Date: 30 November 2019
The South African government established the National Extension and Advisory Services Awards (NEASA) led by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development in recognition of excellent service in the agricultural sector. The NEASA was launched in 2017 during the 3rd Africa Wide Agricultural Extension Week (AEW) held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province. The main purpose of the NEASA is to recognise and reward excellent performance in the delivery of public Extension and Advisory Services at a national level. Awarding outstanding performance showcases excellent work done by Extension and Advisory Services Practitioners and present an opportunity to celebrate successes and attract possible partners in the sector. The Extension Practitioners who go beyond the call of duty in ensuring that the quality of life of the farming community (especially previously disadvantaged groups or individuals) is improved for the better are recognised. Only top performers in the provinces are eligible to enter the national awards in the categories of Agric. Advisor, Senior Agric. Advisor, Subject Matter Specialist, Support Services and out of these categories, the official with the highest points is awarded the Overall Top Performer award. This is part of the government’s efforts to improve the image and professionalism of Extension and Advisory Services in the country.
The awarding of the accolades is done at an elaborate gala event. The latest event was held on 15 November 2019, at Bolivia Lodge, Polokwane and it was coordinated in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the South African National Forum for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (SAFAEAS). Three members of the SAFAEAS executive took part in the adjudication process and were among the dignitaries.
There have been discussions to expand the focus of these awards to include the private agriculture extension and advisory services, to reward not only public Extension Practitioners. Two national workshops were held in 2019 to advance discussion towards this move. These discussions also resolved to have the revamped awards programme to be run and managed by SAFAEAS.