Farmers’ own knowledge is seen as an important resource to draw upon.
Photo: © M. van Eckert/GIZ


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Over the last few decades, the range of agricultural extension and advisory services as well as the notions of which tools and methods are most suitable have seen fundamental changes. Our authors give an overview of old and new approaches, showing what we already know and where there is a need for more information.

We live in a complex and ever-changing world, with a growing population faced with increasing needs for food, fibre, and fuel, coupled with the challenge of maintaining natural resources. When we throw in issues such as climate change and uncertain markets, this means that innovation in agriculture – with the requisite sharing of information and access to input and output markets – is essential to meet these challenges.

Agricultural extension and advisory services are increasingly seen as a key means to promote innovation. These services help farmers deal with risk and change, by improving their livelihoods and strengthening their capacities. They assist in spreading new ideas and sharing existing technologies and practices, as well as in supporting the organisation of farmers and linking them to markets. In addition to agriculture and production, advisory services are also hyped to address challenges such as nutrition education and rebuilding after crises.

From a “green revolution approach” to a global forum

This interest has not always been a given.

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