The Rome Declaration on World Food Security (FAO, 1996) stated that "Food production and rural development, particularly in those countries with significant food security inadequacies, require appropriate and up-to-date technologies which, according to sustainable development criteria and local food traditions, promote modernization of local production methods and facilitate transfer of technology. Full benefit from these technologies will require training, education and skill development programmes for local human resources". The articles in the 1997-98 issue of Training for Agriculture and Rural Development (TARD) address a wide range of issues, strategies and lessons learned from applying agricultural training, education, extension and communication to the development of human resources to achieve food security.
The first two articles look at revising and improving agricultural education so that students have the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively in a complex and rapidly changing agricultural environment. P. Taylor describes how a participatory curriculum development approach was successfully used in Viet Nam and South Africa, while M.M. Zinnah, R.E. Steele and D.M. Mattocks discuss new extension training initiatives being implemented in agricultural universities and colleges in sub-Saharan Africa.
Knowledge and information are essential for improving the productivity of farmers. The article by S. Balit, former head of the FAO Communication for Development Group, describes the experience of a regional communication project in Latin America which helped to develop national communication systems and train a critical mass of staff in communication methods and media for participation, social change and training farm families. E. Zaffaroni presents an innovative "microbasis" approach to soil conservation in Latin America, focusing on the extension and training components of that approach.
Women play a critical role in food production in many countries, but they often lack access to extension services. Three articles provide examples from a broad range of countries of extension projects for women: women's involvement in developing agricultural technologies in Jamaica using a variety of communication approaches (Protz); the impact of female extension workers on providing extension services to both women and men farmers in El Salvador and Honduras (Truitt); and how gender analysis facilitated extension planning in Ethiopia (Percy).
The next article (Yonggong) describes the rural extension system that existed in China between the 1950s and the 1980s and then looks at the challenges of reforming extension to meet the needs of a market-oriented economy. W.M. Rivera presents a summary of a comparative study conducted by FAO of pre-service education and in-service training of extension agents in Honduras, Malaysia, Nigeria and Peru. R. Adhikarya reports on FAO efforts to promote environmental education and training in six Asian countries.
The article by R. van Haarlem describes an effort at Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, to develop a course on biological diversity in agro-ecosystems which allows students to experience "near real-life" learning situations to understand the complex problems of achieving sustainable agriculture. G. Andrian describes how students in agriculture, forestry, medicine and pharmacy, through international student associations, have become involved in village development in Ghana. The last article (Munson) reports on the development of a research and knowledge base to guide the design of informal youth education programmes.
Training for Agriculture and Rural Development is a biennial publication prepared by FAO's Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE), Research, Extension and Training Division, Sustainable Development Department. The publication provides information about innovative practices, methodologies and strategies that have been used successfully in situations involving education and training, extension and communication in both the developed and the developing countries. The 1997-98 issue was edited by L. Van Crowder, Senior Officer, Communication for Development, with the collaboration of T.E. Contado, Chief, SDRE, and W.I. Lindley, Senior Officer, Agricultural Education, and the assistance of W. Truelove, Communication Consultant.
Persons wishing to submit an article to be considered for the next issue of Training for Agriculture and Rural Development should consult the guidelines to authors at the back of this issue and contact:
Training for Agriculture and Rural Development(TARD)
Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
tel: 3906 5705 3445
fax: 3906 5705 5731