Strengthening extension advisory services in South Africa

Shortage of skills is considered as a major reason for poor performance of the extension advisory services in South Africa and increasingly seen as the ‘missing link’ in the process of economic development and transformation of the rural areas, and, in particular, of the agricultural sector.

Official project title: Strengthening agricultural extension in South Africa (SEASA)

Accreditation and capacity building

In SEASA, in the Eastern Cape, the African Research Council, the Provincial Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and the University of Fort Hare Larenstein are collaborating with CDI, ICRA and Van Hall to acquire SAQA accreditation for the Big-5 in-service extension training course and to top up and expand the core group of extension trainers capacitated during the Cape Project for Rural Innovation (2006- 2009).

SEASA project components

To strengthen and consolidate ARC, EC-PDA and UFH’s capacity to implement the accredited Big-5 extension  course, the SEASA activities consist of:

  • Design and elaboration of Learner & Teacher/Trainer Guides, Learner Workbooks and Assessment Guides for the Big-5 course modules in line with the accreditation norms set by SAQA, the national accreditation authority;
  • Enhancing and consolidating skills and knowledge of extension trainers, and to expand their numbers;
  • Training a significant proportion of the extension field staff in the Eastern Cape Province, and prepare the ground for expansion of such training activities to extension staff in other provinces;
  • Promotion, development and consolidation of strong networks among ARC, EC-PDA and UFH and the various stakeholders in the agricultural sector and beyond, to create the capacity within these partner organizations to identify and respond to the needs in the agricultural sector;
  • Vigorous promotion of gender sensitivity and equality;
  • Continuous learning through M&E, periodic reflection and quality control to create a culture of learning.

Capacity building with primary stakeholders

Whereas the project is targeted primarily towards staff of ARC-trainers, EC-PDA trainers, extension staff, UFH lecturers, and managers of these three organisations, it explicitly involves rural communities, famer organizations and stakeholders from the private sector in joint action and learning.