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Green Extension: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture

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Presentation to Sub-Sector Working Group on Farmers and Agribusiness (SSWG-FAB), Vientiane, 6th July 2018

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Green Extension: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture

  1. 1. Green Extension: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Souvanthong Namvong National Project Director Lao Upland Rural Advisory Service SSWG-FAB meeting DTEAP, 06th July 2018
  2. 2. Outline 1. Why we are implementing Green Extension 2. What is Green Extension 3. Capitalization Process 4. Briefing Note 5. The Policy Challenge 6. Questions for Discussion
  3. 3. 1. Rationale for Green Extension  Four reasons why we are implementing Green Extension: • Government Policy for Agriculture Sector • Negative impacts of some farming practices • Evidence from success cases • International trends in extension
  4. 4. 2. What is Green Extension?  Green extension is a type of rural advisory service which supports the scaling up of sustainable agriculture by facilitating socio-ecological learning processes with farmers  Green Extension is a service can be provided by a range of differing organisations: government departments, NGOs, private enterprises, and by farmer groups. Everybody can contribute!  Green Extension is not a single approach or blueprint for achieving sustainability; it includes a range of methods to promote various types of content  Green Extension supports farmers in analysing local problems and opportunities, and testing alternative practices under local conditions.
  5. 5. 3. Capitalization process  Sustainable agriculture has been promoted in Laos for 30+ years eg: organic farming, agro-forestry, IPM, SRI, SCV.  The government can capitalise on this experience by examining the lessons that have been learned from the past and thereby identify measures to scale up the implementation of successful approaches.  Meetings was held over the past 6 months involving farmers, field workers, project managers and policy makers:  January: Discussions among key stakeholders to develop an analytical framework  February: Practitioners workshop to share lessons among on-going projects  March: Presentation of lessons at the Lao Upland Conference  The capitalization process leads to preparation of a Briefing Note
  6. 6. Framework for analysis GE Principle What this involves Participatory agro- ecosystem analysis rural families take stock of available resources; inventories and maps prepared Community Planning analysis of opportunities and constraints; agreement reached on priorities for innovation Action research innovations are piloted; options are compared; communities collect data and analyse results Farmer-to-farmer learning experience is shared among households and communities; knowledge and skills transferred Organisational development informal networks and/or formal groups are created to sustain and scale up innovations
  7. 7. Workshop in XK Province  27th February to 1st March 2018  The workshop brought together 65 practitioners, representing 9 projects, 7 Districts, 6 farmer groups
  8. 8. Green Extension Cases GE Principle Case from Xieng Khouang Participatory agro-ecosystem analysis FALUPAM approach to land use planning (TABI project) Community Planning ‘Mahasaly’ decision-making game (EFICAS project – CIRAD) Action research Farmer Field Schools in rice (FAO support) Farmer-to-farmer (F2F) learning F2F activities in tea and coffee (LURAS project - Helvetas) Organisational development Organic Farmer Networking (COFI project - SAEDA)
  9. 9. Selected slides from the cases
  10. 10. Conclusions from workshop  Capacity to implement Green Extension already exists. Govt Staff and farmers have been trained. Techniques have been piloted. Results have been documents. Manuals, posters and videos have been produced. Equipment has been handed over.  The project approach has helped create this capacity, but is also a hindrance to mainstreaming. Activities are fragmented. Often small scale, with no critical mass. Funding starts and stops. Weak local ownership. Staff regularly reassigned.  Provinces need to take the lead. PAFO should be more proactive in planning and coordinating Green Extension. If resources are needed, they should lobby for staff, funds and facilities, but to do this they need a clear strategy and a mechanism for M&E.  In summary: We know how to do it, but we could do it better if we worked together!
  11. 11. Luang Prabang Conference  Discussion on the ‘problem’ of extension projects  Fragmented and uneven implementation, with gaps and duplication;  Lots of pilot activities which fail to reach critical mass;  Experts are constantly reinventing terminology and methodology;  Exaggeration of achievements and limited self-criticism;  Focus on technical delivery rather than learning to address systemic problems;  Weak coordination in planning and limited collaboration in implementation.  Three major alternatives to projects  Government managed program (PBA)  Farmer learning networks (F2F)  Private sector technology transfer and marketing  The ‘big ideas’ exercise  83 ideas for scaling up extension were submitted by participants
  12. 12. 4. The GE Briefing Note  Draft has 7 sections 1. Sector Context: recent trends in agriculture in Laos 2. Policy Goals: NESDP, MAF Strategy 3. GE Concept: definitions, links to agroecology, New Extensionist 4. Past Experience: summary of Sust Ag projects in Laos since 1980’s 5. Capitalization: GE framework (5 principles), outcome of XK w/s 6. The challenge of projects: issues discussed at the LPB conference 7. The broader challenge of supporting sustainable agriculture
  13. 13. 5. The Policy Challenge  The success or failure of Green Extension depends on the enabling environment for sustainable agriculture.  Changes in knowledge and skills will not lead to changes in practice unless other factors are in place. Most importantly: financial returns  Some factors affecting profitability of sustainable agriculture:  Labour availability  Price premiums  Market demand  Value chain governance  Opportunities for enterprise development  Household cash flows
  14. 14. 6. Questions for Discussion 1. Is the concept of Green Extension clear? What should DTEAP do to promote the wider implementation of this concept? 2. Why have previous extension projects failed? Sustainable agriculture practices have been promoted for more than 20 years in Laos, but still not scaled up: what are the main constraints? 3. What can be done to improve the financial returns from organic agriculture for small farmers? What can farmers do? What can Government do? What can development projects do?
  15. 15. Thank You!