Yesterday, on the invitation of Max Olupot (AFAAS), Brigid Letty (A member of Prolinnova-South Africa and a member of the Prolinnova taskforce for the Eastern and Southern Africa Sub-region) attended an event that was a joint initiative of GFRAS (Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services) and AFAAS (African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services). It was a side event of the Joint Conference comprising the 3rd AFAAS Africa-wide Agricultural Extension Week and the 51st Annual Conference of the South African Society for Agricultural Extension.
The side event was titled ‘Strengthening Extension and Rural Advisory Services Systems in Africa’ and was facilitated by Natalie Ernst of GFRAS. The main focus of the event was to share and reflect collectively on the outcomes of the DLEC (Developing Local Extension Capacity) project. DLEC is a 5-year project being implemented in the ‘Feed the Future Countries’. It is led by Digital Green in partnership with Care International, IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) and GFRAS. Kristin Davis (IFPRI) is the Project Director and she provided feedback regarding the status of extension services in the 10 countries. In terms of Prolinnova countries, those covered were Mozambique, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The study confirmed that in many countries extension officers are under-resourced and often there are huge ratios of farmers: extension agents. It seemed clear to me that we need to capacitate farmers to develop and share their own solutions to complement the efforts of the formal extension system.
Another interesting aspect of the study is that of suitability of countries for the use of ICT-related options. For this the study had considered the penetration of cell phones as well as existing initiatives such as the use of E-wallet to facilitate payments for inputs. It was also highlighted that examples of interesting use of ICT was encountered in Mali. The reports are available on http://www.digitalgreen.org/resources-dlec.
The side event was a useful opportunity for sharing some of the principles that Prolinnova promotes and to engage with AFAAS.
Brigid Letty, Prolinnova-South Africa, 6 November 2017