The organics sector is expanding rapidly and the Board of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand considers that the future provision of an extension service is needed to underpin the ability of producers to efficiently convert to organic systems and then to further develop the sustainability of their systems. This project commissioned by Organics Aotearoa New Zealand in 2008 considers four possible organisational structures for delivering such a service. The first possible structure is a complete extension service for organic producers that combines national coordination, standard setting and information management with a local problem-solving and sector development service. Option 2 is a more centralised option, especially useful for producers at the beginning of their system conversions to organics when advice to them can be more prescriptive. Option 3 provides decentralised learning opportunities for producers out in the regions and so is more of a “bottom-up” approach to extension. Option 4 is a user-pays option where only those people directly involved in a project need make any contribution to the costs of the extension service. Option 1 requires funding for each producer of more than $250 per annum and needs over $2 million gross income before the full service could be provided. Option 2 requires 2000 producers to be financially viable and funding of less than the equivalent of $250 per annum per grower. Option 3 requires 7000 producers involved before the costs are reduced to the equivalent of less than $250 per annum per grower. Option 4 would be viable with funding equivalent to less than $250 per annum per grower. The Board wanted an extension service that minimised central overheads, provided a variety of learning styles, and served the needs of both organic start-ups and established producers. It was recommended to the Board of Organics Aotearoa that they proceed with Option 3. The Board decided that Option 2 better fitted the resources that they had available, and this approach has been working well.


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