Enhancing Agricultural Extension Services for Rural Development in Jordan
This paper provides a review of the agricultural extension system in Jordan, with a focus on strengths and constraints, as well as options for how to improve efficiency in service delivery and efficacy in outcomes. While public extension in Jordan has gone through many reforms and phases over the past three decades, contemporary concerns related to regional conflict and blockages in access to traditional trade routes require a repositioning of extension and advisory services within the Kingdom. This need is further strengthened by persistent pressure on the use of water resources that is well above natural recharge rates. Both international donors supporting the Kingdom in dealing with the mass influx of Syrian refugees, as well as the government itself, will require significant contemplation over how to shift some of these funds towards research and extension activities that seek new markets for a range of products that are competitive internationally given the need for costly air freight. Equally important, and connected to international community demands for employment of Syrian refugees within Jordan is attention to skills training, matching of skills with demands of employers, as well as access to profitable agricultural value chains for both refugees as well as host communities within which refugees are placed. This will require a meaningful change in the manner that agricultural extension and advisory services are delivered, with more attention to aspects of social work and care – an area that receives little attention within agricultural education curriculums – and reform of agricultural education more generally.