African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services

“Amplifying Voices, Driving Transformation through Innovative Digital Extension”

Dear Partners,

As we embark on the fourth day of the  Extension Week 2023 in Abuja, let’s take a moment to reflect on the exciting happenings of the third day. Engaging Presentations, insightful discussions, and dynamic networking sessions defined the day, providing attendees with a wealth of knowledge and fostering meaningful connections. From cutting-edge agricultural practices to innovative technologies, participants delved into a diverse range of topics, gaining valuable insights that promise to shape the future of extension services and Regenerative Agriculture

An exhilarating and touching plenary presentation on “Developing Human Capital in the Context of the Soil Initiative for Africa Framework” by Dr. Liesl Wiese-Rozanov, a Senior Advisor at FARA’s Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA) set the stage. Among other points, Dr. Wiese-Rozanov emphasized the importance of equipping extension staff with the necessary knowledge, approaches, and resources to support farmers in adopting scientifically sound and locally adapted soil health practices. She also stressed the need to promote farmer involvement and innovation to co-create the best local soil management practices.

Dr. Liesl Wiese-Rozanov, a Senior Advisor at FARA’s Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA)

The workshop then transitioned into parallel presentations and side events that included among others, Harnessing Agricultural Extension Advisory Extension Services in Scaling Regenerative Agriculture and Nature Based Solutions for Food System Transformation in Africa by AFAAS and FAO,  the importance of harmonization and synergy-building among actors, practitioners, farmer organizations, and all stakeholders for enhanced impact by the ministry of Agriculture Zambia, Institutionalization and sustainability of the Private sector-Led extension Approach, where the adoption of financing models that encourage farmers to pay for extension services by AGRA.

The Side event on the Role of Innovative Digital Extension Approaches in promoting Regenerative Agriculture and Nature Based Solutions, organized by Farm Radio International (FRI) and African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and presented by Benjamin Fiafor, Senior Country Representative-Ghana & Nigeria, focused on how innovative digital agricultural extension approaches such as interactive radio and mobile phones effectively engage rural audiences especially women and youth to understand and promote locally relevant Nature-based solutions (NbS) and other regenerative practices; yet also amplify gender-inclusive voices to inform policy decisions and research priorities at community, national and continental levels towards driving food system transformation towards more resilient and inclusive systems.

Farm Radio International in collaboration with the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) shared specifically on how interactive radio plus mobile phones are being used in an innovative approach known as On Air Dialogues based on the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) funded project “ On-Air for Gender-Inclusive NbS for Climate Change Adaptation in 6 countries of Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia.

In the interactive plenary session, participants asked questions and commented on various matters related to the need for embracing indigenous knowledge systems, use of vernacular languages to ensure effective participation of farmers, funding and sustainability of digital approaches, stakeholder engagement in both the design of content and taking actions on community solutions, tracking of data and impact at community level, youth segmentation and approaches

During the side event on the  role of Professional Associations in Strengthening National Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AES) in Africa, it was revealed that the oldest agricultural extension professional association in Africa is the South African Agricultural Extension Society (SASAE), established in 1966. Professional associations were recognized as having the potential to significantly strengthen AES in Africa, calling for collaboration with other institutions to enhance sustainability and fundraising capabilities.

The gender-focused side event featured a keynote speech by Prof. Stella Odebode and a panel discussion where participants shared highlights from their aspects of work. This event highlighted gaps in data on women and youth typologies, and how this is likely to influence uptake of regenerative agriculture and nature-based solutions such as land tenure systems, longer seasons, digital divide among others. It emphasized the need to take stock of existing documentation such as evidence, policy documents; and use of extension approaches intentionally so that no one is left behind.

 Participants during the AGRA Side-Event

The side event on Institutionalization and sustainability of the Private sector-Led extension Approach, where the adoption of financing models that encourage farmers to pay for extension services by AGRA highlighted that Community-Based Advisor (CBA) approach has been successfully implemented and institutionalized in Burkina Faso, resulting in improved financial access for farmers in Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali. Furthermore, the sustainability of CBA in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Mali is exemplified by their transformation into input dealers, with some assisting as many as 10,000 farmers.

Partners continue to share knowledge and experiences through exhibitions. We encourage those participating physically to visit the exhibition booth and get to learn more on what some of our partners are doing to change the lives of our farmers.

As we embark on the exciting fourth day of Extension Week 2023 here in Abuja, get ready for a morning filled with enriching field trips. Today, we’re diving deep into sustainable practices with visits to the Agroforestry Project in Kwali LGA, exploring regenerative agriculture through agroforestry. Next on our agenda is the Food Systems Development Project, also in Kwali LGA, offering insights into innovative approaches to shaping resilient food systems. Moving on, we’ll explore the Sustainable Development Project in Orozo, uncovering the initiatives contributing to the region’s sustainable growth. Last but certainly not least, we’ll conclude our morning at CSS Global Integrated Farms on Keffi Road, gaining valuable perspectives on integrated farming practice

Join us  in all conversation using the Hashtag  #AAEW2023!

By CIKM Unit