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Making Farming Easier Through Agriculture Extension Services

By Denise Phelps on October 2, 2015

india farmers

There are numerous demands on a farmer’s time and the complex decisions needed to manage their work and businesses. The panelists at the “Future of Ag Extension Services” break out, during the ICT4 Agriculture conference emphasized how managing all these different services can make it difficult for farmers to focus on their primary goal, farming. This is why the future of Ag services is in establishing a central community focused organization that can help manage these services for farmers.

The Top three benefits of a single organization managing all extension services for farmers:

  • Constant two way dialogue between service providers and farmers and the ability to negotiate and adapt services to better meet local farmer’s needs.
  • Greater ability to aggregate farmers and meet market requirements
  • Increased information about farmers that allows for better matching with available services

The range of services for farmers is continuing to grow to better meet their needs and help them be more productive, but that also means more time is going into understanding and managing the use of these services. Essentially what Ag Extension services are moving to do is function a lot like the personal secretary for farmers. Take all of the extra management and hassle out of running an agriculture business and help farmers run more effectively. However accomplishing this isn’t without its challenges.

The top three challenges for building this successful relationship include:

  • Establishing trust with the farmers and communicating the benefits of the company
  • Identifying influencers in a community to meet the threshold for the program to be effective and beneficial to a community
  • Building a corporate strategy and management into the services management company

While historically governments and development organizations have been the ones to promote extension services, there are also for profit organizations that offer extension services. The goal of the organization a central organization is to add value to the farmers and help them see the value of extension services and better manage their farms with them; which would result in direct output improvements.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is establishing that initial trust, and then building off of it to work with farmers to adopt new technologies. These types of structures have been successful in farmer cooperatives in South America, and the goal is to have this system function as a successful business model whereby a central organization manages relationships with extension services providers for farmers. Allowing the central organization to work not just for the benefit of individual farmers but for whole communities.

Filed Under: Agriculture
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Written by
Denise Phelps is an international health communication and ICT4D consultant.
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One Comment to “Making Farming Easier Through Agriculture Extension Services”

  1. Zoe Fairlamb says:

    I thought this was a great piece Denise. It’s very exciting to see technology beginning to make a real difference in agriculture.

    With WeFarm, a peer-to-peer mobile service via SMS, we have found that building trust is much harder in LATAM than in Africa.

    I think this is partly because there is a context for mobile-based services in Africa with M-Pesa and Ushaihidi, but I would be interested to hear your (and readers!) opinions on why it seems difficult to win farmers trust in LATAM? Do you think there is a cultural difference?