Small-scale agricultural production has always been a risky business. What do an extension and advisory services (EAS) have to do with agricultural risk and risk management options?
Extension and advisory services play an important role in agricultural development for food and nutrition security, food sovereignty, and economic stability. They help smallholders deal with risk and change. However, advisory services need new capacities to address today’s challenges in agriculture and to contribute better to agricultural innovation – a process that that requires interactions and knowledge flows among a wide range of actors in the agricultural innovation system. Innovation is critical in dealing with risk.
The “new” extensionist is a global view of EAS that reinvents and clearly articulates the role of EAS in the rapidly-changing rural and agricultural context. It argues for an expanded role for EAS within agricultural innovation systems and the development of new capacities to play this role. These capacities are required at three levels: the individual, organizational, and system level. The ability to cope with risk and manage change involves technical capacities but much more. To cope in an ever-changing world and to help their clientele to do so, capacities are needed for brokering and facilitation, management and innovation, development frameworks and regulations, and governance and coordination, to name a few.
This presentation will define EAS and explain the important role they play in the agricultural innovation system approach. It will present the “new” extensionist and look at how the new roles and capacities of EAS can help contribute to the management of risk and change.
Dr. Kristin Elizabeth Davis has a Ph.D. in international agricultural extension with a minor in farming systems from the University of Florida. In 2004 she moved to Addis Ababa to work as a researcher with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Her work with IFPRI involved research and capacity strengthening on agricultural extension and other development issues with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. In January 2010, she was seconded to the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) as Executive Secretary, where her work involves providing voice for advisory services within global policy dialogues and promoting improved investment in RAS; supporting the development and synthesis of evidence-based approaches and policies for improving the effectiveness of RAS; and strengthening actors and fora in RAS through facilitating interaction and networking.