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“Voice and Choice. Rural Advisory Services in Kyrgyzstan. Learning from 20 Years of Development Cooperation” 
by Peter Schmidt for SDC, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, 2012. 

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation engaged during two decades in the development of rural advisory services in the Central Asian country Kyrgyzstan. A participatory capitalisation of experiences draws lessons learned with particular attention to sustainability and ownership issues.

The evolution of agricultural extension over the last twenty years had four distinct phases: 1) Advice as part of the Soviet agricultural production, 2) Supply side interventions, 3) Demand side interventions and 4) Growing competition among service providers. Today there is a decentralised and fairly pluralistic provision of advisory services with evidence for positive effects on the livelihoods of farmers in Kyrgyzstan. The services reach a substantial coverage and intensive capacity building resulted in a critical mass of qualified extension specialists. However, the assessment revealed that service providers are more oriented to the demand of donors than of farmers and that their financial and institutional sustainability is still doubtful. The agricultural innovation system is still performing rather poorly. The capitalisation of experiences concludes that the designers of the agricultural extension system in Kyrgyzstan should have paid more and earlier attention to the demand side, should have aimed at a pluralistic service provision system right from the beginning and severely underestimated the fragility of the context.

(This publication is available as download below and used with permission by the author)

Related Resources

Dr. Ainagul Nasyrovna kindly provided the graphics, text as well as the presentation attached below about Agricultural Advisory Services in Kyrgystan. 

Context of Agricultural Extension Services Development in Kyrgystan
  • Agricultural land makes up about 7% of total country area; irrigated land is even less at 3%
  • Agricultural sector contributes about 40 % to GDP,
  • 60% of total population lives in rural areas;
  • Agricultural reform of 1993 --> about 300,000 farms and 1,200 farmer unions (cooperatives)
  • Land became private property
  • An average farm family around Osh has to live from 0.8 - 1.0 ha of irrigated land
  • Farmers had very limited knowledge and experience in agricultural production. The knowledge and experience that was available was highly specialize.
  • Yields were generally lower than during times of collective farming due to the lack of knowledge 
  • The farming community nearly completely lacked experience in farm management and marketing.
  • Agricultural input supply markets were not yet developed
  • Production credits for agriculture have hardly been available
Tendencies of changes in advisory services within last 5 years
  • At the very beginning the emphasis was on providing technical, production oriented advisory services 
  • Later advisory services on economic topics were introduced (e.g., calculation of income and revenue) as well as on general farm management
  • Services on facilitating business relations between farmers and private sector (input suppliers, financial institutions, processors, trade companies)
 More Details on the Roles of Actors 

  • Growing moral support for advisory services
  • Participating in discussions on advisory service development
  • Collection of all kinds of statistical information
  • Ad-hoc collaboration with advisory services
  • Financing and oversight of research and universities
  • Plant and animal breeding
  • Ad-hoc distribution of seed, fertilizers, machinery

  • Developing Advisory Services and NGOs and financing mandates for them
  • Policy dialogue with MoA –sometimes pushing from one side to the other and back
  • Projects to develop input supply system and seed sector
  • Projects for processing and market development

  • Supply of inputs, seeds and breeds
  • Provision of credit
  • Marketing and processing

Rural Advisory Services under the WB and SDC approach
  • 1999-2010 Development of 6 RAS in 6 “Oblasts” of Kyrgyzstan
  • For a long time WB and SDC were the main and only donors supporting this scheme
  • More focus on donors’ money (budget oriented), not on paid services for farmers
  • The scope of extension services changed over the last 3-5 years due to changes in the country and in the world. These changes also effected financing of extension services.
  • The biggest success in recent years has been the introduction of paid services
  • There are challenges: E.g., difficulties in development and introducing of innovations (new services), employing young people motivated to work in agricultural development

Andrea Bohn,
11/1/2011 15:42
Andrea Bohn,
27/12/2012 4:31
Andrea Bohn,
25/7/2011 13:56