In recent years, agricultural advisory services have been the subject of renewed interest at the level of agricultural policies and development aid. Numerous development actors have taken up the issue of advice to farmers: professional agricultural organizations, government agencies, investors, agri-providers, NGOs, telephone companies, etc.

Questioning the meaning of agricultural advisory services in Africa today means looking at their forms, the needs of the beneficiaries they meet, the actors involved, both new and traditional, and the visions of agriculture they support in a context of state withdrawal and tensions over financial resources.

This issue of Grain de Sel, by confronting multiple points of view and knowledge, first reminds us that agricultural advisory services make sense for family farms and illustrates the multiple meanings of these services.

We are looking forward your reactions and comments ! Write to us at this address :

The English translation of the publication was made possible with support of  french Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Cirad and AFD. Also a warm thank you to Holden Ferry, the translator.

Editorial: Advisory services: a one-way street?

Agricultural advisory services such as “training and visit” schemes used to operate —except in rare cases— like a stream flowing from the “wise” (researchers and technicians) to peasant farmers in order to fulfil the priorities of the State and its financial partners. Those days seem far away. Austerity and structural-adjustment measures brought an end to most of the State-run schemes that operated those services. A number of development actors then began providing advisory services to farmers: professional agricultural…

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Have agricultural advisory services become more inclusive and diversified since 2010?

The aim of this introductory section is to provide general information on the concept of agricultural advisory services. It contains infographics, definitions and maps. All the data presented allow to introduce the subject and to give some reference points.

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Diversity of agricultural advisory services in West and Central Africa
Guillaume Fongang, Guy Faure, Patrick Dugué

Agricultural advisory services are crucial for strengthening the capacities of farmers and improving the performance of their farms and organisations. The diversity of approaches and types of advisory services is a reflection of the many different visions of agriculture held by actors in agricultural value chains and in different geographic areas.

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Are digital technologies transforming agricultural advisory services?
Chloé Alexandre, Florentin Modeste Bationo

This article analyses agricultural advisory services in Burkina Faso that utilise information and communication technologies. Whether they are a niche innovation or just a fad, how are these technologies helping meet agricultural advisory needs?

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Farmer field schools: an innovative approach to agricultural advisory services?
Myriam Mackiewicz

One of the lessons learned through AVSF’s farmer field schools in northern Togo is that this type of agricultural advisory service (which requires human resources and time) allows farmers to look for solutions to their problems on their own and acquire new skills.

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Renewed State engagement in agricultural advisory services? The situation in Benin
Ismail Moumouni

After a period of withdrawal from agricultural advisory services, West African States appear to be renewing their engagement through agencies and national funds for agricultural development. In Benin the government is reforming the agricultural sector, and the country offers a prime example of these institutional changes regarding agricultural advisory services.

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What are the positions of funding agencies regarding agricultural advisory services?
Claude Torre, Mouldi Tarhouni

Traditionally, funding agencies have been involved in funding projects and strategies for agricultural advisory services. But over the past few years, their roles and strategies appear to have evolved towards supporting private advisory schemes.

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The challenges of agricultural advisory services for FOs in Madagascar
Gérard Andriamandiby

In Madagascar, farmers’ organisations are involved in designing, monitoring and implementing agricultural services policies. This interview explores the new challenges and roles of those organisations, which are both beneficiaries and providers of agricultural advisory services, in a context where the State has withdrawn from its former role.

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New agricultural advisory actors in West Africa: interests, limits and strategic implications
Patrice Djamen

The diversity of agricultural advisory service providers in West Africa over the past 20 years was the result of several factors and presents an opportunity to improve the offer of advisory services. But challenges are arising, and strategic orientations need to be (re)defined in order to enable agricultural advisory services to help transform agriculture.

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Private agricultural advisory actors: Algeria’s market gardening sector
Nadhir Laouar

Agricultural advisory services have responded to State withdrawal by allowing the private sector to play a greater role. This article explores how that change has affected the market gardening sector in Biskra, Algeria, where suppliers and input retailers are the main advisory operators.

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Advisory scheme with multiple actors focusing on milk-collection centres
Christophe Rigourd

This article discusses an advisory scheme with multiple actors focusing on milk-collection centres in Niger. It highlights the challenges resulting from the growing participation of advisory actors from the local private sector (milk collectors, private veterinarians and livestock assistants, service centres) in the milk value chain.

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Competition or complementarity of institutional agricultural advisory networks?
Max Olupot, Nicole Aphing Kouassi, Rasheed Sulaiman V

Since 2010, agricultural advisory networks are being set up at global, continental and sub-regional level. These differences in scale could raise questions about the consistency of the networks’ activities. We questioned representatives of those networks to find out more about the situation.

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Peasant-farmer relays: feedback from experiences
Amandine Schlur, Ando Ravoninahitra, Augustin Douillet, Ibrahim Sana

Pilot farmers, peasant-farmer instructors, animal-health assistants, peasant-farmer relays—for nearly ten years, farmers belonging to FOs have been providing advisory services to their peers. Feedback from experiences in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Madagascar.

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New agricultural advisory services governance models in West Africa
Amadou Ndiaye, Kristin Davis, Modibo G Coulibaly

The governance model for agricultural advisory services that is still dominant in West Africa is the one where the service is run by the public sector. But over the past ten years, the emergence of new actors has been affecting governance models, which are becoming more complex with multiple actors.

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Funding agricultural advisory schemes to ensure their longevity
Cheikh Oumar Ba, Mélanie Moussours, Ninon Avezou

On the whole, funding for agricultural advisory services is insufficient, non-sustainable and non-virtuous. But in order to ensure the longevity of the service, those three conditions must be met. “Innovative” funding mechanisms have been developed, some of which are demand-driven and depend on contributions from farmers and value chains.

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Should advisory services be separated from the sale of inputs? Viewpoints
Valentin Beauval

In 2019, France is preparing to enact a statute to separate the sale of phytosanitary products from agricultural advisory services. The measure aims to make advisory services less dependent on sales objectives and raises the question of longevity with respect to cooperative business models. This article takes a closer look at the situation.

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Evaluating advisory services for family farms
Gifty Narh

With the State’s withdrawal from agricultural advisory services, monitoring and measuring the impact of advisory services for family farms is important. Doing so involves examining the evaluation methods used, their scope and their limits. This article presents an example in Burkina Faso.

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Renovating agricultural training schemes
Frédéric Lhoste

Agricultural training —like advisory services— aims to assist farmers and help them become more independent in the management of their farms. It also addresses practical and technical needs. And yet, the few existing training programmes reach few people and are often not well adapted. This article proposes a number of ideas for discussion.

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Inclusive agricultural advisory services: vectors of change
Cécile Broutin, Mame Coumba Faye, Marc Petitdan

One of the challenges when it comes to agricultural advisory services is ensuring that gender is taken into account. This article looks back at an experience where gender was taken into account when providing advisory services for family farms in Senegal with regard to the joint management of dairy production, and highlights the challenges that were encountered.

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Cross perspective: Do agricultural advisory services still have a purpose?
Bouba Moumini, Salifou Sare, Sow Yaye Mbayang Touré

Giving purpose to agricultural advisory services in West Africa today requires examining the different types of services offered, the needs they address, and the visions of agriculture they support. Given the future challenges advisory services will face, the actors interviewed in this article are urging for participatory holistic approaches.

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Members' corner

Several Inter-réseaux member organizations regularly publish resources on farm advisory services. We invite you to consult them on their website.

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