|Improving agricultural extension. A reference manual. (1997)|
|Part III - Improving extension management|
|Chapter 12 - Formulating extension policy|
More research is needed in classifying extension policies both in developed and developing countries, as well as in those countries in transition. Three forms of extension policies will be discussed here.
Provisional Extension Policies
This is the most common form of extension policy in most developing countries. In the absence of more formalized extension policies, or at the time when the formally enacted policy has been suspended, a provisional or ad hoc policy comes into play. For example, Mozambique in the early 1980s did not have a national policy for agricultural extension. When the agricultural development policy shifted from a reliance on state farms to the involvement of small family farms, a provisional extension policy was formulated to provide farmers and the cooperative sector with improved training and technology. To develop and test this provisional policy, a UNDP/FAO-supported project assisted the government in defining a national agricultural extension policy and developing a programme of implementation.
Decrees and Proclamations
Decrees and proclamations are policies issued by the head of state or by the executive officer of government. Generally, this approach does not go through the process of consultation and debate involving various stakeholders and beneficiaries. An example of this form of policy was the Brazilian government decree abolishing the national agricultural extension authority and transferring some of its functions and staff to the national agricultural research authority. Also, it empowered the state-level rural extension authorities to continue their respective programmes.
In the Philippines, by a presidential proclamation, the name of the Bureau of Agricultural Extension was changed to Agricultural Extension Commission, and the title of "agricultural extension workers" was changed to "farm management technicians." The Bureau of Agricultural Extension, which was created by legislation, was subsequently restored until another proclamation abolished the Bureau of Agricultural Extension and created, in its place, the National Agricultural Training Institute. The agricultural extension function of the Department of Agriculture was then decentralized to the regions and provinces and put under the control of local governments. The decentralization aspect of the proclamation was later superseded by an enactment, in 1991, known as the Local Government Code (Serrano in APO, 1994, p.319).
Legislated Extension Policies
Extension policies embodied by the country's highest law-making authority (e.g., congress or parliament) are common in many developing countries. Countries that have enacted extension policy through legislative action tend to have well-organized, financially stable extension systems that have sustained effectiveness and a cumulative impact. Examples of legislated extension policies which have worked well include the following:
1. The legislation that established the Cooperative Extension Service in the United States is known as the Smith-Lever Act of May 8, 1914. Important to policy makers from developing countries is that this policy stimulated the growth and efficiency of American agriculture from the 1920s to the present. Rogers (1995) summarized the worth of the Cooperative Extension System: "The U.S. agricultural extension model is one of the most widely recognized systems for the diffusion of innovations in the world today. Probably no other government or private agency can claim to be more successful in transferring technology."
2. The Japanese Agricultural Promotion Law of 1948 created and provided funding for Japan's Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service. The same extension policy has guided the Japanese extension system from 1948 to the present (Shinji Imai in APO 1994, p. 122). Under this law, the national government is responsible for two-thirds of the salary of extension workers, two-thirds of all operational expenditures for extension programmes and one-half of all expenditures for training extension workers and for rural youth work. The rest of the extension budget is the responsibility of the prefectural government (Agricultural Extension Service in Japan, 1978, p. 83).
3. Agricultural Extension policy in South Korea today is embodied in the 1957 Agricultural Extension Law and in the Rural Development Law of 1962. It is important to note that, because of "unhelpful interference from the administrative system," the 1962 Rural Development Law put together the Research Bureau, the Extension Bureau, and the Community Development Bureau under the new Rural Development Administration, freeing these two functions from the Ministry of Agriculture's administrative bureaucracy (Yong-Bok Chung & Youl-Mo Dong, 1984 p. 4, 5).
4. Thailand's agricultural extension policy was codified in the 1956 law that created the Department of Agricultural Extension as one of nine departments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. It outlines the functions, scope, organization, and mode of financial support for extension in Thailand.
5. Zimbabwe's Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services was established by law in 1981 and, although a relatively young institution, it is gradually building up its extension staff and its government funding.
Observations such as these, which demonstrate the relationship between formal extension policy and successful extension systems, led the Global Consultation on Agricultural Extension to recommend that "where possible, agricultural extension policy should be formally enacted through legislative action to provide a stable policy foundation, an explicit mandate, and clear direction for developing and executing programmes" (Swanson, 1990, p. 11).