A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities
There are many public agencies and organizations that are providing extension services to the farmers of Bangladesh. These agencies including government agencies, many non-government organizations (NGOs), commercial traders and input suppliers are operating at both the rural and urban areas within the country. Together, all these partners comprise the National Agricultural Extension System (NAES). Each organization has its own operational strategies for providing extension services to farmers. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) within the Ministry of Agriculture is the biggest agency employing nearly 14,000 personnel who are providing extension service to rural areas across the country. In addition, there are 14 Agricultural Training Institutes (ATIs) that train these front-line extension staff, plus the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) that trains senior extension workers at BS and MS degree.
At the national level, public extension is managed by 326 senior staff with a bachelor degree or more and 99% are men. There are 126 subject matter specialists and almost half of which have graduate degrees, these 95% males provide backstop support for the field extension personnel. There are about 13,323 field extension workers and about 89% of them hold Agricultural Diploma (the rest with degrees) and about 7% of them are women. In addition, there are about 130 information and Communication Technology (ICT) workers. Seventy three percent of ICT staff holds a graduate degree and the rest completed a bachelor degree (Table 1).
Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Bangladesh (Ministry of Agriculture & Governmental or Ministry-based Extension Organizations)
Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011
1. Major Institutions providing extension/advisory services in the country
The public sector is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Bangladesh Agricultural University.
These institutions provide extension services through the various departments and institutes as listed below:
Public Extension Institutions
Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) http://www.dae.gov.bd/ within the Ministry of Agriculture
Agricultural Information Service (AIS) http://www.ais.gov.bd/within within the Ministry of Agriculture
Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) http://www.dam.gov.bd within the Ministry of Agriculture
Department of Livestock Services (DLS) http://www.dls.gov.bd/)within within the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MFL)
Department of Fisheries (DOF) http://www.fisheries.gov.bd within the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MFL)
Public Research Institutions (NARS* Institutes)
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) www.barc.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) www.bari.gov.bd
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) www.brri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) www.bina.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) www.bjri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute (BSRI) www.bsri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI) www.btri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Forest Research Institute (BFRI) www.bfri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) www.blri.gov.bd/
Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) http:// www.bfri.org.bd
Agricultural Training Institutes (ATI) http://www.dae.gov.bd/agriculture-training-institutes
Bangladesh Agricultural University Extension Center (BAUEC) within Bangladesh Agricultural University http://www.bau.edu.bd
Outreach Center of Bangabandhu Agricultural University
* National Agricultural Research System
Private Sector Firms
There are many private sector firms and the following is a list of the major services providers:
Input Supply Dealers that are handling seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
Wholesale Market Dealers, including export crops and specific types of fish
Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors
There are many international NGOs and private sector firms that are providing extension services in collaboration with local NGOs.
BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is the largest and most effective NGO in Bangladesh, with about 9,000 front-line extension staff focusing on rural and farm women. See: http://www.brac.net/content/about-brac-agriculture-food-security
CARE International (implementing the SHOUHARDO II project)
Chemonics International (implementing the PRICE project)
RDRS (Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service)
TMSS (Thangamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha)
PROSHIKA Manobik Unnayan Kendra
ASA (Association Social Advancement)
GKF (Grameen Krishi Foundation)
IFDC (implementing the ILSFARM project)
Winrock International (implementing the REAP project)
Royal Danish Embassy (DANIDA) funding two extension projects, which are primarily using the FFS methodology
World Bank funded National Agricultural Technology project (NATP)
Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives
Small scale and marginal farmers are being organized into community, farmer and/or producer groups. This arrangement is being carried out by different organizations, in agreement with the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). The purpose of helping these groups of small-scale farmers is to intensify and diversify their respective farming systems by producing more high-value crops, livestock and fish products to increase their farm income. By working together in groups, both to access input supply as well as to work together for marketing purposes, these groups can substantially reduce the cost of these services, especially by linking these producers to wholesale markets and avoid being exploited by traders. Farmers groups are being organized by the DAE, as well as other NGOs (e.g. BRAC) using somewhat different methods:
Common Interest Group (CIGs) are being organized under the World Bank’s sponsored National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), whereby farmers at the village, union and block level are learning how to produce and market different crops through training activities being carried out by District or Upazila extension workers at the Upazila level.
Farmers Field Schools (FFS) that focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Crop Management (ICM). These clubs are organized under DANIDA projects, with generally 50% men and 50% women.
Village Groups are organized by BRAC and they have monthly meetings to discuss and solve immediate technical, management or marketing problems
2. Enabling (or Disabling) Environment
The limited relationship between the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), the Department of Fisheries (DOF), as well as with other NGO service providers within specific projects, districts and/or Upazilas stems from the absence of a clear national agricultural extension policy. DAE is still largely a top down extension system just like DLS and DOF that operate in a quasi-isolated environment with very limited research-extension linkages.
It should be noted that the World Bank, through its current National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) is attempting to strengthen the agricultural extension system in Bangladesh by investing about $30 million. During the first two years of this project, about 18,000 farmer groups have been formed, but the primary purpose appears to be on training these farmer groups about specific crop and livestock system. However, these training courses appear to be following a more top-down approach. Therefore, in assessing DAE, DLS and DOF, there seems to be little change in moving toward a more farmer-led and market driven extension system. Instead, different groups of farmers should decide for themselves about which specific crop or livestock product they can successfully produce and sell to available markets within their village, blocks, union/ward or Upazilas. Another serious problem is that these field extension workers have few, if any, resources to work with in helping farmers, including transportation, communication devices (e.g. tablet or smart phone) and few if any program resources to carry out extension activities at the field level. Most of these current investments are going for transport, training, and other resources at the Upazila and District levels.
3. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension
The Ministry of Agriculture, through its Agricultural Information Service (AIS) and The Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) is putting considerable emphasis on making technical and market information readily available for farmers throughout Bangladesh. For example, on the AIS website, farmers can get technical information on every crop, livestock and fish product being produced across Bangladesh. These resources will be useful to both farmers and extension workers, if they can get access to this information online. However, only the more progressive farmers can access this information, but most frontline extension workers do not have access to this important information.
In this regard, AIS is making progress in also making market information available online from 50+ markets throughout Bangladesh. However, again, this information is only accessible to very few progressive farmers and only a very small number of extension field workers who can access the online information. The DAM generates this market information on weekly basis and then it is accessible through the AIS internet service. Also, call centers are being created by both research and most extension departments (DAE, DLS, and DOF) at the district and Upazila level as well as AIS at the national level. There is an increase in the use of mobile phones by “progressive” farmers to speak with input supply dealers and wholesale markets (Kashem, 2010).
4. Training for Extension Professionals
There are 14 Agricultural Training Institutes (ATI) providing pre-service training for the field extension staff. Most Sub-Assistant Agricultural Officers (SAAOs) have diploma from these ATIs that mainly provide training on cropping systems, especially for the rural poor. In addition, the Bangladesh Agricultural University is providing degree level training for the agricultural officers that are largely positioned at the Upazila and District levels within DAE.
5. Statistical Indicators
Source: The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org, *Food and Agriculture Organization, http://faostat.fao.org,
** Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory, www.btrc.gov.bg
References Pertaining to Agricultural and Rural Extension and Advisory Services in Bangladesh
Swanson, B. 2011.Assessment of Bangladesh’s Pluralistic Extension System: A MEAS Rapid Scoping Mission. in Bangladesh. Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) Project. Report prepared for USAID, February 2011.
Uddin, M. 2008. Agricultural Extension Services in Bangladesh: A Review Study. Bulletin of Institute of Vocational and Technical Education No.5 October, Department of Agricultural Extension Education, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202 Bangladesh. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from
Gary, Alex; B. Derek; M. H. Collion; and W. Rivera. Extension and Rural Development: Converging Views on Institutional Approaches?
Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper 4 The World Bank. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from
Bangladesh. 2003. Existing Extension System: Strengths, Weaknesses and Proposed Reforms in Bangladesh: Country Paper prepared for Regional Workshop on Operationalizing Reforms in Agricultural Extension in South Asia, to be held on 6 -8 February, 2003 at New Delhi, India. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from
Mofakkarul, I; David I., Gray; Janet I., Reid; Terry C., Kelly; & Peter D., Kemp. 2011. Beyond Recurrent Costs: An Institutional Analysis of the Unsustainability of Donor-Supported Reforms in Agricultural Extension. Journal of International Agricultural Extension and Education (JIAEE). Vol. 18 Number 1. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from Vol. 18(1) Spring 2011
GSMA Development Fund. 2010. Women and mobile: A global opportunity. A study on the mobile phone gender gap in low and middle income countries. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from http://vitalwaveconsulting.com/pdf/Women-Mobile.pdf
Kashem, M. A. 2010. Farmers’ use of Mobile Phones in Receiving Agricultural Information towards Agricultural Development. Pp. 80-89 in: Jakob Svensson and Gudrun Wicander (eds.) Proceedings of The 2nd International Conference on M4D Mobile Communication Technology for Development (M4D 2010), 10-11 November 2010 Kampala, Uganda: Karlstad University Studies, 2010:31. Sweden
Persons responsible for this summary: Andre M. Nnoung, Andrea B. Bohn and Burton E. Swanson. Special thanks to Dr. M. A. Kashem for helpful comments and inputs