«Deborah Duveskog Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Urban and Rural Development Uppsala Doctoral Thesis Swedish ...»
enabling farmers to clarify their own goals and possibilities and to realise them; and stimulating desirable agricultural development. The concept of technology transfer or diffusion of innovations has in recent years been increasingly challenged and discredited by a number of authors (Lipton and Longhurst 1989; Röling 1994; Foster and Rosenzweig 1995; Biggs 1998), following the growing recognition for farmer innovation, the need for local contextual solutions and the increased focus on local and household food security in marginal areas. The underlying assumption that other farmers will follow the adopter of technologies is often invalid. In many cases the ‘some farmers are jealous of the more advantaged farmers who are then victimised rather than copied (Hagmann et al. 1999). Further, extension agents often seemed to prefer to interact with large scale and richer farmers (Moore 1984) and this meant that the contact farmers tended to not be representative of the main body of resource-poor farmers, thus hampering the diffusion among farmers (Haug 1998). In addition, with the collapse of markets for many of the major commodities, together with structural adjustment reforms aimed at reducing public sector expenditure, funding for extension has reduced drastically in most countries in the south (Umali and Schwartz 1994; Haug 1998; Chapman and Tripp 2003; Christoplos and Farrington 2004).
Even though some positive impact of the T&V system has been reported, in terms of farm productivity and profits (Umali-Deininger 1997) and adoption rates and increased yields (Birkhaeuser et al. 1991; Salmen 1999) the system is nowadays largely considered a failure (Anderson et al. 2006). A World Bank study (Purcell and Anderson 1997), based on independent evaluations of thirtythree agricultural extension projects, highlighted some serious deficiencies such as inadequate adaptation to local conditions and inadequate extension messages. A review of evaluation studies of the T&V system revealed its impressive gains, in terms of productivity, in irrigated areas but also its failure to make impact in a majority of rainfed areas (Farrington et al. 1998).
The approach has proved too top down with most important decisions being made at HQ level and with little flexibility to modify the content of the extension message according to local agro-climatic and socioeconomic diversity (Mitti et al. 1997; Sulaiman and Hall 2002). This meant that often the technical packages promoted were inappropriate at local level (Osborn 1995;
Haug 1998; Hagmann et al. 1999; Salmen 1999). Further, the approach proved expensive in regards to recurrent costs (Moore 1984; Haug 1998; Anderson, Feder et al. 2006) and of particular concern was the fact that a bulk of the funding seemed to be used for travel and lodging of extension staff during the numerous training events and workshops (Mitti et al. 1997). The strict schedule of visit by extension staff to predetermined contact farmers and strict supervision by superiors tended to promote quantity rather than quality in extension activities, causing a lack of accountability among staff towards farmers (Anderson et al. 2006). A study in nine countries by Salmen (1999) showed that the approach has mainly benefited better-off farmers and male farmers, and been poor at involving women (Mittim et al. 1997). A study in two countries based on farmers assessment of the T&V system revealed major short comings in the sense of lack of renewal of extension themes, low coverage and diffusion, lack of means among farmers to apply extension message, such as inputs (Salmen 1999). Actual impact has proved very hard to evaluate and document due to the lack of baseline information, unavailability of control groups and since managers usually mainly focused on reporting on input indicators but not impact as such (Birkhaeuser et al. 1991). In 2000 Gautam (2000) carried out a comprehensive analysis of T&V in Kenya and found the impact to be insignificant. Similarly a study in Pakistan (Hussain et al. 1994) and data from India (Moore 1984) showed no impact.
4.3.2 A “new” extension paradigm Following the failure of past extension systems and the recognition that sustainability of the process of agricultural improvements is not necessarily to be found in the technologies introduced, but in the social process of active farmer managed innovation and dissemination of ideas there has in the last decades been a growing recognition for the role of knowledge and learning within agricultural extension. In many situations the disseminations of standard packages of inputs and practices are no longer relevant, if indeed it ever was and blueprints and blanket recommendations are inappropriate (Hagmann et al.
1999). Sustainable agriculture often requires different types of agricultural knowledge than the one generated by research organisations, and require farmers to mange and coordinate ecological processes (Leeuwis 2004). In addition the type of knowledge used by a farmer to manage his/her farm is contextual and cannot be separated from the person who practices it (FriisHansen 2004), and therefore it is not possible a priori to define what constitutes relevant technology for farmers. Appropriate technological solutions will vary depending on local circumstances and therefore awareness of the local situation is essential and require knowledge that is complex, diverse and local (Leeuwis 2004). Experiences with applying the sustainable livelihood analysis framework show that the complicated nature of resource access reinforce the perception that design of interventions need to be part of a process of learning, reflection, and course action (Farrington et al. 1999).
Knowledge generation therefore need be seen as a process and emergent questions are how poor, weak and vulnerable groups can be strengthened to experiment, enhance, share and spread their own knowledge and how they better can articulate their needs (Leeuwis 2004). From having considered extension as mainly an act of transferring technologies to farmers there is now a focus on participation of farmers in the innovation process and facilitation of experimentation among communities. The building of farmers’ management and problem solving capacity requires joint learning through practical field work (Hagmann et al. 1999). This requires a shift from previous perceptions where farmers were seen mainly as ‘adopters’ or ‘rejecters’ of technologies but not as providers of knowledge and improved practices (Chambers 1993). Many studies have shown the ability among farmers to innovate and develop their own solutions to problems, thereby being part of the innovation system rather than just recipients (Scarborough et al. 1997; Biggs 1998; Hagmann et al.
1999). The development of solutions under such circumstances requires a new and more farmer-oriented approach to problem solving and decision-taking procedures, where farmers are involved in the entire process of searching and applying new solutions, which may comprise both social and technical elements (Friis-Hansen 2004; Ortiz et al. 2005).
Scoones and Thompson (1994) refer to a broader paradigm shift underway in the direction of greater empowerment of local people, local level ‘bottomup’ planning and low-external input agriculture. Based on the new focus on dialogue and rural innovation in extension activities Leeuwis (2000) uses “Communication for rural innovation” as the new term for what was previously labelled agricultural extension. Macadam (2000) calls the new paradigm ‘learning paradigm’ following the emerging appreciation of the need to enhance extension clients capacity to make informed and critical decisions, with emphasis on empowerment. The new paradigm challenge the conventional view of regarding agriculture as a technical income generating activity, and rather consider farmers, researchers and extensionists as social actors within the social practice of agricultural production (Sulaiman and Hall 2002).
While this new paradigm in extension has emerged fairly recently in the global extension debate, these thoughts are not entirely new. Paolo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist activist and educator already in early 1970s started voicing concerns over the practice of agriculture extension. He argued (1973), that the whole concept of extension through transfer of techniques is in direct contradiction to a truly humanistic worldview since it tends to transform people into things and negate their existence as beings who transform the world, and does not correspond to an educational undertaking through true action and reflection that is liberating;
I am unable to see how persuasion (transfer of extension messages for farmers), can be squared with education: for true education incarnates the permanent search of people together with others for their becoming more fully human in the word in which they exist (p. 90).
In his book “Education for Critical consciousness” Freire (1973) expressed his concerns about extension practice and give directions for a new way of
viewing the role of agronomists:
Rather than a passive acceptance of propaganda, liberation implies the problematisation of their situation in its concrete objective reality so that being critically aware of it; they can also act critically on it. This then, is the real work of the agronomist in their role of educators. Agronomists are specialists who work with others on the situation influencing them. However, from a truly humanistic point of view, it is not for them to extend, entrust, or dictate their technical capacities, nor is it for them to persuade by using peasants as “blank pages” for their propaganda. In their role as educators, they must refuse to “domesticate” people. Their task is communication, not extension (p. 90).
It is interesting to note that while Freire’s thought evolved from a very different context and perspective, his views have many commonalities with the current development debate about extension. For this study that examined the links between extension and empowerment, Freire’s thoughts have been particularly valuable.
4.3.3 Demand-driven extension Apart from the shift in view of learning there has been a shift in perception of roles among extension stakeholders. Haug (1998) refers to the new stage in extension (1995-onwards) as the ‘institutional stage’ where farmers are full collaborators in research and extension and in which alliances will be developed between different institutions. Leeuwis (2004) similarly refers to ‘platforms’ for learning among actors. In the context of FFS Isubikalu (2007) refer to the Uganda context and argues that FFS is more than a tool for farmer participation but that implementation of FFS requires adjustments of the agricultural innovation system at all levels in order to meet its objectives.
With recognition that farmers knowledge is contextual, and that farmers can be a source of innovations, farmer experimentation has come to play a central role in participatory extension and learning (Hagmann 1999; Sulaiman and Hall 2002; Percy 2005). Several elements of experiential learning are of particular relevance to development and extension including the role of higher order experiences, reflection, and dialogue. Those facilitating development process thereby work with farmers to help them step back and analyze their situations and then together identify ways forward through experiential learning (Percy 2005).
The new paradigm in extension is often however referred to under the umbrella term ‘demand-driven’ extension. ‘Demand’ is defined by the Neuchatel Group (2006) as what people ask for, need and value so much that they are willing to invest their resources, such as time and money in order to receive the services. The term offers an alternative to the definition of technology transfer and might be defined as “an agricultural advisory service based upon the idea of two-way communication promoting knowledge facilitation, knowledge generation, or knowledge sharing in a community development context and with focus on human resource development” (Haug 1998). It generally involves changing the distribution of power and responsibilities among three set of actors: clients, service providers and government (Rivera and Alex 2004). The Neuchatel Group (2006) describes its main principles as; services shall be driven by user demands, service providers shall he accountable to the users and users shall have a free choice of service providers.
Demand-driven extension is often connected with ideas of privatisation and a move away from free public services. On the other hand, it defends the continuation of some forms of ‘subsidised’ extension, but under much different criteria than the previous production-focused strategies. It urges public extension to concentrate on more marginal areas, to take account of the diversity of rural livelihoods, to be innovative in its organisation, and to develop the capacity for strengthening the demand side of extension (Farrington et al. 2002). Before demand-driven extension systems can take root, farmers must first develop their capacity to articulate their collective demands and exert pressure on the system to deliver what they want (Rivera and Alex 2004). Specific features normally considered in demand-driven
extension systems are:
Ø། Client orientation: Extension messages need to be tailored to the demands of the clientele and specific biophysical and socio-cultural conditions.
Ø། Broadened scope: Following the recognition that a farmer should be considered a person with a number of educational needs the scope of extension is in a process of changing from a focus on technology transfer of agricultural techniques to cover a much wider scope of issues related to rural livelihoods in a broad sense (Qamar 2006).
Ø། Participatory extension methods: There is a search for improved methodologies that respond better to farmers’ demands and a shift towards more broad based, participatory and group focused approaches (DANIDA 2004; Davies 2006; Neuchatel Group 2006; Qamar 2006). Further, farmer experimentation has a central role in participatory extension (Hagmann, Chuma et al. 1999; Leeuwis 2004). Working with farmer groups have been found far more effective than working with individual farmers (IFAD 1996;
Umali-Deininger 1997; Heemskerk, Lema et al. 2003; DANIDA 2004;
Heemskerk and Bertus 2004; Leeuwis 2004), hence most extension methods of today are group based.