The Agricultural Extension System of Family Farm Schools in Cameroon
This chapter analyzes the extension system used by Family Farm Schools in providing agricultural information to farmers to alleviate rural poverty and hunger in Cameroon. It examines the background of Family Farm Schools and the unemployment problem of school leavers and advances the view that moving away from pure state paternalism to a partnership between the state, private sector, NGOs, donors, civil society, and rural communities in promoting of agricultural training and extension would improve the asset levels and autonomy of rural youths. Data was obtained through field observations, focus discussions and programme documents. The conclusion highlights the unsatisfactory financial position of the Family Farm Schools’ extension system and suggests the way forward to develop a newly conceived policy agenda for agricultural training and extension using this system; adopt a diversified and pluralistic strategy for funding the programme; build a platform for dialogue and collaboration with the relevant extension service providers; and evaluate the programme within the economic growth and poverty reduction strategy for government action. The agricultural extension techniques propagated by Family Farm Schools are but one part of meeting the challenge of poverty alleviation via education and self-employment. Equally demanding is the task of developing structures and support services that will ensure that eventual graduates have opportunities to invest in agriculture. This requires the setting up of a credible rural development bank for providing financial services to farmers and concessions of agricultural land of reasonable sizes to be acquired by the young farmers for crop and livestock production. Other incentives like favourable prices, access to markets, transport facilities, agricultural inputs and effective linkages with agricultural research should be made available to encourage the young farmers. Global developments require a new vision and the promotion of improved best practices if agricultural extension systems are to be revitalized and made more effective to meet the diverse needs of farmers. In the absence of these efforts, innovative training and extension systems may prepare skilled youth who are committed to agricultural development goals but who have no means for effective implementation of their action plans. The development of agriculture is the key to alleviate rural poverty in Cameroon. The youths need the right education and training to enable them participate in farming as family business enterprises.
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