Agricultural extension (also known as agricultural advisory services) plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth.
Extension as a rural support service is needed to meet the new challenges agriculture is confronted with: changes in the global food and agricultural system, including the rise of supermarkets and the growing importance of standards and labels; growth in non-farm rural employment and agribusiness; constraints imposed by HIV/AIDS, and other health challenges that affect rural livelihoods; and the deterioration of the natural resource base and climate change.
IFPRI’s research focuses on how to engage with national partners to increase incomes as well as the resilience of smallholder farmers and their families by expanding and improving locally-relevant, cost-effective, and pluralistic agricultural extension systems built on effective utilization of information technologies and community-based organizations.
IFPRI has developed a framework for designing and analyzing extension, and has several research programs studying extension projects. In addition, some of these projects are designed to strengthen the capacity of the civil society, public extension systems, as well as the private sector to play a more prominent and effective role in delivering agricultural extension to underserved smallholder farmers.