Using ICTs is only worthwhile when they are tailored to match the capabilities of both the extension agents and the farmers and the social and policy context is well understood.
Photo: J. Boethling

11.03.2014

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Today, it would be difficult to imagine agricultural extension without modern information and communication technologies. What they can do, where they fit in, and where they reach their limits is shown in the following examples.

Extension and advisory services are relevant to agricultural and rural transformation processes, especially for millions of smallholder farmers, who remain the bedrock of the agricultural and food supply chains in developing countries. However, extension alone cannot lift millions out of poverty unless there is the right mix of policies, technologies, and market opportunities. This must be complimented by farmers who have the knowledge and skills, trust the system and the information and knowledge sources, and are willing and able to make the necessary investments. Extension agents also need to continuously develop new capacities and keep abreast of technological developments. The Nairobi Declaration, emanating from the 2011 international conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services, states inter-alia that “the renewed national, continental and global interest and commitments for increasing investment in agriculture, provide an opportunity for delivering extension and advisory services that are farmer-centred, participatory, well-funded, demand-driven and performance oriented” (Nairobi Declaration, 2011).

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