National Extension Policy
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Vibrant discussion at Elsenberg

Ms Joyene Isaacs, Head of the Department of the Western Cape Provincial Department  of Agriculture welcomed participants to the first extension policy dialogue workshop at Elsenberg. Representatives of farmers organisations in the province were joined by NGOs, commodity organisations, research institutes, extension officers, forestry and fisheries officials and the senior management of the provincial Department of Agriculture.

Mr Tozamile Lukhalo Director of Extension Reform in the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) provided background on the policy development process. He  highlighted the different phases in a process of research led dialogue involving online conversation and provincial consultations which would contribute ideas which would result in a draft extension policy which would be circulated for comment and amendment before a revised draft was submitted to DAFF towards the end of the year. Once the policy was approved work would focus on the development of an implementation plan.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture provided an overview of the services which they currently provide. Senior officials Dr Trautman, Mr Sebopetsa and Mr Paulse provided detailed inputs on research, extension and training. The Western Cape currently has 89 extension officers with an 80% compliance with the qualification code outlined in the extension norms and standards. The province has adopted a commodity approach to extension and  invested in ICT and GIS technology to augment capacity and improve extension management and monitoring systems. To date the Department has not received the mandate for Forestry and Fisheries which remain national competencies.

Stakeholder groups were asked to provide their perspectives on the state of extension in the province and identify:
  • What is working
  • What is not working
  • What needs to change
Groups engaged in animated discussion before presenting their conclusions to the plenary and building up a wall display of cards. 

David Mayson presented a review of key trends in international extension before participants broke for a finger lunch. Forty five minutes later the groups were back at work where Siyabu Manona led a brief discussion on the implications of the key international trends for South Africa.

A final exercise involved participants in a discussion about national extension targeting and priority setting. Participants discussed their perspectives on the optimal roles and relationships between state and non state providers of extension services.

Participant reports highlighted a wide range of perspectives on how to best to target extension and make the best use of scarce resources. While there was an emerging consensus about the need to support smallholders producing for the market there were sharply differing views on the priority which should be accorded to land reform beneficiaries and subsistence households involved in homestead agriculture. The discussion also revealed confusion about data on agriculturally active households and whether these included or excluded land reform beneficiaries as data from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform does not seem to articulate with recent data from the General Household Survey. Some groups argued that land reform beneficiaries should be included in the subsistence and commercial smallholder categories currently utilised by DAFF while others countered that they should remain a separate category as they were on land which had been transferred through the land reform programme and had special needs.

Forestry and Fisheries groups identified the need for better internal alignment within DAFF as currently the three functional areas remained isolated from each other.

For a sense of issues surfaced by the discussion browse our Twitter stream as we were tweeting live feom the workshop. A series of workshop reports, presentations and other supporting materials will be posted on the website as soon as they become available.

Click the image for a view of: Debating policy priorities for extension
Debating policy priorities for extension

Posted: 10/2/2012 (3:20:23 PM)


 "one always get the best out of a wrokshop if the facilitators are knowledgeable about the content in question. I believe this whole policy process has started on a good footing. thanks for a great workshop yesterday!"
Sithandiwe Yeni Posted: 10/3/2012 10:46:10 AM

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