Journal of Extension Systems

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1994, Volume 10(2), December

A. W. van den Ban, Editorial

  1. Walker, M. Agricultural Information Systems Synergy and Development.
  2. Mohamed, I. E., Gamon, J. A. & Trede, L. D. Philosophy, Mission and focus of Agricultural Extension in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  3. Nawab, K. & Lawrence, L. D. Communication Linkages Among Researchers, Extension Personnel and Farmers of Pakistan.
  4. Dehai, W. & Yonggong, L. Linkage analysis in Agricultural Extension: The Case of PR China.
  5. Bauer, E. & Hoffmann, V. Situation Analysis in Extension Oriented Technical Cooperation Projects: Constraints and Proposals for Improvement.
  6. Russon, C. Persuasive Impact of Two Evaluation Reports on Extension Administrators.
  7. Madukwe, M. C. Job Satisfaction of Agricultural Extension Agents in Nigeria.
  8. Biscoe, J. Research Extension and Farmer: Bermuda Triangle of Agricultural Development.

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These days, the considerable argument is that we should have a uniform name for the Department of Extension Education in Universities. Otherwise, the graduates will have difficulties to find a job. In my opinion, this name is much less important than the criteria which are used to select the most capable staff members for these Departments.

A key question is which qualities should such a staff member have. In my opinion, he should not teach his students a lot of facts, but he should increase their ability to analyze an extension problem and to develop a good solution for this problem, which is most likely different from solutions which have been used in the past either because we are now able to use new scientific ideas or because the situation is different. A major task of university staff members is also to develop new scientific theories and ideas. This implies that (s)he should be able to apply theories from different social sciences to the problems extension agents and extension managers face. Therefore, he should have a good knowledge and understanding of these theories in at least some of the social sciences and the ability and motivation to learn from clients and extension agents about the problems extension agents have in planning and managing their programmes and in communicating with clients. It is clear that long before his/her retirement, there will be many valuable theories, which (s)he did not learn as a student either because they have been developed afterwards or because a student is only able to learn a small proportion from the existing scientific theories. Also the problems extension agents face change continuously. Therefore, it is quite important to select a candidate, who is motivated and capable to continue to learn. This is also because otherwise (s)he will not be able to teach his/her students to continue to learn the rest of their lives.

If a candidate for a position of teaching extension education to home economics students has studied agricultural extension, (s)he may have slightly more difficulties to learn about the specific problems of home economics extension agents than one who has studied home economics extension. However, if there is good teamwork among the staff members of the College of Home Economics, it should not be difficult to overcome these problems. An important advantage of the candidate, who has studied agricultural extension, should be that he has more possibilities to introduce new ideas from his/her experiences in agriculture than one who has always studied and worked in home economics.

Let me illustrate this by describing the selection of staff members for the Department of Extension Education (later renamed Extension Science, renamed Communication and Innovation Studies) of Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands. We did not like to appoint graduates of our own Department, unless they have first worked some 10 years elsewhere, because otherwise they will have difficulties to introduce new ideas in the team. In first few years, we were the only Department of Extension Education in the country and we needed staff members who could teach in Dutch. Therefore, we appointed graduates from other social sciences, social psychology, sociology, communication and adult education and asked them to apply their discipline to find new ways to solve problems of extension agents and extension managers. We selected those social scientists, who had studied aspects of their discipline which were relevant for the development of extension education. The topic of their thesis and the content of their courses were important selection criteria. In addition, through this selection process, we could increase the number of candidates from which we could select the best staff member. It is much easier for a capable person to learn a new subject than for a not very capable person to become capable.

I am quite convinced that if we had appointed our own young graduates we would have got much less recognition from extension agents and extension scientists at home and abroad than we now receive for our contributions to the development of extension education as a discipline and for training capable graduates. It is true that some of the social scientists we appointed, had difficulties to apply their discipline to extension, but that is a risk one has to take if one likes to be innovative.

The result was that in terms of number of students extension education became one of the largest departments in the university, because a lot of students took this subject as an option. They realised that there is an urgent need for people who can integrate knowledge from different disciplines to solve practical problems. Furthermore, it is stimulating to study with teachers who try to develop new approaches mid this gives them more changes on the labour market. To give just one example: The Ministry of Health needed for their unit in-charge of policies to combat AIDS a capable staff member, who understands how epidemics spread and how one can change human behaviour. One appointed a plant pathologist with a minor in extension, who succeeded well in applying the basic principles she had learned to this new field. That she lacked specific knowledge about AIDS was not considered a problem, because in the environment of a Ministry of Health it should not be difficult to acquire the necessary knowledge on this topic.

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Agricultural Information Systems Synergy and Development, Mark Walker, 1-25.

The last two decades have seen growing interest in the participation of farmers in agrarian development. Their knowledge and skills are certainly an important complement to formal research, extension and other 'elements', but the institutional mechanisms through which such complementarity can be achieved are uncertain. The dual concepts of "synergy" and the "agricultural knowledge and information system" can fill this analytical gap. Synergy, which makes a system much more than the sum of its elements, must be present for development to be equitable and sustainable. However, present orientations, such as Fanning Systems Research and Training and Visit extension are unable to achieve synergy as they are centralised, default to wealthier rural elites, do not build farmer capacity and ignore informal elements. Self supporting rural people's organisations that emerge from marginalised groups through a learning process, catalysed by coordinated government/non-government activity, are required to "demand" synergy. Such "Farmer First" approaches that address social and technological dimensions of change will need a broader 'extension' that focuses on capacity building rather than technology transfer alone. System management in the knowledge system will be required to hold elements together, coordinate interactions, build consensus and monitor outcomes for synergy.

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Philosophy, Mission and focus of Agricultural Extension in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Ismail E. Mohamed, Julia A. Gamon & Larry D. Trede, 26-35.

Many Third World nations have tried to reform their extension organizations with the assistance of donor agencies by adopting alternative methods (e.g., Training and Visit) that targeted methodological issues such as the number of contact farmers, ratio of extension agent/farmers, and number of farm visits. This study was based on a premise that reform strategies should be focused in other fundamental issues such as the philosophical orientation, control, financial sponsorship, mission, focus and interface of the extension organizations (Claar et al., 1983; Moris, 1991). The population of the' study included 96 extension educators and 128 international graduate students of extension education in 33 universities in the United States. Data were collected through mailed survey. Findings of the study indicated that both educators and international graduate students supported the concepts that the extension organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America be primarily educational in nature, have the freedom and orientation to empower and help clientele solve their problems and satisfy their need, have a high degree of local involvement in both financing and control, and be less oriented to satisfy governmental production goals.

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Communication Linkages Among Researchers, Extension Personnel and Farmers of Pakistan, Khalid Nawab & Layle D. Lawrence, 36-46.

For the past decade, there have been continuous decreases in the production of major export crops and some food crops in Pakistan. Evaluation of the agricultural system indicated that the decrease could, among other factors, be partially attributable to unworkable, weak, ineffective and often absent linkages between the agricultural subsystems, and more specially between agricultural research, extension services and the production subsystems. This study was designed to assess and examine perceptions of the linkages among the three aforesaid agricultural subsystems in Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu Divisions of the North West Frontier Province. Personal interviews were used to collect information from the participants, who were asked to indicate the importance of linkages between their group and each of the other two groups and to identify how often such interaction took place. Moreover, participants were asked the extent to which agricultural information is received through various methods of communication. Each participant group positively perceived that the interaction among peers and between groups was important for the development and dissemination of agricultural innovations, but that, in some cases, interaction takes place infrequently. Committees, workshops, planning and conducting on-farm trials could be used to strengthen the interaction within, between and among researcher, extension worker and farmer subsystems.

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Linkage analysis in Agricultural Extension: The Case of PR China, Wang Dehai & Liu Yonggong, 47-59.

The linkage among research, extension and farmers is one of the indicators to assess the impact of activities in rural development, taken into account the specific situation in different countries. This article describes and analyses gaps between research and extension, especially between extension and farmers in current China, focusing on the recent reforms. The present agricultural policy and the management of extension within this policy is one of the reasons for these gaps. In addition, lack of funds is a serious constraint for the improvement of the situation. To bridge the gaps, great efforts are needed which have to be made not only by policy makers, but also by researchers and extensionists.

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Situation Analysis in Extension Oriented Technical Cooperation Projects: Constraints and Proposals for Improvement, Eberhard Bauer & Volker Hoffmann, 60-68.

The paper presents weaknesses of GTZ extension projects during situation analysis. Weaknesses identified: Socio-economic data insufficient for target group definition. Situation analysis limited to intervention sector; position of intervention sector within the complex problem situation of target groups, therefore, impossible to be assessed. Specific problem situation of target groups not reflected visibly in the project measures. Recommendations: Situation analysis should be the focus in project planning. Field of investigation should be not too narrow, even if intervention sector is predetermined. Socio-economic situation of target population and the definition of target groups according to meaningful criteria should be another focus.

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Persuasive Impact of Two Evaluation Reports on Extension Administrators, Craig Russon, 69-77.

This article reports the results of a secondary analysis that was conducted to test the research hypothesis that professional training affects the paradigm choice of Agriculture Extension Administrators. This was done by looking to see if there was a difference in the persuasive impact of a qualitative and a quantitative evaluation report upon extension administrators from the USA and Mexico who were trained in agriculture and those who were trained in a non-agricultural discipline. The results showed that: (1) the notion that professional training affects paradigm choice must be expanded to allow for Extension Administrators who were trained in disciplines that use the quantitative paradigm other than agriculture; and (2) both qualitative and quantitative data are necessary to facilitate the reader's progression through all of the response steps which he/she must pass in order for communication to have its maximum impact.

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Job Satisfaction of Agricultural Extension Agents in Nigeria, M. C. Madukwe, 78-86.

Agricultural extension activities in Nigeria are implemented mainly by an agency known as the Agricultural Development Project (ADP) using the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension. Reports indicate a general dissatisfaction and turnover among the field extension agents. This study identified specific factors defining the job satisfaction of extension agents in Nigeria. Results show that, generally, two factors-the working conditions and intra-organizational relationship of agents-were involved. Specifically, value and prestige of extension work, recognition of output, comparability of salary, relationship with clientele and attitude of the extension organization towards human dignity were important in defining job satisfaction of extension agents in Nigeria.

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Research Extension and Farmer: Bermuda Triangle of Agricultural Development, James Biscoe, 87-97.

Much has been made over many years of the relationship between researchers, extension staff, and farmers in the processes of agricultural development. Vast sums have been spent on Farming Systems Research, On-Farm Trials, Training and Visit system, communication strategies not to mention audio visual aids, subsidised credit, input supplies and myriad other endeavors to attain agricultural development.

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