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An Approach to Understand Rural Advisory Services in a Decentralised Setting

Published: March, 2019

Journal article

Irshad Ali, Julien Lamontagne-Godwin, Naeem Aslam, Peter Dorward, Sarah Cardey

As populations increase, so do the challenges in feeding the world. Rural Advisory Services (RAS) contribute positively to food security by ensuring rural populations have access to vital knowledge increasing yields and rural incomes. For historical reasons however, national RAS have often developed into complex networks of stakeholders which can confuse, and even in some cases provide conflicting advice. In order to improve internal and external knowledge of an advisory service, this article investigates the benefits and limitations of an approach that combines qualitative and quantitative stakeholder perception activities at a local and national level. Local and national workshops were held using focus group and open fora techniques in order to portray and visualise a crop health advisory system in Pakistan, a dynamic and complex case study. The approach manages to expose key differences between local and national perceptions of a crop health RAS: whilst both local and national workshop participants decidedly agree on the importance of local (provincial and district level) extension departments, local perceptions clearly identified the strength and value of private sector and community level interactions. At the national workshop, interpretations of ground level activities were vague, yet their mentions of microcredit initiatives, large scale Non-Government Organisation activities and semi-autonomous institutions demonstrate knowledge at a different scale. This approach demonstrates the value of an accessible methodology to measure and understand RAS. Whilst this approach is a key component in assessing the system’s dynamism prior to any future development initiative, it needs to refine its integration of gendered perceptions. View Full-Text

An Approach to Understand Rural Advisory Services in a Decentralised Setting


Type Journal article

Published in Social Sciences, 8(3), 103

Language English

Year 2019

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Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.

Start: 01/01/11