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date: 01 May 2017

Agricultural Extension and Climate Change Communication

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Agricultural extension has evolved over the last 200 years from a system of top-down dissemination of information, from experts to farmers, to a more complex system in which a diversity of knowledge producers and farmers work together to co-produce information. An example from the Southeastern United States illustrates how innovative institutional arrangements enable land-grant universities to actively engage farmers and extension agents as key partners in the knowledge generation process. A second U.S. example shows that private retailers are more influential than extension in influencing farm management decisions of the large scale farmers in the Midwestern United States. However, these private retailers trust extension as a source of climate change information, and thus partnerships are important for extension. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been an important source of extension services for small holder farmers across the world, and examples from the NGO CARE (Cooperative Assistance for Relief Everywhere) indicate that a participatory and facilitative approach works well for climate change communication. Collectively these examples emphasize that the role of agricultural extension in climate change communication is essential in both developed and developing contexts and with both small holder farmers and large scale farmers. These case studies illustrate the effectiveness of a co-production approach, the importance of partners and donors, and the changing landscape of agricultural extension delivery.