African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services

Essential Competencies of Frontline Agricultural Extension Professionals

The global demand for food is increasing. World population will exceed 9.7 billion people by 2050, an increase of 2 billion people over the current population. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, there is a need to increase agricultural and food production by 60 percent to meet future food demand (Feed the Future, 2015). This increased demand will be
driven largely by population growth, increase in per capita income and rapid urbanization. We live in a world dominated by global forces — new scientific discoveries, changing demographics, shifts in socioeconomic characteristics, rapidly changing consumption patterns, and interdependence in global markets. Food production and distribution is subject to these changes and forces. New
technologies and practices originating in research institutions, adapted by peer farmers, or advanced by agribusiness organizations are changing the agricultural sector throughout the world.

Such changes, when positive, could have a bigger impact if complemented by effective agricultural extension and advisory services (EASs). A challenge for agricultural extension rests in unleashing the creativity of millions of frontline extension workers to disseminate improved technologies and approaches in ways that benefit small farmers and agribusiness operators across the world.
The world’s largest population group lives in developing countries. The majority of this population is engaged in the agriculture sector for two reasons — food and employment. It has been established that application of science-based technologies is essential to increase food and fiber production. Feeding the world’s growing population depends on securing and advancing the use of modern