Despite the fact that rural populations in developing countries are heavily dependent on agriculture, access to adequate agricultural knowledge remains a critical issue in many developing countries. Extension services improve the knowledge base of farmers through a variety of means, such as demonstrations, model plots, specific training and group meetings. However, the question remains; to what extent is the delivery process of the agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS) effective in reaching poor women and men farmers on an equal basis? Innovative models focusing on best-fit gender approaches provide opportunities to better tailor EAS to groups with specific priorities and needs. Women, more than men, are exposed to a range of challenges that prevent them from accessing EAS.
A new study by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) gender scientists focused on how effective the new approaches in extension services are, in reaching women farmers in rural areas. The study which reviewed selected approaches to EAS has revealed that although a wide range of traditional and reformed EAS delivery systems have been tried in many developing countries, very little has been achieved in systematically considering a gender perspective in the provision of agricultural advisory services.
Innovative EAS models have primarily focused on supporting rural women farmers’ access to agricultural extension services, through a variety of mechanisms, but they have not been scaled for significant impact. This study report points to the need for implementing innovative practices based on a gender-equitable approach to rural service delivery which should apply at the farmer, provider and policy levels to reduce gender gaps in accessing agricultural advisory services.