THE 5th AFRICA-WIDE AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION WEEK, 2021

Get informed and ready for the AAEW2021!

Theme: “Effective Agricultural Extension Systems for Sustainable Agripreneurship in Africa”

Sub-Themes

  1. Innovative AEAS approaches for resilient and practical actions
  2. Towards professionalisation of AEAS systems in Africa: Where are we?
  3. Agro-industrialisation in the context of trade regimes: Implications for AEAS
  4. Harnessing agripreneurship opportunities for youth and women
  5. AEAS resilience to pandemics and emergencies: Lessons across Africa

The 5th Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week (AAEW) is an international event expected to bring together over 600 participants from across Africa and globally to deliberate on strategic tissues in agricultural extension and advisory services (AEAS) in Africa. Its purpose is to facilitate processes for improving the use of knowledge, technologies and innovations by agricultural value chain actors to achieve their individual and national development goals. Beyond thematic debates, the AAEW is a unique avenue for sharing experiences and learning amongst professionals from different backgrounds, strengthening interactions with policy-makers and investors and developing fruitful partnerships. The AAEW is also meant to provide a platform for deliberating on new developments, emerging needs in capacity development and defining strategic direction in agricultural extension and advisory services for the coming years.

So far, AFAAS has organised and held four successful AAEWs as follows:

  1. The first was held in Gaborone, Botswana in August 2013 on the theme “Value Chain Approach in Agricultural Development: Coping with new demands for Agricultural Advisory Services”.
  2. The second took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2015 on the theme “Reinvigorating Extension Services for Market-led Agriculture within the Context of the Malabo Declaration”.
  3. The third was held in Durban South Africa October/November 2017 on the theme “Scaling up climate smart agriculture: integrating youth, women, and the digital revolution”.
  4. The fourth was held in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire in 2019 in November 2019 on the theme “Private Sector and Agricultural Advisory Services Synergies for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Africa”.

Prior to the above four convenings, AFAAS held three symposia in 2004 and 2006 in Kampala Uganda and 2011 in Accra Ghana.

The African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) will hold the 5th AAEW from 14-20 November 2021. The event shall be hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) of the Republic of Uganda, in partnership with the Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS).

Agriculture in Africa is predominantly subsistence in nature dominated by smallholders, low levels of productivity across all agricultural value chains affecting food security and incomes from agriculture. The extension and advisory services meant to address these challenges among the smallholder farmers are not adequately accessible and professionally recognized. Further issues include uncertain land tenure systems, difficulty in obtaining credit or other financial products, lack of capital for fertilisers and seed, poor access to market information and high transaction costs in accessing markets. The sector is dominated by women actors at the lower levels of the value chain, highly dependent on rudimentary and traditional technologies, which affects overall productivity, social inclusion and equity. All these challenges are compounded by continent wide emergencies like climate change, locusts, and the COVID 19 pandemic further making extension services difficult to deliver. World over, attention has shifted to the use of digital systems and ICTs to increase productivity and efficiency across the entire agricultural value chain and supporting systems.

Africa’s urban population is expanding leading to exponential increase in food demand and changes in the type of food preferred. Specifically, the demand for processed agricultural products and ready-prepared foods continues to increase among urban consumers. Some of the emerging food preferences are met through imports, and Africa is gradually turning into a net food importer. It’s foreign trade is heavily relying on exporting raw and primary processed agricultural produce. This offers African countries an opportunity to accelerate agricultural transformation through building agri-agripreneurship skills among small holder farmers particularly youth and women in agriculture, while at the same time building agro-industrialization infrastructure or enhanced competitive participation in the global markets. This would raise smallholders’ incomes and create new jobs through higher-value enterprises such as horticulture, livestock and aquaculture products, which typically require higher levels of management skills and coordination with input and output markets as well as through linkages with agro-food and tourism. Expanding employment through downstream activities in value chains, and specifically through local agro-industrialisation, will be essential for reducing poverty and meeting growing demand for semi-processed and processed foods and feed. This calls for innovative high tech extension systems that can address the challenges identified and also facilitate actors to harness the new opportunities in agripreneurship, and agro-industrialization while ensuring sustainable environments for the last mile. Despite the importance of agro-industrialisation, progress in most African countries has been minimal, and to a large extent non-inclusive due to various challenges.

In Uganda, the strategic goal of the current National Development Plan (NDPIII), is to Increase Average Household Incomes and Improve the Quality of Life of Ugandans. NDPIII aims to pursue achievement of this goal under the overall theme of Sustainable Industrialisation for inclusive growth, employment and wealth creation. Uganda is majorly an agricultural country and agro-industrialisation takes centre stage in the growth and development of its industrial sector for wealth creation and inclusive growth, through increased economic integration and productivity in the agriculture sector. It requires growth of agro-processing and agribusiness; institutional, organisational and technological innovations at both farm and firm levels.

The theme of the 5th AAEW 2021, therefore, is “Effective Agricultural Extension Systems for Sustainable Agripreneurship in Africa”. The global context of the 5th AAEW 2021 is grounded on several initiatives at different levels to address the key challenges in the broad development agenda. These include adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the African Union Commission’s 2063 Agenda: The Africa We Want, and the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, which all give new impetus to resolving the challenges and to seize opportunities. These initiatives recognise that the world is more interdependent than ever and that Africa and developing countries remain the weakest link in global economic development. The coherent implementation of all these agreements is now needed to foster structural changes, boost growth, create jobs and achieve inclusiveness and poverty eradication in Africa and other developing countries around the globe. The 2030 Agenda recognises the role of industry as a pathway and enabler for sustainable development, in particular SDG 9, with its call to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation” through inclusive and sustainable industrialisation” has strong ramifications for most of the SDGs.

The context of the AAEW 2021 is also grounded on the growing efforts at national, regional levels to embrace agro-industrialisation. Agripreneurship at national levels is anticipated to create backward and forward linkages which would ultimately buttress the challenges of unemployment in Africa. It is also informed by the current discourse in agri-food systems. Noting that agriculture remains the primary employer for 60% of adult workers in Sub-Saharan Africa, many economists regard it as the sector with the most potential for poverty reduction and development. However, the agricultural sector in Africa also suffers from a huge investment gap in infrastructure, supportive policies as well as unstructured planning for growth and quality delivery of programmes. Additionally, there have been devastating challenges including effects of climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the Africa and the European partnership context, examples of programmes to address the challenges is the “Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA)”, an EU initiative aimed at deploying science and innovation to achieve an inclusive, sustainable and climate-relevant transformation of agriculture and related food systems in partner countries.

A move towards a robust and sustainable agro-industrialisation must embrace agricultural extension and advisory services and factors such as ICT / digitalisation, the youth question, COVID-19 and its influence on the food systems, and the role of private sector as a force to steer the desired progress

  • Theme

“Effective Agricultural Extension Systems for Sustainable Agripreneurship in Africa”

  • Sub-Themes
  1. Innovative AEAS approaches for resilient and practical actions

Population growth, rapid urbanisation, and dietary changes are placing tremendous pressure on food systems, particularly in developing countries. Based on current income, population and consumption trends, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that, by 2050, some 50% more food will be needed to satisfy the extra demand compared to 2013 (Alexandratos and Bruinsma, 2012). The challenges posed by rapid growth in food demand are intensified by the effects of climate change on agricultural systems. Leveraging on technologies can contribute significantly to livelihoods within the agricultural sector with effective AEAS systems in place.

A number of innovative approaches have been introduced to enable agri-food systems actors to adapt and mitigate the effects and impacts of climate change as well emerging catastrophes. Promotion of such approaches requires innovative extension approaches. Multiple innovative AEAS models including digital extension, village agent models, market-oriented agriculture among others, that innovatively enable agri-food systems to meet the income, food, nutrition and climate smart farming objectives while building social and natural resilience of systems, are being experimented and some scaled out across Africa. Such innovations have moved beyond proof of concept and piloting, and are increasingly becoming routine practice.

This sub theme will focus on innovative AEAS models that are enabling farmers achieve their livelihood goals (income, food, nutrition) inclusively (gender responsive) while fostering resilience to climate change, emerging crises and shocks.

2. Towards professionalisation of AEAS systems in Africa: Where are we?

Professionalism at both systems and individual levels among providers and clients of AEAS along the agricultural value chain is critical for sustainable agripreneurship. According to Shelvy et al. (2014), professionalism in the workplace is a specific style of behaviour that influences the level of service delivery. In some professions (such as medicine, engineering, law and accounting etc.), there are clear systems and regulatory frameworks for members to be recognised as professionals. However, in agriculture the AEAS providers have only recently begun aspiring to professionalise the discipline. The benefit of professionalised practices is evident for both practitioners and beneficiaries/clients. Some fundamental requirements need to be in place in order to professionalise AEAS.

This sub theme will focus on: experiences and extent of operationalisation, institutionalisation, enforcements, and support to professionalisation across Africa; different professionalisation models adopted and their challenges; technical issues on standards, guidelines, ethics, regulation, processes, systems and structures; capacity development efforts towards professionalism of AEAS actors and systems; and appropriate governance and institutional arrangements for effective actor coordination under pluralistic extension systems including research-extension-farmer linkages.

3. Agro-industrialisation in the context of trade regimes: Implications for AEAS

The increased demand for agro-processed products due to rapid urbanisation offers opportunity for industrialisation in Africa, yet the continent continues to grow into a net food importer with an annual import bill estimated at $80 billion. Agro-processing in most African countries has remained low, at about 3-4% share of total GDP. The continent’s exports are dominated by raw agricultural materials.

The Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has a potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc to offer a market for agro-processed products. Intra-African trade in food and agricultural products is estimated to increase by 20-30%. This would provide increased employment, sustained growth and livelihoods for the most vulnerable agricultural value chain beneficiaries, especially women and youth.

However, the above aspirations will not be automatically realised given the long-standing disconnect between agricultural production and market requirements. Therefore, in order for the stated opportunities to be harnessed, it is critical to technically enhance the capacity of actors across the value chain to produce the required quality and quantity as per market requirements. The AEAS has a critical role to play in addressing these challenges and tapping into the opportunities.

This sub-theme therefore will focus on: understanding the link between AEAS, agro-industrialisation and negotiated trade regimes (bilateral and multi-lateral) on the continent; and exploring the catalytic actions to be undertaken to foster appreciation of AEAS’s critical function to enable African countries, small holder farmers, small and medium enterprises exploit the market opportunities under the various trade regimes and the agro-industrialisation agenda.

4. Harnessing agripreneurship opportunities for youth and women

Africa, with the youngest population globally and 50% of the agricultural labour force provided by women, continues to grapple with unemployment and/or underemployment. Efforts by governments to create new employment opportunities for the youth and women through “agripreneurship[1]”, are hampered by inadequate extension services amidst the complex socio-cultural categories of class, ethnicity and gender. These complexes result in inequitable delivery of AEAS. An effective agricultural extension system should have initiatives that are aimed at counteracting the disproportionate service delivery especially to the women and youth whose livelihoods are worst hit in times of severe shocks.

This theme therefore will focus on: AEAS approaches that integrate the disadvantaged groups of society in profitable agri-businesses; experiences and lessons on proven mechanisms used to harness heterogeneity within the social groups; and innovative agribusiness models for youth and women participation along agricultural value chains.

5. AEAS resilience to pandemics and emergencies: Lessons across Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic and several emergencies have caused immeasurable disruptions in the agriculture sector especially, the provision of AEAS. These disruptions are more evident in the context of distorted food production, disrupted food supply system and change in household consumption (demand). Indeed, the economic and social impact of these pandemics and emergencies on food security in Africa cannot be overemphasised.

In Africa, the locust invasion, the COVID-19 pandemic, floods and droughts, the surge in mycotoxins in agricultural produce and many more calamities, have negatively affected food production, distribution and consumption. The strict mitigation measures and quarantines against pandemics and emergencies hinder the availability of effective AEAS.

This theme therefore will focus on how to build resilient and responsive AEAS systems; policies and structures that support AEAS actors amidst pandemics and emergencies

Purpose: The purpose of the AAEW is to re-think and re-shape AEAS for inclusive and resilient agri-food systems in Africa  

The objectives of this meeting are to:

  1. To raise awareness and develop knowledge and skills in relation to the different sub-themes
  2. To facilitate networking and foster collaboration and partnerships across the different stakeholder’s groups and actors
  3. To provide a platform for discussion/dialogue on key policy debates and development outcomes
  4. To deliberate on concrete actions and a road map for the future of AEAS in Africa   

Outputs

  1. A declaration consisting of a concise synthesis of the recommendations of the meeting to be widely disseminated targeting policy-makers and other relevant actors
  2. Side event reports
  • Communities of practice and networks around selected areas formed/or strengthened
  1. Policy briefs on each of the sub-themes
  2. Profiles of innovations published online
  3. Videos of keynote presentations shared online
  • Detailed proceedings

Expected outcomes:

  1. Innovative approaches to facilitate resilient and effective AEAS in Africa, adapted and applied
  2. Mechanisms and structures for professionalisation of AEAS actors and systems, fostered.
  • AEAS role and position in agro-industrialisation and trade in African countries enhanced
  1. AEAS models for harnessing agripreneurship opportunities for youth and women analysed and implemented
  2. Enhanced AEAS resilience to respond to the shocks of pandemics and emergencies across Africa