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Lessons from new experiences in extension in West Africa : Management advice for family farms and farmer's governance

Faure G., Kleene P.. 2004. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 10 (1) : p. 37-49.

The emergence of Management Advice for Family Farms in West Africa is closely related to the increased integration of farmers into an open market economy. This is creating a strong demand from farmers for advisory support services, focussing on management of the farm. With the gradual withdrawal of the State from extension services delivery, a stimulating context exists for reviewing approaches and systems of support delivery facilities for producers. In response to these developments, several experiments based on the concepts of Management Advice for Family Farms are going on in West Africa. Beyond a variety of objectives and implementation procedures analysed in this paper, common features and a considerable degree of consensus on concepts emerge. Strengthening the producers' capacity for assessment, decision-making, and management of their farms is a common objective. Differences exist between procedures for delivery of advice, methods, and tools used, emphasis put on different aspects of management. All experiments stress the importance of training, enhancing group dynamics, and individual learning. They are all farmer and farm family targeted. Expression of farmers' objectives, needs, and demands is essential. Advice is based on data gathering and assessment by the farmers themselves. Group dynamics is an important element in the process of advice giving. From mere technicians extension workers become advisors and facilitators. In all cases, Farmers' Organisations are involved in governing the delivery services, though at different degrees. In several cases priority is given towards strengthening farmers' capacity in the management of delivery at both local and global levels. Significant improvements in farm performances have been reported. Cost sharing is generally accepted, but insufficient to cover all costs. However, to reach sustainability for farmers' driven and governed advice delivery services, innovative agricultural policies, and public finance are needed.

Mots-clés : exploitation agricole; vulgarisation; gestion; aide à la décision; formation; association d'agriculteurs; service; politique agricole; afrique occidentale; conseil de gestion

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