26 November 2012

Gambia: Extension Worker to Farmer Ratio Very Low Extension Services On the Decline

The ratio of Agricultural Extension Worker to a Farmer is one Extension Worker to 3,500 Farmers in the Gambia, which is described as very low by a presenter. The presenter, Mr Jawo also asserted that extension services provision and delivery and information to crop and livestock producers has declined in the last decade.

This information was revealed at the stakeholders meeting on the groundnut value chain meeting in Jenoi from 19 to 21 November 2012, in a presentation by Njaga Jawo of the National Women Farmers' Association (NAWFA).

In his presentation, Njaga Jawo asserted that over the years numerous changes have taken place in the agricultural extension system of the Gambia as a result of structural changes, rapid urbanization, and inadequate resources to provide services to farmers and reduction of NAWFA's extension service workers affecting their presence and effectiveness in the field.

The collaboration of NAWFA and the Department of Agriculture (DOA) at field level even though very effective he said, has suffered serious setbacks during the DOA transition periods since the creation of National Agricultural Development Agency (NADA) to date.

Mr. Jawo pointed out that the extension worker to farmer ratio is estimated at 1 to 3500 which he said, is very low to effectively serve all categories of farmers and associates.

In the Gambia he said, extension services provision and delivery and information to crop and livestock producers has declined in the last decade and that a number of programs and projects were in the past initiated for community participation through the state extension delivery services.

Njaga went on to say that during that period, various extension methods and strategies were employed aimed at enabling farmers to adopt agricultural production practices that would increase production and productivity, resulting to increased incomes leading to better livelihoods and living condition of farmers.

Some of those initiatives he said, included the Training and Visit System of extension, preceded by the convention linear approach that almost entirely depended on research recommendations for onward dissemination and diffusion to the target clientele.

He concluded that crop extension methods at the time, laid much emphasis on approaches such as method and result demonstration and the use of the micro plot concept as an observation or study unit as well as working with and through contact farmers who were the main conduit for message delivery.

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