3rd National Extension Education Congress 2005
“Revitalization of Extension System in New Economic Order”
National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana
(April 27-29, 2005)
In the wake of economic liberalization initiated in 1991 and our accession to WTO in 1995 leading to globalization, the question of economic return from agricultural activities has acquired added importance. The process of globalization of trade, liberalization of economy and the revolution in information technology gave birth to the concept of global village. Hence the need for re-orienting our agricultural extension system to meet the challenges and to grab the ensuing opportunities cannot be overlooked. As such, the society of extension education decided to hold the congress in question with the following themes related to above-mentioned issues to conclude the observations and recommendations. One hundred sixty three research papers were submitted by distinguished scholars, agricultural/ extension scientists/ professional and policy makers including some of the Vice-Chancellors which were published in the compendium. Many of these papers were presented as key papers in combined technical sessions; some of them were presented in the technical sessions including poster session, utilized for the deliberations and finalization the recommendations under the different themes. Based on the such interactions and detailed discussion, the observations/ recommendations concluded for the benefits of sound Agricultural policies including desired improvements in the teaching, research and transfer of technology in the discipline of extension and rural development programmes are given as under the different themes.
Theme I: Conceptual, Structural and Institutional Arrangements for Farmer Driven and Farmer Accountable Extension System under New World Economic Regime:
Definitions of extension range from a persuasive technology transfer model to that of a facilitative human development model. Demand driven is a relatively recent label for a notion that has been around since people began to write about extension as an academic discipline and educational practice. The studies under this theme indicated that the people are less concerned with specific techniques and methods and more with making institutional changes, which will lead extension service providers to more responsive to what clients want. In most cases it involved changing the distribution of power and responsibilities among three key sets of actors; (a) Clients, (b) those who deliver the service and (c) government. Thus, farmers need to be supported with information, knowledge and the skills to adopt not only improved but also appropriate technologies having characteristics of productivity enhancing, vulnerability reducing and employment creating. Extension support must now address a broader range of farmer objective that should include:
The extension professional and policy makers have received a good feed back for planning and initiating thinking for reorientation of conceptual, structural and institutional changes for farmers driven and farmer accountable extension system in order to meet the challenges of new economic order.
Theme II: Integration of Services Oriented towards Farming System Approach to Address the Diverse Household Needs:
In order to address the diverse household needs, linkage between education, research and extension was identified a powerful tool, which has not been given due attention in the existing system. Farming system is a complex interrelated matrix of soil, plant, animal, implement, power, labour, capital and other inputs as well as resource management strategy to achieve the goal of economic and sustained agricultural production to meet diverse requirements while preserving resource base and maintaining a high level of environment. Therefore, any agricultural technology well suited to a particular agro-ecology, socio-economic and cultural settings may not be acceptable by farmers of different situations.
The delineation of the major farming systems would provide a useful framework based on which appropriate agricultural development strategies and interventions can be determined. Only the major farming systems would, therefore, required to be identified in order to estimate the magnitude of resource base. The farming system approach needs to consider both biophysical dimensions (such as soil nutrients and water balances) and socio-economic aspects (such as gender, food security and profitability) at the farm level where most agricultural production and consumption decisions are taken. The intensification of crop production may be driven by population expansion and land shortages.
The power of the approach lies in its ability to integrate multi-disciplinary analyses of production and its relationship to the key biophysical and socio-economic determinants of a farming system. Enabling infrastructure and the availability of technical and market information will be important influence of integration of services oriented towards farming system approach. Accordingly, policy makers may make the use of such recommendations for advance planning.
Theme III: Gender Concerns in Revitalising Extension System:
Rural women still do not have ownership of land and the 'pattas' are allotted in the name of their husband. Due to this, they can not take independent decision on various agricultural aspects. Therefore, concerted efforts are needed to promote women access to resources. Though women make substantial contribution to agricultural development, their access to the most crucial input "credit" is limited. Since they are not landowners, the credit flow generally goes in the name of male members (i.e. owners). For promoting women's access to farm input and credit, following measures were suggested:
Gender concerns require topmost priority to encourage and support the establishment of local women group and organisation to take up the responsibilities of communicating the appropriate technologies to rural women.
Theme IV: Opportunities and Challenges of Cyber Extension:
It was concluded that "Cyber Extension" would be the major form of technology dissemination in the near future. However, it was felt that the rural population still had difficulty in accessing crucial information in order to make timely decisions. Therefore, it is essential that information availability should be demand driven rather than supply driven.
The challenge is not only to improve the accessibility of communication technology to the rural population but also to improve its relevance in assessing the local and international market trends.
Rapid development of telecommunications and computer-based information technology (IT) is probably the biggest factor would be required for change in extension approach and system. This would facilitate and reinforce other economic changes. There are many possibilities for the potential applications of the technology in agricultural extension. IT will bring new information services to rural areas and farmers will have much better control in receiving information. Information resource centres need to be promoted and established in the villages by both central and state Govt. with computer aided expert systems to help farmers to access information.
Need for agricultural and rural information based on advisory services would intensify in future. As such, the establishment of Farmers Information and Advisory Centre (FIACs) at the block level in the selected blocks of each states needs priority.
Thanks with regards
Dr. Jitendra K. Chauhan
General Secretary, SEE