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How to address up-scaling and sustainability of innovative advisory services: the case of management advice for family farms in Africa

Faure G., Toillier A., Moumouni I.. 2014. In : Eds. Thomas Aenis, Andrea Knierim, aja-Catrin Riecher, Rebecka Ridder, Heike Schobert, Holger Fischer ; IFSA. 11th European IFSA Symposium, "Farming systems facing global challenges: Capacities and strategies", 1- 4 April 2014 in Berlin, Germany.. s.l. : s.n., p. 190-204. European IFSA Symposium. 11, 2014-04-01/2014-04-04, Berlin (Allemagne).

In Africa exists a plurality of forms of advisory services provided by several actors. In this context experiments in MAFF (Management Advice for Family Farms) for nearly two decades in many Francophone African countries have sought to promote comprehensive advice to farms, one that is based on learning methods. Questions now arise on how to increase the number of producers with access to advisory services (AS) and how to improve institutional and financial sustainability of advisory mechanisms. To address such questions we carried out a participatory evaluation of existing AS in order to identify the constraints and perspectives to scale them up and/or out and to improve the sustainability. We used four main criteria: (i) modalities of mechanism of governance, (ii) MAFF funding modalities, (iii) modalities for capacity and skill building for advisers and other actors, and (iv) modalities to adapt advisory services to regional or national situations. Internal assessments based on this analytical framework were carried out by various MAFF systems. A workshop was organized in 2013 in Benin with the actors involved in the internal assessment to help draw out lessons. The results show that scaling out and scaling-up issues entail to address the institutional dimensions of advisory services. In the case of MAFF, there are evidences of the need to strengthen the role played by Producers' Organizations in the governance mechanisms in order to better orient advice, reduce the costs and increase the sustainability beyond the projects' investments. Farmer extension workers appeared as a key factor for sustainability and extension of advisory services to a larger audience. New promising opportunities to train advisors are observed in order to better insert training programmes in permanent national organizations. Funding of advisory services remains a challenge even if some relevant experiences do exist. Efforts are made in reshaping delivery models with less costly and time-consuming methods. But all the analysed cases face difficulties to address these questions related to the scaling-up and scaling-out.

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