| Agricultural Extension: Guidelines for extension workers in rural areas |
1. What do we mean by "Extension" 2. How the Guidelines were Developed 3. The aims of the Guidelines 4. The Intended Audience 5. A few tips for the Reader
1. What do we mean by "Extension"?
The German word for "extension" is "Beratung". Literally translated into English it means "advice or counsel". The English word "to extend" however implies ideas such as "disseminate, broaden, enlarge or expand". We must emphasize to the reader that our understanding of extension is one of participatory approach, where people get together, discuss and take advice from each other.
If we assume (as, indeed, we do) that those in need of advice are independent, responsible people and extension partners with whom we are seeking a viable solution (by helping them to help themselves), our approach must be one of:
· participatory extension in which both partners take an active part
· problem-oriented extension where we focus on the problems of our extension partners
· target-group oriented extension where the extension contents are adapted to suit the particular circumstances of the extension partners.
If we are dogmatic and directive in our extension contents and methods, our extension partners will feel we do not respect them and will lose confidence in us as their advisers.
Extension and Development
Extension is always a means to an end and never an end in itself. Agricultural extension - at least in its institutionalized form - is a tool for use in agricultural development and is therefore controlled by the aims of this development. Conflict will no doubt arise between development objectives at the level of society or state and those at a farm level. A further conflict of interests relates to time: short- and long-term interests seldom coincide, neither at farm level nor at a regional or national level.
In such cases, extension implies not only finding ways achieving the established objectives but also finding ways of meeting different, perhaps conflicting, objectives.
2. How these Guidelines were Developed
Suggestions for these Guidelines came from four sources:
· From our own extension experience, from the successes and difficulties we found in our extension work. Guidelines such as these and a sharing of other people's experience would have been very welcome to us.
· Written enquiries and discussions during LBL seminars clearly showed that very few of the difficulties in extension are technical ones. Extension difficulties lie mainly
- in the extension worker himself/herself - in the planning, implementation and co-ordination of extension - in the approach, methods and tools used
· From the handbook, "Agricultural Extension", a publication in the GTZ series on rural development. It contains principles, theories and examples of extension work. These Guidelines are intended to complement the handbook by appropriate and realistic advice (in the form of question lists and theory chapters) and by directing readers to other relevant sources of information.
· From our wish to collect experience and share it with others. In discussions with both experienced and newly employed extension workers, we became convinced that staff experience is rapidly lost in development cooperation if it is not recorded and shared in a suitable form.
3. The aims of these Guidelines
· As an analytical tool for extension workers, these Guidelines are intended to orientate and to provide an overview in its role as a written "Mr. Fixit".
· The references allow extension workers to learn from the experience of others.
· Bibliographical notes facilitate access to further literature.
The way we have chosen to ask open questions is intended to make the Guidelines of general use to extension workers in a variety of situations. Therefore the Guidelines can not be a recipe book, always exactly relevant to any particular situation, indeed they can only occasionally provide answers to questions about specific circumstances in specific places.
4. The Intended Audience for the Guidelines
The aims outlined above show what form the Guidelines take which, in turn, is related to the type of intended audience.
We assume that
...aks certain basic questions
...the users can find time to think, to step back from their routine work and to draw suggestions from the Guidelines;
...are written in general terms
...the users are capable of adapting what they read here to their own situation;
...share other people's experience
.. the users are prepared to make use of outside experience and fresh ideas in their own work.
On the basis of these assumptions the Guidelines are meant to be a practical tool, addressed to five user groups:
1. Extension managers and extension teams
2. Trainers of extension workers
3. Evaluators and consultants
4. Project staff and staff at headquarters of development organizations
5. Other interested institutions and individuals.
Although not all the user groups will have the same requirements, each of them will be able to choose from the information provided the points which seem particularly useful.
5. A few tips for the Reader
In keeping with our motto, "Questions instead of Instructions", we have tried to include questions on as many aspects of extension activity as possible. This has resulted in question lists under 45 keyword headings. We hope that each user will take time to select the questions of importance to himself without getting upset by the penetrating questioning.
Many questions seemed too commonplace to be asked at all. However, we decided that answers to these questions should also be indicated. This has resulted in 14 theory chapters which contain important hints, well-tried procedures and supplementary information for extension work. We hope that this will help to give a clear overview of the various subjects, indicate limitations and difficulties, provide tips and draw the reader's attention to further literature.
References to the keywords used concern the Guidelines themselves.
We asked several advisers about the best format for the Guidelines. Our suggestions were:
a) a book
b) four separate sections in a binder
c) a loose-leaf folder
but none of them obtained a clear majority. The personal preferences of the advisers were fairly equally-divided
among our suggestions.
We hope that the format which we chose in the end will meet every ones requirements:
a) book fans can pick up the whole binder;
b) those who prefer individual sections can remove these from the binder and staple them together;
c) loose-leaf friends are served with the present make-up.
Part D aims to point the reader to available literature and reports on extension methods and approaches. For this, we depend on the co-operation of experienced extension workers and extension project staff. So please:
- send us copies of reports on your major projects. We are particularly interested in obtaining brief reports on specific aspects of your extension work! - draw our attention to helpful literature!
We have elaborated a theory sheet (N) as an aid in the writing of reports.
The extension principle of working in a participative manner also applies to these Guidelines and we invite you to join us in an active exchange of ideas and experience. As on-the-spot extensionist workers you are at the source of new experience. Let us hear about your experience so that other extension workers can benefit from it. Tomorrow your experience could already prove useful as a cornerstone or signpost in another situation.
All your reports and bibliographical comments on the extension literature will help us in our revision of these Guidelines and especially with our work on the Part D (pointers to literature and reports).
Please let us know, too about which parts of the Guidelines proved helpful; and also let us know if you find parts of it inadequate. A notification form is enclosed with the Guidelines for this purpose.
The Guidelines are also available in French and German. A translation of the Guidelines into Spanish is planned. The Guidelines can be ordered from SKAT-Bookshop, Tigerbergstrasse 2, CH - 9000 St.Gallen, Switzerland. An order form is enclosed with the Guidelines.