Advancing Rural Advisory Services in Arab Countries to Promote Market Orientation and Inclusive Transformation: A Regional Study FAO (2023)

Farmers in NENA region, especially both men and women smallscale ones, face several challenges which require a wide range of knowledge, support and services to enable them to run their farms as profitable businesses and enhance their income from agriculture. Despite the plurality of service providers, existing advisory services are still deficient on aspects of access to markets, agribusiness, value addition and facilitation of collective action to enable smallholders to overcome these challenges. Notably, RAS are not effectively and widely reaching smallholder farmers and even when they do, they fall short of addressing gender and age specific considerations. While the importance of RAS to promote agricultural growth is generally recognized, there is no clear vision and/or roadmap to strengthen the public extension services, promote better coordination among the plurality of service providers or guide investments in the sector. The quality and performance of RAS is also affected by the weak research–extension linkages and limited mechanisms for mobilizing problem-solving support from the research system.

This study explored the status of RAS from a pluralistic and market oriented system perspective, considering the three dimensions of service demand, service supply and the enabling environment. It draws on in-country assessments carried out in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt in 2021, which follow FAO methodological guidelines for appraisal of pluralistic and market oriented advisory services. Both similar studies previously conducted by FAO in Oman and Tunisia and a wider literature review provided further insights into the status of RAS in the NENA region.