Agricultural extension is the process, system or service which assists farmers or farm people through educational procedures in improving farming methods and techniques. In other words, Agricultural extension is the process whereby the beneficial products of research are taken to the farmers and the problems of farmers taken to research institutions for solution.
Agricultural extension is an informal out-of-school voluntary agricultural educational program that involves the spread out dissemination of information on improvement in agriculture from researchers to farmers
OBJECTIVES OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
- To educate farmers and enable them abandon less productive traditional ways of farming for improved and scientific farming techniques
- To help improve the standard of living of the rural dwellers
- To help identify proper marketing channel
- To help farmers access and supervise agricultural loans
- To link farmers with research institutes
- To help accelerate the development of rural area
PRINCIPLES OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
- Extension education should start where the people are
- Gain confidence of your audience
- Work together with or involve the farmers in creating a programme
- Extension programmes should meet the need of the participant
- Programmes must undergo continuous evaluation
- Programmes should be flexible
Target groups of extension agents incudes and is not restricted to:Commercial farmers, Community development associations, Farmers’ cooperative societies, Fisher men, Bee keepers etc.
- State seven objectives of agricultural extension.(WASSCE: 2009 question 9b, 2005 question 10a).
- List five principles of agricultural extension.
ROLES OR FUNCTIONS OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
- It encourages farmers to increase their production of food crops, cash crops and livestock.
- It teaches improved practices to farmers in the cultivation, rearing and processing of crops and livestock.
- It helps to collect and collate basic information relating to rural programmes.
- It acts as an intermediary between farmers and research institutes.
- It helps to supervise the beneficiaries of agricultural loans.
- It helps to change people attitude towards their problems.
- It helps to raise the standard of living of the farmers
- It helps to identify proper marketing channels for the farmers to sell their products.
- It enable extension to give necessary assistance to foreign experts visiting states on invitation of government in order to carry out various feasibility studies in various fields of agriculture.
- It assists in supervising and evaluating agricultural development programmes.
PROBLEMS FACING AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
- Farm or agricultural inputs are inadequate and often get to the users(farmers) very late.
- The subject matter specialist(agricultural extension officers) are often not properly involved.
- Inadequate transport facilities for extension staff.
- Extension agents are not sufficiently motivated.
- The supervision of the farmers by the extension agents is weak or poor.
- Information to farmers is usually delayed and distorted due to poor training of the extension agents.
- Many agents are ignorant of the tradition and customs of their target communities and often run afoul of their system making it difficult for them to receive audience.
- Very few extension workers are available to work with too many farmers.
- Poor facilities for extension communication which limits the scope and efficiency of coverage
- Target farmers are largely illiterate and find it difficult to follow instructions.
- Poor or inadequate monitoring of the activities or performance of the extension agents.
- Enumerate eight functions of an extension agent in the life of a rural farmer/explain eight roles of agricultural extension in the development of agriculture in Nigeria. (WASSCE 1990 question 9, 1993 question 9).
- Discuss eight problems which an agricultural extension worker can face in the discharge of his duties. (WASSCE 1992 question 9, 2010 question 10c, 2014 question 6b, 1999 question 10).
Methods used in dissemination new ideas and techniques to farmers are grouped into three classes:
- Mass media method
- Individual method
- Group method
Mass media method: This method is used to create awareness and interest in the new ideas and techniques among the majority of the people. In other words, this method enables many people to know about the new innovation. This method involves the use of publications,leaflets,posters,agricultural shows and exhibitions,cinema vans,Newspaper, radio and television,Newsletter,Circular,News Bulletins,Pamphlets,film shows etc.
Advantages of mass method
- Larger audience can be reached
- Does not necessarily require the presence of an agent
- It eliminates stress
- It is not time consuming
- Print media information last long and can serve as point of reference
Disadvantages of mass method
- It is very expensive to operate
- Language barrier might hinder effective communication
- Illiterate farmers might not benefit from this method
- No effective feedback mechanism is put in place
- Poor farmers may not get the information since they do not own radios or television set
- Technological backwardness (no electricity) and bad roads can disallow information from reaching some people.
Individual Method: This involves the direct contact between individual farmers and the extension worker. More attention is given to the farmer by the extension worker. Examples of individual method include visits by the extension worker to the home and farm office of the farmer, telephone call, personal letters and text messages.
Advantages of individual method
- More attention is given to farmers than any other method
- Dissemination of information is more effective
- It give room for feedback
- Farmers have opportunity to ask questions
- It makes adoption of innovation more effective
Disadvantages of individual method
- It is time consuming
- It is very tedious
- It is expensive
- It does not give room for reaching larger group of farmers
- There may not be enough workers to carry out this task effectively
Group Method: This method enables the extension worker to teach the farmers in group. Example of group methods include group discussion,lectures,workshops method demonstration,result demonstration,farm works and excursion,Field trips,symposia,short courses,debates,General meetings,Committee meetings etc.
Advantages of group method
- It enables extension workers reach out to larger group of farmers at a time
- It saves time
- It is less tedious
- It save money
- Adoption by one can enhance adoption by the others
Disadvantages of group method
- Some farmers might easily discourage others from adopting the innovation.
- Farmers may not be regular at meetings
- There may not be enough workers to carry out this task effectively
- What is meant by agricultural extension
- Discuss briefly how the following can be used in disseminating new ideas and techniques to farmers in Nigeria
- Mass media
- Individual method
- Group method. (WASSCE 1989 question 9, 2011 question 10a)
- List three main types of extension teaching method and explain any two of them. (WASSCE 2005 question 10b)
Demonstration involves a practical approach to introducing new innovation to the farmer by practicing the new innovation of the farm land situated where many of the target audience can access to see. The success of the demonstration will push the farmers to want to adopt the new technique
A poster is a pictorial presentation meant to educate or inform the literate audience as the pictures cater for all the needed information.
A bulletin is all written ideas and innovation for literate to read, understand and apply.
Home or farm visit involves one on one or personalized visit to the farmer’s home or farm to establish mutual friendship and acquaint with the farmer and family before giving ideas and information to such a farmer. Rendering of assistance in kind will foster this relationship between the agent and the farmer hence ease adoption of innovation.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION PROGRAMMES IN WEST AFRICA
Agricultural extension programmes are the media or channels such as Ministries of Agriculture, Schools of Agriculture, Universities of Agriculture etcthrough which new ideas and techniques are disseminated to rural farmers. In other words, they are bodies or agencies which have extension services unit that can teach and train extension workers on the job approve their daily extension services so that they will be to transfer these innovations to the rural farmers.
Examples of extension Programmes include: Agricultural Development Programme(ADP), Farm Settlement Scheme, Agro-Service Centres, Research Institutes. past and presentgovernment food production programmese.g Operation feed the nation OFN,NAFPP,Green Revolution Programmme etc.
- State five principles of agricultural extension in Nigeria. (NECO 2018 question 10d).
- Highlight five agricultural extension programmes in Nigeria.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION OFFICE/WORKER/AGENT
This is a person who is involved in the dissemination of new ideas and techniques from the research institutes to the farmers.He acts as an intermediary between researchers and the farmers.
QUALITIES OF EXTENSION OFFICER/WORKER
- Extension Officer must be knowledgeable in his field of operation to enable him teach farmers.
- He must understand the local language of the local community he operate because most farmers are illiterate.
- He must have interest in what he is doing.
- He must not easily get annoyed because he will come across various categories of farmers that may ask him foolish questions.
- He must be persuasive in his operation i.e he should have the ability to always encourage the farmers when introducing new innovations to them.
- He must have enough materials and financial resources to carry out his duties.
FUNCTIONS OR ROLES OF AN EXTENSION OFFICER/WORKER/AGENT
- He consults and reflects on rural or agricultural development projects
- He plans and executes farming educational programmes.
- He organizes and supervises farmers group i.e. meeting, cooperatives and their workers meetings.
- He liaises with other agencies that may have influence on rural environment and the farmers.
- He helps to improve the outlook of farmers towards the problems or difficulties.
- He acts as a connecting link between the researchers and the farming communities.
- He teaches improved farming practices to farmers.
- He evaluates agricultural extension programmes and projects.
- He supervises the utilization of agricultural loans.
- He conducts or organizes training for farmers.
PROBLEMS OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION OFFICER/WORKER/AGENT
- High level of illiteracy among farmers may affect the rate of adopting of new farming techniques.
- Absence of credit facilities to farmers make them uninterested and prevent the implantation of accepted innovation.
- Insufficient motivation of the extension workers by way of better remunerations for his effort tends to retard his work.
- Extension workers do not have adequate resources such as money to travel or enough materials to supply his or her target farmers.
- Unfavourable attitudes of rural farmers towards government programmes tends to make extension work a bit difficult.
- Inadequacy of well-trained extension staff make the extension worker have a wider area and more farmers than he can cope with.
- Language barriers lead to improper dissemination of new innovation by the extension worker.
- Uncoordinated efforts by government agencies may lead to confusion and rejection by farmers.
Diffusion is a process of spreading new ideas and information from research station to reach farm families. Diffusion is the movement of new ideas and information from area of higher concentration to area of lower concentration through a medium(extension Officer) and extension method.New ideas and techniques are known as innovations.
Five Steps or stages of Diffusion process
Adoption of new innovation involves the acceptance and practice of new or modern farming technique introduces in the rural area. This is largely dependent on:
- level of education
- attitude of farmers
- financial status of farmers
- size of farm
- presence of extension workers
- result of demonstration plot
Categories of farmers based on adoption of innovation
- Innovators: they introduce new ideas of farming seen in other places to their dwelling. Due to inexperience or error they might suffer losses and can be encouraged by giving expert advice, granting credit facilities, providing and subsidizing farm inputs, granting insurance cover, providing market for sale of produce.
- Early adopters: are less quick to accepting innovations which might be largely due to some of the aforementioned factors. If percentage of these set is as low as 10% then such innovation has not been uniformly accepted maybe due to hitch during demonstration or the idea is too complex to understand.
- Late adopters:this group are very conservative and need assurance before accepting new innovations. They usually have the largest percentage in a group.
- Never adopters: they are extremely conservative and will not accept new innovation no matter the persuasion. If their percentage is usually low
- An agricultural research organization categorized farmers in village x according to the rate of adoption of new ideas and came up with the following: Innovators 10Early adopters 15Late adopters 70Never adopters 25
- Calculate the percentage of early adopters and state the implication of this percentage on the extension system.
- Suggest four ways of encouraging the innovators.
- State four possible reasons for high number of of late adopters
- State two merits of the print media as a channel for agricultural extension (WASSCE 2000 question 10)
- Mention four target group of the extension agent
- Discuss five important qualities of a good extension worker
- State four functions of an extension worker (WASSCE: 2006 question 10, 2010 question 9c, 2012 question 10c, 2013 question 10c, 2014 question 6a, NECO 2018 question 10e, 2007 question 10).
- State two advantages and one disadvantage of each of the following agricultural extension teaching I. Newspaper II. Television III. Demonstration IV. Farm visit V. Home visit
- Explain the following agricultural extension teaching method I. Poster II. Field trips III. News bulletin IV. Agricultural shows
- List three agricultural extension programmes in westAfrica. (WASSCE 2008 question 9d and 10c, 2009 question 9c, 10c and 10d, 2012 question 9c).
- How does agricultural extension affect agricultural production. (WASSCE 2010 question 2ai).
- Mention three print and electronic media used in disseminating agricultural extension
- State four advantage of group method of agricultural extension. (WASSCE 2016 question 6a and b).
- Outline four stages involved in agricultural extension program planning
- Later two examples of individual method of disseminating agricultural innovations. (NECO 2018 question 9c and d).
- The following are extension methods except _____. A) mass method B) individual method
- C) group method D) none of the above
- Agricultural extension serves as ____ between research institute and farmers A) gap
- B) command centers C) bridge D) extension
- Categories of farmers based on adoption of innovation are the following except____
- A) early adopter B) late adopter C) never adopter D) none of the above
- Television, radio, posters, bulletin are ____ method of extension A) group B) mass C) media D) individual
- Which of the following grouping of extension method provides feedback A) mass method and individual method B) personal method and mass method C) individual method and group method D) group method and mass method
- An outbreak of a strange poultry disease is reported in your community. There is a possibility of the disease dreading to other part of the country
- Mention the three main extension teaching method that could be used to create awareness among farmers about the disease
- Which of the main extension teaching method is most appropriate for creating awareness about disease outbreak
- Give two reasons for your choice in B above
- Mention three problems that could be encountered in the use of the selected extension teaching method (WASSCE 2011 question 9b).