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Farmers' Agribusiness Training Course: Module 1 Supplementary Reading. Agricultural Extension in Kenya: Practice and Policy Lessons

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The objective of this study is to assess the range of alternative food crop and livestock extension services currently operating in Kenya. The study highlights five important findings: (1) private extension provision is generally
skewed towards high agricultural potential regions and high-value crops. Remote areas and poor producers, especially those growing low-value crops with little marketable surplus, are poorly served. Non-profit private providers are targeting them, but their reach is limited. (2) Since public resources for extension are very constrained, it may make sense for public extension
not to duplicate or overlap in the same areas that are being served more efficiently by commercial and non-profit systems. This would leave more public resources for concentrating extension services for farmers in areas that are remote and poorly served by the commercial systems. (3) However, the commercial and non-profit extension systems benefit from the
presence of the public extension service- they rely on public extension workers for training and
appropriate management advice. So even if the public extension system was to withdraw to the
more remote areas where private extension is unprofitable, it may be appropriate to institute
some type of commercial contracting of public extension system staff so that the latter can impart
needed skills and capacity building to the non-public extension systems. (4) The government
should consider contracting the private sector to offer extension services in the disadvantaged
regions. Contracting out extension services makes it possible to take advantage of all of the
talent and experience existing in the field but does not eliminate a government role which, in
addition to funding, ensures quality assurance, oversight, and provision of training and
information to contracted services providers. (5) The weight of evidence suggests, in most cases,
that private extension is not a substitute for public extension and the public sector should fund
extension significantly but in ways that do not duplicate services already being provided by
sustainable alternative extension providers.

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