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Extension in Ethiopia has gone through radical policy shift in the past 50 years, from feudalism to Marxism to a free market system (Kassa 2005). Currently, extension is mostly provided by the public sector, operating in a decentralized manner where extension is implemented at the woreda (district) level. The public sector is the single most important player, especially in terms of inputs, at the local level for smallholders. The private sector and NGOs (known to have many innovative and participatory approaches), while becoming increasingly important, are often left out of extension initiatives. In Ethiopia, limited extension is conducted by NGOs and the private sector, usually working through the woreda-level BOARDs (Davis et al. 2009). For a full report on the pluralistic agricultural extension system in Ethiopia, click HERE

The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation AgencyATA is an initiative of the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) established in 2011. The primary aim of the Agency will be to promote agricultural sector transformation by supporting existing structures of government, private-sector and other non-governmental partners to address systemic bottlenecks in the system to deliver on a priority national agenda to achieve growth and food security.

Atsibi, Ethiopia, 2009
Photo courtesy: Burt Swanson

Related Resources

  • Linking Small-Ruminant Producers to Markets: A Case Study from the Southern Ethiopian Rangelands Case Study Presentation Click here to view video presentation by Soloman Desta, Getachew Gebru, Seyoum Tezera, and D. Layne Coppock, GL-CRSP PARIMA, Utah State University, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya
  • Linking Ethiopian Coffee Producers to International Markets  Case Study Click here to view video presentation by Jim Dempsey, Sidamo Coffee Union and ACDI/VOCA, Ethiopia

ASTI Agricultural Research and Development investments and capacity in Ethiopia:

  • The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) is the country’s main agricultural research agency
  • Regional agricultural research institutes (RARIs)

The semiautonomous EIAR has the mandate to generate, develop, and adapt agricultural technologies that focus on the overall development and needs of users

EIAR is responsible for the coordination of decentralized agricultural research activities at federal and regional research centers, and through higher education institutions, including 7 regional and 15 federal agricultural research institutes (Beintema and Solomon 2003; Spielman et al. 2007). It operates at the federal and regional levels and accounts for two-thirds of total spending and staff (Beintema and Solomon 2003). The EIAR is one of several institutes conducting agricultural research; in the late 1990s there were 41 agencies engaged in research (Beintema and Solomon 2003).

Related Research Institutions:
  • Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI),
  • Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEPRI), the research, training, and publication wing of the Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA),

Public Sector Extension Services

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, MOARD,

The MOARD is responsible for developing and refining the overall national agricultural and rural development strategies and policies for the country, with input from the regions and other stakeholders. Within this strategy, the MOARD establishes the overall national extension policy, providing financial support for the extension system and supporting the regions with training and other capacity-strengthening activities.

Sectors within MOARD:
  • Agricultural Marketing and Inputs Sector
  • Natural Resources Sector
  • Agricultural Development Sector
    • Agricultural Extension Department
    • Training and Vocational Education Department

The actual provision of public agricultural extension and advisory services has been decentralized:

Regional Level

Each region has a Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, BOARD. The regions and their BOARDs are responsible for agricultural and rural development policy implementation, coordination, and evaluation. Each BOARD has a head and a number of technical and administrative staff, including department heads. These personnel provide technical and administrative support, as well as supervision and monitoring for the woreda- and kebele-level extension offices. Each region’s agricultural advisory support is internally divided according to major agroecological zones, providing more detailed technical and administrative support, especially for the large regions.

Woreda Level

The woreda (district level) Offices of Agriculture and Rural Development (OOARDs) are the main frontline administrative structures implementing agricultural extension.

The OOARDs are composed of five main sectors: agricultural development, natural resources, environmental protection and land administration, water supply and rural roads, and input supply and cooperative promotion (Gebremedhin, Hoekstra, and Tegegne 2006). The largest sector, agricultural development, is responsible for extension services and is usually divided into crop production, livestock production, natural resource management, and extension teams (Gebremedhin, Hoekstra, and Tegegne 2006).

The OOARD represents a more operational level in terms of reaching smallholder farmers and pastoralists. They do so using a cadre of experts or subject matter specialists (SMSs, who are also found at the regional level). There are more than 700 urban and rural woredas (districts) in Ethiopia. There are, on average, about 30 or so agricultural officers in nine divisions or units within each woreda agriculture office, including (on average) about 10 or more SMSs who are expected to provide technical support and training to the DA staff at the kebele level. Most of these SMSs are assigned across the same technical areas as the DA staff, that is, crops, livestock, and NRM. In the past, most of the staff assigned to these SMS positions had begun their extension careers at least 5 to 10 years earlier.

Kebele Level

Currently, there are about 8,489 farmer training centers, FTCs, established at the kebele level, with roughly 2,500 of these FTCs reported to be fully functional at the present time (Ethiopia, MOARD 2009a). Established FTCs are those that have a building and DAs in place. However, they are not functional until they have started one component of training—either demonstration or training. The training may be modular training or may be short-term, based on demand. The target is to have one FTC per kebele.

In 2009 there were about 45,000 DAs currently on duty at the kebele level, of whom about 12 to 22 percent are women, depending on the region (Ethiopia, MOARD 2009a). The number of frontline extension personnel is expected to increase to roughly 60,000 when all FTCs have been established and are fully functional. About 62,764 DAs have graduated from the ATVETs as of 2008, with 12 percent of them being female (Ethiopia, MOARD 2009b). This overall total for DAs trained compared to DAs currently serving (45,000) indicates that some ATVET graduates have left the extension system since graduating from the ATVET system.

Given that there are approximately 21.8 million adults (ages 15–65) who are active in agriculture, it is estimated that when the extension system reaches its goal of 60,000 DAs placed in the field, there will be roughly 1 DA for every 476 farmers. This would then be one of the strongest extension agent–farmer ratios found in the world today.

Other Public Sector Institutions Relevant for Extension

  • Food Security Coordination Bureau, FSCB (established in 2004)

Another important rural institution, the FSCB classifies all woredas in Ethiopia into two categories based on food security status, as food secure or food insecure, due to the chronic problems of food security in the country. The Productive Safety Net Program, one of the largest social protection programs in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), works with the chronically food-insecure woredas (Gilligan, Hoddinot, and Taffesse 2008).

Other relevant ministries:
  • Ministry of Trade and Industry,
  • Ministry of Capacity Building,
  • Ministry of Education,
  • Ministry of Health,
  • Ministry of Transport and Communications
  • Ministry of Finance and Economic Development,, handles all finances 

Pre-Service Training for Extension Staff

Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training, ATVET

ATVETs train development agents to work in Farmer Training Centers to enhance the knowledge base and skills of farmers (more ....). There currently are 25 ATVETS and by the end of  2008 they had graduated nearly 60,000 development agents (12 percent of them women) from the three year diploma programs.

In addition to their training role, the ATVET colleges have expanded their mission to include the provision of non-formal specialized short-term training, skill-gap training, entrepreneurial training, applied technology transfer, and services for farmers, agriculture businesses, and the public sector.

Several ATVET institutions provide in-service training, refresher courses, direct extension, and a range of short courses in technical areas such as fruits and vegetables (agronomy or crop science), beekeeping, poultry, dairy, and the fattening of both cattle and small ruminants.

In-Service Training for Extension Staff

While some ATVET colleges offer short term in service training courses, degree programs for mid-career extension staff are offered through:

SAFE, Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education, Programs in Ethiopia