The lack of success of public agricultural extension systems in many countries has resulted in new approaches being tried in reorganizing extension services. In some countries public extension systems have been decentralized to the district/county level and these public extension systems are now pursuing a more market-driven approach. In other countries, different models have been tried, involving both private-sector firms and civil society organizations (CSOs), in an attempt to find more effective approaches of providing basic extension services. Also, in some countries, there have been attempts to shift more of the cost of extension services to the farmers themselves, with limited success. The experiences of China and India are described to evidence that public extension and advisory systems can be successfully transformed. There are important roles to be played by public agricultural extension systems, private sector firms, NGOs and farmers organizations in transferring agricultural technologies, improving rural livelihoods and in the wise management of the natural resources of a country. It should be noted that there is growing recognition that markets, not technology, have become the primary driver for agricultural development in many countries; therefore, more attention is now being given to the concept of agricultural innovation systems (AISs).
To improve the extension services and transfer these systems at NENA region, we have to think of the approaches we use in addition to the extension objectives. The current top-down, technology-driven extension system no longer appears to be an appropriate model in the emerging global agricultural economy, If public extension systems are going to be effective in improving rural livelihoods, then they must change their focus, structure and approach and should concentrate in achieving the four major objectives types of extension including: Technology transfer, especially for the staple food crops; Human capital development, especially the technical and management skills and knowledge that poorly educated farm-households need to increase farm income; Building social capital; and Educating farmers to manage natural resources sustainably.
In order to achieve the above goal and identify the best fit approach and the focus of the future extension systems in the region, AARINENA organized a regional workshop in cooperation with the International Agricultural Research and Training Center / Republic of Turkey Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock at Izmir/ Turkey. Extension Network has the following objectives:
- To Identify “good practices” within different agricultural extension and advisory service institutions.
- To reviews the objectives of extension systems in the agricultural development process.
- To analyses the factors affecting the development of more pluralistic extension systems.
- To discussing the different approaches within the agricultural development process in providing particular extension services to different categories of farmers, taking in consideration the growing recognition of market-driven extension System.
- To discuss the role of public, private and civil society organizations to work together in providing extension services to rural farm households within a broader agricultural innovation network.