Private Extension and Advisory Services in Africa
Over 60% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers, yet only a minority of producers regularly access agricultural extension and advisory services. This large extension gap is a barrier to increasing agricultural productivity and fostering sustainable agricultural systems. Typically, agricultural extension and advisory services fall under governmental purview. Yet, as populations grow across sub-Saharan Africa, governmental extension agencies remain chronically underfunded, often failing to provide quality services to producers. Civil society actors often step in to fill this gap, but project-based support cannot fulfill the long-term needs of rural communities for sustained extension and advisory services.
In this backdrop, developing a more pluralistic service ecosystem is becoming a development priority, with private sector actors assuming a larger role in farmer-level outreach aimed at improving productivity and developing more efficient value chains. Private sector actors are increasingly providing extension and advisory services to producers as part of their business model, identifying the potential to increase sales of inputs or other services (e.g., in the case of input suppliers) and/or with the aim of improving the quality and volume of products (e.g., in the case of processors or buyer firms).
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