This handbook is designed as a reference manual for front-line extension staff to use in their day-to-day work. It offers a set of tools for effective communication, program planning and evaluation. It is meant to support and educate agricultural extension workers worldwide. The intended audiences of this handbook include: governmental agriculture, fisheries, natural resources and community development ministry officials; governmental and non-governmental extension district/regional managers; extension-related faculty and their students—preservice extension workers; and field-level agents, whether governmental, non-governmental or for-profit. We hope that this handbook will help advance efforts to empower and continue educating extension personnel through in-service training opportunities, continuing education programming and “train-the-trainer” programs. Such efforts may include targeting specific tools of interest to audiences and inviting scholars/practitioners to teach participants about them.
Agricultural extension and advisory services are transitioning from a focus on technology transfer to a focus on facilitating a range of interventions in complex contexts. No longer is extension first and foremost a conduit of innovations coming from research and passing them on to farmers. Today’s agricultural extension and advisory services are being challenged to serve as the connecting actor in complex agricultural innovation systems. The role of extension in agricultural development is continuously evolving, and effective front-line staff members need skill sets that may differ from those they learned in school.