Rural extension services

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Agricultural and Rural Development Department, World Bank


In this paper we analyze the considerations that lead policy makers to undertake extension investments as a key public responsibility, as well as the complex set of factors and intra-agency incentives that explain why different extension systems' performance varies. Accordingly, the paper provides a conceptual framework outlining farmers' demand for information, the welfare economic characterizations of extension services, and the organizational and political attributes that govern the performance of extension systems. The conceptual framework is used to examine several extension modalities and to analyze their likely and actual effectiveness. Specifically, the modalities reviewed include "Training and Visit" extension, decentralized systems, "Fee-for-Service" and privatized extension, and Farmer-Field-Schools. The paper also provides a discussion of methodological issues pertaining to the assessment of extension outcomes, and a review of the empirical literature on extension impact. The paper emphasizes the efficiency gains that can come from locally decentralized delivery systems with incentive structures based on largely private provision that in most poorer countries will still be publicly-funded. In wealthier countries, and for particular higher income farmer groups, extension systems will likely evolve into fee-for-service organizations.


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Farmer field schools, Extension service, Government policy, Fee-for-service, Training and visit, Fee-for-service organizations, Farm/Enterprise Scale


World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2976, February 2003