2004a and 2004b.
Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
Self-help groups provide mutual support among peers, especially women, in rural communities. Mutual support is a process by which people voluntarily come together to address common problems, especially in improving the livelihoods of group members, such as increasing access to education and health services. Self-help groups can also transition into specific economic activities of mutual interest that are culturally acceptable within rural communities. In India, for example, SHGs often begin as thrift or credit groups in which members pool savings and re-lend within the group on a rotational or needs basis. These groups have a common perception of need and an impulse toward collective action. For example, some of these groups focus on specific production activities (e.g., dairy, mushrooms, poultry) and then use their pooled resources to enter into a jointly owned and operated enterprise (e.g., fisheries) or to produce individually (e.g., dairy) and market collectively as a producer organization.
Social Capital Development (SCD)
The concept of social capital development is viewed by economists and sociologists somewhat differently. In this book, the focus is on people organizing themselves and then mobilizing their resources to solve problems of common interest. The effectiveness of these groups and/or networks depends on the extent to which the group can facilitate collective decision-making, help disseminate information, and reduce opportunistic behavior. These factors depend on different aspects, including organizational structure, membership, and the way these groups function.
Staple Food Crops (SFCs)
Staple food crops form the basis of traditional diets. Staple foods vary from place to place but are typically inexpensive starchy foods of vegetable origin that are high in food energy (calories) and carbohydrates and can be stored for use throughout the year. Most staple foods derive either from cereals, such as wheat, maize, or rice, or from starchy root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, or cassava. Other staple foods include pulses (dried legumes) and fruits, such as breadfruit and plantains. Because staple foods generally do not provide a full range of nutrients, other food or protein crops may be needed to prevent malnutrition, especially among the rural poor.
Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP)
Formulating a strategic research and extension plan involves identifying the farming systems and the resource base of farmers within a target area, as well as identifying the successes and failures of innovative farmers. It also involves the identification of problems and needs of farmers by using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques and then analyzing all of this information using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. In addition to farmer information, the SWOT analysis examines other important types of agricultural information, including (1) the different agro-ecological zones (AEZs) within the district (e.g., soil type/conditions; rainfall patterns; and irrigation water, including availability and cost), (2) transportation infrastructure, and (3) available markets for all types of staple and high-value food crops/products. The analysis must consider all of this information within a global information system (GIS) framework in determining the most feasible economic opportunities for different categories of farm households within each AEZ of the district. The output of the SWOT analysis will be a preliminary SREP that is then reviewed, modified, and eventually approved by a cross-section of agricultural community representatives, consisting of all types of farmers (including women farmers), rural banks, input supply firms, and agricultural product buyers.
Technology transfer is the process of disseminating new technologies and other practical applications that largely result from research and development (R&D) efforts in different fields of agriculture. In general, these technologies include (1) genetic improvement in the form of improved crop varieties/hybrids and livestock breeds; (2) improved production practices, including soil fertility and animal nutrition; (3) improved plant protection and animal health practices; (4) mechanical technologies that will improve labor efficiency and other management practices; and (5) sustainable natural resource management practices, such as drip irrigation, water harvesting, integrated pest management, and so forth—in other words, technologies that all types of agricultural producers will need in order to increase agricultural productivity and farm incomes.
Training and Visit (T&V) Extension
Training and Visit extension is based on classical management principles, including (1) extension agents should have primary responsibility for carrying out extension functions, (2) extension should be closely linked with research, (3) training should be carried out on a regular and continuous timetable, (4) work should be time-bound, and (5) a field and farmer orientation should be maintained. This technology-driven approach was initially successful during the late 1970s and 1980s in disseminating the production management practices associated with Green Revolution wheat and rice varieties. However, in rainfed and other production areas where these new technologies were not appropriate, the T&V approach had limited success. The primary reason was that extension agents did not have economically useful messages to disseminate to these farmers; also these agents were not trained how to assess the needs of farmers and then look for alternative technologies or production systems that might better address their needs.
A value chain is an alliance of enterprises that collaborate “vertically” to achieve a more profitable position within a market. Vertically aligned means that both producers and essential companies are connected from one end of the primary production process (e.g., farmer’s fields) through processing and then into the final marketing stages where consumers purchase a finished product. The basic characteristic of a value chain is market-focused collaboration in which different enterprises work together to produce, package, process, and market products and services in an effective and efficient manner. Value chains allow farmers and businesses to work together in responding to market demands by linking production, processing, and marketing activities.