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close this book Agricultural extension
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View the document Introduction
View the document Planning
View the document Carrying out plans
View the document Evaluating work



Good planning proceeds from careful, continuing research and systematic record-keeping. As is stated in Chapter Two, planning must be done with farmers, village leaders, counterparts and government officials. The extension worker researches carefully and involves local people in planning to maximize local input into the decisions and plans which affect local life. (Consult the I.C.E. manual M-3, Resources for Development, for an in-depth explanation of project planning and resource management in extension work.)

How can local people be included in the planning process realistically? First, the extension worker must become fluent in the local language and comfortable working with interpreters. Language differences can provide a rich diversity of meanings rather than barriers to communication. Secondly, the extensionist should proceed slowly and plan to some degree informally in order to be accessible. It is important to maintain records in such a way that they can be easily shared. Extension workers should be sure to focus all plans on local people's goals, not on their own ideas. This will help local planners maintain interest. Concepts and ideas developed must be cross-culturally appropriate and understandable to local people. Lastly, the extension worker can develop a disciplined habit of always asking others to be a part of the planning process. This may help cultivate a new expectation among village farmers that they should be involved in planning.

Planning involves assessment of community needs and identification of the resources to meet those needs. This can be done using a list of questions the answers to which provide a community with the information it needs to design a project. The extension worker can play a part in articulating these questions. The list of questions is provided as a TOOL in this subchapter.

Planning also involves a selection process. Given the limited resources available to any community, priorities must be set as part of any plan for development. Priorities must be aligned with the interests of participants in a planned project and consistent with the goals and values of the local community. Prioritizing begins with a clarification of goals, values and participant interests. Then it involves brainstorming (listing without argument) alternatives. When goals are clearly understood, a list of best alternatives can be selected to act upon. Those of lesser importance are discarded, included in more important ideas, or held over for future consideration. These prioritized alternatives are often called objectives.

Once priorities are established they are broken down into steps or tasks. As described in Chapter Five, a practical task is immediate, specific and realizable. If it is a group task it also is unifying. By using the CO-WORKERS TOOL which follows, tasks can be assigned to specific people, times and places so a detailed plan of an activity can be kept. The specific responsibilities of each person are charted in this way, making evaluation easy. Just by going back over a task list of this kind a planner can see who did what, when and where and can assess progress toward a goal.

Good planning follows these steps



For a small village livestock project just getting started:

A GOAL might be:

"To provide storage space for livestock feed."

A related OBJECTIVE would be:

"To clear out the old storehouse."

TASKS would then be:




1. Get storehouse key.



2. Get brooms, white wash, plaster, etc.



3. Clear out old stuff.



4. Clean up.



5. Plaster walls.



6. Whitewash walls.



7. Check storehouse with extension worker.

Master farmer


Planning To Meet Personal Needs

Below is a partial list of personal needs and resources identified to meet them. This kind of list is the tool, the information listed is an illustration.




1. Mail

Post office, regional capital, by motorcycle


2. Gasoline

Pa Conteh's lorry service(need to provide container)

when available

3. Palm wine

Limba village 4 miles away, Pa lbrahim ($0.20/pint)

as needed(early a.m.)

4. Rice

Farmers' Association

as needed

5. Tailor

Foday Kabbah, marketplace

as needed

6. Motorcycle parts

Romeo Motors, capital

when possible

7. Medical service

Dispenser/nurse: locally

as needed


Small hospital: regional capital

as needed


Sophisticated help: capital or Peace Corps office ETC

when necessary


Task assignment list

Weekly planning calendar


Planning Work With Co-Workers

In order to keep track of work commitments and progress on tasks & objectives, this tool may be used:

(Filled out to illustrate its use).





For Field Day at Kamala Village:


1. Pick up tables at Ministry office

Joe and lorry


2. Set up meeting hall for ceremony

Alayisius & Tom


3. Cook meal for visitors

Families of farmers

Friday a.m.

4. Greet offical visitors

Chief, aster farmer

Friday noon

5. Set up demonstrations

Participating farmers

Friday a.m.

6. Coordinate stations

Jo & Tom


7. Translate for officials



8. Speak at ceremony

Chief, master farmer

Friday 3 p.m.

9. Follow-up letters to officials

Jo & Steve (PCV)


10. Clean up site


Friday & Sat.

11. Party for participants


Sat. evening

Project Planning (3)

1. A list of questions an extensionist can help a community answer in order to design a good project (from Resources for Development, I.C.E. manual M-3A, 1981):

• What problem is the project being designed to address?

• What is the primary objective of the project?

• How will this objective be reached?

• What resources will be needed to achieve this objective?

• How will these resources be used?

• How long will it take to complete the project?

• What are the main obstacles to the project's success?

Project Planning (3)

2. A list of the guidelines for choosing appropriate resources (from Resources for Development, manual M-3A, 1981):

Resources should:

• Bring about greater community involvement in the project.

• Be available locally.

• Use appropriate technology.

• Be culturally acceptable.

• Be ecologically sound.



(From USAID/Kenya Ag Extension Manual)

Analyzing the facts

Let us analyze some of the facts.

If the farmers were asked about the situation they would probably say for example, that coffee growing is becoming less profitable, and in part this may be a fact. A closer look at the situation will reveal other pertinent facts, possibly hidden to them. It is for this reason that the extension worker is needed. You can see things farmers are unaware of. They may not be in touch with world production figures. They may not realize that by increasing the amount of top grade coffee their profits on an equal yield can increase. They may not know how to increase top grades through cultural practices. Extension workers have the know-how. Farmers are not likely to be conscious of the effect of lower grades on the country's foreign exchange situation. These facts are known to the extension workers. For every situation there are basic facts which come to light when the situation is analyzed by the extension worker in cooperation with the farmer.

Identifying the problem

From the situation, the problems can be identified if the facts are properly analyzed. In the analysis above, it is clearly stated that top grade coffee production is declining. From the standpoint of the country, the problem seems to be a decline in foreign exchange due to decreased sale of premium priced coffee.

As an extension worker you realize that a decreased premium grade can be caused by poor cultural practices and processing. If the farmer has not been trained to use improved practices he fails to understand why his profits are declining. The role of the extension workers becomes quite clear.

When all of the problems have been identified the next step must be undertaken.

Establishing the objectives

We know where we are by studying the situation. The objectives tell us where we want to go. If grade one coffee is found to be 40% of the total production and we want it to be 100% that would be our objective - to increase grade 1 coffee from 40% to 100%. Although admittedly such a goal would be extremely desirable, it may not be realistic. There are several requirements for setting up good, realistic objectives. They must be attainable. We might be able to increase Grade 1 coffee from 40% to 60 or 70%, that would seem realistic, and consequently more attainable. Having set figures, it gives us something to measure. Just to say: ''Increase Grade 1 coffee", is not measureable. We can determine from production figures an amount such as 10 or 20%; that is something measureable. The objective here is to increase grade 1 coffee production. The goal is to increase it some definite amount, 10 or 20%. If the farmers can be made to understand what we are aiming at and what is required to achieve it.

What is Agricultural Extension Program Planning?

It is an outline of activities to be followed by extension workers and farmers toward solving a problem the farmers want to have solved.

NOTE: It has been stated that the problems are those that the farmers want to have solved. Before problems can be solved it is necessary to have a mutual understand of what the problems are. We are walking on dangerous ground when we assume we know what are the farmers' problems. At one program planning session, a group of agriculture officers decided that the cotton farmers' biggest problem was in harvesting the crop. An interview with several of the typical, local cotton farmers revealed that they were more concerned about getting insecticides at the right time and of being able to pay for them. Had the officer group proceeded to plan to solve the harvesting problem, the farmer would probably have lost interest in the final program because it would not have met their most important felt need. We must not presume to know what the problems are until we have the facts to support our appraisal. The use of a systematic approach will strengthen a program with facts.

The Scope of a Program

Before proceeding, there are some important questions to be answered. Who develops this program? It is a task of the extension worker to write down the program, but it must be developed with the farmers, to help them solve their own problems, using your assistance. Not only must it meed their needs, but it must met those of the local area, district and the nation. Should these basic requirements not be met it will be your program and you alone will not be able to carry it through. Thus a well planned program is broad-based and meets the needs of a large number of people. By proceeding one step at a time we can achieve that objective.

A System for Planning Programs

A large number of facts are needed before we can draw conclusions as to what are the problems. We need to know the situation before we can make an appraisal.

The situation

We collect and analyze facts to understand the situation. A study of the situation for one crop will serve as an example for a typical approach.

(Extract from the Kenya Development Plan, 1966-70, pp 53-55)

"Coffee has been one of Kenya's principal export crops for many years. It has enjoyed a considerable share of the world market. This share has been as much as 36% of the total market and not less than 17% since coffee was established in Kenya. The world supply is in surplus, thus competition for the market is increasing. New plantings have been stopped in view of the situation, consequently any increased production must come from the acreage already planted.

"The high quality of Kenya coffee gives it an advantage in competition for the world demand. Unless this quality is maintained it may lose this advantage. Over half of the 250,000 small growers in this country have had little the objective and goal are understandable. Every objective must be written so it can be understood by those who are to achieve it.

Before an objective will be achieved, it must be desirable. The fact that coffee is paid for on a grade basis and because Grade 1 coffee commands a higher price, you have good reason to assume that it will be desirable.

We can only be sure an objective is desirable when are certain that the returns are in balance with the effort required to achieve that objective. Further, the increased returns must be wanted enough to cause the farmer to expend the necessary effort. It may require a great deal more effort and expense on some farmer's part to much mulching material for his plantation, if mulching is a requirement for producing an increased amoung of high grade coffee.

Objectives which meet all goals are better founded than those which only partially meet a few. If increased top grade coffee production benefits the nation, the province, district, division and the farmer as well, there is more reason to believe it is to be achieveable than if it only benefits the country at large

When setting up objectives it must be kept in mind that their function is to change the situation from what it is to what is desired. There are three means of moving in the direction of achievement. We, as extension workers can change knowledge, attitudes and skills. Some times all three factors must be changed to achieve an objective.

Determining the solution

Solutions must relate to objectives and the objectives must relate to the problems. We are likely to find some problems which have no immediate solutions. If world markets are flooded with commodity we may not be able to solve their problems. The only possible alternative might be to increase quality and efficiency, thereby becoming more able to compete with declining prices. We may be able to eliminate East Coast Fever in cattle, but we do have a relatively effective control. Even then the alternative solutions must be economically practical. Furthermore, the solutions must be throughly understood before the desired results may be realized. This often requires educating the farmers in the use of the new methods. Our job as extension workers is to teach new and improved methods.

Selecting the methods

When known and practical solutions exist the methods of getting farmers to adopt the practices must be chosen. The more times people are exposed to a new idea through a variety of channels, the more likely they are to adopt the idea. This can be taken to mean that if you use radio, newspapers, meetings, and demonstration, the farmers are more likely to adopt the idea than they are if you reach them with a single method.

Farmers must pass through five stages of adoption before-the idea is accepted. If they are not aware of the idea, they will never become interested. If they are not interested, they can't evaluate its usefulness. If they don't evaluate it, they will never try it. If they never try it, they certainly won't adopt it.

These five stages of adoption are as inseparable as the links of a chain. Adoption takes place only after people have successfully passed through the five stages.

The written plan

The written plan for extension program planning can be referred to as the Plan of Work or the Calendar. Which every you prefer to call it, one important feature is that it must be written. It must also include the thinking of the farmers. Involve people in the planning, the operations, and the final evaluation, otherwise, it will be your plan and only yours. Design it so you can say; This is our plan, not mine. A good plan designates responsibilities. It tells who will be responsible for what, how, when and where. Consequently, we plan with people, not for them. A good program

A good program can be measured by its characteristics. It develops leadership if you plan with people. The leaders come to the top when given the opportunity to participate. Their usefulness to you and the program is almost unlimited. A part of your job is to recognize leaders and to make use of their qualities. It has long been known to extension workers that the local leader has more influence in getting farmers to accept new ideas than has the worker himself.

A requirement of a good program is that it is family directed. In countries where women commonly cultivate the crops it would be a mistake not to include them in the program plans. Demonstrations in the field or courses at farmer training centers may be designed to include them. The importance of youth's influence must be considered when it is known that they are less resistant to change than their parents. Many new ideas are accepted by the parents after seeing their children successfully adopt practices. A program is destined to fail if the women and children who grow and harvest crops reject the idea of planting them.

Who participates?

Certainly the farmers must participate because it is their program. Among the farmers are the local farm leaders. They will be your must useful participants. You, as an extension worker will take a leading role in the plan of action. You give it direction. The district and provincial staff provide coordination by assisting you in making it possible to get seed, insecticide, fertilizer and other materials and assistance beyond your reach. They also coordinate activities from your level up to the national goals. Specialists are needed to help solve problems for which they are more capable and better trained. Others who may be needed are supply house representatives, chiefs, sub-chiefs and occasionally officers of the administrative branches of government. The more people you involve the greater are the chances for a successful program.


Evaluation, the observed measurement of the planned program, must be continuous at every stage of operation. As each planned action is completed, the results must be examined against the objectives of that action. If the activity was successful we should be able to describe why. Equally, if the action was not successful we should also be able to note the reasons Only then can an extension service be truly effective.

Evaluation at any stage may affect the future planned program actions. More activity in the form of demonstrations may be needed; more information media may need to become involved to reinforce the presentations, or it may indeed be that the rate of programmed improvement is faster than anticipated. Source of the features of the plan can be modified as evaluation suggests.

Progress reports at all levels are based on these evaluations; in fact the evaluations are the progress reports.

The Action

The best written program plan is only a piece of paper until it is carried out by action. Hanging it on the wall for all to see creates an interesting room decoration, but it remains only that unless the actions planned are carried into the field. The program plan is your working plan and it must be worked to be valuable.