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Published by Dr. Girma Kelboro

The Agricultural Extension System in Ethiopia: Operational Setup, Challenges and Opportunities

Since the 1960s, Ethiopia has been inducing changes in its approaches to agricultural extension through
reforms. In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources adopted a Participatory Extension
System. Farmers’ group formation accompanies the reform process. This paper analyzes and discusses
how the newly adopted system is structured and operates, the characteristics of extension services, and
the evaluation system employed in agricultural extension, and assesses the challenges and opportunities
associated with the system. Data are drawn from field research carried out in 2015/16 in two districts of
Southwestern Ethiopia. A mixed methods approach was employed, combining qualitative and
quantitative data-collection tools: household survey, expert and key informant interviews, Focus Group
Discussion (FGD), participant observation, and desk literature review. ATLAS.ti and SPSS were used for
data analysis. The findings show that, despite the reforms and a steadily increasing number of
development agents, the advisory service has not yet satisfied farmers’ demands. The formation of
farmers’ groups to increase extension coverage and promote collective action has limited effects and
lacks uniformity across study sites. High input and low output prices are the other limitations on
technology adoption and scaling-up. Despite the emerging opportunities, the agricultural extension
system is constrained by multiple challenges and often perceived as an extended arm of the state, and
less as a useful service provider. From the analyses, we identified a need to create a national strategy for
an agricultural extension system that gives space for pluralistic advisory services while still nurturing the
efficiency, effectiveness and inclusiveness of the public agricultural extension service. In addition, proper
decentralization needs to be promoted to improve participation and encourage all categories of farmers
to develop a sense of ownership and become beneficiaries of the agricultural extension system.
Keywords: Agricultural

Gerba Leta, Girma Kelboro, Till Stellmacher and Anna Katharina-Hornidge
Working Paper
ZEF, Bonn