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1.0 Policy Task Force to lead policy

1.0 
INTRODUCTION

 
Agriculture
continues to be the mainstay of Liberia’s economy. Effective and efficient
agricultural extension and advisory services are critical to unleashing the
productive potential of the thousands of smallholders whose livelihoods are
dependent on agriculture. Liberia’s Food and Agriculture Policy and Strategy
(2008) and the Liberia Agricultural Sector Investment Program (2010)
call for transformation of Liberia’s extension services into a decentralized
and demand-driven system. Extension services in Liberia are currently provided
by public, some private, and an abundance of civil society sector actors. There
has not been a referenced policy document to frame the process of transforming
the national extension system nor to provide guidance to agricultural extension
stakeholders.

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It is the intention of this National
Policy for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) to provide the
legal and enabling framework for the transformation of the existing extension
system into a pluralistic, decentralized, demand-driven, and market-oriented
AEAS system that is responsive to cross-cutting issues such as gender,
nutrition, HIV/AIDS, natural resource management, and climate change, and to
provide guidance to AEAS stakeholders.

The Policy was developed through a
participatory process. The MOA appointed an Extension Policy Task Force to lead
policy development. The Task Force benefited from consultations via field
visits, group discussions, rapid surveys, and interviews with many stakeholders
including farmers and farmer organizations, extension agents, consultants, and
representatives of NGOs, agri-businesses, agricultural education institutions,
donors, and international technical agencies.

The consultative process culminated
in a Stakeholder Validation Workshop held in Monrovia on July 3, 2012 with
representation from a wide-range of stakeholders who provided additional input
for the Policy.

The National Policy for AEAS comes at
an opportune time. Liberia is moving from relief and rehabilitation to an environment
of development and growth. The National Policy places AEAS in strong position
to contribute to national aims of achieving sustainable agricultural growth and
food security, improving family nutrition, and increasing farmers’ and other
market actors’ incomes to help alleviate poverty nationwide.

 

Liberia’s National Agriculture
Extension Service was established in 1960. It was a conventional top-down
extension system that existed, with a limited number of extension officers
attempting to pass on new technologies developed by researchers to the mass of
small-skilled farmers scattered across the country. It was generally
supply-driven with heavy emphasis on transfer of technology. It aimed to
persuade farmers to adopt available technologies and had limited feedback
mechanisms on the value of extension. As in most developing countries,
especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the extension system was woefully under-resourced and the methods used
(typically the World Bank supported “Training and Visit” System) proved
ineffective in exposing a large number of farmers to new technologies and
practices. The system completely collapsed during the period of the Civil War.
Following the Civil War, the International Community provided extension assistance,
largely through non-governmental organizations (NGO) and United Nations
Agencies.

 

 

1.1 Background to the study

Following years of decline,
agricultural extension is back on the development agenda. Extension is an
essential part of the answer to realizing agricultural sector growth and
poverty reduction. It is a critical piece of the development puzzle. Extension and advisory
services1 take on additional importance in the face of globalization, climate
change, population growth, increasingly high food prices, and the need to
sustainably manage natural resources.

                       Considerable constraints to
effectively assessing the impact of agriculture                      Extension a questions remains
regarding the validity/reliability of these
assessments. Nonetheless, studies have
shown estimated rates of return to extension can be very high with rates
varying widely. A meta-analysis of 289 studies found rates of return of 63% for
the 18 extension-only investments, 58% for research investments, and 37% for
combined investments in research and extension (Alston, Wyatt, Pardey, Marra,
& Chan-Kang, 2000). Evenson’s (1997) review of 57 economic impact studies
found rates greater than 50% for the majority of countries studied. Generally,
extension has been shown to have significant and positive effects on knowledge,
adoption, and productivity (Davis, 2008). In short, extension is indeed worth
the investment. Liberia’s National Agriculture Extension Service was
established in 1960. It was a conventional top-down extension system that
existed with a limited number of extension officers attempting to pass on new
technologies developed by researchers to the mass of small-scale farmers
scattered across the country. The system was generally supply-driven with heavy
emphasis on transfer of technology. It aimed to persuade farmers to adopt available technologies and had limited
feedback mechanisms. As in most developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the extension
system was woefully under-resourced and the methods used (typically the World
Bank supported “Training and Visit” System) proved ineffective in exposing a
large number of farmers to new technologies and practices. Extension in Liberia
completely collapsed during the period of the Civil War. Following the Civil
War, the International Community provided extension assistance, largely through
non-governmental.

Notwithstanding progress, the current
public extension approach reflects historical legacy whereby the training that
is provided to farmers is delivered by district-based extension agents in the
prevailing hierarchical linear ‘expert teaching mode’. Extension services
continue to be preoccupied with the supply and distribution of agricultural
inputs and equipment to farmers (often free of charge). Although extension
approaches which focus on engaging groups of farmers (largely through FFS type
approaches) are becoming more widespread, there is limited emphasis on client
empowerment or participatory approaches
for extension program planning and development in rural communities.

Public sector extension faces
numerous significant challenges. In particular, there is insufficient
generation, dissemination and adoption of improved agricultural technologies
and practices; a lack of client-based program planning, implementation, and
monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; inadequate human, infrastructural, and
institutional capacities; and constrained funding.
Public sector extension has little of value to extend to extension clients and
is unable to reach all those in the agricultural sector who could benefit from
agricultural extension information and advice currently, there are many
organizations, agencies, and institutions involved in the provision of
agricultural extension in Liberia with NGOs playing a very important role.
These services however are fragmented, uncoordinated, and sometimes
duplicative. While the system is pluralistic, there is a lack of coordination,
monitoring, and evaluation of services provided. This project has a number of activities
to address coordination, both within the MOA and across the larger extension
client and service provider community.

 

1.2 Statement of the Research problem                                           

Liberia chooses to use the term
“agricultural extension and advisory services” (AEAS) to identify its national
system. As earlier noted, the terms extension and advisory services are used
interchangeably. AEAS are defined much more broadly than the traditional view
which holds that extension primarily transfers
technology and trains farmers to increase production and improve yields. AEAS
are a system that: 4

? facilitates the access of women,
men, and young farmers, their organizations and other market actors (e.g.,
processors, consolidators, traders) to knowledge5, information, and
technologies;

                                              

? facilitates their interactions with
each other and with partners in research, education, agri-business, banks, and
other relevant institutions; and

 

?
assists them to develop their own technical, organizational, and management
skills and practices.

 

The most basic problem is that
Liberia’s extension system is very weak, unable to serve the thousands of
farmers, as well as other clients along market chains, that could benefit from
efficient and effective extension services and experience improvements in
productivity and income. The foundation for improving this system is in place.
However, the key functions of an extension service are not being adequately
carried-out. These key functions are

 

· Source and transform
research-based and indigenous knowledge of improved technologies and practices
those are remunerative into extension messages and materials.

 

?
Improve farmer, and other market actors, access to and knowledge of
remunerative improved technologies and practices.

 

? Assist farmers, and other market actors, to make optimal use of
their available resources to ensure access to food and income for their
families.

 

? Help farmers solve their agricultural problems and improve their
farm and natural resource management and marketing skills.

 

? Organize farmers into producer groups (e.g., production,
processing, marketing, storage, and/or transport) to build social capital and
strengthen their market position, with particular emphasis on “profits”. Based upon this, the researcher will
decide to make an assessment on the impacts of Agriculture Extension Workers on
the farming system in Bong County. A Case study: The Role of Association of
Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) in two districts from 2010 -2017.

 

1.3 Research questions

The
following questions will serve as research questions to guide this research:

 1. What have been the roles of AEL agriculture
extension workers in zota   and        

     Sanoyea 
 in the farming system?

 

  2. What impact has the role of AEL
agriculture extension workers made to  

      improve the economic status of the
farmers in the agricultural sectors?

 

3. What has been
the cause for qualified agricultural extension workers not

    wanting to come in the field in Bong
County?

4. What role has
the Government of Liberia played in solving the shortage of

    agricultural extension workers in Bong
County?

 

1.4 Objective of the research

The
general objective of the research is to assess the impacts of Agriculture
Extension Workers on the farming system in Bong County: “A case study the role
of Association of Evangelicals of Liberia in two districts  in Bong County (Sonayea and Zota) from 2010-2017.

The
specific objectives of the research will be:

1.    
To
find out the roles of AEL agricultural extension workers in farming system in
sonayea and zota in Bong County.

 

2.    
To
determine the impacts of AEL agricultural extension workers in making potential
farmers in Bong County.

 

3.     To investigate
what has been the cause of the lack of agricultural extension workers in the
field.

 

4.    
To
find out the role the Government of Liberia has played in    solving the shortage of agricultural
extension workers in Bong County.

 

1.5 Significance of the Research

Liberia chooses to use the term
“agricultural extension and advisory services” (AEAS) to identify its national
system. As earlier noted, the terms extension and advisory services are used
interchangeably. Agriculture Extension Advisory Services (AEAS) are defined
much more broadly than the traditional view which holds that extension
primarily transfers technology and trains farmers to increase production and improve yields. As a result, less concern
has been done to farmers. The researcher therefore, decided to investigate the
role of Agriculture Extension Workers on the farming system in Bong County with
a case study of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) in two
districts in Bong County ( Zota and Sanoyea) from 2010-2017.

1.6 Limitation of the study

Research
by nature has its own challenges which are normally referred to as limitations.
Therefore, the researcher predicts that this work will be limited by the
following factors:

(a)  Lack
of finance to adequate carry out this research;

(b) Bad
road conditions to the districts 
targeted for the research;

(c)  Engaging
in other courses which are equally challenges faced by the researcher; and

(d) Sometimes
the unwillingness for interviewees to give information out for fear of several
reasons such as not to be known.

1.7
Delimitation of the study

The delimitation
of this study will be the targeted institution for the research.

 

1.8
Definition of key terms

 

1.9
Organization of the study

The
study will be organized into five chapters. Chapter one will be the
introduction of the study which will cover the Background of the study,
statement of the problem, research questions, objectives of the study,
significance of the study, delimitation of the study, limitation of the study,
definition of key terms and the organization of the study. Chapter two will be
the review of related Literature; chapter three will be the research
methodology which will include the research design, research setting, research
population, sampling and sampling techniques, variables to be measured, data
organization and methods of data analysis. Chapter four will present, analyze
and interpret the data of the study, and chapter five will summarize, conclude
and make recommendations.

 

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