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Title: Pluralistic extension and farmer innovation systems in Kasungu and Mchinji districts, Malawi
Author: Chowa, Clodina Chiotha
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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Extension advisory services are critical for the transformation of smallholder agriculture. Democratisation opened spaces for pluralistic extension in Malawi since 2000. Public and private sector actors provide extension advisory services to farmers. Governance structures were instituted to create platforms for interaction with farmers in order to improve responsiveness of advisory services. This study was conducted to investigate experiences of smallholder farmers with pluralistic extension and understand whether or not advisory services are more responsive to their needs, and how they have affected their households and livelihoods. A case study approach was used in which quantitative and qualitative data was collected from four villages which were purposively selected. Focus group discussions (FGD) for male and female fanners (n=64), semi structured interviews for key informant farmers (KI) (n=20), households (n=117) and extension agents from public and private sector extension (n=22) were conducted. Data from the FGD and KII were analysed based on content where themes such as factors influencing choice of farm enterprise, timelines of key events with the key enterprise, farmers' perceptions of pluralistic actors and perception of pluralistic extension were explored. Data from the households and extension agents were analysed using SPSS 16 to generate descriptive statistics on numbers and percentages of fanners accessing extension, extension agents most met by farmers, markets for farm produce, preferred markets and perceptions on responsiveness of extension. The agricultural innovation system framework was used to understand farmers' experiences and perceptions with pluralistic extension. Three key aspects were explored namely access and responsiveness of technologies, farmer organisation and access to markets. Findings showed that fanners have mixed experiences with pluralistic extension. Availability of many innovation actors, diversity of technical advices, and provision of free hand-outs of farm inputs such as improved seed, fertilizer and livestock were regarded as positive effects of pluralistic extension. In contrast proliferation of user committees, creation of elites (villagers holding several leadership positions in committees) because of their literacy and numeracy skills, inaccessible markets for farm inputs and farm produce, poor organisation of farmers to engage in agribusiness and non-farmer friendly financial institutions were mentioned as major flaws of pluralistic extension.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available