For higher value crops such as cotton, private sector companies often work with contract farmers or with outgrowers and provide technical advice.
Photo: J. Boethling


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Providing extension and advisory services is expensive. There are salaries to be paid, transporta­tion and operational funds to be provided, buildings to be rented or built, demonstration plots to maintain, and continued education to be offered to the extension staff. And then there is the need to continually invest in an overall functioning agricultural innovation system with strong research and teaching institutions, enabling policies, as well as to make capital investments in rural infrastructure that will not only benefit the farming population. Where are these funds to come from, and will these expenditures pay off?

“The quality of spending to agriculture is more important than the overall level of spending.” (Akroyd and Smith, 2007)


Delivery of extension and advisory services takes place from a plurality of actors including the public sector (especially via a national extension service, but also through public universities and agricultural colleges), the private sector (seed dealers and agro-vet suppliers, fee for service extension providers, or extension agents employed by out-grower programmes and contract farming operations), as well as through local NGO and international NGO providers. Even within the public systems around the world, there is variation along the lines of decentralised control of finance, use of bonuses or performance-linked payments to agents, contracting in of donor-funded extension projects, and other practices.

Public sector financed and delivered. World-wide, the public sector remains the primary source of funds for extension services, and the public sector extension services deliver the bulk of extension messages and activities.

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