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Agricultural advisory services between national and donors policy frameworks in Benin

Moumouni I., Mouzoun X.B., De Romemont A., Faure G.. 2013. In : Ed. Orhan Ozçatalbas. Extension Education Worldwide : trends, challenges and cases. 21 th European Seminar on Extension and Education (ESEE), 2-6 September 2013, Antalya, Turkey. s.l. : s.n., p. 307-313.

With the liberalisation since early 1990s, different types of organisation - i.e. NGO, farmer, private and public organisations - provided agricultural advisory services (AAS) in most Sub Saharan Africa. Farmer organisations and NGOs were especially promoted through projects funded by international donors. Stakeholders, driven by the Ministries of Agriculture and donors, adopted national strategies for agricultural advisory services. In Benin, this policy document outlined the objectives, the guiding principles and provision mechanisms of advisory services. On behalf of pluralistic AAS, many AAS projects were developed in the framework of bilateral cooperation. Public organisations, in charge of the coordination of interventions, had to take care that any intervention fits within the national policy. In this article, we wonder whether the implementation of AAS at grassroots level was influenced by national stakeholders, donors' policies, operational service providers or rather by farmers. We selected three NGO (CADG, GERED and LARES), one farmer organisation (FUPRO) and one public organisation (CeCPA-Bohicon) providing AAS with different financing arrangements for comparative case studies. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with leaders of these AAS organisations, advisers and farmers to complement policy document review. We addressed their AAS governance mechanisms, approaches and methods. We found that donors highly influenced the implementation of AAS through the project-led AAS mechanisms. This resulted into a diversity of AAS approaches implemented, with sometimes non observance of some guiding principles stated in the national policy. However, operational service providers including their field agents had, not full, but a certain degree of freedom for adapting services to local conditions. As consequence, different providers supported by the same donor could make use of different strategies to meet farmers' needs. Farmers had less influence on the implementation of AAS. Still much is to be done for promoting a real farmer-led AAS.

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