Effects of inclusive public agricultural extension service

Results from a policy reform experiment in Western China

Ruifa Hu, Yaqing Cai, Kevin Z. Chen, Yongwei Cui, Jikun Huang
ifpri discussion paper

The top-down public agricultural extension system in China and its early commercialization reforms during the 1990s have left millions of farmers without access to extension services. A pilot inclusive agricultural extension system was introduced in 2005 to better meet the diverse needs of small-scale farmers. Three key features of the experiment are (1) inclusion of all farmers as target beneficiaries, (2) effective identification of farmers' extension service needs, and (3) an accountability system to provide better agricultural extension services to farmers. This paper describes design of the reform initiative and examines its effect on farmers' access to extension services. Based on farmer-supplied data from six counties for the years 2005 to 2007, this paper shows that inclusive reform initiatives significantly improve farmers' access to and acceptance of agricultural extension services as well as their adoption of new technologies. Implications for further reforms to the agricultural extension system are also discussed.