Jacqueline Wilson, Senior Program Officer at USIP, observed that extension personnel should be “connectors”—for example, connecting people with knowledge to people with the leverage to get things done. As a specific example, people in the community may be excellent agriculturalists—as Judith Payne, e-Business Adviser at USAID, observed—and extension agents should tap into their expertise. Agents also can convene parties with diverse interests in searching for common ground.
Montague Demment, Associate Vice President, International Development, for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, called attention to the difficulty of developing metrics to assess the value of investments in both agricultural extension and peacebuilding. Services provided by the public sector can be particularly difficult to measure, even though they may have substantial long-term benefits. Furthermore, peacebuilding and extension both compete with other public services, requiring that value be attached to each. As a further complication to the measurement of value, as Unruh pointed out, circumstances and needs may change rapidly—from survival to crisis management to recovery to stability—requiring a continually morphing set of services rather than adherence to a strict model.
Kevin Brownawell, Interagency Professional in Residence at USIP, observed that Bell’s definition of extension—providing knowledge to farmers so they can make positive change—also can be usefully applied to the role of extension in peacebuilding. In the context of peacebuilding, providing knowledge is more feasible than solving problems. Similarly, referring individuals to other institutions is more viable than an individual attempting to serve in the role of an institution.
Finally, Dale Johnson, Principal Agent and Extension Specialist at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center, emphasized the importance of commitment, motivation, and adequate resources. Without motivation, an extension agent cannot be effective. And without the funds to travel to farmers or even to make telephone calls, agents cannot do their jobs. Money needs to be specifically available for these activities rather than being allocated entirely to salaries.