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close this book Agricultural extension
close this folder What is agricultural extension?
View the document Peace corps and agricultural development
View the document The small scale farmer
View the document Two way communication

Two way communication

Agricultural Extension is effective two-way communication. It is the best way to include small-scale farming families in the process of directed change which has evolved as a response to the crisis which agriculture faces n developing countries. The formal framework within which most agricultural extension takes place is called the Farming Research - Extension Chain. The chain is an organized process which directs technological change.


In recent years, the rate of change has accelerated to the point that farmers can hardly keep up with researchers. Two-way communication between practical farmers and scientific researchers is often strained and one-sided. In the United States where the research-extension process of providing new ideas to farmers is based on a tradition of farmer participation and control, one-sided communication can be held in check. But in developing countries, the situation is different. The research extension process in these countries was established and directed by distant governments for colonial cash-cropping purposes. For example, vast tracts of traditional subsistence farmland in southern Sierra Leone were planted as cacao plantations in the 1940s and 1950s for export to Great Britain. As a result, farmers were given seed, fertilizer and other new inputs, and were told how to grow the cacao. farmers in developing countries like Sierra Leone do not communicate with researchers via extension workers.

Now that the rate of change dictated by scientific research is accelerating, small-scale farmers can be left behind or ill-served by change.

Because Peace Corps wishes to include small-scale farming families in the change process, it emphasizes two way communication as its extension strategy. This manual outlines the skills and knowledge Volunteers need in order to practice this kind of extension work:




Learning what farmers know, what they want, what the local situation is like and planning with local input.


Providing the services farmers need in order to develop, and understanding the important difference between working FOR and working WITH farmers.


Understanding how farmers learn and carrying out appropriate training methods.


Understanding how people work in groups and building local institutions that capacitate and support farmers.


Integrating these steps into well planned, carried out and evaluated village projects.

These extension tasks are at first carried out in rough chronological order. The entire process is cyclical, however, and each step is regularly repeated to insure two-way communication. This manual describes each extension task, illustrates it, and provides tools for carrying it out in the field.

Volunteers working on agricultural extension programs facilitate the two-way communication which invites small-scale farming families into the process of development. By doing so, Volunteers help develop the capacity and local self-reliance of those who need it most.