| Agricultural extension |
|Providing agricultural support services|
In the Introduction to this chapter the difference between direct and indirect Service is explained. Indirect service means "facilitating" or helping people do things for themselves. This can be illustrated by the familiar Chinese proverb
"Give a person a fish, you feed her for a day. Teach a person to fish, she can feed herself for life."
In the realm of providing agricultural service, facilitating is helping farmers strive to depend directly on themselves and the sources of service rather than on an extensionist. Direct service sets up two relationships: between the extensionist and the farmer, and between the extensionist and sources of support. In indirect service, the extensionist removes himself and allows farmers to gain direct access to sources of support.
This shift often involves a change in both the nature of the service and the source of a service. Generally, indirect service finds sources closer to the village while direct service can range far afield. Extensionists are urged to choose sensitively between direct and indirect service to provide farmers with access to resources which allow them more permanent choice and creative power, as opposed to new forms of limitation.
In order to help a farmer act more independently to solve farm problems or secure needed services, the extensionist first must strive to understand the farmer's motives and interests. Unless the extensionist herself knows how to secure a service or solve a problem, she is not in a position to help a farmer do it. Farmers, as practitioners of local technical skills, often have their own valid and workable understanding of problems and solutions which should be carefully checked before the extensionist acts to solve a problem. There is a subtle shift of attention, in providing services indirectly, from the problem itself to the person whose problem it is.
The extensionist's interaction is with the farmer directly. The activity for the extensionist stops being a purely technical task and becomes an interpersonal and technical task. Extension tasks take on this interpersonal dimension dramatically, consciously and centrally.
Practically speaking, "two-dimensional" extension tasks are accomplished by doing each step, every detail, in the farmer's presence and with his help. The farm visit, for example, must be done with the farmer each time. The particular problem viewed, (insect damage to a crop, for example), is looked at with two sets of eyes. The extensionist feels a responsibility to show the farmer the problem, to listen to and understand the farmer's view of the problem, and to devise a response to the problem in conjunction with the farmer in a way that includes the farmer in the process. This is the habit of "counterparting", of seeking a specific farmer co-worker for each extension task and activity.
Having confronted a problem jointly and discussed it equally with a farmer, the extensionist and farmer now must consider the options open to them to solve the problem. "Providing Farm Inputs" in this chapter, for example, discussed how to choose appropriate inputs. Using these guidelines, the extensionist works with a farmer to make the choice, emphasizing the importance of the criteria which measure whether the input can be secured and used by the farmer himself. This discussion is not easy, due to language and cultural barriers. But it is essential that it proceed in a way which includes rather than alienates the farmer. Admittedly, this pace of problem-solving is slow compared to direct action. However, something else is speeded up. That is the farmer's rate of learning and growth as a problem-solver with widening scope.
The next step in working with farmers is passing on specific technical skills and knowledge. Because this is a specialized and extensive topic, Chapter Four, FARMER TRAINING METHODS, is devoted to it entirely. Here it should be emphasized that helping a farmer learn technical skills is a long and focused process. When the shift from direct action to the development of farmer skills is complete, the extensionist plays the special role of the trainer.
Another shift occurs when the extensionist endeavors to serve farmers indirectly. This is a shift of responsibility. Whose responsibility is it to provide supportive services to farmers? This is a complex question, but, generally speaking in developing countries farmers assume that extensionists provide this support, especially material inputs. Having been enticed to move out of the self-sustaining security of subsistence farming by cash-crop extensionists in the past, this is a logical assumption for farmers to have. However, dependence on extensionists for necessary support, as another form of limitation substituted for the subsistence system, is not desirable. Moreover, extensionists, by their very existence as outsiders in the village community, are agents of change. Their benevolence and sensitivity notwithstanding, extensionists must accept the fact that, initially, they own the responsibility for change in the village context. In order to practically allow farmers to shoulder this reponsibility themselves, the extensionist works to transfer it back to the farmer.
Once a farmer has decided that a recommended new practice matches her interets and will meet her needs, then it is time to choose inputs and procedures, develop skills and knowledge, and transfer the responsibility for carrying out this project to the farmer herself. An extensionist does this by helping the farmer clarify what needs to be done and who is to do what. (See Chapter Six, MANAGEMENT, for TOOLS "Planning & Carrying Out Plans" for assigning work tasks and commitments). Transferring responsibility in this way involves a series of simple steps. (See TOOLS for "Steps in Transferring Responssibility".)
How can an extensionist be sure a farmer will accept responsibility for solving problems and accomplishing tasks? It is often believed that the "colonial peasant mentality" is too entrenched, and rural farmers are too unmotivated to take charge of and change their lives. This is the most dangerous fallacy under which extensionists can labor. No one can presume to motivate another person. Everyone in the world is motivated in one way or another, for motivation is the degree to which interests and desires are acted upon. Extension involves a process of discerning the unique interests and goals of a farmer. If these coincide with the objectives of an extensionist's work, the farmer will appear to be "motivated" to participate in such work. Extensionists must strive diligently to fashion their own objectives in the image and likeness of the interests of the farmers they serve. By clarifying tasks and following the steps in transferring responsibility for tasks over to the farmer, the extensionist is engaged in the process of defining a clear and limited role as helper. Limiting and defining the helping relationship is an essential skill in weaning farmer-clients from dependence on the extensionist.
From the very first day of work in any community the extensionist must make clear the limits of his role and the goal of his work, to help farmers participate in change successfully. The extension worker's role ideally should run a standard course:
It should expand as a farmer's interest in specific ag resources grows initially. Then the role should slowly contract as the new ideas and skills are more clearly linked to the interests of the farmer, and the farmer begins solving problems with the extension worker more and more. Finally, the extensionist's role is given its clearly limited form in equilibrium with the skills and resources of the farmer herself.
Being an extensionist involves attaining empathy with farmer-clients, but it does not mean being a farmer or doing a farmer's work. It is the responsibility of the extensionist to initiate and promote the process by which farmers reclaim responsibility, develop skills and confidence, and participate actively in the process of change.
1. "Steps in Transferring Responsibility"
I. Do a task for a farmer the first time. (e.g. clipping needle teeth of pig).
II. Demonstrate how and ask the farmer to help the second time. (Ask her to hold the pig down and try to clip once).
III. Ask the farmer to try the task on her own with your help.
IV. Ask the farmer to demonstrate the task to you in its entirety. Work with the farmer to arrange for a local blacksmith to fashion a copy of the tool for the farmer.
V. Ask the farmer to demonstrate the task to another farmer in your absence, using her own tool.
(Check with both farmers afterwards to make sure all went well).
2. See this chapter, "Providing Farm Inputs", for INTRODUCTION and TOOLS sections on how to choose appropriate inputs.
3. See Chapter Four, FARMER TRAINING METHODS.
4. See Chapter Six, MANAGEMENT, "Planning" and "Carrying Out Plans" TOOLS, for planning and assigning work tasks with others.
5. See Chapter Six, MANAGEMENT, "Carrying Out Plan", INTRODUCTION, for a discussion of work motivation.
6. See Chapter Two, RESEARCH and PLANNING, "Understanding People" for how to survey the interests and motivation of farmers.
1. See this chapter, "Providing Farm Inputs", for INTRODUCTION and TOOLS sections on how to choose appropriate inputs.
2. See Chapter Four, FARMER TRAINING METHODS.
3. See Chapter Six, MANAGEMENT, "Planning" and "Carrying Out Plans" TOOLS, for planning and assigning work tasks with others.
4. See Chapter Six, MANAGEMENT, "Carrying Out Plans", INTRODUCTION, for a discussion of work motivation.
5. See Chapter Two, RESEARCH and PLANNING, "Understanding People" for how to survey the interests and motivation of farmers.
FEEDBACK AND THE HELPING RELATIONSHIP
(Taken from Training of Trainers Manual, US Department of Health and Human Services)
Different names are used to designate the helping process: for example, counseling, teaching, guiding, training, educating, etc. These have in common the intent to influence (and therefore change) the individual who is being helped. The expectation is that the change in the receiver will be constructive and useful to him (i.e., will clarify his perceptions of the problem, bolster his self-confidence, modify his behavior or help him develop new skills).
THE HELPING SITUATION
One way to look at the helping situation is to sketch it in the following manner:
• The helping situation is dynamic, i.e., characterized by interaction that is both verbal and nonverbal.
• The helping person has needs (biological and psychological), feelings, and a set of values.
• The receiver of help has needs (biological and psychological), feelings, and a set of values.
• Both helper and the receiver of help are trying to satisfy certain of these needs.
• The helper has perceptions of himself, of the receiver of help, of the problem, and of the entire situation (expectancies, roles, standards, etc.).
• The receiver of help has perceptions of himself, of the helper, of the problem, and of the entire situation (expectancies, roles, standards, etc.).
• The interaction takes place in relation to some need or problem that may be external to the two individuals, interwoven with the relationship of the two individuals, or rooted in the relationship between the two individuals. Wherever the beginning point and the focus of emphasis is, the relationship between the two individuals becomes an important element in the helping situation as soon as interaction begins.
• His needs, values, and feelings, his perception of these, and his perception of the situation cause the receiver of help to have certain objectives.
• His needs, values, and feelings, his perception of these, and his perception of the situation cause the helper to have certain objectives.
• Both helper and receiver of help have power (influence) in the helping situation. However, it is the receiver of help who controls whether or not change actually takes place.
Often extensionists from outside the local community like Peace Corps Volunteers are asked to work with formally-designated counterparts, usually from the agriculture ministry. This is not always the case, and in many instances the relationship between the extensionist and her coworkers is not clear. Working with counterparts in this context means defining a co-worker relationship with whomever the extensionist is working with, regardless of what is being done, as well as figuring out how to work with formal counterparts.
When attempting to provide a service to farmers indirectly, the extensionist is engaged in a process by which she removes herself from the scene as an intermediary. One strategy for replacing oneself to an extent is defining a way of working that allows a farmer to learn how himself. In this instance, the farmers are the extensionists counterparts.
Another strategy is to focus the motivation and develop the skills of the ministry or other counterparts surrounding the extensionist. In essence, the process is the same as when working with the farmer. However, those designated or most likely to act as counterparts to extensionists are ministry agricultural technicians. These technicians have far different interests, backgrounds, aspirations and motivations than those of small-scale farmers.
The first step in defining a healthy working relationship with a counterpart is to research the counterparts interests, background, etc. Even before this, the impetus of indirect service demands that in every extension activity performed, the extensionist actively seek out and identify the appropriate counterpart, and work toward the establishment of a long-term co-working relationship.
Who, then, is the extensionist's counterpart? Very often, the person is an agriculture ministry or development agency technician. A representative profile of formal counterparts to volunteers in Sierra Leone is included as an ILLUSTRATION to suggest what an agricultural technician may be like. It is extremely important for the extensionist to remember that no two counterparts are alike, and the extensionist's expectations of a counterpart should be based on an understanding of the particular person, not a set of preconceptions.
What can be expected of a counterpart? Perhaps they can be counted upon to be cultural informants, expert in local cultural affairs and language. Counterparts are usually skilled in local or traditional technologies as well (use of the machete, plowing with a bullock, etc). Often, they have special training in some specific technical aspect of agriculture, as well as a certain amount of formal education. Thus the typical counterpart is bi-cultural, bi-lingual and familiar with both traditional farming and modern agriculture. The insights derived from such attributes are rich and useful. (See TOOLS for a representative list of those areas in which counterparts can help extensionists.)
Where possible every extension task should be accomplished with a local co-worker of some kind. An extensionists's habit of counterparting serves to reinforce an expectation of active participation on the part of farmers and ministry co-workers, just as habitual planning with local people conjures up the expectation that they will be consulted in planning changes. Counterparting is a discipline to cultivate.
Planning requires some formal effort when working with others. In working with counterparts, extensionists should engage in some form of "contracting" process. The contract is an agreement as to what needs to be done and who should do what by when. The method and results can be agreed upon as well. Obviously, as a relationship develops these agreements may become assumptions, but they must be defined clearly at first. The contracting process helps make cooperation practical, minimizes misunderstandings, and helps keep work with others orderly and efficient. The contracting process, outlined in TOOLS, can take five minutes when a task is familiar to those involved. However, it must be tailored to local cultural patterns.
Neither counterparts nor American pare-professional extensionists are always equipped to do complex technical tasks. There are several ways to help counterparts learn new skills and knowledge. Theoretical sessions can be set up in which the extensionist plays the role of the teacher and the counterpart hears a lecture or reads a technical reference in preparation for discussion with the extensionist. These can even be regularly scheduled and reciprocal, where the roles are reversed.
Practical learning situations can be designed, too. Setting up a demonstration can be the occasion to teach a counterpart how to practice a technical task. Performing gardening or farm tasks with counterparts transforms them simultaneously into "indirect services" in the form of counterpart training. An extensionist gradually develops this other habit of structuring the accomplishment of direct services as learning situations for counterparts by contracting beforehand and transferring responsibility step by step.
The best way to promote and reinforce learning is to ask counterparts to teach others. Extensionists facilitate this by learning from counterparts, as well as by setting up situations where counterparts train farmers in new skills.
Just as with farmers, transferring responsibilities to counterparts and defining the limits of the extensionist's role contribute greatly to the process of working together. The sense of accomplishment which a counterpart can feel as a result of doing something himself serves to motivate him greatly. The organizational benefit of transferring the responsibility for doing a task from a planner (extensionist) to a competent co-worker (counterpart) is that more work can be accomplished. The delegation of specific jobs as on-going responsibilities is a more structured way to capacitate counterparts.
According to experience, increased competency and interest, a counterpart can be assigned as specialist within the scope of work at an extension station. For example, a counterpart who likes to travel and organize things may be a good procurements officer. Perhaps an extensionist notices that her counterpart is quick with numbers, respected by the local community, and less inclined to travel or physical labor. This person could be designated store-keeper. Another technician who is a skilled expert at certain technical tasks or an exceptional teacher may be best suited to train farmers by conducting method/ result demonstrations. (See TOOLS for a longer list of possible counterpart specialties.)
The natural consequence of the increased motivation and competence of the extensionist's counterparts is a re-definition of the extensionist's role. Freed from the execution of various tasks, the extensionist can more effectively plan, carry out and evaluate work or branch out into new endeavors. The complementary roles of extensionist and counterpart evolve throughout a working relationship toward the goal of skilled co-workers ready to replace the extensionist as thoroughly as possible. In this way, support for small-scale farmers is institutionalized on a local level.
(Taken from Sierra Leone Peace Corps Small Farm Project Description)
In Sierra Leone, PCV extensionists work with these formallydesignated counterparts:
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Agriculture Instructors, Agro-technicians (AT) and Field Assistants (FA).
Generally, AT's and FA's come from the following backgrounds:
• Form III (third year of high school) or higher;
• Generally better educated than an FA, but sometimes without very strong English skills, and limited in sciences.
• Has received six months agricultural training at either an agricultural or a rural training institute. Those who attended Makali or Mange training before 1977 were trained by the Chinese, and their training had a heavy emphasis on swamp development and rice culture. Those attending later had a more general course of instruction, possibly including: rice culture, vegetables, extension, farm management, poultry, surveying, soils, tree crops, and others.
• Secondary school leavers (lower classes of high school)
• Generally limited English in both oral and written expression
• Little formal agricultural training; perhaps an MAF farmer training certificate.
These are very general descriptions, as individual backgrounds and experience vary considerably. Take time to find out about your counterpart's background in detail. Often, PCV-AI's have learned too late that their counterparts have skills which could have been useful to local farmers had they been aware of them. In deference to your position as his supervisor, your counterpart may not let you know what she can do unless you ask.
Special interests or skills which could be useful at an extension site include:
store or record keeping
technology using local materials
palm wine tapping
Obviously, this is not a fully inclusive list, only a beginning. The particular demands of working in your area (and with you) may require other skills.
Partial list of special tasks/roles counterparts can play at extension stations:
a. store keeper
b. procurements officer
c. method/result demonstrator (farmer trainer)
f. work company overseer
g. result demonstration supervisor
AIDS FOR GIVING AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK
(US Dept Health & Human Services Training of Trainers Manual)
Some of the most important data we can receive from others (or give to others) consists of feedback related to our behavior. Such feedback can provide learning opportunities for each of us if we can use the reactions of others as a mirror for observing the consequences of our behavior. Such personal data feedback helps to make us more aware of what we do and how we do it, thus increasing our ability to modify and change our behavior and to become more effective in our interactions with others.
To help us develop and use the techniques of feedback for personal growth, it is necessary to understand certain characteristics of the process. The following is a brief outline of some factors which may assist us in making better use of feedback, both as the giver and the receiver of feedback. This list is only a starting point. You may wish to add further items to it.
1. Focus feedback on behavior rather than the person
It is important that we refer to what a person does rather than comment on what we imagine he is. This focus on behavior further implies that we use adverbs (which relate to actions) rather than adjectives (which relate to qualities) when referring to a person. Thus we might say a person "talked considerably in this meeting," rather than that this person "is a loudmouth." When we talk in terms of "personality traits" it implies inherited constant qualities difficult, if not impossible, to change. Focusing on behavior implies that it is something related to a specific situation that might be changed. It is less threatening to a person to hear comments on his behavior than his "traits."
2. Focus feedback on observations rather than inferences
Observations refer to what we can see or hear in the behavior of another person, while inferences refer to interpretations and conclusions which we make from what we see or hear. In a sense, inferences of conclusions about a person contaminate our observations, thus clouding the feedback for another person. When inferences or conclusions are shared and it may be valuable to have this data, it is important that they be so identified.
3. Focus feedback on description rather than judgment
The effort to describe represents a process for reporting what occurred, while judgment refers to an evaluation in terms of good or bad, right or wrong, nice or not nice. The judgments arise out of a personal frame of reference or values, whereas description represents neutral (as far as possible) reporting.
4. Focus feedback on descriptions of behavior which are in terms of "more or less" rather than in terms of "either-or"
The ''more or less'' terminology implies a continuum on which any behavior may fall, stressing quantity, which is objective and measurable, rather than quality, which is subjective and judgmental. Thus, participation of a person may fall on a continuum from low participation to high participation, rather than "good" or "bad" participation. Not to think in terms of "more or less" and the use of continua is to trap ourselves into thinking in categories, which may then represent serious distortions or reality.
5. Focus feedback on behavior related to a specific situation, preferably to the "here and now. rather than to behavior in the abstract, placing it in the "there and then.
What you and I do is always tied in some way to time and place, and we increase our understanding of behavior by keeping it tied to time and place. Feedback is generally more meaningful if given as soon as appropriate after the observation or reactions occur, thus keeping it concrete and relatively free of distortions that come with the lapse of time.
6. Focus feedback on the sharing of ideas and information rather than on giving advice
By sharing ideas and information we leave the person free to decide for himself, in the light of his own goals in a particular situation at a particular time, how to use the ideas and the information. When we give advice we tell him what to do with the information, and in that sense we take away his freedom to determine for himself what is for him the most appropriate course of action.
7. Focus feedback on exploration of alternatives rather than answers or solutions
The more we can focus on a variety of procedures and means for the attainment of a particular goal, the less likely we are to accept prematurely a particular answer or solution--which may or may not fit our particular problem. Many of us go around with a number of answers and solutions for which there are no problems.
8. Focus feedback on the value it may have to the recipient, not on the value or "release" that it provides the person giving the feedback
The feedback provided should serve the needs of the recipient rather than the needs of the giver. Help and feedback need to be given and heard as an offer, not an imposition.
9. Focus feedback on the amount of information that the person receiving it can use, rather than on the amount that you have which you might like to give
To overload a person with feedback is to reduce the possibility that he may use what he receives effectively. When we give more than can be used we may be satisfying some need for ourselves rather than helping the other person.
10. Focus feedback on time and place so that personal data can be shared at appropriate times
Because the reception and use of personal feedback involves many possible emotional reactions, it is important to be sensitive to when it is appropriate to provide feedback. Excellent feedback presented at an inappropriate time may do more harm than good.
11. Focus feedback on what is said rather than why it is said
The aspects of feedback which relate to the what, how, when, where, of what is said are observable characteristics. The why of what is said takes us from the observable to the inferred, and brings up questions of "motive" or "intent."
It may be helpful to think of "why" in terms of a specifiable goal or goals--which can then be considered in terms of time, place, procedures, probabilities of attainment, etc. To make assumptions about the motives of the person giving feedback may prevent us from hearing or cause us to distort what is said. In short, if I question "why" a person gives me feedback, I may not hear what he says.
In short, the giving (and receiving) or feedback requires courage, skill, understanding, and respect for self and others.
Contracting Process (steps to follow)
a. getting acquainted
b. sharing expectations of each other and the task at hand
c. discussion of expectations to verify or adjust them
d. negotiation of plans, work style and method, and results expected
e. agreement on plans and details of work
f. agreement on roles, responsibilities and when to meet to check results.
This process is conceptual. That is, these steps are ideas about reaching understandings and agreeing on roles. In each cultural setting these steps must be done the way custom suggests. The idea of working consciously to clarify assumptions must take a local and acceptable form.
The topic of working with groups is mentioned here because it is the manner in which the extensionist can really help small-scale farmers marshal! the resources to solve many of their own problems directly. An entire chapter is devoted to it (Chapter Five, ORGANIZING COOPERATIVE ACTIVITY).
See Chapter Five.
See Chapter Five.
When there is an existing cooperative association in the community in which an extensionist works, he is confronted with the problem of providing services to the co-op as opposed to any individual farmer. This is the situation where defining a clear and consistent role is most necessary. A cooperative must stand on its own feet and maintain a clear sense of its own responsibility and ability if it is to succeed. If, in his zeal to help, the extensionist reclaims some of that responsibility or inadvertently causes the co-op to depend on him for some service, he can easily endanger the self-motivation upon which the cooperative enterprise rests.
There are of course circumstances in which the extensionist can and will provide services directly to a co-opt Giving a cooperative new skills is a tremendous investment in its longevity and effectiveness. However, being ever mindful of both the ease with which dependence relapses and the effort involved in developing competent self-reliance, he must be extremely cautious. Caution takes the form of a careful delineation of a role which is helpful without being indispensable.
In the case of working with cooperatives, extensionists are urged to work always with a cooperative-member counterpart. Most particularly, the extensionist should seek out the nominal and informal leaders of a cooperative to work with them as counterparts.
Chapter Five, especially "Forming Cooperative Associations", is full of specific ways in which extensionists can facilitate the work of groups. The earlier subchapters in this chapter, "Indirect Services", are the guides to use for defining a clear and helpful role with cooperatives.
See Chapter Five.
See Chapter Five.
Being the intermediary to some extent between farmers and institutions of various kinds, the extensionist finds himself answering to a variety of people at any given time. He must equip himself, therefore, to work effectively within an institutional framework and to orchestrate these different interests successfully. There are several types of institutions he maybe involved in:
• local authorities (community leadership groups, village hierarchy, etc.)
• government ministry or department
• development agency project
Each of these institutions has both a formal and an informal structure. It is often said, for example, that the influential advisor of a government minister, while not an official member of a ministry, is part of a 'shadow ministry' behind the scenes. The informal structure of an institution is not easily apparent to the outsider, but it may have tremendous impact on institutional decisions or events. In dealing with any institution effectively, a fundamental lesson is the fact that real power and influence may not lie with those who have titular position. This is not license to avoid institutional structure, but it is important to know.
Extensionists sometimes do not fit into institutional structures very well. They are the outermost grass-roots level of most government or development agencies, and they tend to be outsiders in the village community. As such they have both considerable license and a large responsibility to become a part of these institutions. There is an emphasis in this manual on research at the level of people's interests. This extends to institutions as well.
The extensionist's first responsibility to an institution is to clearly define its expectations of her. But how can one deal with the often competing or uncomplementary interests and goals of these organizations? Clarifying their interests is a start. Clarifying one's own is the next useful step as an extensionist. Then, usually by a process of trial and error, the extension worker evolves an acceptable accomodation of these interests. It is up to the extensionist to work out compromises among unreconciled interests. Using the principles of good feedback as guides (see "Working With Counterparts"), extensionists can work out with respective agencies and institutions what is possible.
When pursuing the goal of capacitating local institutions, extensionists find it necessary to work within institutional frameworks. The most thorough way of helping people grow is to start where they are, not where they "should" be. This in no way diminishes the aspiration for better things. It is rather, the institutional form of indirect service. Rather than performing a service or solving a problem apart from or for a local institution, the extensionist can focus on the institution itself and the resources the institution has to allocate to the problem. He will concentrate on how to help those resources work better.
On the other hand, the informal structure of a government ministry or village hierarchy maybe more effective than its formal one. It is up to the extensionist to balance use of both. In a government or development agency, it is essential to pay due respect to those in power, but secretaries, truck drivers, carpenters, store keepers, etc. may be those who really get things moving.
On the village scene, there are often informal "craftmanship structures", as well as religious, cultural and social hierarchies which are not readily apparent. As pertains to agriculture work, "craftmanship structures" are systems of "master" or "head" farmers and opinion-leaders in farming work. These are the people through whom significant change can be effected. On the village level and often in other institutional settings, extensionists come to discover that friendship is a powerful thing, and that investments of "village time" spent with people in culturally-defined settings and activities have profound implications for work.
Working within institutions while trying to facilitate growth and change for village farmers is a difficult task. It requires sensitivity, clear values, ability to work out conflicts and give useful feedback, patience and an ability to discern the real catalysts of work while respectfully working along established lines. The rewards of this tight-rope act are large, for institutional changes and successes have extensive effects on the local scene. Respectful efforts from within by the extensionist can help the institutions which affect small-scale farmers become better resources.
Lydia is a very precise person. She is thorough, prompt and reliable. This is what she expects of others. She has been working in the district for eight months. Her supervisor met her at a reception for her at district headquarters. She has visited him precisely seven times since then, at the end of each month. Each time she comes she asks the receptionist to see him, submits two copies of her typed report, politely asks questions or makes her requests, leaving copies of each for her supervisor, and leaves to return to work. She is very upset today because for the fourth month in a row she has not received what she requested - not even an explanation as to why. In fact, her supervisor is not finding it convenient to even see her anymore for her monthly visits, and the receptionist refuses to tell her where he is or when he will be back. Lydia is incensed!
Rory, on the other hand, is a relaxed sort of fellow, though he is reliable and conscientious in his own way. He has learned by trial and error to dress neatly when visiting the ministry office. He knows the store clerk at the office, who is always there, very well. He sets two days aside for the visit each time he comes (which is when he needs to), and brings money to entertain himself well. He invariably is able to get together with his supervisor, Mrs. Garcia, and her husband. They usually begin at their house and go out to eat and enjoy an evening together. In the course of these affairs Rory is able to talk business with Mrs. Garcia fairly well. Usually his objectives are met - not always - but usually. And he has been told by Mrs. Garcia herself that he can count on her in an emergency.
(A partial list of important people in local institutions:)
- the most respected farmers
- gifted orators
- religious or cultural leaders
- respected craftspeople or technicians
- persons who advise or affect more visible leaders
- persons who have vested interests in ag work
- persons who have been affected by extension work in the past
- secretaries, receptionists, appointments people
- bookkeepers, accountants, store keepers, finance people
- drivers, mechanics, helpers
- carpenters, technicians, artisans
- family and friends of officials
- suppliers of ag products and other vested interests
- foreign government representatives
- family and friends
- "gate-keepers like secretaries, etc."