Feel good story about Kenya on NPR is actually pretty damning
NPR has a story about Noah Nasiali-Kadima, who won a $1 million prize from Facebook for his creation of online networks to support farmers and capacity building and technical assistance ("Facebook For Farmers: How 75,000 Rotting Cabbages"). From the article:
... he started a Facebook group so that he and other farmers — including new ones like himself, and experienced farm veterans — could discuss and come up with solutions to problems just like this.That's what the US Agriculture Extension system has been doing for more than 100 years in the US.
The Africa Farmers Group now has 138,000 online members in Kenya and throughout Africa. He has also organized in-person educational seminars in countries across the continent including South Africa, Nigeria, Somalia and Zambia. The goal is to help farmers learn the skills they need to succeed, by providing forums in which they can share their own stories of success and failure, and offer their peers empathy, encouragement and practical tips. In recognition of his work, in September 2018, Facebook awarded him $1 million as part of its Facebook Community Leadership Program.
It was a four phase process. First, the US created a system of federal support for state agriculture colleges. Second, it extended this support to what are now called HBCUs, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Third, it created "Agriculture Experiment Stations" as part of the US Department of Agriculture, but with tight connections to the "land grant colleges." Then it created the agriculture extension program, jointly managed by state colleges and the USDA, creating a system of "extension agents" to provide technical assistance and capacity building, county by county, across the United States.
-- The History and Philosophy of Extension , University of Missouri.
The US Agency for International Development supports agriculture improvement overseas as well.
But if the experience of the best examples of knowledge capture and dissemination* in the world--the US Agriculture Extension system--isn't being exported as a key element of foreign aid and assistance, than something is really wrong with international foreign aid programs.
* One criticism of the system of agricultural research in the US is that it is oriented to the support of corporate and large scale agriculture, and technology over workers.
That was the focus of the Agribusiness Accountability Project, which produced two books, one specifically on the land grant college research system, Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times: The Failure of the Land Grant College Complex -- hard tomatoes are easy to harvest, but flavorless...
I argue that one of the foundational strands of the field of community development comes out of agricultural extension. Even though these efforts have been focused on "rural development," the findings have almost universal application.