An overview of our community-based extension work
Access to information and new ideas to improve agricultural practice is important for small scale farmers. Practical Action not only trains farmer groups directly in a range of technologies, but community extensionists are also trained to provide advice and support services that are accessible to the wider community and will last far beyond the project lifecycle. Many hundreds of extensionists have been trained across Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Nepal and Peru.
Community based extension involves training community representatives to support farmers with advice, services and inputs on an on-going basis. Extensionists are trained animal health, agriculture, fisheries or horticulture. They provide advice on animal, crop or fisheries management, give services such as vaccinations or training, and sell inputs such as medicines and seeds. Community extensionists can earn an income from charging for their services or making some profit on the inputs they sell.
Community based extension builds crucial links between the communities and extensionists and beyond to government extension departments and private input suppliers. Extension services are critical in order to facilitate access to up to date information, skills and technologies that can enable communities to adapt to various long term trends.
Extension services are an important channel for accessing improved agricultural production technologies. However, government extension services rarely reach the poorest community members and state run services are increasingly being phased out in favour of private sector providers. Private providers tend not to reach farmers in remote areas and are geared towards advice relating to the sale of inputs rather than low external input technologies that are more appropriate to resource poor farmers.
Community based extension is a successful approach to fill the gap in existing extension services. Community members are selected to train in agriculture, horticulture, animal health and fisheries and because they live in local communities they are cost effective and are more aware of local resources and constraints.
Community animal health workers, for example, are able to provide vaccinations that have reduced the incidence of disease outbreaks as coverage is greatly enhanced due to involvement of local extensionists in campaigns and notification of disease outbreaks.
In the pastoralist district of Mandera in Northern Kenya, donkeys play an essential part of people’s livelihoods. They are essential in pulling carts to markets, to go and collect water many miles away, collect firewood and are crucial in the thriving trade between Kenya, Somalia and Eth...Read more
Participatory technology development is an approach that promotes farmer driven technology innovation through participatory processes and skills building involving experimentation to allow small scale farmers to make better choices about available technologies. These innovations could be in im...Read more
In Nepal, remote communities are often cut off from local markets due to the steep terrain making journeys difficult and lengthy. As part of the ‘Access to Opportunities’ Project, Practical Action installed a gravity ropeway which has helped improve access to local markets and esse...Read more
In Peru, Practical Action is at the forefront of helping people to adjust to the increasing threat from climate change. We are implementing projects that are helping communities in some of the poorest rural areas of the country to deal with the most frequent disaster risks and hazards. The reg...Read more
From 2005 until 2009 Practical Action carried out a food and nutritional security project for resource poor farmers in Jamalpur and Faridpur Districts in Bangladesh (the FoSHoL Project). As part of this project 751 rural technology extensionists were trained as ambassadors for their local ...Read more