Ethiopia is working to increase its agricultural productivity. One way to achieve this is to ensure that women and men involved in agriculture have access to farming advice and support. This article is about capacity building for gender-sensitive agricultural extension planning in a two-year Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) pilot project - at the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia. The project had two objectives: to improve the capability of staff to design and implement training focusing on gender issues and using participatory approaches, and to develop a gender-sensitive analytical framework in the planning and implementation of agricultural programmes. The project involved training staff in participatory rural appraisal and gender analysis. Challenges included: the difficulty of integrating these processes into institutions within the short time-scale, the necessity of involving policy-makers at all stages and levels, the need to raise gender awareness amongst rural men and women, and the importance of addressing women's lack of decision-making power. It is concluded that the use of the experiential learning cycle (experience, reflection, conceptualisation, and experimentation) in capacity building, participatory management and implementation styles, networking, and mainstreaming the project within the Extension Department constitute 'best practice'.