This blog by Kristin Davis (IFPRI) and Steven Franzel (ICRAF), our colleagues working on extension and rural advisory services with PIM's Flagship 1, was originally published on Agrilinks as part of the "September is Agricultural Extension Month" series.
We said in an earlier post this month that we can’t talk about the future without mentioning youth. But what do youth (defined by the UN as ages 15-24 and the AU as ages 15-35) have to do with agriculture or agricultural extension? Aren’t most young people trying to get out of rural areas and are not interested in agriculture?
Photo by Andrew Oberstadt, Trees for the Future
Well, it’s not actually true that youth are not interested in agriculture. They are interested in rewarding careers, exciting technology, and earning incomes – and guess what, these do exist in agriculture (and extension). ICT innovations in particular attract young people to agriculture, retain young farmers, and help reverse negative perceptions among the youth.
For those of us working in extension and advisory services, the rising youth population seems to present a challenge: the growing pressure for countries to create economic opportunities for this growing segment of the population. But can’t this challenge be an opportunity as well?
The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project examined youth in extension and advisory services in Guatemala, Niger, and Rwanda. The objective was to design programs to support and strengthen the inclusion of youth in extension – both as providers and recipients of extension services. DLEC believes that supporting and strengthening the inclusion of youth in extension will improve their economic opportunities and livelihoods and increase the effectiveness of extension and advisory service systems – something DLEC is trying to achieve.
The diagnostic studies by DLEC showed a number of key points.
Where do we go from here if we want to invest in youth in extension and advisory services? First, think holistically using differentiated youth segments when preparing and implementing programs. Secondly, strategize and plan how to engage different youth segments as providers or recipients of extension, including use of ICT. Finally, be sure to monitor and collect data on youth engagement by gender and measure the impacts of programs on youth.
Strengthening private sector extension and advisory services (Agrilinks/DLEC webinar on Sept.11, 2019)
Future extension: Innovations and evidence (Upcoming PIM/DLEC/IFPRI event on November 7-8 , 2019)
The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project measurably improves extension programs, policies and services by creating locally-tailored, partnership-based solutions and by mobilizing active communities of practice to advocate for scaling proven approaches. Led by Digital Green in partnership with organizations such as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), DLEC is an action-oriented, evidence-based learning project. The CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) collaborates closely with DLEC through a range of activities, including ongoing impact evaluations and field experiments on ICT-enabled extension services in Ethiopia and Uganda, extension metrics and indicators, reform initiatives in public extension systems, and outreach to the global community of practice in agricultural extension and rural advisory services.
Top photo: Agricultural extension officer Sia Minja, Lushoto, Tanzania Credit: Georgina Smith / CIAT