Weak extension and advisory services limit the ability to reach smallholder farmers with agricultural innovations and market opportunities. MEAS worked through action-oriented research and outreach efforts in developing countries to strengthen extension systems to increase agricultural productivity and reduce rural poverty. MEAS offered a range of services through their teach-learn-apply approach, including training modules, technical notes, case studies, evaluations, pilot projects and action research and country assessments. MEAS was a consortium of several strong partner institutions, including Michigan State University, Cornell University, University of California-Davis, University of Florida, North Carolina A&T University, Catholic Relief Services, Cultural Practices, LLC, International Food Policy Research Institute, Winrock International, Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education, Sasakawa Africa Association, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
UF faculty member, and IFAS Global Associate Director, Kathleen Colverson developed a series of training materials to integrate gender into agricultural extension. These materials consist of step by step modules that can be used to train extension workers. The modules have already been employed in eight different countries in a variety of settings, including development forums, regional extension networks and at the request of host-country governments. The materials were used to springboard efforts in other countries also needing assistance with integrating gender and nutrition into their extension programs. UF faculty from the Agriculture Education and Communications department were actively involved in contributing to the development and delivery of all these materials, all of which can be found on the MEAS website.
MEAS is funded by USAID and the Consortium is led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; other members in addition to UF/IFAS include Michigan State University, Cornell University, North Carolina A&T, the University of California – Davis, Catholic Relief Services, Cultural Practices, Winrock International, Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education, and Sasakawa Africa Association with its partner, the Global 2000 program of the Carter Center. For more on USAID, visit http://www.meas-extension.org/.