1.0 Policy Task Force to lead policy
1.0 INTRODUCTION Agriculturecontinues to be the mainstay of Liberia’s economy. Effective and efficientagricultural extension and advisory services are critical to unleashing theproductive potential of the thousands of smallholders whose livelihoods aredependent on agriculture. Liberia’s Food and Agriculture Policy and Strategy(2008) and the Liberia Agricultural Sector Investment Program (2010)call for transformation of Liberia’s extension services into a decentralizedand demand-driven system.
Extension services in Liberia are currently providedby public, some private, and an abundance of civil society sector actors. Therehas not been a referenced policy document to frame the process of transformingthe national extension system nor to provide guidance to agricultural extensionstakeholders.It is the intention of this NationalPolicy for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) to provide thelegal and enabling framework for the transformation of the existing extensionsystem into a pluralistic, decentralized, demand-driven, and market-orientedAEAS system that is responsive to cross-cutting issues such as gender,nutrition, HIV/AIDS, natural resource management, and climate change, and toprovide guidance to AEAS stakeholders.The Policy was developed through aparticipatory process.
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The MOA appointed an Extension Policy Task Force to leadpolicy development. The Task Force benefited from consultations via fieldvisits, group discussions, rapid surveys, and interviews with many stakeholdersincluding farmers and farmer organizations, extension agents, consultants, andrepresentatives of NGOs, agri-businesses, agricultural education institutions,donors, and international technical agencies.The consultative process culminatedin a Stakeholder Validation Workshop held in Monrovia on July 3, 2012 withrepresentation from a wide-range of stakeholders who provided additional inputfor the Policy. The National Policy for AEAS comes atan opportune time. Liberia is moving from relief and rehabilitation to an environmentof development and growth. The National Policy places AEAS in strong positionto contribute to national aims of achieving sustainable agricultural growth andfood security, improving family nutrition, and increasing farmers’ and othermarket actors’ incomes to help alleviate poverty nationwide.
Liberia’s National AgricultureExtension Service was established in 1960. It was a conventional top-downextension system that existed, with a limited number of extension officersattempting to pass on new technologies developed by researchers to the mass ofsmall-skilled farmers scattered across the country. It was generallysupply-driven with heavy emphasis on transfer of technology. It aimed topersuade farmers to adopt available technologies and had limited feedbackmechanisms on the value of extension.
As in most developing countries,especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the extension system was woefully under-resourced and the methods used(typically the World Bank supported “Training and Visit” System) provedineffective in exposing a large number of farmers to new technologies andpractices. The system completely collapsed during the period of the Civil War.Following the Civil War, the International Community provided extension assistance,largely through non-governmental organizations (NGO) and United NationsAgencies. 1.1 Background to the studyFollowing years of decline,agricultural extension is back on the development agenda. Extension is anessential part of the answer to realizing agricultural sector growth andpoverty reduction. It is a critical piece of the development puzzle. Extension and advisoryservices1 take on additional importance in the face of globalization, climatechange, population growth, increasingly high food prices, and the need tosustainably manage natural resources.
Considerable constraints toeffectively assessing the impact of agriculture Extension a questions remainsregarding the validity/reliability of theseassessments. Nonetheless, studies haveshown estimated rates of return to extension can be very high with ratesvarying widely. A meta-analysis of 289 studies found rates of return of 63% forthe 18 extension-only investments, 58% for research investments, and 37% forcombined investments in research and extension (Alston, Wyatt, Pardey, Marra,& Chan-Kang, 2000). Evenson’s (1997) review of 57 economic impact studiesfound rates greater than 50% for the majority of countries studied. Generally,extension has been shown to have significant and positive effects on knowledge,adoption, and productivity (Davis, 2008). In short, extension is indeed worththe investment. Liberia’s National Agriculture Extension Service wasestablished in 1960.
It was a conventional top-down extension system thatexisted with a limited number of extension officers attempting to pass on newtechnologies developed by researchers to the mass of small-scale farmersscattered across the country. The system was generally supply-driven with heavyemphasis on transfer of technology. It aimed to persuade farmers to adopt available technologies and had limitedfeedback mechanisms.
As in most developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the extensionsystem was woefully under-resourced and the methods used (typically the WorldBank supported “Training and Visit” System) proved ineffective in exposing alarge number of farmers to new technologies and practices. Extension in Liberiacompletely collapsed during the period of the Civil War. Following the CivilWar, the International Community provided extension assistance, largely throughnon-governmental. Notwithstanding progress, the currentpublic extension approach reflects historical legacy whereby the training thatis provided to farmers is delivered by district-based extension agents in theprevailing hierarchical linear ‘expert teaching mode’. Extension servicescontinue to be preoccupied with the supply and distribution of agriculturalinputs and equipment to farmers (often free of charge).
Although extensionapproaches which focus on engaging groups of farmers (largely through FFS typeapproaches) are becoming more widespread, there is limited emphasis on clientempowerment or participatory approachesfor extension program planning and development in rural communities.Public sector extension facesnumerous significant challenges. In particular, there is insufficientgeneration, dissemination and adoption of improved agricultural technologiesand practices; a lack of client-based program planning, implementation, andmonitoring and evaluation mechanisms; inadequate human, infrastructural, andinstitutional capacities; and constrained funding.Public sector extension has little of value to extend to extension clients andis unable to reach all those in the agricultural sector who could benefit fromagricultural extension information and advice currently, there are manyorganizations, agencies, and institutions involved in the provision ofagricultural extension in Liberia with NGOs playing a very important role.These services however are fragmented, uncoordinated, and sometimesduplicative. While the system is pluralistic, there is a lack of coordination,monitoring, and evaluation of services provided.
This project has a number of activitiesto address coordination, both within the MOA and across the larger extensionclient and service provider community. 1.2 Statement of the Research problem Liberia chooses to use the term”agricultural extension and advisory services” (AEAS) to identify its nationalsystem. As earlier noted, the terms extension and advisory services are usedinterchangeably.
AEAS are defined much more broadly than the traditional viewwhich holds that extension primarily transferstechnology and trains farmers to increase production and improve yields. AEASare a system that: 4 ? facilitates the access of women,men, and young farmers, their organizations and other market actors (e.g.,processors, consolidators, traders) to knowledge5, information, andtechnologies; ? facilitates their interactions witheach other and with partners in research, education, agri-business, banks, andother relevant institutions; and ?assists them to develop their own technical, organizational, and managementskills and practices. The most basic problem is thatLiberia’s extension system is very weak, unable to serve the thousands offarmers, as well as other clients along market chains, that could benefit fromefficient and effective extension services and experience improvements inproductivity and income.
The foundation for improving this system is in place.However, the key functions of an extension service are not being adequatelycarried-out. These key functions are · Source and transformresearch-based and indigenous knowledge of improved technologies and practicesthose are remunerative into extension messages and materials. ?Improve farmer, and other market actors, access to and knowledge ofremunerative improved technologies and practices. ? Assist farmers, and other market actors, to make optimal use oftheir available resources to ensure access to food and income for theirfamilies.
? Help farmers solve their agricultural problems and improve theirfarm and natural resource management and marketing skills. ? Organize farmers into producer groups (e.g., production,processing, marketing, storage, and/or transport) to build social capital andstrengthen their market position, with particular emphasis on “profits”. Based upon this, the researcher willdecide to make an assessment on the impacts of Agriculture Extension Workers onthe farming system in Bong County.
A Case study: The Role of Association ofEvangelicals of Liberia (AEL) in two districts from 2010 -2017. 1.3 Research questionsThefollowing questions will serve as research questions to guide this research: 1. What have been the roles of AEL agricultureextension workers in zota and Sanoyea in the farming system? 2. What impact has the role of AELagriculture extension workers made to improve the economic status of thefarmers in the agricultural sectors? 3. What has beenthe cause for qualified agricultural extension workers not wanting to come in the field in BongCounty?4. What role hasthe Government of Liberia played in solving the shortage of agricultural extension workers in BongCounty? 1.
4 Objective of the researchThegeneral objective of the research is to assess the impacts of AgricultureExtension Workers on the farming system in Bong County: “A case study the roleof Association of Evangelicals of Liberia in two districts in Bong County (Sonayea and Zota) from 2010-2017.Thespecific objectives of the research will be:1. Tofind out the roles of AEL agricultural extension workers in farming system insonayea and zota in Bong County. 2. Todetermine the impacts of AEL agricultural extension workers in making potentialfarmers in Bong County.
3. To investigatewhat has been the cause of the lack of agricultural extension workers in thefield. 4. Tofind out the role the Government of Liberia has played in solving the shortage of agriculturalextension workers in Bong County. 1.5 Significance of the ResearchLiberia chooses to use the term”agricultural extension and advisory services” (AEAS) to identify its nationalsystem. As earlier noted, the terms extension and advisory services are usedinterchangeably.
Agriculture Extension Advisory Services (AEAS) are definedmuch more broadly than the traditional view which holds that extensionprimarily transfers technology and trains farmers to increase production and improve yields. As a result, less concernhas been done to farmers. The researcher therefore, decided to investigate therole of Agriculture Extension Workers on the farming system in Bong County witha case study of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) in twodistricts in Bong County ( Zota and Sanoyea) from 2010-2017.1.
6 Limitation of the studyResearchby nature has its own challenges which are normally referred to as limitations.Therefore, the researcher predicts that this work will be limited by thefollowing factors:(a) Lackof finance to adequate carry out this research;(b) Badroad conditions to the districts targeted for the research; (c) Engagingin other courses which are equally challenges faced by the researcher; and(d) Sometimesthe unwillingness for interviewees to give information out for fear of severalreasons such as not to be known.1.
7Delimitation of the studyThe delimitationof this study will be the targeted institution for the research. 1.8Definition of key terms 1.9Organization of the studyThestudy will be organized into five chapters.
Chapter one will be theintroduction of the study which will cover the Background of the study,statement of the problem, research questions, objectives of the study,significance of the study, delimitation of the study, limitation of the study,definition of key terms and the organization of the study. Chapter two will bethe review of related Literature; chapter three will be the researchmethodology which will include the research design, research setting, researchpopulation, sampling and sampling techniques, variables to be measured, dataorganization and methods of data analysis. Chapter four will present, analyzeand interpret the data of the study, and chapter five will summarize, concludeand make recommendations.