| Programming and Training for Small Farm Grain Storage |
|Part II. Grain storage project training|
Major Subject Areas
- Common extension service shortfalls
- Farm visitation
- Indirect extension methods
- Training yourself out of a jab
- Volunteer will be familiar with local extension hierarchy and location or local field extension agents
- Volunteer will be familiary with all past extension efforts in local small farm grain storage
- Peace Corps/VITA Small Farm Grain Storage Manual
- Peace Corps, The Photo Novel: A Tool for Development
- Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System, Daniel Benor and James Q. Harrison, World Bank, 1977, available on request from the World Bank, 1818 H Street, N. W., Washington, D. C. 20433 or any regional office.
- Educational Tours, A Guide for Extension and village Workers, Extension Service, USDA/USAID 1974, available through Information Collection and Exchange (I.C.E.), Peace Corps, Washington, D. C. 20525.
- Farm and Home Visits. A Guide for Extension and Village Workers, Extension Service, USDA/USAID 1974, available through Information Collection and Exchange (I.C.E.), Peace Corps, Washington, D. C. 20525.
- Using Visuals in Agricultural Extension Programs, United States International Cooperation Admlministration, available through ICE, Peace Corps, Washington, D. C.
- Practice a farm visitation with emphasis on gaining farmer's trust and interest
- Make a clan for and map out farm visitation schedule
- Design posters to advertise the various potentials of improved storage methods
- Plan a 2-4 minute radio spot to advertise some form of improved storage
- Investigate possibility of presenting a booth or demonstration at the next area agricultural fair
- Visit the agriculture extension training center and build a storage model there for use in training extension agents
Agricultural extension is the term used to refer to the process of education and encouragement of beavers to adopt new or improved farming methods. Though it is a vital link in agricultural development programs, the extension service in developing countries is often both inadequate and ineffective. The most common reasons for this are:
- Insufficient number and mobility of extension agents to reach numbers of farmers
- Inadequate training of extension agents and insufficient contact with updating of technologies and information
- Low status of extension workers, low pay, and lack of respect by farmers
- Duplication of services with several branches or offices having overlapping authority and duties
- Use of extension agents for non-extension activities such as census taking, farm data gathering, materials supply, credit management, etc.
For an extension effort to be successful in motivating farmers to improve their farming practices, there must be some clear incentive for the farmer. The most common and successful incentive is increased profits, whether as a result of increased production, reduced losses, or reduced labor requirements. If improved storage methods are to be widely adopted, farmers need to be convinced that there is a clear practical advantage to the new methods. Extension efforts need to be planned with that goal in mind. Answers to the following questions car. help shape the planning of an extension strategy:
- What exactly are the changes the farmer will be encouraged to make?
- What are the advantages to the farmer?
- What new cash investments will be necessary? What is the expected rate of return on the new investment?
- What credit is available for the project? Is it adequate? Who can qualify?
- What new or additional resources will be needed, e.g., mud bricks, cement, rat guards, insecticides, etc.?
- How will these additional supplies or resources he delivered to the farmer?
- Which member of the family will be primarily responsible for making the decision to change from present methods?
- Who will be responsible for the labor requited to construct, use, and maintain the new method?
- What new skills or knowledge are required by the new method?
- What kind of training will be needed by the extension agents? What training do they presently receive? What continuing information and supervision will be needed by extension agents and by farmers?
Appealing to a Wide Range of Farmers
Rather than promoting one standard procedure which may be too demanding for small or poor farmers and inadequate for larger farmers, a variety of possible recommendations suitable to the varying resources and abilities of area farmers should be presented. Ideally, farmers would be encouraged to begin with small changes and, as those grove successful, adopt more expensive or complex changes.
Farm visitations should be scheduled on a frequent and regular basis, such as twice monthly on a specific day of the week. This allows farmers to schedule their work around extension visits. The regularity also helps to build familiarity and trust. Too often farmers are visited only 3-4 times a year and have little opportunity to establish a friendly relationship with extension agents. As a result, 'hey learn very little from the visits.
Rather than attempting to reach all of the farmers in any given area, a limited number should be chosen either on a group Or individual basis. If the farmers in the extension programme carefully chosen, they will serve as communications links with the rest of the farmers in the area. Farmers chosen to participate in the extension program should be representative of the total farm population, varying in age, family size, farm size, wealth, education, etc. If only the most progressive farmers are included in the extension program, average farmers may not identify with them or follow their example. The selection of participant farmers could be discussed with village leaders or elders. Farmers who are chosen should agree to explain recommendations to neighboring farmers, allow them to visit their farms, and be willing to answer their questions.
The single most effective method of convincing farmers _to adopt new storage methods is by demonstration. It is, therefore, often the most effective extension technique, particularly when a demonstration is set up to insure that a large number of farmers can see it, hear it explained, and discuss it among themselves. Demonstration sites should be carefully chosen to allow for adequate supervision, easy access, and high visibility. School gardens, public lands near market places or rural clinics, etc., make highly visible locations. However, when the demonstration involves the construction of a permanent structure, extra care needs to be exercised in planning to allow for long-range supervision and use. Abandoned silos or dryers do not make good publicity when funds or interest to keep them in proper use and maintenance run out.
Learning from Farmers through Extension
The reactions of farmers to extension demonstrations and their success or failure can be very useful in further improving the extension strategy and he storage me hod itself. Farmers should be encouraged to react to the ideas and methods presented and every possible effort should be made to accommodate their suggestions and criticisms.
Indirect Extension Methods
There are a number of indirect ways of communicating with farmers to convince them that new techniques are worth a try most common of such methods involves the use of agricultural fairs and demonstrations, radio programs and announcements, posters, newsletters, and advertisements.
The Peace Corps publication, The Photo Novel: A Tool or Development gives details on the use of photographs which tell how to demonstrate a new idea or method. If has proven to be a very successful extension method in some countries in Latin America. Where resources are limited, the idea might be used in single-page flyers or posters. Also, the Peace Corps/VITA Small Farm Grain Storage Manual has a varies) of illustrations and subject-specific farmers training guidelines which may grove useful with some local adaptation.
Using Radio as an Extension Tool
Radio spots, informative talks and farmer interviews can be very useful in reaching large numbers of farmers and extended farm families in urban areas who may convey the new ideas to relatives in rural areas. Radio spots and informative talks should usually not be longer than five minutes and should best be scheduled for broadcast during farmers' non-working hours. Radio spots of longer than five minutes are very difficult to keep interesting enough to maintain the interest of the listeners. Farmer interviews should not be longer than ten minutes and can be very useful in publicizing the results of demonstration trials. The following are general guidelines for planning and broadcasting radio extension programs:
- Keep the program lively and interesting
- Summarize the points to be presented at the beginning and several times during the program
- Identify the subject to be discussed, tell why it is a problem, what can be-done about it, the results which can be expected
- Rehearse the program until the materials are really familiar
- Use the name and location of farmers who have successfully used the new method
- Give and repeat contact addresses for further information or follow-up
- Advertise the program well ahead or time through radio, posters, newspapers and direct extension contact
Training Yourself Out of A Job
Peace Corps philosophy encourages Volunteers to consciously train themselves out of a job. If a Volunteer ends his/her service before training a local counterpart in the work done by the Volunteer, chances are poor that this role will eve be failed by a local person. Further training and supervisory inputs would again be necessary. The goal of training local counterparts in all of a Volunteer's work roles is far from easily attained. Ask a few experienced Volunteers how successful they were. Development and change is usually a very gradual process even though general goals may be very clear and widely accepted, such as reducing grain losses to increase the food supply. Real progress in development hinges on the communication and teaching of new skills and knowledge so that local people are able to take more control over their own lives, planning and innovating as their needs and priorities direct.