Developing and validating a competence framework for improving the productivity of smallholder farmers: a case study from Ethiopia

Chalachew Tarekegne*, Renate Wesselink, Harm J.A. Biemans, Martin Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Enhancing the relevance of rural extension services requires aligning extension education to the roles, tasks, activities and competencies of smallholder farmers. The objective of this study is to follow up on previous competence studies and to construct a validated competence framework. Design/Methodology/Approach: Competence frameworks are generally being used to articulate performance requirements for certain jobs or professions. Whereas most competence frameworks display generic competencies and long lists of tasks, this study combines generic competencies, behavioural aspects, and content specifications of the job fields. The competence framework was empirically validated through workshops, focus-group discussions, and surveys involving 76 participants from stakeholder groups. Findings: The results reveal nine roles: 1. Learner, 2. Manager, 3. Communicator, 4. Co-operator, 5. Professional, 6. Innovator, 7. Entrepreneur, 8. Planner, and 9. Producer. Furthermore, six job fields are defined, based on the content of the farmers' jobs: 1. Pre-planting, 2. During-planting, 3. After-planting, 4. During-harvesting, 5. Post-harvesting, and 6. Facilitating all farming activities. Combining the roles and the job fields results in the identification of 23 tasks and 25 competencies. Practical implications: The competence framework validated in this study can serve as a starting point for extension workers to develop courses, training programs, and interactions with smallholder farmers. Theoretical implications: The study demonstrates a research approach involving the contextualization of competencies, rendering them meaningful for improving rural innovation and the productivity of smallholder farming. Originality/Value: The integrated approach used to develop the competence framework can be applied in any other context, and result in a comprehensive understanding of the respective job/profession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-502
JournalJournal of Agricultural Education and Extension
Issue number4
Early online date1 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Agricultural productivity
  • competence
  • jobs
  • performance improvement
  • role
  • sustainable intensification


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing and validating a competence framework for improving the productivity of smallholder farmers: a case study from Ethiopia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this