Reimagining Agricultural Extension through a Learning Lens (RAELL)
Agricultural extension services in low- and medium-income countries (LMICs) require critical reimagining. Agriculture remains core to most LMIC livelihoods and is central to ensuring food security. Yet the ongoing skills development of farmers is peripheral to current attempts to reinvigorate technical and vocational education and training (TVET); focused as they are on formal industrial sectors. Farmer training is typically tied to outdated systems of extension focusing on scientific knowledge diffusion or takes place in agricultural colleges disconnected from the TVET system (UNESCO-UNEVOC 2020). These institutions typically focus on conventional formal agriculture and practicing farmers, while evidence suggests that the greatest need is in small-scale, informal systems and value chains, farming start-ups and conservation agriculture.
Reimagining Agricultural Extension through a Learning Lens (RAELL) brings together the University of Nottingham and key project partners in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe who have strong links with higher and vocational education and with national agricultural systems. The RAELL project connects these networks to explore how the preparation and ongoing training of agricultural extension officers (AEOs) can be strengthened by linking them with training providers and their curriculum. RAELL is a short-term project, running between December 2020 – July 2021, funded via University of Nottingham, Global Challenges Research Fund, hosted in the School of Education https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/education/.
Aims and objectives
The overall aim of the project is to support the transformation and strengthening of vocational education system that train and educate agricultural extension officers (AEOs), so that they are better able to support a range of actors in the agricultural system. Specifically, we are interested in how training for AEOs can positively impact on food security, community resilience, and gender equity, and address causes and consequences of environmental degradation and climate breakdown. The core objectives for the project are as follows:
Review existing research and grey literature on agricultural extension and its role in the agricultural system
Identify all the key role players that interact with extension (actual and potential)
Understand the changing nature of extension work (focusing particularly on Conservation Agriculture as a case study)
Identify all relevant programmes and qualifications and analyse their official curriculum in respect of extension
Make recommendations based on the analysis for how the skills development system can better prepare and continuously develop AEO skills