In this chapter we analyze the considerations that lead policy makers to undertake extension investments as a key public responsibility, as well as the complex set of factors and intra-agency incentives that explain why different extension systems' performance varies. Accordingly, the chapter provides a conceptual framework outlining farmers' demand for information, the welfare economic characterizations of extension services, and the organizational and political attributes that govern the performance of extension systems. The framework is used to examine several extension modalities and to analyze their likely and actual effectiveness. Specifically, the modalities reviewed include "training and visit" extension, decentralized systems, "fee-for-service" and privatized extension, and farmer-field-schools. The chapter also provides a discussion of methodological issues pertaining to the assessment of extension outcomes, and a review of some of the recent empirical literature on extension impact. The chapter emphasizes the efficiency gains that can come from locally decentralized delivery systems with incentive structures based on largely private provision that in most countries will still be publicly funded. In wealthier countries, and for particular higher income farmer groups, extension systems will likely evolve into fee-for-service organizations.
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