|Improving agricultural extension. A reference manual. (1997)|
|Part II - Improving extension programmes and processes|
|Chapter 8 - Selecting appropriate content and methods in programme delivery|
Extension's clientele has to be defined within the context of an agricultural policy framework. This framework should provide the boundaries for selecting, from among the broader user categories, the specific groups which are to be targeted. Given today's scope of agricultural development, that framework should not speak of generic small farmers, but should specifically state the groups - women, youth, landless farmers, or other categories that are specific to the situation under consideration. Swanson, Roling, and Jiggins (1984) have cited four major factors which seek to provide a framework for the development of appropriate technology among targeted groups of extension clientele. These factors are agroecological zones, access to resources, gender, and age. Ethnic groups can be added to this list.
The first step in identifying appropriate technology for extension's clientele is to map the area into agroecological zones. Farming systems research (FSR) provides useful methodologies for this exercise (see Hilderbrand, 1986; Shaner, Philipp, & Schmehl, 1982). Mapping allows for the identification of agronomic variables such as soil type, rainfall, slope, and altitude, which will influence the development of location-specific technologies.
Access to Resources
Within each zone, there will be a wide variety of farmers because of socioeconomic factors. These factors explain the differences which exist in terms of access to the factors which facilitate production - land, labour, capital, markets, inputs, tenure, and information. These factors predispose farmers to adopt certain types of innovations. Swanson et al. (1984) provide a useful summary of these facilitating and impeding factors which should be considered in developing appropriate technology for extension's clientele:
1. Land. Size of holding: small, medium, large; type of tenure: owner operated, family land, renter-share-cropper
2. Water. Irrigated, nonirrigated
3. Labour. Family, hired (cost and availability), communal, or customary
4. Inputs. Availability of improved seeds, agricultural chemicals, fertilizers
5. Markets. Location, availability of storage and transport
6. Capital. Sources and cost of credit, type of collateral needed, and ease of obtaining credit
7. Information. Availability of extension service (worker to farmer ratio), appropriateness of technology
8. Influence. Ability to affect technology development, transfer to be appropriate to user needs such as user control, claim-making capacity
The role of women in agricultural production is now a topical issue. Several studies have documented women's contribution to both the economic and noneconomic sectors. However, there is need to move from this realization to its practical application in terms of the development and inclusion of appropriate technologies for women in extension programmes. In so doing, it must be taken into consideration that their access to resources and effective technologies is often constrained by gender barriers or blindness (Feldstein & Poats, 1989).
Recognition must also be given to the particular functions women perform within the farming system and their work schedule in the farm-household environment. Generally, women play a much greater role in the production of food crops than of export-oriented crops, and within cropping systems they perform certain tasks, for instance, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting. These factors must be considered in developing appropriate technologies to address this group of players in the agricultural environment. These and other genderrelated issues are explored in more detail in chapter 9.
In most developing countries, agriculture is an important sector, if not the most important sector, and a significant proportion of the agricultural activities takes place in rural areas where 20 to 80 per cent of the country's population may live. This resource is usually characterized by a low level of education, few skills, limited employment opportunities, and a strong desire of young people to leave the area.
Extension should consider age as an important characteristic for targeting not only from the point of view of youth but of other age categories. Agriculture usually has a low status because of the low level of technology it employs and low income-earning capacity. Extension programmes should aim at increasing both the level of technology used and income-earning capacity. If this can be done, then there is a good chance that the young people will remain. Other ways of achieving the above should also be explored. For instance, educational programmes which provide the skills to be self-employed may be a solution to the outmigration problem. This in turn might encourage the heads of households to invest more in agriculture, which will then tend to encourage the youth to remain. Campbell (1982), working among rural villagers in France, found that the adoption of new technologies by heads of household was a means of motivating the youth to remain in the villages. On farms where succession was guaranteed, there was almost always a higher level of technology adoption.
In multiracial societies, ethnic groups should be separately targeted because of their different sociocultural characteristics. Language, food preferences, and religion are some of these characteristics. In cases where ethnic groups are found within the same extension district or zone, extension's programme should reflect these differences.