Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, May 14, 2020

WEBINAR: Accelerating Digital Extension Advisory Services (DEAS) in post COVID-19 Context

14 May 2020. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are providing policy recommendations, guidelines and tools to improve Extension Advisory Services (EAS) systems, in order to build resilience of smallholders to crises and disasters.

The International Forum on Innovation in Agri-Food Systems to achieve SDGs, postponed due to the current COVID-19 spread, was intended to showcase agricultural innovation success stories in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region and elsewhere through an Innovation Fair and various technical sessions and panels. Out of 118 proposals, the selected top 20 stories represents 17 countries out of which are 8 from outside the NENA region with 8 success stories.

As the world is currently struggling to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and the farmers in countries including NENA region are facing dual burden i.e., inadequate health services coupled with timely extension services for sustaining their livelihoods.

The digital disruption in EAS may define the extension in the context of aggregation, traceability; quick and responsive advisories, finance and digital coordination of supply chain etc. The future of EAS will depend on how well the new extension functionalities are built into the extension organizations.

The Zoominar addressed the following questions:
  • What are the opportunities and challenges of digital extension strategies, especially under COVID-19 circumstances?
  • How could emerging Digital Apps be integrated into the broader extension frameworks?
  • What role could we (IFAD, FAO and partners) play to facilitate implementation and scaling of these innovations?
  • Introduction: Dina Saleh, Sub-Regional Director Middle East and North Africa – International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • Shaik N Meera, Principal Scientist (Agriculture Extension) Federal Coordinator Frontline Demonstrations Program – Indian Council of Agricultural Research
  • Tawanda Hove, Head of Digital Agriculture and ICT for Development (ICT4D) – Welthungerhilfe
  • Marco Brini, Digital Agriculture International Expert, CTO and Founder – EnvEve
  • Nevena Alexandrova, Agricultural Extension Officer of Research and Extension Unit (AGDR), FAO
  • Adel Zekaizak, National Project Officer, Digital Agricultural Extension and Communication Services – FAO RNE
5 May 2020. COVID-19 Crisis in India: How Extension and Advisory Services Can Help.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given an opportunity to the EAS to be trained on next generation extension tools, especially for providing EAS during crisis. The New Extensionist Learning Kit (NELK), particularly The Module 13 on Risk Mitigation and Adaptation in Extension could be particularly useful, which can be adapted in different crisis situations.

FAO Rome. 2020. Extension and advisory services: at the frontline of the response to COVID-19 to ensure food security
The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding daily. Governments around the globe are confronted with multiple challenges related to minimizing the devastating health impact and protecting human lives, and ensuring sufficient food supplies and the functioning of services to those most in need. All this while coping with the economic consequences of COVID-19, which is expected to push an additional 548 million people below the poverty line. Between present disruptions and future threats to the food supply chain, the COVID-19 outbreak has generated extreme vulnerability in the agriculture sector. It is therefore crucial to mobilize all available instruments, institutions and stakeholders from both public and private sectors and civil society to ensure appropriate and timely response.

Agricultural Extension and Advisory Service (EAS) systems play an indispensable role at the frontline of the response to the pandemic in rural areas. However, in order to adapt to the emergency context within the government regulations, EAS providers need to rapidly change their way of operating.

See the full list of FAO policy briefs related to COVID-19.

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