A formal agricultural extension system in Ethiopia was started in 1953 with the establishment of the then Imperial Ethiopian College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (IECCAMA, now Haramaya University) under the assistance of USA. Since then the system has passed lots of changes and major improvements in different regimes.
Overall Structure of Current Extension System
Public agricultural extension services are dominant in the country. The Ethiopian agricultural extension system is based on farmer/pastoralist training centers (F/PTCs) supported by trained development agents (DAs). F/PTCs are knowledge institutions for the delivery of information, training about modern production methods and extension advisory services. A total of 14,065 farmers/pastoral training centers (F/PTCs) have been established, and 90,138 field extension workers (known as development agents-DAs) have been trained from 25 ATVET colleges nationwide. Most of the F/PTCs have at least three development agents specialized in crop, livestock, and natural resource management. Currently, more than 60,000 DAs are available in the extension system.
The extension system is structured from the Federal level to the lower administration unit, the Kebele (Federal-region-zone-district and Kebele).
Implementation of agricultural extension is based on the decentralized administrative system in which the Woreda is supposed to play the key role. However, the region continues to play a central role. Particularly, the Regional Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) takes the upper hand in planning, budget allocation, and overseeing the implementation of the agricultural extension by zones/Woredas. Regional agricultural extension structure and function is similar to that of the MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). However, at zonal, Woreda, and Kebele levels, the Bureaus and offices of the agricultural implement the agricultural extension jointly with the respective local administrations.
While extension falls under MoA, most research activities come under the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the regional agricultural research institutes (RARIs). The Agricultural Extension is responsible for promoting and scaling of improved and new technologies that are generated by the research system.
Administration Roles at Different Levels
MoA – The role of MoA in general is to formulate and oversee implementation of national agriculture related policies. In addition, the MoA supports regions for implementation. The Agricultural Extension Directorate in the MoA plays a key role in guiding the national extension system. It is responsible for ensuring appropriate linkages amongst development partners, and establishing effective synergies and working relationships within the Directorate of MoA and relevant among Development Partners. Moreover, the MoA is responsible to develop and revise extension related policy, strategy, guidelines. As well, as give capacity building training for regional, zonal and wereda level experts.
Regions – The BoA is structured in similar patterns to the MoA, though, based on the decentralized governance system, regions can adapt the structure to suit their own context up to Kebele (grass root level). It facilitates coordination and alignment across development partners at regional levels so that coordinated agricultural development services can be delivered at Woreda level. The regional bureau provides technical backstopping supports to the zones and Woredas, develops and customize training guidelines/manuals, packages and provide budget for different extension related activities.
Zones – The Zonal Office of the Agricultural Development serves as an important bridge between the regional BoA and the Woreda Office of Agriculture. The zonal administration offices reinforces and supports the implementation of agricultural extension by providing technical direction, organizing evaluation forums, facilitate development partners linkage and facilitating the provision of technical support to the Woredas.
Woredas – Since the 1990s, a decentralized governance system was in place in Ethiopia particularly empowers the Woreda. The Woreda is fiscally independent, with its own budget for staff, infrastructure, and the provision of Agricultural Extension and Advisory Service (AEAS). The extension department of the Woreda Office of Agriculture provides training and technical backstopping supports by Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) to the DAs. It also give continous technical followup and feed back on the extension activities.
Kebele – Below the Woreda, the Kebele office of agriculture is the final implementer of extension activities at grass root level. decision-maker. The DAs at the local level engage in multiple agricultural activities. DA’s provide training (knowledge and skill based), advisory service, information, and backstopping services to farmers. In addition they facilitate access to agricultural inputs, technologies. Kebele Extension Unit – group of people led by the Kebele administrator who play a key role in making decisions on agricultural extension in the Kebele.
- Ketena – one DA is assigned to each Ketena to provide effective extension services closer to the farmer.
- Development Team – a group of 20 to 30 neighboring farmers presumed to support one another in farming, training, and experience sharing,
- One-to-five Farmer Groups – which is composed of neighbors or an extended family organized around one lead farmer to exchange their experiences and support each other in agricultural activities.