Cover Image
close this bookPrecepts for Extension in a Rural Context - Based on the perspective of 15 years of experience with 'contact farmers' in Nepal (LBL - SKAT - SDC, 1995, 94 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentImpressum
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. Brief outline of the Tuki system
Open this folder and view contents3. The context of development cooperation in Nepal in the mid-70s
Open this folder and view contents4. Historical perspectives of the Tuki system
Open this folder and view contents5. Experiences with the Tuki approach
Open this folder and view contents6. Some extension precepts
View the documentAnnexes - Information sources, Interview partners
View the documentBack cover

2. Brief outline of the Tuki system

Ethnic groups in the project area: Chhetris, Tamangs, Gurungs and Brahmans live in coexistence.

The Integrated Hill Development Project started in the mid-seventies. The Tuki system was conceived as a communication channel between the project and the target population. At the time the governmental extension services in the area were either nonexistent, or their performance on village level was totally inadequate. It was thus hoped that with this new approach the inhibiting feudalistic structures could be stemmed and development processes triggered.


During this period the project concentrated on objectives and methodology. The main intention was to awaken enthusiasm for development on a village level. It was consciously intended to strengthen the grass roots level, and thus break up the rigid power structures in the villages. For this non-traditional communication channels were needed. The main actor was the "Tuki" (= oil lamp in Nepali), an imaginative, keen farmer who was in close contact with project workers. The Tuki would learn innovations in free training courses, try out these innovations at home and through his example encourage his neighbours to join in. The figure of the Tuki represented the human interest aspect of the project.

Much was expected from this Tuki: In a basic training course he had to become acquainted with new techniques in sustainable land and water use and soil productivity. In a strict follow-up procedure the Tuki was expected to demonstrate what he had learnt by applying this new knowledge in a practical way on his own farm.

Regular meetings on both central and regional levels were to ensure that the flow of information was maintained between project and Tukis, between Tukis and government officials, and amongst the Tukis themselves. In time it was hoped that there would be at least one Tuki in every village within the project area. By 1980, however, this goal of covering the whole project area with the Tuki system had not been reached. By this time, too, both the Nepalese and Swiss initiators of the Tuki concept were no longer active in the project.


During the long and conceptionally quiet period of 1980-85, the basic idea of the Tuki as a voluntary, unpaid and independent village community worker lost more and more of its initial significance. The decentralisation efforts of the government led to detailed planned targets right down to village level. The rapidly expanding project activities and the growing pressure exerted by the public administration's planned targets resulted in the Tukis being used as partially-paid project workers on grass roots level. Their primary task was no longer meant to be that of encouraging their neighbours to independent action. They were now expected to ensure that the rapidly diversifying programmes and services of the project were established in the field.

The Tukis' demand for good seed (e.g. wheat, potatoes) grew with the need for it on village level. The acquisition and distribution of this seed now seemed to be the actual motivation for participating. One has the impression that the Tuki system was understood by both the community as well as by the Tukis themselves as a seed distribution service. The commission paid by the project for the sale of seed sustained the Tukis' motivation and spurred them on to attend various meetings and spread other topics of interest in the villages.

The number of Tukis continued to increase and overseeing them became difficult. The control over their work in the villages could no longer be guaranteed. Towards the end of this period, the project staff seriously began to ask how the Tuki system could possibly continue to function after Swiss support was withdrawn.

This was followed by conceptionally hectic years during which efforts were made to find an acceptable solution for the future of the Tuki system. At the same time the internal political struggle intensified in Nepal. The authoritarian monarchy with its one party system (so-called panchayat) was challenged by democratic forces which sought a parliamentary multiparty democracy with a constitutional monarchy. The subsequent conceptional difficulties with regard to the Tuki system must be viewed against this background.


Until 1986 it was assumed that the Tukis would organise themselves into an independent organisation. Much time and effort was invested in founding the relevant institutions (Regional Tuki Organisation). This also reflected the trend of institution-building which at the time became popular in development cooperation. At the same time, however, the possibility of handing over the Tuki system to the government was also being considered.


The conceptual direction changed after the king's visit to the project area and his subsequent directive of possibly recognising the Tuki system on an official level. Over the next two years intensive efforts were made to hand the Tuki system over to the state. Without success: After difficult negotiations in 1988, the Ministry of Agriculture decided against taking over the Tuki system.

In retrospect it can be said that the royal directive had a negative effect on the Tuki system. The directive, however, should be viewed in the context of domestic policy: An independent Tuki organisation in the form of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) would have complied with the political programme of the democratic (and at the time, illegal) opposition. It was thus important for the monarchists to thwart this opposition potential and to integrate the Tuki system into the state structure. To what extent the Swiss negotiators were aware of this at the time, is not clear. Ultimately the ostensible reasons for the failure of handing over were the financial commitments with which the state would have been burdened. It was impossible for the project to discontinue paying commission on the sale of seed without risking the Tukis losing interest in their work.


The remaining time until the end of the project was characterised by the resolute endeavour of creating conditions which would enable the Tukis to continue their work on their own initiative if they so desired. Already before 1988 it was clear to the new Swiss expert that the project had moved far away from the original concept developed ten years previously, and that this was one of the main reasons for the ensuing problems. Thought was given to the origin of the Tuki idea; the knowledge and capabilities of the Tukis were upgraded. The training programme took the form of a workshop programme and discussions about the formal organisation of a Tuki body was left to the Tukis themselves. This conceptual swing back to the idea of the independent Tuki, however, came too late. It was no longer possible to launch a viable Tuki organisation before the end of the project. Surprisingly enough, such an organisation was founded more than a year after the completion of the project, when the political uprising in the country had led to a victory by the democratic forces.