| Agricultural development workers training manual: Volume II Extension Skills |
|Chapter III: Extension resources|
When an extension agent sets out to improve agriculture in a community he/she is interested in ideas actively accepted and hence he/she accepts all the responsibility for their acceptance. Once the farmers or community recognize it as in their personal interest, then it is time to transfer the responsibility to the farmers themselves for introducing the new ideas and making them work.
Making a farmer's work hie/her own. Since the extension agent must teach each aspect of improved agricultural practices, he/she must demonstrate each activity or have someone do it with or for the farmer the first time. It is important to transfer the responsibility for accepting and using new practices by handing over a farmer's work to him as soon as possible and as many times as necessary. Adherence to the principle of self- help responsibility transferring go far.
Creating a limited and clear role. A terribly counter- productive fallacy under which farmers, villagers, and some development workers labor is that extension is the act of doing something for a client and not with him/her. Prom the very beginning the role must be reiterated many times. it is essential that in everything the extension agent does to facilitate" work going on in a village, a native counterpart must participate and the how and why of what is done must be explained to the farmers. The extension agents' role should run a standard course: it should expand as farmers' interest in specific extension services grow initially, then it should slowly contract as farmers' responsibility and self motivation grow, until the role virtually dries up as farmers approach self- sufficiency and self- reliance with regard to those specific services. Being an extension agent involves attaining complete empathy with farmers, but it does not include doing all of a farmer's work. The extension worker teaches and transfers responsibility to farmers who are initially and repeatedly made aware of what they must do and what responsibilities they have in the new work they espouse.
Why Do It? One way of helping a community to solve its own problem is to create indigenous problem solvers. These people not only operate as a resource to be called upon by villagers, but also serve as role models. In addition they insure that organizations created to solve group problems are maintained.
Identifying and Training Leaders. Part of the analysis which an extension organizer makes of the community involves the identification of local leaders. Leaders are of two types, formal and informal. Formal leaders like Presidents, alphas, chiefs, generals are complemented by people like the weathly, those who speak well, those who do something well (master farmers), who are informal leaders of people.
Obviously a technically skilled farmer who Just wants to be left alone will not be a good leader, nor will a bright 13 year old, or an important man who has no interest in the work.
Leaders are people who have followers. During contacts with the village people the extension organizer identifies the people who have followers. As part of the process of testing people, defining an issue, and determining who are interested in those issues, the extension agent tests leaders to ascertain their skills and their personal interests. In the case of leaders who express interest, the extension agent asks them to help as leaders of people working on Pertinent issues. The organizer- agent can develop the skills of these leaders by giving them more and more responsibility for the work people have undertaken. It is advisable to maintain a group of leaders initially, loosely organized so the best and most interested leaders can eventually find their way to the top. By an increasingly demanding and insistent transfer of responsibility for the work from the organizer to these local leaders, the agent helps develop the local leadership and- - coincidentially- - the organization of the people who work. Training leaders is the key to the extension agent eventually "working him/her self out of a Job . It is an on- going, very, very long process, however, that must begin immediately after the agent arrives in a village.
From: Extension writings of Michael Gibbons.