Agricultural extension paper

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  • 1. Overview of Agricultural and Rural Extension Frameworks; Options for Institutional reforms in Ghana Paper Submitted to the GIMPA Journal of Leadership, Management, And Administration By Abdul-Nasser Salifu Lecturer at (GIMPA Business School) October, 2011 Abstract
  • 2. After a long history of various extension programmes in Ghana, the current National Agricultural Extension Project (NAEP) started in 1992. The main extension system under the NAEP is the Training and Visit (T&V) system. This system is based on transfer of technology to famers for increased productivity. The capacity of small holder farmers to take advantage of these new innovations depends on many factors including the educational level of men and women farmers; their household resources, access to markets, the availability of local producer organisations and their willingness to collaborate with new producer groups.Human and social capital development of the extension chain is growingly becoming cardinal to the accomplishement of the mandate of agriculture. It is the focus of this paper to identify important issues within the agricultural and rural extension service institutions that have contributed directly to the use of these innovations in improving rural livelihoods and in educating farmers to use sustainable natural resource management practices for poverty reduction and attainment of major development objectives.One hundred and thirty Extensions workers (130) sampled for this study ranked human and social capital frameworks as more vital to the improvement of rural livelihoods than the traditional transfer of technology technique employed by the extension directorate. The study also thus provides empirical evidence to conclude that a very high correlation exist between human and social capital frameworks within the Ghanaian extension process. The findings suggests that human and social capital should be more recognised by policy makers as key issues in the extension and rural development process hampering (when weak) or supporting (when strong) the implementation of agricultural and rural development policies in Ghana. This paper advocates a shift in emphasis from technology transfer approach to human and social capital development approach with specific attention on increasing management skills and knowledge that poorly educated farm households need to double household income. The continuing market intergration has made it necessary to consider business management of farms with public extension systems focusing on post harvest handling of produce and organisation of small scale farmers into viable entities. Introduction Agriculture is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy and the major source of income for rural populations. The importance of agricultural and rural extension to agricultural development is reflected in the governments strategic policy documents, Vision 2020 and the Accelerated
  • 3. Agricultural Growth and Development Strategy (AAGDS). These strategies supported by agricultural and rural extension services, are envisaged to contribute to the achievement of average agriculture sector growth of 6% per annum expected to raise total GDP growth from 5% to annual average of 8% (MOFA). In Ghana, most farming is characterised by small holder farming and traditional production methods with large scale commercial farming almost non-existent in most rural communities. As a result, the implementation of the National Agricultural Extension Project (NAEP) started in 1992 has focused on transfer of improved technology to small-scale farmers with the view to raising subsistence farming into commercial farming. According to Swanson (2008), eventhough this traditional role has served many purposes in the past, there is growing evidence that extension services aimed at improving the human and social capital of rural populations is the primary driver for agricultural development in sub-saharan Africa. He argues further that, developing the Agricultural Knowledge Innovations System (AKIS) within agricultural and rural development framework, will significantly increase the knowledge and skills of farmers in post harvest handling of high value crops. More importantly, it will further enhance the leadership and organizational skills of beneficiaries for establishing commodity specific organisations (CBOs), Socio-economic and Gender Based Organisations (GBOs), Natural Resource Management Based Organisations (NBOs), Farmer Co-operatives and Youth Based Organisations (YBOs) in Ghana. As Extension is not only limited to increased food production, extension and rural development programmes should be broadened to also capture the actual needs of small scale farmers. In Ghana for example, agricultural extensions role is not only to benefit farmers technologically but also socially, economically and financially. Human and Social capital development frameworks as opposed to the transfer of technology reflect and serve the diversity of small-scale farmers real needs, which the public extension system often overlooks due to institutional gaps. Mordern management advisory services through individual farmer group needs is thus adapted to improve rural livelihoods. Farmer groups must boost their knowledge in farm management in order to adapt to demands of market economy and improve profitability.
  • 4. The extension system that builds the human and social capital of small holder farmers is the most rewarding rural extension measure to beneficiaries in Ghana. It also has a lasting impact on agricultural production, food security and enviromental management goals. Farm management extension must focus on all management possibilities of putting technology intervention into practice for improved access to inputs, commercial marketing channels and enviromental sustainability (CTA 1997). The need for enhancing the human and social capital development in extension work becomes imperative as major changes plague the agricultural and rural development sector in recent years. Some of the major changes include the success of the Green Revolution increasing the worlds food supply, the growth of the commercial farm sector particularly in the developed countries; and trade liberalization, which is contributing to a rapidly developing world food system with lasting effects on developing countries (World Bank, 2006). Other internal changes such as the decentralization of Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 1987, rationalisation of public extension delivery under the national Unified Agricultural Extension Services (UAES) initiative and withdrawal of MoFA from the procurement and distribution of agricultural inputs including microfinance and micro enterprise development of rural societies have also impacted the extension frameworks. According to Adusei (2004), these changes (internal and external) have a significant bearing on the quality and timeliness of extension services delivery to small holder farmers. This supports the ealier assertion by Fiadjoe (2000), that these changes have proved the existing extension frameworks inefficient and has called for alternate approaches in agricultural and rural extension delivery in Ghana. It is the point of view of extension scholars that, as more and more production technologies become private goods and as an increasing percentage of farmers become commercialized producers, other extension approaches such as the Farmer Field Schools, Outgrower Schemes, Community Livestock Worker Model, Vocational Farmer Training, Input Supply Extension, Contract extension will become much more significant to public extension institutions in Ghana. Accordingly, rural households will be further burdened to find more effective ways of improving livelihoods if the cumulative effects of these changes are not immediately tackled by a new public exension policy framework.
  • 5. The purpose of this paper is to provide a new framework for understanding this process with different roles and approaches that public, private and civil society organisations in Ghana including Non-Govermental Organisations (NGOs), Private Voluteer Organisations (PVOs) and Farmer-Based Organisations (FBOs) can play to attain primary goals of increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods and ensuring the sustainability of natural enviroment. THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS The term extension was first used to describe adult education programmes in England in the second half of the 19th Century; these programmes helped extend the work of the universities beyond campus and into the neighbouring communities (Blackburn, 1984). The term was later adopted in the United States with the establishement of land grant universities that included research activities, extension activities as part of the official university mandate to the teaching function. During the same period the mandate was transferred to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. During the 20th century, most public extension systems in developing countries like Ghana were centrally funded and top-down in structure. The primary focus was on national food security and as green revolution technologies became available, extension had a positive impact on agricultural productivity by helping transfer technologies to small-scale farmers on food production. Food security targets at national levels were largely achieved throughout the world. However, while the global supply of major food crops increased during the 1990s, world food prices have followed a continous declining trend weakening the income of small-smale fa