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West Africa: Management advice for family farms. The role of producers' organizations in the delivery of sustainable agricultural extension services

Faure G., Kleene P.. 2004. In : eds. by William Rivera and Gary Alex. Demand driven approaches to agriculture extension: Case studies of international initiatives. Washington : The World Bank, p. 104-113. (vol. 3).

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 that focus on management of the farm. These services should go beyond the technical aspects of farming and include the organizational, economic, financial, and technical implications of farm management. Several experiments based on these concepts are going on in West Africa. Common features emerge in the programs with strengthening producers' capacity for assessment, decision-making, and management of their farms as a common objective. Differences exist between procedures for delivery of advice, methods and tools used; and emphasis is put on different aspects of management, but all cases 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 are essential, and advice is based on data-gathering and assessment by the farmers. Extension workers become advisers and facilitators. In all cases, farmers' organizations are involved in governing delivery services, though to different degrees. Significant improvements in farm performance have been reported. However, for farmer-controlled advisory services to become sustainable, innovative agricultural policies and public finance are needed.

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