Consolidated Responses for the PAFPNet Discussion for the month of August 2015

Date: 11/08/2015 – 04/09/2015

"Relevance of Policy Framework to Support and Strengthen Agricultural Extension and Rural Advisory Services"

The PAFPNet topic for the month of August, "Relevance of Policy Framework to Support Strengthen Agricultural Extension and Rural Advisory Services" pinpointed similar views on establishing a solidified framework for extension services support by tackling central issues. This discussion focused on five (5) questions rendering the key priorities that should be deemed paramount in various countries regarding extension services, its limitations and the roles of various support systems.

Extension services have proved to be significant in the progression of agriculture as well as the development of rural areas. Members showcased their opinions highlighting reasons for of extension services in their countries. According to members, there is a need to implement or update policy guidelines to place specific emphasis on certain agriculture types. This corresponds with resource intensive smallholder mixed economies or large-scale capital intensive production implicating changes in land use and tenure as a means to help forge collaborations with the private sectors and Government ministries. Capacity building and proper training among extension officers and new recruits was also featured to help in the understanding of the various roles and functions in extension services as a channel to strengthen extension and research linkages.

An important element for an efficient farmer support system in the Pacific is the role of the extension services readily available. Funding and resources are essential to carry out an effective extension service system. According to a respondent, network strategies must be formulated to help increase funding in this area. Assistance from the government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) could be the solution to improving the overall extension services to farmers.

The discussion also presented an opposing view stating that in most cases, funding has not the issue. The problem lay with misdirection due to lack of planning and groundwork policies. The efficiency and the effectiveness of the extension officers comes in to play for a practical and operable support system to farmers.  Given the fact that the system structuring of extension services being provided is an area that is lacking, it is vital that implementing guidelines be adhered to and enforced.

Involving farming organisations and the private sector are boosters to extension services support.  Fully utilising the parties services would help clarify underlying issues and address the needs of farmers in the area of extension. Consultations need to be made through these farming organisations and the private sectors; therefore linkages must be enhanced and further enforced to receive the desired outcome with the engagement of the listed parties.

More emphasis must be placed on research and development in order to achieve an improvement in extension, members mentioned. Research and development can be adopted by farmers based on their willingness to progress in the agriculture sector. This implementation depends on the farmers’ creativity, intuitiveness and intellectual capacity. Moreover, according to a contributor, farmers can only adopt research and development if farmers see it addressing their needs.

In order to create the necessary awareness on the importance of exercising extension service support, it needs to be implemented in the education systems of our schools. Rather than have these lessons revolved around the theory aspect, a more practical approach must be considered. Infrastructural support is also vital for the advocacy of these extension services.

Priority training by extension officers must be highlighted to achieve an effective extension service system. More emphasis on understanding ecological, cultural and economic impacts is what is needed by farmers. Focus must be placed on possible long-term effects on a wider scale of the services provided by the extension sector.