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50+ years of Investments in Agricultural Education and Training. June 6, 2011 Day 1, Panel: The Capacity Building Playing Field: Overview James Hochschwender RAISE Plus IQC Manager Weidemann Associates, Inc. Backdrop.

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50 years of investments in agricultural education and training

50+ years of Investments in Agricultural Education and Training

June 6, 2011

Day 1, Panel: The Capacity Building Playing Field: Overview

James Hochschwender

RAISE Plus IQC Manager

Weidemann Associates, Inc.

Backdrop Training

  • In the 1950s and 1960s: fear that growing world population would precipitate widespread hunger, doomsday scenarios and reminders of Malthusian predictions.

  • By late 1970s, no worst case scenarios - sense of complacency; era of cheap food to beginning of 21st century.

  • Despite that, concerns expressed by agricultural scientists about leveling off of yields in major staple crops, questions raised whether production potential of major cereal crops had peaked.

  • Other worrying phenomena: natural resource depletion, climate change impact on crop yields and animal production; warnings issued about declining availability of water.

  • Globalization affecting ability of developing-country small farmers to compete in the market;

  • Rising cost of energy-based inputs such as fuel, fertilizer and transportation and responses thereto including fuel production from bio-mass distorting world supply of, especially, maize led to higher grain prices around the globe.

  • Issue of developed country farm subsidies unresolved;

  • Now, second decade of century potential impact of end of cheap food linked to continuing rise in world population came to the fore.

  • 2010 -2011 drought in Russia; severe drought followed by floods in Australia dramatically reduced crop production from “bread-basket” nations driving food prices higher.

  • Importance of food security once more on the development agenda - Feed-the-Future

50 years of investments in agricultural education and training

Agricultural TrainingEducation and Training IS more complex

1. Direct links between food supplies, environmental stewardship and agricultural education and training (AET). 2. Role of graduates of the entire AET system - finding answers to: a. sustainable food production problems and implementing these, b. providing services and opportunities to rural people. 3. Graduates serve in public, private sector & civil society organizations - scientists, technicians, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, regulators, financiers, extension agents, teachers, managers, natural resource managers, and other roles. 4. Face intensified challenges - cereal crop yield stagnation, climate change, higher energy costs, global health concerns, globalized markets, and declining water resources, 5. Present AET demanding new technological and social challenges – “soft skills” for AIS. 6. Opportunities from global market integration, scientific advances in biotechnology and ICTs, and better educated rural populations.

Calls for fundamental change in existing aet systems
Calls for fundamental change in existing AET systems Training

The fundamental change agenda includes:

  • major organizational reform supported by policies;

  • curriculum change and updating;

  • re-designed and re-organized technician training; and

  • better use of in-service and life-long-learning for boosting the human capacity of agriculture and rural development.

    Example of Practical Activity - Increase Food Production: boost productivity of 40% of farmers with capacity to move from “average” to top producers – “narrowing the gap between the best and worst producers” (Economist 2011).

    Enormous AET implications. World Development Report 2008: “ while the worlds of agriculture are vast, varied, and rapidly changing, with the right policies and supportive investments at local, national, and global levels, today’s agriculture offers new opportunities to hundreds of millions of rural poor to move out of poverty”.

    Yes, but not without improved AET system.

Formal and informal aet
Formal and Informal AET Training


  • Academic programs, courses, and training activities planned & implemented in organized


    - Frequently classroom based - professor, lecturer, teacher, facilitator, or trainer guides

    learning process.

  • Curricula designed to enable learners to obtain information, knowledge, & skills required to master the content of the learning activity.

  • In the formal setting student/learner progress is measured through examinations, quizzes, or demonstrated competencies. Formal agricultural education includes university degree programs, vocational technical courses, secondary school courses, and in-service and structured life-long learning training activities.


  • dynamic, informal learning system greatly influences how information, knowledge, and skills are obtained, channeled and used in agriculture.

  • At heart of system are farmers, farming families, services they receive, contacts they make on a regular basis.

  • Involves awareness-raising and training provided to farmers by public extension and research services, by traders who purchase farm products and supply farm inputs, and by the media, which convey a variety of information to rural communities.

  • Farmer-to-farmer communication - one of most powerful for education in informal system because farmers communicate easily with peers, observe the techniques and skills used by others, and quickly adopt what they perceive as successful practices.

50 years of investments in aet

1950s, 1960s, and 1970s – USAID substantial, one of largest dedicated investments in AET.

Starting mid-1950s on - Established universities similar US Land Grant universities in Latin America, Asia,

and Africa.

TA for administrative & academic activities & curriculum development, links to overseas advanced

degree programs, modernized libraries, paired new universities with counterpart LG universities.

LG institutions supplied much of TA, advanced degree training, & continuing support to counterpart universities overseas.

Modernized way agriculture was taught & learned;

Enhanced quality of education, research, and extension;

Provided current teaching materials; &

Created international network of ag education professionals.

The impact impressive - not always sustained:

Universities lost momentum

Failed to adapt to changing conditions & new opportunities

Linkages to in-country stakeholders failed to develop

Quality of teaching and learning deteriorated

Changes in leadership, reduced funding

Winding down collaboration with overseas universities impacted performance, quality relevance of education programs.

On the other hand:

Number of universities established thrived

Continue to provide education leadership long after the investment program closed.

50 years of investments in aet continued
50 YEARS OF INVESTMENTS IN AET (continued) Training

1950s, 1960s, and 1970s - substantial investments in AET.

Multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, FAO, ILO, and UNESCO and bi-lateral agencies supported AET through:

  • freestanding agricultural education projects,

  • training components in agricultural projects, and

  • seminars, workshops, conferences, and in-country and international courses (World Bank 2007).

    Most of activities were short-term (exception - free-standing agricultural education projects)


  • Impact of free-standing projects depended heavily on recipient ministry’s or country’s commitment to sustaining new investment; results varied over time.

  • Choice of participants for seminars, workshops, and training courses proved decisive in terms of the usefulness of these activities and the effectiveness with which the participant transferred knowledge and/or technology to the parent organization.

  • Many investments in AET by bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies with not enough attention to institutionalizing changes in organization, curriculum, standards, and governance to ensure sustainability.

  • Absent such institutionalization, organizations tended to revert to their pre-investment situation.

Decline in funding for aet
decline in funding for AET Training

By end of 1970’s

  • dramatic decline in funding for AET

  • Numbers of AET specialists in international organizations and bi-laterals decreased

  • AET dropped lower on development agenda

    Starting in 1980’s

  • WB led education investments began favor primary education

  • Funding for secondary, vocational technical & tertiary ed projects declined

    2005 Review - WB AET investments in Africa - same weak level since 1998 review

    2001-2010 new WB commitments $23 billion/annual doubled – dual focus primary completion and post primary “education for the knowledge economy”

Past investments in aet by usaid
Past Investments in AET by USAID Training

  • USAID – one of leaders over last 50 years

  • Land Grant University programs – gold standard for AET institutional investment

  • 1950 – 2004 Total US$2.368 billion

  • Ag Research, Extension and Knowledge & Info Systems (AKIS) investments declined less than AET

  • AET took fourth place

  • WB AET 1987-1997 US$156 mill vs US$2 billion research & extension

What is wrong with aet

Generic weaknesses include:

  • lack of university autonomy

  • weak links to stakeholders

  • lack of accountability for quality or employability of graduates

  • outdated curricula and teaching approaches

  • weak training in practical skills

  • variable quality of programs

  • weak adoption of information and communications technology

  • low remuneration of faculty and staff.

Other generic weaknesses of aet
Other Generic Weaknesses of AET Training

Agricultural training at secondary level - not universally offered - often chosen as an “easy pass” by students. Suffers from a lack of qualified teachers & weakened by poor cooperation between ministries of education and agriculture.

Outcome of weaknesses & low investment in AET:

  • reluctance of students to choose agriculture as their preferred academic pursuit (Pratley 2008; Rivera 2009; Mulder 2010).

  • Where higher education is premium, reluctance creates many students enrolled in agricultural programs to possess academic degree or certificate not make career in agriculture.

Why now contemplate investment in aet


  • Growing world population as critical resources such as water, energy and land become increasingly scarce.

  • Food system sustainable whilst adapting to climate change & substantially contributing to climate change mitigation.

  • Need to redouble efforts to address hunger.

  • Policy makers - how to balance competing pressures & demands on global food system

    WHY NOT?

  • In 60s and early 70s - technology came to the rescue - miracle wheat & Green Revolution

  • Major importers of grain became modest & then substantial exporters.

  • Unspoken belief that with another crisis point that technology will come to the rescue.

  • Era of cheap food beginnings in the late 70s - strongest during the 1990s and 2000s as food commodity prices continued to fall.

  • Result - investment in agriculture development declined.

  • World Development Report 2008 (World Bank, 2007) renewed interest in agriculture development in governments and donors.

Why now contemplate investment in aet1


  • Concern that a food crisis could occur.

  • Action being taken to find adaptation answers to challenges of climate change,

  • Sustainable land management approaches are again being pursued,

  • Attention paid to water management, food safety and nutrition issues.

  • AET has major role to play in efforts to avert a food crisis.

    AET will have to change

  • revitalize and broaden its curricula, embrace change,

  • use modern communications technology,

  • attract new generation of young & dedicated scientists, technical specialists, entrepreneurs, and farmers to the sector.

  • Much lost during the period when investment in agriculture and AET declined

  • Complexity of organizational and human capacity for meeting needs of agriculture & rural development broadened.

    Time for investment in AET is now.

Expert opinion on current state of aet

USAID - Weidemann Associates Inc. Roundtable discussion on January 5, 2011

Purpose: Explore the state of AET & identify investment opportunities for USAID.

  • 27 AET specialists (USAID, WB, Gates Fdn, MSU, U of MD, U of Ill, BIFAD, HED Program, Earth Univ, USDA and private sector reps) with world-wide experience

  • Submissions were made by others unable to attend in person.

  • Comprehensive review of AET literature prepared in advance.

  • Summary of the findings of the Roundtable follow

General observations

  • AET suffered low level of investment by USAID & other donors over past 20 years. Probably constrained growth of AET institutions & weakened those assisted in the past

  • Academic & technical agricultural staff educated & trained with donor support in the past retired or about to, taking institutional memory

  • Still emphasis on production agriculture in many AET institutions even though labor market demand has changed

  • USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative that address food security in an ever changing world exposed weak state of agriculture & of AET in many countries and that USAID short of staff experienced in AET

  • Partner country personnel to work on food security issues in short supply & capacity needs well beyond need to train scientists and researchers.

  • Overseas training option for agriculture less likely chosen by donors - relevance, cost & sustainability

  • AET institutions & programs must transform into demand-driven, responsive & efficient support for commercial production for domestic and international markets.

Aet opportunties

  • Work with AET institutions & supporting organizations proved resilient despite shortage of financial & other support

  • Create generation of practitioners who will bring modern point of view & who can innovate

  • Conceive AET reaching beyond university to vocational & technical institutions producing needed technicians & offer learning opportunities to youth, women and others in society

  • Create an interdisciplinary understanding of agriculture that provides technical but adds business development, marketing, non-profit management, environmental concerns, bio-engineering & other technologies

  • Create and strengthen inter-institutional connections.

Pitfalls to avoid

  • Avoid supply-driven investments that lack AET system ownership & are unsustainable

  • Insist on practical training - lack of practical skills is a major weakness in AET programs.

  • AET investments must address governance issues & include stakeholder participation

  • All AET investments based on carefully conducted & analyzed needs assessment - each institution & location present unique challenges

  • Institutionalization of AET changes or reforms is essential. Avoid past failure to institutionalize gains.

Selected advice and comments arising from roundtable discussions
Selected advice and comments arising from Roundtable discussions

  • Think interdisciplinary & offer hard science plus ICT and soft skills. Think rural development, linkages, policy, and technical education

  • Universities need to be networked, share resources & information; share options for administrative & policy reforms needed.

  • Universities more engaged in policy advice & support (with decision-makers)

  • Higher education seek partnerships (twinning, joint research and teaching) with in-country stakeholders & sector institutions, as well as international programs and institutions.

  • Need for curriculum updated & scattered nature of the various parts of AET streamlined

  • Link AET with stakeholders

  • Sustainable funding

  • Investment programs have to be country-led or driven

  • AET change needs champions/Leaders

  • Focus on youth training/learning

  • Target producer groups

  • Emphasize value chain & support innovation with agri-business

  • Public-private-partnerships important

  • AET supplier of TA and TOT for private sector (or vice versa)

  • Donor harmonization important & continuity of donor assistance

  • Distinguish between institutional support versus training

50 years of investments in agricultural education and training

  • New and private universities to be competitive to interest students, gain accreditation and attract funding

  • Creativity centers and innovation parks are important incubators of ideas for the sector

  • Incentives and innovative programming to convince women to join AET as faculty / as students

  • Gap analysis essential for AET change

  • Diaspora important for introducing new ideas to AET

  • Not necessary to start from zero when bringing about change. Build on what exists.

What investments should donor agency make in aet
What investments should students, gain accreditation and attract fundingdonor agency make in AET

Institutions must look beyond the production of graduates as a measure of impact of AET investments. Graduates must be able to find employment and use relevant skills to improve sector performance.

Have clear objectives

  • No shortage of AET investment possibilities so wide range of potential programs, projects, and activities is not difficult. However, before an exploration of potential investments, answer organizational questions that will lead to a narrower focus and better informed choices.

  • 1. Why interest in AET at this time?

  • 2. Are there focus regions or countries?

  • 3. Is there a good understanding of the AET system(s) in the target regions/countries?

  • 4. What type of AET change does the agency want to support?

  • 5. Are desired changes long, medium or short term?

  • 6. Are agency funding horizons able to go beyond short term?

  • 7. Preference for ST but visible AET activities or support wider, deeper reform process?

Foreign assistance framework classification
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE FRAMEWORK CLASSIFICATION students, gain accreditation and attract funding

Key concepts in aet project design
KEY CONCEPTS IN AET PROJECT DESIGN students, gain accreditation and attract funding

1. Embrace new approaches

2. Promote strategic partnerships

  • Areas for investment

  • Curriculum reform

  • Faculty and staff: Replacing leaders. Building staff /faculty to teach reformed curricula.

  • Infrastructure: Strategic infrastructure investments to carry out mandates or reform programs to meet new needs. Infrastructure for laboratory & field work especially neglected.

  • Outreach and services: Improve outreach & engagement in services to ag sector to stay relevant. Research policies, strategies, and programs for facilitating faculty involvement in research. Extension or community services linkages, student exposure to rural communities & practice problems. Funded by stakeholders to draw on AET capacities, engaging in sector outreach.

Key concepts in aet design continued
Key Concepts in AET Design continued students, gain accreditation and attract funding

  • Student recruitment and support: Recruitment of students experienced in and commitment to agriculture. Investment in recruitment processes that enable faculty to visit secondary schools, meet with potential recruits, provide orientation to the academic programs, discuss the range of potential job opportunities available to agricultural graduates. Student support services important to production of well prepared, confident graduates. Libraries, ICT access, scholarships, counseling, outplacement, and internship opportunities.

  • Program quality: Meet agreed high standards, are accredited and certified to ensure quality standards are maintained and universities and ATVET colleges and their graduated are nationally, regionally and internationally recognized.

  • Policy and Administration: institutional policies and administrative arrangements that benefit an efficient and effective institution. Financial sustainability and appropriate incentives to faculty and staff and students. Investment in dialogue prior to committing to change programs or projects to identify policy and organizational bottlenecks in AET governance and lead to successful reform initiatives.

Recommendations for further support aet reforms
Recommendations for further support AET reforms students, gain accreditation and attract funding

  • Based on well defined needs & implications of change on organizational structures, faculty responsibilities, governance structures, policy formulation and financial resources.

  • Valuable use could be made of:

    • Organizational capacity assessment tools

    • Knowledge and skills gaps assessment instruments

    • Guidance on designing faculty work profiles and responsibilities in 21st century agricultural education and training

    • Governance models that embrace all key stakeholders

    • Guidelines for estimating costs of AET programs

    • Student recruitment models

    • Policy and strategy formulation for AET support and institutionalization

  • Investment in design of models, instruments, tools and guidelines that equip donors with dialogue, design and monitoring resources for the process of AET reform