Main content area

The Brazilian experience with agroecological extension: a critical analysis of reform in a pluralistic extension system

Diesel, Vivien, Miná Dias, Marcelo
The journal of agricultural education and extension 2016 v.22 no.5 pp. 415-433
agroecology, politics, public policy
Purpose : To analyze the Brazilian experience in designing and implementing a recent extension policy reform based on agroecology, and reflect on its wider theoretical implications for extension reform literature. Design/methodology/approach : Using a critical public analysis we characterize the evolution of Brazilian federal extension policy between 2004 and 2015, using political and legal documents as well as recent academic studies for policy frame characterization and implementation analysis. Findings : The case reveals the difficulty of implementing an agroecological extension approach as part of the endogenous development proposal expressed in 2004 PNATER. The agroecological proposal tended to be impaired by a more general demand for diverse public policy programs implementation, facing a series of institutional constraints. A policy reframing process led to a search for alternatives to make it compatible with a federal centralization trend and public administration rules, resulting in a contracting out emphasis. Theoretical implications : The study shows the political economy aspects of extension reform, and how original plans are influenced by path dependence and different and contrasting demands. Practical implications : The study points to the importance of considering political and institutional environments in extension reforms, and indicates a necessity for additional reflection about strategies for scaling up proposals for agroecological and sustainability oriented extension. Originality/value : Few studies are dedicated to understanding the political economy of extension reform, and reform of Brazilian rural extension systems.