The project: “Agroecological Transition, Responsive Extension Approaches (ATREA)” is a response by the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) to contribute global effort in food systems through Agroecology responsive Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) in selected countries. In the need to change the paradigm that drives most current EAS activities, a holistic food system philosophy is needed, including sustainable livelihoods, market access, environmental protection, social equity, and inclusion.
The project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and co-financed by the European Union.
A paradigm grounded in agroecology is a clear alternative to the current “productivist” focus on consolidation, simplification, commodification and industrialization. Achieving this shift involves the co-creation and sharing of local, traditional, and indigenous knowledge to a system integration. It includes members of the food system, from the field to the table, participating in the design of EAS with various categories of value chain actors such as: producers, especially women, youth, migrants, indigenous people, and other vulnerable groups. Therefore, its agroecological paradigm that is built on a people-centred and relationship-based food system where environmental soundness and social fairness merge in the transition to sustainability.
The ATREA project aims at: i) identification and documentation of sustainable, inclusive and responsive extension approaches for an agroecological transition among target countries. Its specific objectives are to: ii) keep farmers engaged in extension approaches such as Farmer Field Schools, Farmer Business Schools, Farmer to Farmer; iii) integrate farmers further into exchanges with researchers and extensionists so that farmers stay motivated in sharing their experiences. Theses therefore are expected to contribute to an agroecological transition of agri-food systems from bottom-up.
Objective 1: Further develop extension approaches towards more sustainability by taking into account relevant agroecological principles in order to keep farmers engaged in extension approaches such as FFS, FBS and F2F.
Key activities under objective 1 will include among others:
1.1 Planning period: Planning to refine the activities of the project with key stakeholders, including meetings and travels.
- Analysis and comparison of extension approaches which directly involve the target group of farmers (e.g., model farmers, Farmer Field Schools (FFS), Farmer Business Schools (FBS), Farmer Market schools, SHEP Approach among horticulture farmers, farmer to farmer extension approaches) from Kenya, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Benin and how to apply relevant agroecological principles to further develop extension approaches with an emphasis on some key guiding questions such as:
- Incentives: Which incentives/modes of delivery help to sustain such approaches? How to keep farmers engaged in such approaches? How can it be attractive to them? This involves exchange of experiences and approaches from the four countries as a co-creation process e.g., webinars and workshops;
- Costs: How much do these extension approaches cost on average? How can such extension approaches be financed? This is closely linked to the questions regarding incentives;
- Obstacles: What are hindering factors e.g. a more prominent promotion of “non-agroecological” practices, agricultural policies, existence or availability of agroecological inputs in implementing the respective extension approaches?
- Agroecological Principles: What does an “agroecological extension approach” mean? Analysis which of the 13 principles of Agroecology (defined by HLPE) are helpful to further develop the current extension approaches (needs assessment might be necessary – which problems can be addressed though the application of which agroecological principles? e.g., the principle of co-creation of knowledge). This might require an analysis of bottlenecks at the existing approaches. How can these agroecological principles contribute to enhanced delivery of extension approaches?
- Adoption/Sustainability: Recommendations on how to further integrate relevant agroecological principles into extension approaches and how to scale successful approaches. This is closely linked to the questions regarding costs and incentives. Extension service providers know about and ideally take up these recommendations, so that farmers involvement in extension approaches can be increased. Ideally these should be taken up by the work of the Country Fora, if possible; and
- Scalability across agroecological zones and food systems: The studies will be used to analyze and provide recommendations on scalability of the target extension approaches.