Commercialization of Ethiopian agriculture: Extension service from input supplier to knowledge broker and facilitator
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Gebremedhin, B.; Hoekstra, D.; Tegegne, A. [Berhanu Gebremedhin; Azage Tegegne]. ILRI, Nairobi (Kenya). Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers Project (IPMS). 2006. Commercialization of Ethiopian agriculture: extension service from input supplier to knowledge broker and facilitator. IPMS Working Paper 1. Nairobi (Kenya): ILRI.
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Transforming Ethiopian agriculture from its current subsistence orientation into market orientated production system forms the basis of the agricultural development strategy of the Government of Ethiopia (GoE). The agricultural extension service is one of the institutional support services that has a central role to play in the transformation process. This paper makes use of literature review and information collected using Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) techniques in eight woredas of four Regional States of Oromiya, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia to assess the extension service development, and analyse the approaches and processes used by the current extension system. The paper also identifies some of the major bottlenecks in the extension system and suggests recommendations for a more market oriented support service. We find that the extension service is in the process of transition, with emphasis being shifted to the use of the newly established Farmers Training Centres (FTCs). The FTCs are expected to serve as hubs for the transfer of improved technologies and knowledge, skill development, and the provision of other institutional support services. We also find that agricultural extension service is provided almost exclusively by the government through the woreda (district) Offices of Agriculture and Rural Development (OoARD). Although the country is following market oriented agricultural development strategy, we find that the extension service that has been organized for achieving food security objectives has not yet been adapted (both in capacity and organizational structure) to provide extension service required for transforming subsistence agriculture to market oriented agriculture. Major problems of the extension system include top-down and non-participatory approach, primarily supply driven, low capacity of experts and development agents, low morale and high turnover of extension staff, and shortage of operational budget and facilities. It is recommended that steps be taken to adapt the extension service to fit into the market oriented development strategy. It is also recommended that support is provided to the extension services to develop pluralistic and interactive operational models geared towards market oriented agricultural development including involvement of the private sector extension through co-operatives and large-scale commercial production and marketing companies. The creation of agricultural innovation teams both at the federal and regional levels will help develop innovative approaches and capacities at the district level, thus contributing to the alleviation of the top-down nature of the extension service. Furthermore, it is recommended that the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) colleges be involved in the learning process and continuously include lessons learned in their curricula.