1. Integrating Innovative and Interactive
Methodologies in Popular Extension
Approaches: The Biovision Farmer
Communication Program in Africa
Programme Coordinator, Biovision Farmer Communication Program
Presented at The World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, 15 March 2011
• A mix of historical land use challenges, climate variability and ongoing climate
change has rendered livestock and crop production systems too weak to prevent
widespread and environmental degradation, increasing poverty, food insecurity,
poor nutritional feeding practices.
• Further population growth continues to increase unabated – Kenya’s population has
reached about 40 million, supported by 23% of the land’s arable land.
• Sustainable agriculture (SA) is important for meeting local food requirements while
providing protection and sustainable use of locally-available natural resources.
• SA is particularly appropriate for the rural communities that are currently most
exposed to food shortages.
• There is need to boost agricultural productivity and add value in the agri-food chain
in sustainable ways that will reduce food insecurity and malnutrition among the
vulnerable households living in rural communities.
• Access to information on relevant technologies and practices is central – Extension is
critical to this process.
3. What is Extension?
Advisory services - to assist farmers to make decisions on solving problems
Extension education - educational activity which seeks to teach people how
to solve problems by providing and extending information
Technology transfer - activity which facilitates the transfer of research
results for scientists by extension officers into agricultural knowledge and then
implementation into useful farm practices, in local conditions
Human resource management - activity for capacity building
Extension can be used to describe the broad function of communication of
information from all relevant sources to assist in the process of change and
innovation in different fields (agriculture, health, cooperative, etc) including
people’s capacity and self-sufficiency in resolving problems and making
integrated management decisions.
4. Common Elements in Definitions of Extension
• Is an intervention – plays function
• Uses communication as instrument to induce
• Can be effective only through voluntary change
• Focuses on target processes and outcomes - adult
and continuing education of men and women
• Deployed by any person or public or private
institution technically qualified in the subject of
5. Common Elements in Definitions of Extension
1. Extension as an Intervention
It is a goal-oriented, planned, programmed, and systematically designed,
Intervening in terms of formulating objectives, designing and testing strategy,
deploying resources, implementing and evaluating.
2. Extension uses communication as instrument to induce change
Communication instrument used in extension for inducing change; uses
subsidies or regulations;
Communication involves the use of symbols, packages of matter/energy which
can elicit meaning.
3. Extension can be effective only through voluntary change
Effectiveness depends on people’s willingness to be persuaded, on the extent
to which they see extension as serving their own interests and benefit –
purposive assistance to decision-making and opinion formation.
The logic of extension requires that one seeks to induce voluntary change.
6. Common Elements in Definitions of Extension- cont’d
4. Extension focuses on different target processes and outcomes
At individual level – targets behaviours, attitudes, knowledge,
decision-making, opinion formation, etc.;
At social or collective level - advertising, political agendas, publicity,
Target processes – e.g. cheap and quality food for consumers,
nature conservation, preventing health hazards, reducing birthrates,
ensuring a sustainable use of the environment, emancipation,
greater equity, energy conservation.
5. Extension is deployed by an institution
Extension requires finance, it is a professional activity, and it must
be paid for.
As an instrument extension is deployed by institutions such as
government institutions, voluntary agencies, commercial companies,
7. Evolution of the Agricultural Extension Service
The agricultural extension system in Kenya has evolved through
various stages since colonial and post -independence eras.
A) Pre-Independence Period Extension Approaches
• Mainly tailored towards settler and commercial farming systems.
• Well packaged programs that combined extension services with
credit and subsidized inputs.
• However, the extension approach used for indigenous Africans, who
were mainly engaged in subsistence farming and pastoralism, was
coercive in nature and therefore not readily accepted.
8. b) Post Independence Period extension Approaches
After independence, more persuasive and educational approaches and
methods were adopted.
•Establishment of Farmer and Pastoralist Training Centres (FTCs &
PTCs) in the 1960s and 1970s
•Integrated agricultural development (IAD) approach.
•Farming Systems (FS) and Training and Visit (T&V) approaches in the
1980s and 1990s .
•“Commodity specialised approach” used in the large export
commodity sub-sector spearheaded by commodity boards and private
Generally, all the approaches were essentially top-down and
lacked participation in articulating farmers’ demands.
9. c) Current Popular Extension Approaches
Lessons learnt from the previous approaches, have led to more participatory and demand-
driven extension approaches in recent years.
These are intended to tap farmer participation and private sector contribution in providing
extension services. Examples:
• Focal Area Approach (FAA) – ( Use of common interest groups (CIGs)
• Farmer Field Schools – Farmer to farmer extension
• Commodity-based approach - Commercial enterprises
• Multidisciplinary Mobile Extension Teams especially in ASAL areas
Whereas extension has emphasised on increasing production, it is now acknowledged
that linking production with processing and marketing is a prerequisite in transforming
agriculture from subsistence to commercial enterprise.
10. Extension Reform Principles and Interventions
o Participation o Staff motivation
o Gender-sensitivity o Broader technical mandate
of extension in line with
o Client-focus global developments
o Demand-driven o Development and
o Pluralism application of information
o Privatization (ICT) tools
o Decentralization o Monitoring, evaluation and
o Location- and purpose-
specific o Institutional linkages
11. Biovision in Kenya and Eastern Africa
• Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development - Bridges the gap
between research and the application and dissemination of research results
through environmentally sound, economically viable and technologically
appropriate agricultural methods to overcome hunger and poverty, and also
supports co-operation stakeholders in this process. Its strategic focus lies in
the dissemination of natural and locally available solutions in the 4-H areas,
applied and taught in model projects and often led by partner organisations.
• Biovision Activities in Eastern Africa – Diversified efforts – malaria control
and prevention, Camel programme for climate change, Push-pull strategies
for soil fertility improvement and striga control, long-term system control,
IPM against fruit flies, Income generation activities, Biodiversity conservation
& ecosystem services,
• Biovision Africa Trust - The BVAT was established by the Biovision
Foundation in 2009 to focus on developing and supporting processes that put
into use innovations that can lead to market-led sustainable agriculture for
welfare improvement of resource poor small-holder farmers in East Africa
12. Farmer Communication Programme (FCP)
Initiated in 2010 by icipe and Biovision Foundation to
address the synergies between the different
information projects to ensure that knowledge,
information and findings are rolled out in a practicable
format to reach farmers and other users.
13. Goal, Vision and Mission of FCP
Goal: Improve the livelihoods of small scale farmers in
Africa by systematic application of scientifically and
experientially validated research and education.
Vision:Sustained and productive smallholder
agriculture of the highest quality in terms of enhanced
food production, nutrition, incomes, as well as
Mission: Advance and improve access to information
on sustainable agriculture through innovations that
improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life.
14. Objectives of the FCP
• Enhance synergy among the information
communications projects and link them to other
• Create centres of excellence in rural information and
knowledge services linked to livelihood improvement
• Support building of technical capacity of information
change agents in R&D programmes/projects.
• Engage strategic partners to scale up access to and
utilization of information on appropriate innovations
in various sectors of sustainable agriculture.
15. FCP Theory of Change
Information Productive and
Farmer Deficient & Sustainable Farming
Communication Programme underperforming System
Enhanced access to
information, findings, •Limited information about Higher yields
knowledge on innovations technologies, practices, Higher incomes
(technologies, practices, systems Improved and stable
systems, etc) •Poor decision making food security
Efficient information delivery •Low technology adoption Improved nutrition
infrastructure •Low technology adaptation Stable environment
Enhanced access to inputs & •Poor livelihoods Improved welfare
STRATEGIC R&D PARTNERS
16. Innovations for Information Communication
A) Infonet-biovision (Infonet) - an internet-based information platform
An online and also offline system built with the aid of experts from reputable
national and international research organizations.
The applications offer trainers, extension workers and farmers quick access to
up-to-date and locally relevant information.
The platform contains detail on PLANT, HUMAN, ANIMAL and ENVIRONMENT
HEALTH. For example, it covers more than 40 crops and a range of issues such
as environmental management, malaria control, and nutritional illnesses.
The programme envisages to have the website linked to market applications
to inform/update farmers on latest market conditions and the buyers (the
market) on what is available.
Contributes to one of the National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy (NASEP)
objectives of encouraging and strengthening use of information and
communication technology (ICT) in extension delivery.
17. Innovations for Information Communication
B) Print: The Organic Farmer (TOF)
The magazine is produced every month and
distributed to a readership of over 200,000
receiving concrete guidance and practical tips on
how to use simple, cost-effective and
environmentally friendly practices.
C) Radio: TOF Radio
A weekly radio show in Swahili treating relevant
topics in coordination with TOF Magazines.
TOF Radio is received in Kenya and Tanzania and
has up to 5 million listeners.
18. Integrating and Adapting ICT Services
• Farmer learning resource centers/ i-TOF Centres:
Community-anchored and run information service
Equipped with computers and laptops (OLPC) that use solar panels – to overcome
problems of ICT infrastructure landscape
Facilitate processes of learning and acquiring technical knowledge on certain
agricultural practices as well as business management skills
Provide entry points for farm-to-market-chain-links (FMCL) – ICTs in the centre could
be used in the short to mid term in improving access to markets.
Such centres could easily graduate to offer services such as fax, internet, typing,
printing, scanning, and they are information centres, more like a research library.
Through this market-farmer-extension service interaction, high yielding input and
innovative practices can be communicated to farmers, and major agricultural markets
can inform farmers on required product specifications.
21. Integrating and Adapting ICT Services – Cont’d
• Interfaces to mobile phones and call centres – ASK TOF
Taking advantage of the provision of very affordable mobile phone
services that are widespread, the FCP programme has established a
call-in system for addressing FAQs.
Undertakes capacity building to other projects to use best available
technology (e.g. Safaricom) thereby scaling up its impact beyond its
Envisages to partners with others involved in enhancing marker
access to link farmers to markets by providing information on
product/service price, quantity, quality, and location
• Through partners
Currently several outreach activities, using Infonet as an information
base, take place through a range of different partners – NALEP,
KENFAP, NGOs, CBOS, etc.
23. Projected Ingredients for FCP Growth
To achieve a sound and sustainable FCP, strategic efforts and
partnerships will be needed in terms of:
• Content development and quality control processes –
• Outreach activities to enhance farmers’ access to information
and communication tools (e.g. Farmers’ resource centres,
information hubs, call centres) – (Strong Farmer
• Technical capacity building in information sourcing, packaging
and dissemination – (Competent Change Intermediaries)
• Resource mobilization of both technical and financial
resources - advocacy, networking and multi-sectoral
collaboration – (Committed Support from Donors and
24. Marketing and Sustainability of the FCP Cont’d
The programme will be supported by:
3. Biovision Foundation of Switzerland
5. Biovision Africa Trust
6. Foundations and Institutions
7. Research & Development Institutions
8. Member donors (individuals)
9. Back donors
25. Biovision Africa Trust (BVAT)
•Fund sustainable projects and initiatives in the agro sector that
focus on generation and dissemination of information on ecologically
sound and useful methods to improve human, animal, plant and
•Undertake research into the special problems facing small-holder
farmers in Kenya and other countries in Africa in order to provide
useful and practical solutions thereby alleviating poverty;
•Undertake educational programs amongst the targeted small-holder
communities either individually or in partnership with other players
(public, private, civil society);
•Provide leverage (Grants, assistance, etc) to other public charitable
trusts or institutions established for similar objectives.