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This study was initiated to examine the appropriate roles of the public and private sectors in the delivery of agricultural support services. It is one of a series of studies focusing on this issue; the others discuss the public and private sector roles in agricultural research, seed production and distribution, and livestock and crop protection services. The present study analyzes the economic nature of the different types of agricultural information communicated to rural clients, the results of which are used to generate a framework for establishing the appropriate roles of the various participants in the agricultural extension sector. A review of worldwide experiences indicate that many governments are undertaking cost recovery programs which are fostering the development of a market for agricultural extension services. The evolving structure of the agricultural sector has also led to increased specialization of farmer technology and information needs, which has in turn created more opportunities for private sector participation. However, the selective participation of the private sector, particularly in only providing services where the economic returns to delivery are reasonable, requires continued participation of the public sector, complemented by other non-private organizations, if an optimal level of supply of services is to be ensured.

Publisher: World Bank

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