Economies in many developing countries are growing, creating opportunities for people to escape poverty. However, income generating opportunities and access to sufficient nutritious food are often limited in these countries, preventing people from reaping the benefits of regional economic growth. KIT has been awarded a grant of Euro 300.000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study and inventorise good practices and valuable lessons on publicly funded agricultural advisory and extension systems that are critical to the performance of agricultural production systems in low- and medium-income countries. KIT will undertake this study in Tanzania, Ethiopia and India. A key question to be examined is whether and how public investments can stimulate and enhance true transformation of the agricultural sector.
From ambitions to results
Public investments in the agricultural sector are expected to yield substantial results, given the need to feed a growing population. But do these programmes truly contribute to profound system changes? Do they deliver results such as increased agricultural productivity and farm profitability? And do they benefit women, who are often the main producers of food? In this study, KIT will review past and current experiences in enhancing the performance and impacts of publicly funded agricultural advisory and extension services. ”Do farmers have better access to information when digital and radio-based extension services are introduced? Is this information of good quality and relevant to all categories of producers, such as women and youth? And how can we make the service providers more accountable for impact” These questions are some of those to be examined in the study.
KIT will lead a participatory research process that involves key stakeholders such as ministries of agriculture, non-governmental organisations and private service providers. A series of studies will be conducted, including interviews with global thinkers and stakeholders in these three countries to analyse current obstacles to advisory and extension system performance. This will result in well-grounded, argued investment policy advice to governments and other advisory bodies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its grantees operating in this space, to make informed choices for future investments in the agricultural sector.
From good intentions to meaningful impact
Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters, leader of the study: ‘Strong civil society organisations, supportive policies and an engaged private sector have the potential to generate economic growth and enhanced agricultural production that benefits all. There are many good intentions, but the real challenge is to translate these intentions into meaningful impact. In the coming decades we need to transform agricultural production systems if we want to feed the world. Access to agricultural markets and sufficient nutritious food is more than enhancing production alone; it is also about empowering women, creating job opportunities for young people, and making agricultural practices more sustainable. At KIT our mission is to share knowledge and expertise with our partners to support them and their constituencies achieve greater impacts. We promote inclusive forms of agricultural development that enable more people to benefit from economic growth and escape poverty. We are very pleased to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in achieving that mission.’