This paper outlines the elements of a decentralized, market-driven extension strategy that has been tested and proven effective in increasing the income of small- and medium-scale farm households in China and India. The impetus and development of this strategy occurred in different ways in each country, but common themes emerged in both nations. First, extension needs to shift some of its focus from food security to increasing farm income and rural employment. This change in national policy requires that extension focus more attention on increasing the production of high-value crops, livestock and other value-added enterprises. In making this policy shift, it is essential that extension become more market-driven. This requires that extension allocate more resources to identifying markets where small-scale farmers can be competitive and to assist them with learning how to build value-chains that will effectively link these farmers with markets. Another essential element is that farmers must become organized into groups to achieve economies of scale in supplying these high-value markets. These farmer organizations will become the basic building blocks of democratic institutions and will enable farmers to participate more fully in the political process. Finally, for market-driven extension systems to be effective, decision-making must be decentralized. In addition, for a decentralized extension system to be effective there must be formal stakeholder involvement in decision-making to increase accountability. It is recommended that this extension strategy be carefully considered by extension leaders in other developing countries.

Keywords: Extension, Strategy, Decentralize, Market-Driven, Social Capital, China, India


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