Extension Options for Better Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: A Selected Review 2012–2015
June 1, 2016 - Author: Kristin Davis, Steven Franzel, and David J. Spielman
IDWP 143. Kristin Davis, Steven Franzel, and David J. Spielman. 2016. Extension Options for Better Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: A Selected Review 2012–2015
The context in which extension operates has changed dramatically in recent decades. As a
result, there is a renewed interest in extension and an interest in changing traditional
approaches to extension. With that renewed interest comes demand for information and
The overall goal of this report is to provide up-to-date information on key topics related to
extension knowledge and perspectives and to enable decision makers to identify areas where
(1) further evidence on extension through commissioned research is needed, and (2)
extension investment practices should be reconsidered.
The authors do so with in-depth sections on farmer-to-farmer extension (F2FE) and the
integration of nutrition in extension messaging. On F2FE, the authors assess the performance
of F2FE and assess constraints and opportunities to improve performance, based on a review
of new literature, that is, publications dated 2012 or later. Overall, findings were positive with
regard to F2FE increasing the flow of information and innovations among farmers, leading to
increased adoption, productivity, and improved livelihoods. Strategies were identified for
improving F2FE’s effectiveness, including measures for recruiting more women as farmer
trainers, criteria for selecting farmer trainers, strengthening their links with extension staff,
and low cost incentives for motivating them. The findings further indicate that in most
instances, salaries and allowances are not needed to motivate people to volunteer. The
authors also present findings on F2FE’s cost-effectiveness, suitability in differing
circumstances, and sustainability.
The authors then look at the integration of nutrition in extension messaging, finding that very
few programs effectively integrate this and none at scale. They find limited information on
the effectiveness of nutrition-focused extension. Nutrition messaging by extension faces
major challenges such as funding, coordination, and capacity of agents. The authors
recommend pursuing the topic with further research and cautious investment in pilot cases.
The authors present brief sections on the use of information and communication technologies
(ICTs) in extension, pluralism, and producer organizations, and the need for capacity at all
levels of extension services. Using a best-fit framework, the authors identify the extension
characteristics and frame conditions that should be present to effectively use F2FE and
nutrition messaging. This is followed by a section on the need for more evidence on and the
difficulty of showing extension’s impacts. The authors call for better methods for analyzing
extension in the future.
The authors conclude with specific recommendations on extension aimed at extension
investors, be they national governments, foundations, or bilateral donors, with regard to
evidence needed. They also identify extension interventions that governments and projects
should consider to improve the uptake of improved practices.