CIFOR–ICRAF publishes over 750 publications every year on agroforestry, forests and climate change, landscape restoration, rights, forest policy and much more – in multiple languages.

CIFOR–ICRAF addresses local challenges and opportunities while providing solutions to global problems for forests, landscapes, people and the planet.

We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Extension options for better livelihoods and poverty reduction: a selected review 2012–2015

Export citation

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 analysis. 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.

Related publications