Extension

Background

The agricultural extension service was introduced in Belize in the 1920s, simultaneously with the creation of the Ministry of Agriculture.  Initially the service had a forestry focus as this was an activity of much priority to England, timber was needed for building ships used in wars or conquering new territories.  In 1953 the training hostel at Central Farm opened and offered 3-month courses for potential Extension Officers, then called Farm Demonstrators.  The service has evolved over the years but the primary objective remains the same: the transfer of technology to farmers. The NAES is the most important service the ministry provides to the farming community.

History has shown that Agriculture Extension has contributed significantly to agricultural development and increased food production.  In the case of Belize around 50% of the population lives in rural areas, of which most dedicate themselves to farming.  When speaking about rural development, we speak about agriculture production.  Research show that in most countries the extension service is shrinking in size due to dwindling public funding but its importance and relevance is no different than 50 years ago.  This situation has created opportunities for the formation of private consultant companies that offer the same service but at cost to the farmer.  In Belize in the short to medium-term the NAES with public funding will have to continue to assist small and medium size farms.

Demonstration on the proper establishment
of Coconut seedlings –Central Farm Research
and Development

Topographical survey for the drainage of pasture land.
Bomba Village, Belize District

Vision of the Extension Service

A well-equipped, dynamic extension service, supportive of an agricultural sector that is sustainable, diversified, and competitive.

Mission of the Extension Service

The mission of NAES is to facilitate the development of knowledge and understanding generated not only through traditional research, but also knowledge and technical know-how developed through experiences that will enhance agriculture and the quality of life of rural communities. It promotes positive changes and facilitates the organization of communities through programs and projects that seek solutions to issues of public interest and based on the needs of the rural sector in the country.

The main goal is to train and build capacity among agricultural producers, women and youth of the rural areas of Belize, to identity main problems and motivate people to find solutions to their problems. The focus is to enable producers organize themselves, form exchange groups, consolidate agro-commercial businesses, and develop strategic alliances with other social groups to meet challenges of market competition and scarce natural resources. More specifically the objectives of the NAES are:

  • Strengthen agricultural initiatives through community organization and increase efficiency of the agriculture production so that the farmers can have better returns.
  • Facilitate the development of proposals, strategic alliances, and new organizations. At the same time, facilitate the interchange of experiences, knowledge and information that will strengthen the capacity of rural stakeholders to develop new proposals and organization.
  • Increase efficiency of agricultural production so that the farmers can reap the highest returns from efforts.
  • Promote individual and group skills to decide over non-renewable resource issues.
  • Implement programs that improve efficiency of marketing and use of farm produce.
  • Promote the best use and conservation of natural, human, social and economic resources of Belize.
  • Train and build capacity among rural families to effect adequate adjustments to address needs of their socio-economic conditions.
  • Facilitate development of information systems and capacity building that will enable producers to stay informed with technical information about markets and agricultural policies that can affect them.
  • Establish a long-term educational process in consultation with community leaders and stakeholders to address problems, needs and seek solutions through activities that promote best use and conservation of natural, human, social and economic resources that will lead to a better quality of life.

The Extension Service falls within the Department of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Chief Agricultural Officer heads the department of Agriculture that has five sections or programs. Each section has a coordinator at the national level. At the district level, the District coordinator manages the activities of agriculture through its field officers.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

EXTENSION OFFICER

  • Advise farmers on latest techniques and technology used in agricultural production. This includes inter alia; introducing new varieties of crops and efficient crop husbandry, proper use of fertilizers and other agrochemicals, post harvest/handling of crops, livestock husbandry and related farming activities.
  • Promote a commodity or commodities and work in a specific district zone as assigned by District Agriculture Coordinator
  • Organize and conduct training for farmers through farm visits, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, field trips and meetings using a participatory approach.
  • Work with marketing, credit, research and regulatory institutions to incorporate them in the agriculture production system.
  • Collect and provide statistical data pertaining to crops, livestock and agro-processing.
  • Assist District Agriculture Coordinator in the preparation of annual work plans, focused on the needs of the farmers and the department to ensure that work plans are implemented with available human, natural and financial resources.
  • Submit monthly reports, weekly highlights and itineraries to the District Agriculture Coordinator
  • Assist with the promotion of school gardening and related agriculture education programs
  • Attend staff meetings and other job related activities.
  • Other related responsibilities required by the Ministry
+ The Extension Service

Vision of the Extension Service

A well-equipped, dynamic extension service, supportive of an agricultural sector that is sustainable, diversified, and competitive.

Mission of the Extension Service

The mission of NAES is to facilitate the development of knowledge and understanding generated not only through traditional research, but also knowledge and technical know-how developed through experiences that will enhance agriculture and the quality of life of rural communities. It promotes positive changes and facilitates the organization of communities through programs and projects that seek solutions to issues of public interest and based on the needs of the rural sector in the country.

+ Strategic Objectives

The main goal is to train and build capacity among agricultural producers, women and youth of the rural areas of Belize, to identity main problems and motivate people to find solutions to their problems. The focus is to enable producers organize themselves, form exchange groups, consolidate agro-commercial businesses, and develop strategic alliances with other social groups to meet challenges of market competition and scarce natural resources. More specifically the objectives of the NAES are:

  • Strengthen agricultural initiatives through community organization and increase efficiency of the agriculture production so that the farmers can have better returns.
  • Facilitate the development of proposals, strategic alliances, and new organizations. At the same time, facilitate the interchange of experiences, knowledge and information that will strengthen the capacity of rural stakeholders to develop new proposals and organization.
  • Increase efficiency of agricultural production so that the farmers can reap the highest returns from efforts.
  • Promote individual and group skills to decide over non-renewable resource issues.
  • Implement programs that improve efficiency of marketing and use of farm produce.
  • Promote the best use and conservation of natural, human, social and economic resources of Belize.
  • Train and build capacity among rural families to effect adequate adjustments to address needs of their socio-economic conditions.
  • Facilitate development of information systems and capacity building that will enable producers to stay informed with technical information about markets and agricultural policies that can affect them.
  • Establish a long-term educational process in consultation with community leaders and stakeholders to address problems, needs and seek solutions through activities that promote best use and conservation of natural, human, social and economic resources that will lead to a better quality of life.
+ Organizational Structure

The Extension Service falls within the Department of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Chief Agricultural Officer heads the department of Agriculture that has five sections or programs. Each section has a coordinator at the national level. At the district level, the District coordinator manages the activities of agriculture through its field officers.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

EXTENSION OFFICER

  • Advise farmers on latest techniques and technology used in agricultural production. This includes inter alia; introducing new varieties of crops and efficient crop husbandry, proper use of fertilizers and other agrochemicals, post harvest/handling of crops, livestock husbandry and related farming activities.
  • Promote a commodity or commodities and work in a specific district zone as assigned by District Agriculture Coordinator
  • Organize and conduct training for farmers through farm visits, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, field trips and meetings using a participatory approach.
  • Work with marketing, credit, research and regulatory institutions to incorporate them in the agriculture production system.
  • Collect and provide statistical data pertaining to crops, livestock and agro-processing.
  • Assist District Agriculture Coordinator in the preparation of annual work plans, focused on the needs of the farmers and the department to ensure that work plans are implemented with available human, natural and financial resources.
  • Submit monthly reports, weekly highlights and itineraries to the District Agriculture Coordinator
  • Assist with the promotion of school gardening and related agriculture education programs
  • Attend staff meetings and other job related activities.
  • Other related responsibilities required by the Ministry