New extension approaches are needed to help farmers to access information, innovate and strengthen their capacities to solve problems. Government-funded agricultural extension systems have been facing declines in budget and staffing for the past decades in Africa, and many of the current methods are viewed as outdated.

There is increasing recognition that farmers learn as much as if not more from their peers as from outside trainers. Therefore interactive learning replaces transfer of technology as a principal function of the extension systems.

FoodAfrica Programme’s seventh Work Package is evaluating three innovative extension approaches: Volunteer farmer trainers, rural resource centers, and a market information system for underutilized tree products.

The research will determine factors affecting effectiveness, how effectiveness can be improved, and how it varies by gender and well-being status. Costs, benefits and sustainability of each approach will be assessed.

The emphasis is placed on improving access for women and poor. When the most effective methods for innovative extension approaches are identified, practical tools and guidelines will be developed.