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When agricultural extension is discussed, privatization is used in the broadest sense - of introducing or increasing private sector participation, which does not necessarily imply a transfer of designated state-owned assets to the private sector. In fact, various cost-recovery, commercialization, and other so-called privatization alternatives have been adopted to improve agricultural extension.
This chapter is organized into five main sections. The first introduces the major forces catalysing governments to structure new extension funding and delivery arrangements, or what is generally referred to as "privatization." The second section discusses the resultant strategies for change. The third discusses and categorizes the major privatization types of institutional changes in funding and delivering agricultural extension. The fourth section considers the rationales underlying extension's institutional changes, and the fifth examines the implications of these changes. The chapter concludes with the recommendation that countries examine the institutional changes made by others, then undertake an analysis of their own situation and, on that basis, develop guidelines for the future development of agricultural extension services.
Forces for change
The evolution of public agricultural extension arrived at a worldwide turning point in the 1980s, one that represented the end of a major phase in the growth of publicly funded extension in both the developed and developing world. Agricultural extension increasingly has become defined as one or other of (apparently) differentiated activities of technology transfer or rural development. In many situations, the transfer of technology, heretofore considered the purview of public sector systems, has been reconceived. Such changes suggest a refocussing of paradigms for the delivery of public sector extension.
In developed industrialized countries, which often provide models for extension service delivery elsewhere, the declining relative importance of agriculture for economic growth, the increasing education and affluence of smaller populations of rural producers, and the increasing use of externally purchased inputs have changed the nature of publicly funded extension services and led to a questioning of the means of delivery of extension services by governments (Cary, 1993a). In developing countries, where publicly funded extension is often more important, there has been considerable questioning of the structure and forms of extension delivery.
The consequence of the ratification of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is that countries will have to more actively develop comparative agricultural advantages in the production and marketing of food and fibre. Coincidental with a shift toward more conservative political ideologies and free-market economics, global developments suggest increased competition in agriculture. While countries will focus more on their comparative advantages, they also, in many cases, still face national food security concerns and abject rural poverty.
Reassessment of Public Extension
While "modern" extension has existed since the nineteenth century, agricultural extension is quite young worldwide as a formal institution, with the majority of countries initiating such services since the 1950s and 1960s. Even in high-income countries where extension began at earlier dates, fiscal commitment took significant upswings following World War II when a backlog of science and technology had accumulated. In an FAO survey of 207 agricultural extension organizations in 115 countries (Swanson, Farner, & Bahal, 1990), 50 per cent of these organizations had been established or were reorganized in the previous two decades.
Against this background, governments in recent times have found that they are less able to continue providing all the services previously provided. With costs rising, limited resources available, and changes in the prevailing philosophy of the appropriate extent of government intervention, governments have been slow to increase appropriations for many publicly funded activities. Some functions of government have been curtailed, and others have been privatized. Such changes have been particularly significant in the formerly centrally managed economies.
Because extension worldwide has large numbers of staff, the recurrent costs of extension are of significant magnitude. In the FAO Report of the Global Consultation on Agricultural Extension, Swanson et al. (1990) reported that there were approximately 600,000 agricultural extension personnel worldwide, with 95 per cent of these working in public agricultural extension systems. In the United States, there are about 9,000 extension agents, 4,000 subject-matter specialists, and 1,000 directors and administrative support personnel (USDA, 1993 data).
While the unit cost of extension staff in many countries is low, large staff sizes translate into large government outlays. As a result of financial concerns, many countries have examined alternative structural arrangements, including the feasibility of reducing public sector extension expenditures (with associated staff reductions), changes in tax raising, charges for government extension services, and commercialization and privatization (Howell, 1985). A number of countries have moved towards reducing, recovering, or shifting the burden of the costs associated with provision of public sector agricultural extension, particularly transferring "private good" functions to private industry.
Concerns about the costs of extension need to be judged against the economic and social returns associated with successful extension. While more research is needed on measuring the economic payoff from investment in public sector extension services, available research tends to indicate, in contrast to some current criticisms, that extension in many instances provides high rates of return and is, therefore, a profitable public investment (see chapter 3, plus Evenson, 1987; Birkhauser, Evenson, & Feder, 1988). In addition, not all extension expenditure can be measured by benefits from technology transfer; the benefits of extension concerned with human development are difficult to quantify in the short term.
Strategies for change
Public sector extension, facing criticism for its cost and its lack of efficiency and for not pursuing programmes that foster equity, is confronted with a number of possibilities for change.
There has been a trend, perceptible throughout various extension systems undergoing adjustment, of greater flexibility and multiple partners in funding agricultural advisory services (OECD, 1989; Le Gouis, 1991). Le Gouis observed three major policies adopted by government and farm organizations regarding privatization of extension:
1. Public financing by the taxpayer only for the kinds of services that are of direct concern to the general public
2. Direct charging for some individual services with direct return (in the form of improved income)
3. Mixed funding shared between public and private professional association contributions for some services where the benefits are shared (Le Gouis, 1991,p.32)
A pervading development in new forms of financial support for extension is the trend to mixed sources of funding, reflecting strategies to gain access to additional sources of funding. In several developing countries, public-private extension coordination is already established. Alternative patterns indicate a fostering of private corporate initiative, encouraging cooperative ventures by farmers, coordinating public-private extension services, and privatizing the public system (Wilson, 1991).
The need for improved and expanded extension activities, together with a strengthening philosophical view of less government involvement in national economies, has led to a number of strategies for changing the way extension services are delivered.
The United States Cooperative Extension Service, when criticized for lack of relevance and vision (Dillman, 1986), regrouped and reviewed the criticisms. Its Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) organized a Futures Task Force to review issues and put forward recommendations with a view to revitalizing the system (ECOP, 1987), which has led to various alterations structurally and programmatically.1 Meanwhile, the advancement of electronic information systems is resulting in increased privatization, with important implications for the future structure of U.S. agriculture (Goe & Kenney, 1988).
New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' (MAF) agricultural advisory service now operates under user-pay, commercial criteria (Hercus, 1991). The MAF advisory service, renamed MAF Consulting and, subsequently. Agriculture New Zealand, has remained (temporarily) a public agency, although its employees have given up a number of public employment benefits and now receive commissions for consulting work undertaken. The agency depends for its annual budget on consulting fees received from farmers and contractual arrangements with government for the supply of policy information and rural intelligence to government.2
Other public extension systems have moved toward cost-recovery approaches. Mexico has developed a fee-based system among large-scale farmers in the northwest region and plans the development of a similar arrangement among small-scale farmers in the south central region (Wilson, 1991). The Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) in England and Wales, notionally "commercialized," operates on a partial cost-recovery basis. Clients of ADAS pay a fee for advice which formerly was free of charge. This process of cost recovery, introduced in 1987, was directed towards the agency receiving 50 per cent of its income from commercial fees by 1993-94 (Bunney & Bawcutt, 1991; Harter, 1992).
Some countries have replaced public extension delivery systems with vouchers, distributed by government services, for farmers to use in hiring private extension consultants (as in Chile). Coupons attached to agricultural bank loans, committing a certain percentage of the loan for extension services, have been used in Colombia.
In 1990 The Netherlands "privatized" approximately one-half of its public extension service by transferring field extension personnel, with initial government financial support, to the farmer associations. The elements of the extension service responsible for linking research and the privatized extension services, policy preparation, implementation, and promotion and regulatory tasks remained under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture (Le Gouis, 1991). The "privatized" extension service is governed by a board on which farmers' organizations and the government are equally represented (Proost & Röling, 1991).
Dutch farmers make a partial contribution to the cost of the new organization through membership subscriptions to farmer associations, as well as through direct payment for individual analyses. Farmers will eventually contribute 50 per cent of the cost of the service: special services such as individual analyses will be fully paid for by the farmer clients. The Dutch government has established new government-funded structures for integrating subject-matter specialists into extension teams to facilitate the transfer of information and knowledge and for the provision of information on government policy (Bos, Proost, & Kuiper, 1991; Proost & Röling, 1991).
A gentler form of "privatization" has been proposed for the delivery of government extension services in the Australian state of Victoria. A review of extension services determined that, for government-provided services conferring essentially private benefits to individuals, rather than cost recovery by government fee charging, it is more desirable and more efficient that private advisers deliver such services. However, because of the complexities of extension service delivery and the varying nature and levels of development of different agricultural sectors, a number of constraints were identified which precluded universal application of such a principle (Watson et al., 1992; Cary, 1993a).
In order for rural industry organizations to take a greater responsibility for technology transfer, the Victorian government has proposed "outsourcing" for delivery of future extension programmes. Outsourcing means that the government extension agency will retain a core pool of extension project staff and "buy in" private sector professional services with skills that the agency considers unnecessary to maintain. Agricultural consultants and contract staff will be employed to help deliver services in specific projects funded by rural industry and the federal government. Such projects are likely to be broad and industrywide and not tailored to individual farm circumstances.
In most cases, governments have not actually "privatized" their agricultural extension services. In its pure sense, privatization implies a full transfer of ownership (usually by way of sale) from government to a private entity, with that entity meeting all costs and receiving any profits. In the case of extension, governments have followed a number of distinct pathways such as commercializing the service while retaining it as a public agency, shifting public sector delivery services to private sector delivery of the service while maintaining oversight and basic funding of delivery, or pursuing cost-recovery measures to pay for the service. Thus the phrase "privatization of agricultural extension" generally is misleading.
Some countries have never developed public sector agricultural extension services, leaving the function of agricultural extension to private sector commodity enterprises or industry agencies, albeit often with some government financial subsidy. In France, while chambers of agriculture and private sector companies provide extension services, the former are substantially supported financially by public funds. In New Zealand, extension services to the dairy industry for many years have been delivered by the Dairy Board consulting service, financed by the dairy industry.
In other cases, nongovernmental organizations have been used to supplement public sector extension services, especially in the area of rural development (Amanor & Farrington, 1991). This arrangement has certain advantages for increasing extension coverage and encouraging farmer participation in technology systems, but it also has certain inherent limitations.
In most countries, private sector companies are already important contributors to technology transfer and the advancement of agricultural development through, mainly, contract arrangements with farmers. Rightfully, the private sector has come to be acknowledged as a major information provider to both large and small farmers involved in monocropping (Cary & Vilkinson, 1992). The characteristic of "privatized" extension systems is a focus on commercial farms. It is salutary to state the obvious in relation to decisions regarding private and public provision of extension:
when extension is delivered privately, it represents a commercial decision; when extension is delivered publicly, it is a political or bureaucratic decision. In determining whether to privatize, it is important, in the first instance, to establish whether an extension programme is designed to help commercial enterprises or small-scale farming and rural development.
Then why don't understand our government for privatetaion of agriculture .and make this issue in private college because of macking money every government colleges and his professor are currepted..I request to pm cancel the licence of junagdh University because of his spoil student carriar for personal reasons . If no action taking from government then shame on Gujarat government and shame on pm
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On the other hand, those who protesting against privatisation it's clear on there face that they are fearful to the competition. If government institutions have such guts than let us compete.
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