1. Delegates at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Conference of Ministers of Agriculture for Asia and the Pacific in Japan in 2000 recommended that FAO continue to provide assistance to member countries in the area of agricultural extension. This call on FAO was indeed opportune as there are many changes confronting the world today that have direct implications and impact on the operations and scope of what constitutes "agricultural extension" in today's context. As a result, there is an increasing re-examination of the form and strategies being tried and adopted for agricultural extension globally with reforms implemented in many countries, including in the Asia and Pacific region. Of particular concern is that technology transfer and adoption has not met the needs of target beneficiaries - despite the efforts in research and development.
2. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) last organized an expert consultation relating to agricultural extension in 1996. Because of the rapid changes and challenges confronting the world and more specifically, the Asia and Pacific region, and in light of the recent recruitment of an officer to address agricultural extension concerns for FAO/RAP Office, the need for a contemporary meeting seemed paramount. Its primary purpose was to bring experts together to review the status of agricultural extension, examine problems, needs and opportunities and to discuss strategies to address these issues both nationally and regionally, including a possible role for FAO.
Objectives of the Consultation
3. The Consultation's objectives requested experts to:
Review the status and developments in agricultural extension vis-à-vis the research-extension-farmer-marketing interface in the Asia and Pacific region.
Identify and examine modalities, strategies and lessons suitable for application to regional and national circumstances.
Identify gaps in extension and recommend areas for further attention by countries and by FAO.
4. The Expert consultation on agricultural extension, research-extension-farmer interface and technology transfer took place at FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, from 16 to 19 July 2002. The Consultation participants represented: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand; seven resource persons and four observers, which included representatives from the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO-SEARCA), International Training Center on Pig Husbandry in the Philippines and Kasetsart University, Thailand, also attended.
5. Dr Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, Director-General, Department of Agricultural Extension, Thailand, opened the Consultation with welcome remarks and highlighted changes for extension that are being planned and implemented for Thailand. Dr Malcolm Hazelman, Senior Extension, Education and Communications Officer, FAO-RAP, made welcome remarks on behalf of FAO.
6. Dr R.B. Singh, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, presented the keynote address. He highlighted the relevance of the Consultation's subject in the context of combating hunger and poverty in the Asia and Pacific region. He explained the trends and forces impacting FAO's work, corporate strategies of FAO for reducing food insecurity and rural poverty, ensuring enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, creating sustainable increases in the supply and availability of agricultural, fishery and forest products, conserving and enhancing sustainable use of natural resource bases and generating knowledge of food and agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
7. Dr Singh highlighted the agriculture and rural development scenario in the region, noting that Asia and the Pacific are home to 500 million malnourished and 800 million poor people, which represent two-thirds of the world's hungry and poor. The region accounts for 57 percent of the world's population (nearly 3.2 billion); and about half of that population will be younger than 25 by 2010. The region is highly diverse in size, economic development, agro-ecological settings, culture and weather regimes. Agriculturally, it involves 73 percent of the world's farming households and more than 80 percent of the world's smallholder farmers. More than 90 percent of the world's rice - the anchor of global food security, is produced and consumed in the region. Rice systems represent unique agro-ecological, biodiversity, social, cultural and economic regimes. In addition, the region produces 70 to 90 percent of the world's major industrial crops and similar levels of buffalo raising and aquaculture production. But stagnating yields of cereals and serious yield gaps have decelerated the total factor productivity growth. Consequently, as Dr Singh noted, the major challenge confronting the region is the need to increase the per-hectare yield of cereals by one tonne - at a time when production resources (land, water and biodiversity) are shrinking and continue to degrade.
8. Dr Singh emphasized several paradigm shifts in extension approaches that have been occurring, such as the shift from the green revolution to evergreen revolution, from commodity to integrated-systems, monodisciplinary to multi and interdisciplinary, technology to eco-technology (congruence of productivity, profitability, equity and sustainability), supply-driven to demand-driven, general to site specific, national to household and individual, self-sufficiency to self-reliance and farm employment to off-farm or non-farm employment.
9. In concluding, Dr Singh considered education, research and extension as the "trinity" in the "service of farmers with a human face". Agricultural and rural extension, he emphasized, must be viewed as an expanded concept of knowledge and as an international system. It must capture various institutional reforms towards both market-oriented privatizing innovations and non-market decentralizing reforms. (See Appendix II for an expanded summary of Dr Singh's address.)
10. The Consultation participants elected by acclamation Dr Dato Ismail Bin Ibrahim, from Malaysia, as Chairperson and Dr N.F.C. Ranaweera, from Sri Lanka, as Vice Chairperson with Dr P. Das, from India, and Dr Belita A. Vega, from the Philippines, as rapporteurs for the Consultation.
11. The Consultation programme was adopted without change (see Appendix I).
12. The following provides a summary of the Consultation's invited presentations and additional comments from representatives of selected countries on the theme of each session.
Session 1: Globalization, liberalization and the changing demands and role for agricultural extension
13. Dr M. Kalim Qamar, from FAO headquarters in Rome, enumerated various global forces of change in the context of globalization and market liberalization, including privatization, commercialization and agribusiness, democratization and participation, environment concerns, disasters and emergencies, breakthroughs in information technology, eradications of rural poverty and hunger and vulnerability of various groups, negative effects of AIDS on manpower, the need for sustainable development, issues of producing and consuming genetically modified food, the functioning of public extension services, and the overall need for integrated, multidisciplinary and holistic development.
14. Dr Qamar also identified various institutional responses to global forces at different levels: i) the Neuchatel initiative, which is an informal group of major European bilateral donors; ii) the joint effort of FAO and the World Bank in the form of a revised Agricultural knowledge and information system for rural development programme; and iii) FAO's National agricultural extension systems reform initiative. He further elaborated the broader role of extension, the need for decentralized extension services, the scope of privatized extension, the pluralistic extension system, client orientation, the application of electronic information technology, participatory extension and the need for unified extension service.
15. Dr Amrin Zakaria of the Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Indonesia, indicated that as a result of globalization in the international trade of agricultural products, there is a need for improving production processes and the production of quality goods. Extension workers need to disseminate standardized information and farmers need to produce and process according to the standards, which independent institutions should assure.
16. Dr Nie Chuang, of the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Centre, People's Republic of China, presented various case studies and illustrated some good extension practices, such as the establishing of the Ningxiang county Agro-Tech Extension Centre (CATEC) to promote whole-system development, mobilizing resources to make up the budget gap and multimethods to fulfil extension mission and decentralized extension objectives at various levels.
17. Dr Kailash N. Pyakuryal of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, indicated that cross-cutting issues such as globalization and gender have influenced the administration of extension services. The issues related to projectization and privatization of extension services are getting increased attention. The Women Farmers Development Division, for example, was working on women's issues to a limited extent until recently when its members realized the importance of gender perspective in agricultural development.
18. During the general discussion, the following issues and concerns were highlighted:
The global forces of change are significant to consider in agricultural extension, especially in the context of globalization (as illustrated by China's experiences) and decentralization (as implemented in Indonesia and the Philippines). It is necessary to examine the experiences and problems in these countries regarding these dimensions.
Is it necessary to expand the role of agricultural extension, for example, to address also healthcare, population growth, etc? When and how should extension services privatize? And will privatization legitimize or rationalize the "incompetence" of public sector extension? Focusing on agribusiness as a component of agricultural extension (as reported by Indonesia) is an example of an extension policy and strategy reform. Extension can no longer operate in isolation from factors associated with food, environment and nutritional security.
Emerging technologies like agricultural biotechnology and genetic engineering are not yet reaching farmers. It is urgent for agricultural extension practitioners to begin addressing these technologies to enable farmers to prepare for and face the issues.
Documenting and sharing "best practices" is necessary.
That management of disasters and emergencies must be part of the extension system was underscored.
How should extension services be developed, focused and organized to address the paradigm shifts?
Session 2: Research-extension-farmer-market-civil society linkages: New horizons and extension modalities
19. Dr Kenneth Menz of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Research, Australia, presented the ACIAR viewpoint on agricultural extension in the Asia and Pacific region. ACIAR is part of Australia's development assistance programme, funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government. An independent review of ACIAR's operations in 1998 suggested that a stronger emphasis should be placed upon ensuring that research conducted by the organization is matched with corresponding community impacts. Two primary considerations that led to this conclusion were: i) a perceived weakness in extension systems in the Asia and Pacific region (which is the geographical focus of ACIAR's operations); and ii) the lack of sufficient pre-project diagnostics or situational analysis to better characterize research problems.
20. Dr Menz defined agricultural extension as a process of bringing about innovation and change. He mentioned project strategies for achieving research impact (including better extension), such as i) choosing research projects where extension is not an issue; ii) using private sector extension services; iii) building change processes (extension) into research projects, including farming systems research (and extension) principles and techniques; and iv) using participatory approaches to technology development, monitoring and evaluation. These strategies are not mutually exclusive, Dr Menz emphasized, as there is an inherent degree of overlap among them. However, the fundamental point is that they are all potentially useful in assisting, or substituting for, existing institutional extension services.
21. The example Dr Menz cited showed that different models will be suited to different situations (often due to particular historical institutional arrangements that are in place). It may be more practical to work within these constraints (practical realities) rather than trying to implement a whole new system. It was made clear from many of the models presented that research and extension are part of a continuum and not entirely distinguishable one from the other.
22. Mr Sing Var of the Department of Agriculture Extension, Cambodia, informed that at the present stage of development of agricultural research and extension services, the linkages between all stakeholders in Cambodia is very weak. It is essential that the development of improved linkages becomes part of the operational culture.
23. Dr Dato Ismail Ibrahim of the Department of Agriculture, Malaysia, discussed linkages developed for MS ISO 9002 Group Farming Extension Services where business plans are an integrated component. Management of a quality-control system under MS ISO 9000 emphasizes that provision of any service or production of any product must address customers' satisfaction and follow documentation of international quality standards as outlined in the quality document of MS ISO 9000 of that organization. For establishment of a Permanent Food Park concept, in which zoning permanent areas solely for agrarian production, arrangements were made between the federal and state governments. At present, subdistrict Agricultural Technology Transfer and Service Centres have been established nationwide to be a core centre of agricultural development.
24. The general discussion highlighted the following issues and concerns:
The shift towards globalization triggers the need for appropriate changes in policies and for reviewing extension. For example, agricultural extension in Malaysia utilizes the market-orientation approach instead of the training and visit system of extension. Young entrepreneurial farmers are given active part in this new agricultural system in collaboration with technical officers ("frontliners" who are graduates) in partnership with subject matter specialists.
Success stories in Asia and the Pacific on extension-research-market linkages should be documented and shared emphasizing the strong points and positive outcomes to encourage other farmers and/or other countries. Malaysia's ISO 9002 accreditation is an excellent example.
Other areas in extension for which greater attention is required include: i) research in extension, ii) policy research in extension and iii) linkages of agricultural extension with civil society and other development partners.
Session 3: Information and communication opportunities for technology transfer and linkages
25. In his opening presentation, Dr Alexander Flor of SEAMEO-SEARCA, Philippines, warned that throughout Asia, national agricultural extension systems have been severely hampered by four factors: abolition of the national agricultural extension system; decentralization or devolution of extension services; the top-down perception of agricultural extension; and rivalry between research and extension. These trends have also severely weakened the potential contributions of information and communication technology to agricultural extension. However, the existing information and communication environment poses new opportunities for agricultural extension.
26. The information and communication environment has elements of both the old and the new; the conventional and the sophisticated; the analogue and the digital. Conventional media includes analogue AM and FM radio, VHF and UHF television, the print media, video, cinema and indigenous communication methods. Digital media covers mobile phones, personal computers, the Internet, e-mail, imaging technology, digital audio-video, digital broadcasts and cable television. The agricultural sector has lagged behind in exploring and tapping the potentials that information and communication technology has to offer. These potentials range: from the sharing and re-use of data, research findings, lessons learned and best practices among research and extension institutions to developing quick-response mechanisms for agricultural and natural resources crisis situations; from permitting informed decision making among agricultural officials to sounder policy making among legislators; from improving the extension delivery systems in the rural areas to taking e-commerce to farmers.
27. Basically, ICT facilitates two elements critical in the research-extension-farmer-market interface and technology transfer process: information access and networking. The storage and retrieval of research results facilitates information access while telecommunications facilitates networking. In both elements, several strategies and approaches have been employed. These strategies include riding the tide of popular media, community-based or participatory media, capacity building of support agencies, knowledge management and employing a programmatic approach to information and communications technology undertaking. Technology transfer modalities include conventional and digital broadcasting, comic books, the use of low-end ICT, geographic information system (GIS) and knowledge networks that tap a wide range of ICT products ranging from multimedia CD-ROMs to Web-based services.
28. The existing development assistance environment is most favourable for tapping information and communication technology for agricultural extension and technology transfer. The Okinawa Summit of G7/G8 nations has established the primacy of bridging the "digital divide" in the international development assistance agenda. The World Bank has maintained its Information Development Grants Programme while the European Community has established its own information technology fund for "a user-friendly information and knowledge society" with an Asian ICT programme. Furthermore, several bilateral aid agencies have also placed ICT issues in their priority list. The conditions are ripe for agricultural extension to reposition itself vis-à-vis the new information and communication environment.
29. Dr P. Das of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, India, noted that the conventional interpersonal communications system for India had reached its limit due to insufficient extension staff and other facilities. He emphasized the judicious use of conventional information and communications technologies, prioritization of needs-based information and its development in different formats, taking into consideration the characteristics of the farmers, the nature of technical messages, physical infrastructure and the mode of communication to be used.
30. Dr Das cited the details of the Cyber Extension Services developed in the Ahmednagar district of India, including its connectivity, network, flow of information and type of information, such as crops, markets, weather, details of government programmes, etc. He also explained the impact of the programme in terms of the type of information used, frequency of farmers visited and distance covered by the farmers for information from IT centres.
31. Dr Waqar Hussain Malik of the PARC, Pakistan, explained that extension services in each province of Pakistan have developed communications support units that are equipped with audio visual equipment, with emphasis being given to the use of computer-based communications technology for diffusion of research information to farmers. He also noted that agricultural extension, which had operated at the provincial level, had been devolved to the newly elected district governments. Extension in Pakistan is now envisioned to function similar to the model in the US, with a greater accountability to the local government system.
32. Dr N.F.C. Ranaweera of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Sri Lanka, highlighted how Sri Lanka is looking towards a more interactive extension programme where the central, provincial and private sector extension activities will operate closely. This will ensure that both the small- and large-scale farmers benefit from new extension messages. The Government is also intending to make maximum use of the latest technology to keep farmers informed, particularly in relation to market prices at the farm gate level.
33. The general discussion highlighted the following issues and concerns:
The need to use communication and information technologies as a goal to support agricultural extension, not to replace it (as reported for India and the Philippines). ICT is not only concerned with logistics; the human component is also important and non-replaceable, especially as many rural areas are still poor and farmers are still traditional in their behaviour and way of thinking. ICT is only a tool to reach a wider audience - it is the content that is most crucial.
There is need to tailor information, including the technologies targeted to the needs of different clientele. Farmer-to-farmer interaction and farmer decision-making on important agricultural activities are relevant in carrying out effective extension services to rural households, e.g. the Republic of Korea and Pakistan.
There is a need to consider the appropriate mix of communications and information technologies.
Documenting and distributing examples of best practices, such as the "landcare" experiences in the Philippines. Currently, there are inadequate success stories regarding the use of ICT in extension services in Asia and the Pacific.
What can be done or is needed to benefit from the positive climate currently available regarding funding possibilities from donors for ICT? Whether one likes it or not, highly industrialized countries like the United States strongly desire to put a computer in every farmer's household in developing countries. ICT concerns should be how to make it beneficial for improving agricultural extension research and market linkages.
There is a need to clarify what constitutes information. Do we have any mechanism to scan the environment and add value to the information?
Session 4: Panel presentation on gender dimensions in agricultural extension and technology development and transfer
34. Dr Revathi Balakrishnan of FAO-RAP, as Panel moderator presented an overview of the technology issue for Asian rural women. As well, she highlighted the importance given to gender concerns at international, regional and national levels including the links to various world summits, such as the World Food Summit and the resulting Plan of Action that was endorsed by FAO member countries. She emphasized the gaps relating to technology considerations from a gender prospective and discussed how the gaps developed. The reasons for the gaps, according to Dr Balakrishnan, include: the ignoring of rural women's technological needs and their indigenous knowledge, and educational disparities between men and women, including issues relating to access (information, technology, training, etc.) Given this situation, special commitment and attention is therefore required to eliminate the gaps. The presentations from the panellists provided further information and guidance to address these concerns.
35. Dr Belita Vega of Leyte State University, Philippines, highlighted the historical underpinnings, the present and future perspectives of integrating women, and gender dimensions in agricultural development, particularly in extension and technology dissemination. Global initiatives towards food security and sustainable development may have produced encouraging results in some countries, but studies noted that in achieving agricultural development goals, efficiency, sustainability and equity are still hindered by the predominant practice of directing extension and training resources primarily to men. Considering that women represent two-thirds of the poor in the developing countries, providing them opportunities for access to productive resources and services is part of the women's continuing struggle in bringing about agricultural progress in rural communities.
36. Dr Vega highlighted how gender as a cross-cutting variable is being incorporated in the agriculture extension and technology transfer programmes of the development agencies. She presented two successful projects to give insight on how gender dimensions are addressed in agricultural technology dissemination initiatives. The first case was on Arrowroot production and processing: A project on women in agriculture in the Philippines. Among the lessons drawn from the project's success: i) the technologies suited the needs of women and motivated them; ii) the social preparations done at all levels and with relevant sectors resulted in cooperation and support for the project's positive outcomes; iii) availability of resources and inputs, including technical assistance, contributed to the project's success; and iv) peer teaching and on-the-spot learning approaches made the transfer of technologies easier.
37. The second case presented was on China's Songliao plain agricultural development project. This is a project with the most explicit integration of gender in its objectives for the purpose of addressing rural poverty and improving rural incomes. The project strengthens the traditional role of women in crop and livestock raising, aquaculture and fruit growing. It involves hiring female staff to deal both with women and men farmers. Specific processes and targets have been identified for women as well as men, and results are being monitored separately. The All China Women Federation took an active part in all phases of the project. Some of the outcomes included women's expanded social and economic networks for better access to information and services, and the project staff have become more aware of women's capabilities.
38. However, added Dr Vega, despite the inspiring cases, the implications from field experiences and reviews of the global policies still point to the need for an intensive campaign towards a more gender-responsive extension and technology dissemination, specifically in resource-poor and marginalized agricultural areas in developing countries. Conceptual and structural reconfigurations towards gender-sensitive agriculture extension are imperative.
39. Dr R. Padmaja of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India, highlighted the gender perspectives of the institute with special reference to participatory technology development and evaluation. Guided by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's vision and strategy, ICRISAT's new vision for 2010 is "improved well-being of the poor of the semi-arid tropics through agricultural research for impact." ICRISAT's new mandate is "to enhance the livelihoods of the poor in semi-arid farming systems through integrated genetic and natural resource management strategies". ICRISAT's strategy, therefore, has a dual focus on scientific excellence and impact. It targets key opportunities for improving the well-being of the poor, with food security being fundamental. Above all, it recognizes greater integration and diversification of partnerships as a core methodology for engaging science and technology development.
40. Dr Padmaja talked about the analysis of gender in the development of groundnut variety and management technology. Differences in the priorities that men and women attach to alternative grain and plant traits were evaluated. It was found that women prefer red varieties that are easier to uproot and shell and that offer high grain yields and good taste. Men preferred varieties with better fodder yield and larger seeds that attract better market prices. This knowledge conveyed valuable feedback on farmers' needs, preferences and dislikes to plant breeders. This has helped ICRISAT researchers to shift or reorient research strategies. Participatory variety selection led to faster release and dissemination of Okashana 1 variety in Namibia. It even allowed farmers to incorporate their own superior selections or landraces into new genetic material.
41. Based on a series of case studies related to adoption and non-adoption of technological innovations, it was observed that social capital plays a key role in enabling farmers - men and women - to take advantage of human capital resources that become available in the form of new cultivation practices and knowledge regarding technologies. The direct and indirect impacts of participatory technology development and evaluation involving women farmers are many: increased social benefits or empowerment, greater control of the decision-making process, increased economic benefits, employment opportunities, building of farmers capacity to identify problems and do research for their own benefit, and acceptance of technical improvements.
42. Dr P.S. Geethakutty of Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), India, emphasized the need for engendering agricultural education in view of women being indispensable stakeholders in the farming sector. The agricultural education system that overlooks the importance of gender considerations in the agricultural sector needs a paradigm shift and capacity development that are equitable for women and men. Engendering of agricultural education would create a culture and learning perspective that promotes human justice and gender-responsive agricultural development towards gender equality. Dr Geethakutty gave a detailed account of the establishment of the Centre for Studies on Gender Concerns in Agriculture at KAU to mainstream gender concerns for development of sustainable agriculture. She also explained the KAU-FAO project to develop a gender approach in the curriculum of undergraduate courses at KAU. The project focuses on integrating gender concerns in the syllabus of relevant disciplines of the university, which includes crop management, livestock production and management, nutrition, post-harvest processing, fisheries, agricultural engineering, farm management and agricultural communication.
43. The general discussion on the Panel's presentation highlighted the following points:
Success stories of achievement in improving women's access to resources should be shared in a meeting like this expert Consultation. FAO SEAGA programme should be shared.
Lessons learned from the Pakistan study on financial decision-making for farm inputs by women should be recognized. Such facts make it important to include women in extension decision-making. There is need for the leadership from FAO representatives to work with national governments to actively involve women in extension programmes. Women-inclusive extension approaches should be part of a national system.
The Indian Council of Agriculture Research sets the framework for agricultural university programmes and requires 20 to 25 percent of courses to be region-specific. Hence, these courses could approach gender-specific concerns.
Society is patriarchal in nature and most systems are dominated by male perception. In this context, gender sensitizing curricula for graduate education is one approach. But more important would be training in gender at the grassroots level. FAO should also influence individual courses for gender responsiveness in higher secondary education. It is also important to undertake gender sensitization for adult men and women.
The basic stumbling block for addressing gender dimension seems to be attitude. This applies to attitudes within the family and local government and gender bias among policy-makers. Malaysia's project for women is one approach.
It is important to include social capital formation in extension courses and training. FAO should study and include gender dimensions in social capital.
It would be important to review and rewrite FAO Extension manual to be responsive to gender specific-constraints and outreach approaches. The presentation of the current situation of women should assume a positive spin, reflecting the many exciting things that have happened in the gender sector.
Women's participation among certain groups has increased in the Philippines.
The social structure is the defining factor in allowing or denying women recognition and gender equality. Social attitudes and values are persistent barriers.
In Nepal there is a provision for gender studies in graduate courses at the agricultural institute. Nepal would like to avail of technical assistance from Kerala Agriculture University to improve the prospects for engendering the agriculture curriculum. FAO global experience and programmes as well as country specific approaches in gender-integrated curriculum should be shared among countries.
It is important to link gender dimension discussions in research, extension and education as relevant to the Consultation. FAO has a gender mainstreaming policy such as FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action, and SEAGA is a gender-sensitization tool. FAO-RAP has a task force in place for implementing the Plan of Action. In terms of gender aspects, the Asia and Pacific region is an exciting area to work in. But the region is ignoring the AIDS impact on the agriculture sector and on rural communities. A gender-disaggregated database is a priority. Congruence in gender mainstreaming approaches is required. The ICRISAT model illustrates an important approach to technology development. National systems should emulate and integrate the approach of participatory technology development (PTD) with links to improvement in social, human and economic capital. Appropriate institutional mechanisms should be identified to achieve congruence in gender mainstreaming. National systems should adopt the PTD and social capital models for their programmes as well as in the programmes funded by the Asian Development Bank and by the World Bank.
Despite local social and cultural constraints, as demonstrated in FAO extension project in the Philippines, decentralization may be an opportunity to build gender equality.
Group work on gender dimensions
44. The Consultation participants were divided into three groups to discuss gender issues in relation to agricultural extension.
Group I: Findings and recommendations
45. The group discussed the issues and concerns of the gender impact in agriculture, considered in the context of research-extension-markets, and suggested the following decisions to be taken up by the Consultation's participants:
i) Potential gender-impact assessment with well-defined indicators should form compulsory criterion for selection, implementation and evaluation of projects and technologies.
ii) Gender sensitization among the stakeholders from the farming community to the top level of administration in the agricultural system should be an important strategy for linking farmers to markets and civil society.
iii) Practitioners in the agricultural development system should be equipped with the capacity for gender analysis and gender-responsive research and technology development.
iv) National policy should be formulated before taking up a gender perspective in planned development. This policy requires a gender-disaggregated data system to be developed at the national level - location specific, activity data on gender roles in the major farming systems should be developed in the planned interventions. Examples: What percentage of rice farming systems are women-headed and male-headed? What percentage of women are engaged as hired labour in paddy cultivation? What percentage of men and women in a locality will benefit by any intervention?
v) Engendering of curricula should be brought into agricultural education at the undergraduate level by introducing a basic course in gender concerns in agriculture.
Group II: Findings and recommendations
i) Mainstreaming gender into the research system
All research organizations and groups should establish a gender and development cell. This cell will be primarily responsible for the sensitization of researchers towards gender to enable them to have a proper perspective on gender and to develop or design gender-friendly technologies. This can be location specific or situation specific. These objectives can be achieved through workshops, seminars, lectures, etc. Once this is done, gender issues will be the responsibility of all scientists in that organization. Gender needs to be considered as a component in all research activities, such as project planning, project monitoring and evaluation.
Researchable issues or topics of current interest:
The gender dimensions of social capital.
It is recommended that research organizations establish a Web site or network on gender and development and post all information at this site.
ii) Gender actions needed at the extension services level
Social capital formulation or mobilization should be part and parcel of extension work.
National governments need to encourage the recruitment of female extension agents, both professional and paraprofessional (such as in Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Agricultural training institutes need to have a programme and/or strengthen ongoing programmes on gender sensitization.
Extension workers need to organize specific programmes, keeping in view the needs of women; women must be encouraged to participate in extension activities. Separate programmes for men and women are acceptable in areas where joint programmes are not possible (such as Pakistan).
Extension programmes can be based on any burning issue confronting the farmers or issues that farmers need to be made aware of (such as HIV/AIDS and globalization).
iii) Gender actions needed at the national level
Policy-makers need to be provided with a knowledge base on "gender in agriculture" to enable them to make policy decisions.
iv) Gender actions needed at the international level
FAO should spearhead the regional initiatives for networking and coordination and organizing intercountry women and development projects in the region.
FAO needs to work with central governments or international centres as focal points.
v) Gender actions needed for farmers
Male farmers need to be made aware of and recognize the role of women in agriculture to facilitate attitudinal change.
Group III: Findings and recommendations
i) To promote gender equity and equality, these elements should be included in the educational system:
Gender curriculum for schools and colleges
Gender curriculum for officers of government agencies: Induction and in-service training
Gender curriculum for adult farmers' training programmes
ii) Gender issues should be part of the national agenda (including agricultural extension) as well as being a local concern.
iii) With farming becoming more feminized, extension and teaching methods should respond to these changes.
iv) Given that much labour-intensive work is usually undertaken by women (e.g. transplanting and harvesting), scientific innovation should also be oriented towards making women's jobs easier.
v) Relevant market information must reach women farmers, given their involvement in agriculture.
vi) Disaggregated figures regarding the involvement of men and women in various steps for research and development in agriculture should be collected, with more gender balance sought.
vii) Documentation of success stories in relation to gender considerations needs to be undertaken, collected and shared.
viii) A women's unit should be located within ministries of agriculture, departments of agriculture and agricultural extension; and such units should design gender mainstreaming, gender audits and gender-sensitivity models of programmes and should conduct sensitization trainings.
ix) A versatile database with inputs from multidisciplinary and multi-institutional sources should be established, and it should be easily accessed. Indigenous technical knowledge systems (including the knowledge of women) should also be an important source of information. Applications of ICT can be considered for this purpose.
Session 5: Policy, institutional and human resource development framework
46. Mohan Kanda of the Government of India emphasized the imperative need for a robust response to the challenges posed by the degradation of natural resources, largely via productivity increases in a diversified range of activities and backed up by a contemporary extension system capable of remaining tuned to the linkage-chain. There is a clear need for a break from the past, a paradigm shift that is focused in a "pocket-package" mode and transits into a pluralistic and contemporary regime equipped to resonate with the varying patterns and quality in demand by redefining its mandate.
47. Dr Kanda explained various policy as well as institutional issues in the context of restructuring extension services. In order to broaden the research-extension interface, comprehensive, holistic, contemporary and inclusive human resources development (HRD) strategies are called for, such as: i) one-time catch-up treatment for the extension system to turn it into a demand-driven mode, capable of delivering the new products; ii) a continuing HRD plan that looks at the needs of all stakeholders, including the user communities; and iii) infusion of the multi-actor system with the ability to shift from the "supply" mode to a "demand" regime. The policy should also include: i) identification of the Impact Shadow Matrices and addressing their needs through a "pocket-package"; ii) rationalization of subsidies by converting them into transparent, back-ended and targeted capsules; iii) allowances for acquiring the ability to carry on a continuous and meaningful dialogue with the fast-changing external environment and staying tuned to the dynamics of the outside world; iv) development of the expertise to "extract" information from the "noise" pervading the system, the ability to add value to it and dispatch it to destinations set in a region/sector/section mode; and v) development of early warning systems capable of proactive response by re-engineering the architecture of the scope and content of the whole system.
48. The first step would be to put in place a regional network. This could be achieved by a mutually reinforcing, synergetic effort that will: i) identify and deal with "extreme focus" areas through the piloting of emerging concepts and help scale up successful models; ii) create a backward loop between extension mandates and market-signals; and iii) undertake participatory institutional building. HRD strategies need to find a place in the proposed pluralistic and participatory systems. The exciting examples in India (group farming in Kerala State and Pani Panchayat in Maharashtra State), especially as part of the World Bank-funded National agriculture technology project, can serve as promising and path-breaking models.
49. Dr S. Kannaiyan of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India, focused his presentation on India and explained that the weak feedback system in the research-extension-farmer linkage is perceived as a major cause of concern. The extension system needs to be flexible and should include processing, storage, transport, marketing and value addition for the benefit of farmers. The delivery system is becoming increasingly costlier without any perceptible increase in reach or effectiveness. Moreover, the review mechanism of the state extension system is totally internal, and there is no participation of institutions responsible for research and technology development or of farmers and NGOs. The HRD programmes of the public extension systems need to be put on a strong footing.
50. A partial privatization of the delivery system, with public funding and private delivery, should be promoted to enhance efficiency and partially to reduce costs. The Farm Science Centres also need to expand their services to include production and distribution of seeds, plants and animal breeds, value addition, promoting off-farm employment in agro-based industries and promoting effective feedback to address technological problems.
51. Dr Md. Monirul Islam of the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh, emphasized the strengthening of supervision and monitoring components with appropriate logistical support, formulation of demand-led extension programmes with adequate budgetary provisions, human resource development, consideration for women perspectives and a coordinated approach for monitoring crops, livestock, fisheries, poultry, etc.
52. Dr Sung Soo Kim of the Seoul National University, Republic of Korea, mentioned that agricultural extension services have helped Korean farmers in achieving self-sufficiency in rice and year-round supply of green vegetables as well as upbringing rural youth through the guidance of 4-H club activities. It also has provided leadership guidance for the Saemaul Undong (new village movement). The Korean Government changed the status of extension educators from central government staff to county/city government staff following its democratization and localization efforts in 1997. This has brought about various problems, which include: i) decreased morale and fewer extension educators, thus weakening the extension education function; i) weakened linkages between national and local extension officers; iii) less opportunity for in-service education of extension educators; and iv) weakened linkages between agricultural research and extension.
53. Dr Patricio S. Faylon of the Philippines Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development presented a comprehensive view of important issues and concerns related to agricultural extension and technology transfer in the Philippines, especially within the context of the current challenges posed by the global trend towards free trade in agricultural products. Actions he recommended involve: i) disseminating information and developing opportunities; ii) determining areas of complementarity among different technology delivery modalities; iii) facilitating strategic thinking; and iv) harnessing the full potential of ICT as applied through farmer's information and technology services, such as Techno Pinoy and the Mango Information Network.
54. Dr Faylon strongly emphasized the need to incorporate gender concerns in extension and technology transfer, including the encouragement of women to join cooperatives and organizations, the upgrading of skills and knowledge of female agricultural extension workers, identifying the different needs of men and women farmers and involving women cooperators in the field testing of new technologies and women social scientists in project planning and implementation. There is a need for promotion of international coordination and collaboration through student exchange programmes, academic staff exchanges, joint research and development projects, formal link between RDE institutions and the international validation of standards.
55. The general discussion highlighted the following issues and concerns:
Many extension programmes are donor-driven. Collaboration with the private sector should be explored since government is downsizing and funding from multilateral and bilateral agencies are becoming scarce. However, for orphan crops, governments must take financial responsibility for food security purposes.
Human resource development in extension should not only focus on technology transfer but more importantly on management, group dynamics and governance, all aimed at social capital formation.
When analysing the changing role of extension, the role of the state and civil societies should also be included.
Coordination with other "enablers" or partners in development is generally difficult in practice. At the same time, communication on how to leverage with other sectors to get things mobilized, especially for lead agencies, is significant. This is a dynamic process in extension.
Session 6: Thematic group discussions
56. The Consultation participants were divided into four working groups (see Appendix V) to discuss issues, concerns and needs relating to the following four themes:
Globalization, liberalization and the changing demands and role for agricultural extension
Research-extension-farmer-market-civil society linkages: New horizons and extension modalities
Information and communications opportunities for technology transfer and linkages
Policy, institutional and human resources development framework
Session 7: Presentation of thematic group reports
57. Representatives of each of the four groups made presentations. Highlights of the presentations from each group included the following issues and priorities requiring attention:
Thematic group I: Globalization, liberalization and the changing demands and role for agricultural extension
i) Information and communications technology
Establish a database.
Link extension centres.
Link research, extension, farmers and markets.
Produce "desktop" publications, CD-Rom-based information materials, etc.
ii) Decentralization Role of government - Train local government officers in agri-extension and agribusiness. Role of NGOs and civil society - Organize farmers' and producer's associations; strengthen farmers' organizations through training, organizing, etc.
iii) Promoting agribusiness to cope with global changes
Involve agribusiness players in helping farmers.
iv) Formulation of national extension policies in response to globalization
Develop separate strategies - one for commercial farmers and one for subsistence farmers
v) Organize a strong agriculture and rural extension lobby group, which could be called the Consultative Group in International Agricultural and Rural Extension
vi) Broaden the role of agricultural extension to include information on population growth, health and natural disasters.
Thematic group II: Research-extension-farmer-market-civil society linkages: New horizons and extension modalities
i) Markets are important components of the research-extension-farmer-market-civil society linkage change.
ii) Extension and research should be conscious of the fact that farmers are market-driven.
Upgrade the role of extension officers to be more than just transfer agents (including human capital development).
Seek true participation (crop check, landcare, mobilizing social capital, etc.).
Document success stories.
Conduct gender-sensitization training, which is especially important for good linkages to take place.
Thematic group III: Information and communications opportunities for technology transfer and linkages
i) ICT has a significant mode of communication. The magnitude of infusion of ICT varies among the countries, and regional countries differ among themselves in their level of development in IT and the communications sector. But the reality of advances in the ICT environment in the context of globalization and liberalization should be recognized to develop strategies to enhance the extension efforts in the region. ICT could be a tool to empower extension professionals and also framers.
ii) The challenge and focus in this new information environment should be one of repositioning agricultural extension and retooling extension professionals.
iii) IT networking at the micro level is a major concern, though at the macro level, IT dissemination is not a problem. The poor rural infrastructure poses barriers to IT penetration, though communication infrastructure fares better in relative terms.
iv) The need of the day is to use information and communications technologies to support agricultural extension, not to replace it. Recognizing this need, it is important to consider the approximate mix of information and communications technologies. Furthermore, ICT is not only concerned with logistics but is a tool to reach a wider audience.
v) Even in the context of ICT-driven development, it is the human component aspects that are important and non-replaceable, especially as many rural areas are still poor and farmers are still traditional in their behaviour and way of thinking.
vi) The emerging concerns in the ICT sector for agricultural extension should focus on content in the programmes.
vii) Given the current situation of inadequate success stories and appropriate context, it is important to focus on:
Documenting and distributing examples of best practices of development and technology transfer.
Developing cases studies regarding the application of ICT in agricultural extension and rural development.
viii) The database and content areas should be grouped under the broad framework of "environmental spanning". This concept is defined as broad-based information content to meet the needs of the farmers, with a gender dimension.
ix) In the preparation of content for ICT programmes for extension, the following should be attempted:
Involve community members in identifying the context.
Set up an indigenous knowledge bank to preserve and pass the indigenous knowledge (including that of women).
Set up a gender-specific database for planning both policy and programmes.
Link with the World Agricultural Information Centre and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research for information.
Develop better resource management using the geographic information system, NRM, etc.
Develop technology for both farm and household production.
Generate and disseminate marketing information.
x) ICT policies should be structured to fit the scale of the country and level of advancement of ICT. Strategies and programmes should be directed to improve extension personnel's access to ICT.
xi) The different clients' needs and clients' skills should direct ICT decisions. (See Annex V for a typology to assist the decision-making.)
xii) The training approach should also review the potential for training youth (girls and boys) and using them as peer group trainers. The training of trainers models can be used to train extension agents in scaling up or retooling skills in ICT.
xiii) From the institutional perspective, collaboration among NGOs, private sector and national information technology agencies should be identified and strengthened to address ICT-based extension approaches and retooling of extension agents' skills.
xiv) The open university system and distance learning modalities (both IT-based and communication-based) could partner in retooling extension professionals.
xv) Explore the possibility of identifying donor support to reposition and retool extension services, using ICT to empower them to effectively help farmers cope with global changes.
*Thematic group V: Policy, institutional and human resources development framework
* The fourth theme on gender dimensions was discussed in separate groups during mid-meeting.
Develop a clear-cut policy on extension for agricultural and rural development.
Agrarian policy should provide support and security to staple and orphan crops; Government should provide financial support to the farmers.
Policy-makers should be gender sensitized.
Government should provide food and shelter for people and extension should be the means.
A National Research Organization for Extension Education should be established.
Develop a coordinating agency to perform environmental scanning functions in the context of agricultural and rural development (data support on weather parameters, marketing intelligence, export/price information, natural disasters and crisis management, etc.)
ii) Human resources development
Continuing needs assessment and capacity-building programmes for providers and clients.
Enhance the knowledge and credibility of extension agents and service.
Build capacity for gender-responsive extension work.
Prioritize training of trainers.
Address the need for a modality or a system for professional growth within the organization and the government bureaucracy as a whole (double-bladed).
Initiate a system for grassroots-level recruitment and manpower development planning (qualification standard).
Include agriculture in secondary school curriculum.
Revise or rework extension content in the undergraduate courses of agricultural universities.
Enhance training of NGOs, FOs and corporate and private extension providers.
iii) Redefining the role of extension agents to meet the changing environment
Continue to provide appropriate information and messages.
Educate farmers and rural youth, including women, on resources management and decision-making (educator's role).
Provide a feedback system or demand from the research and development (R&D) system for appropriate technologies.
Provide market information and links.
Provide information demanded by consumers, such as regarding quality, safety, etc.
Provide information or technologies on value-addition of farm products.
Translate and disseminate ICT databases and provide a data collection for the same.
iii) Role of civil organizations (local government, non-government and community-based)
Continue to organize, facilitate, support and advocate.
Participate in extension programmes.
Include gender-equity programmes.
Develop close field-level linkages.
Strengthen linkages through an agency with authority and a mandate.
Develop better coordination between and among departments of government.
Develop better coordination at the grassroots, provincial and regional levels.
Provide financial and manpower support.
58. Based on the thematic groups' findings and presentations, the Consultation participants identified and recommended priorities to develop projects for which FAO should take leadership to ensure appropriate attention. The projects should relate to:
i) Information and communications opportunities for technology transfer and linkages, which includes five interventions: policy, infrastructure, content, programme planning and development, and capacity building.
ii) Decentralization of agricultural extension services and management at the local level: the Asia and Pacific experiences.
iii) Institutionalization of an international body for agricultural and rural extension.
iv) Capacity-building programmes in agricultural and rural extension for local government units in the Asia and Pacific region.
v) Documenting participatory methods to better link farmers, extension personnel and researchers.
vi) Documenting successful cases of farmers bringing about innovation and change.
vii) Enhancement of knowledge-based skills and attitude orientation for professionalism towards human-centred and resource-based agricultural development.
viii) Repositioning and retooling extension professionals in the ICT environment.
59. Each thematic group developed frameworks for specific projects, including a timeline, that are presented in Annex V.
Discussion and adoption of the draft consultation report
60. The draft Consultation report was endorsed with amendments.
61. On behalf of the Consultation delegates, Dr Waqar Hussain Malik, Pakistan, expressed appreciation and thanks to FAO, especially the management and staff, for organizing such an activity that enabled further learning and sharing among and between countries in Asia and the Pacific.
62. Dr Malcolm Hazelman, Consultation organizer, expressed appreciation to the resource persons, participants and observers for their contributions that made the meeting a success. He made special mention of the support and contributions of Dr R.B. Singh, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, as well as that of Mr Kalim Qamar, FAO-Rome, Dr Revathi Balakrishnan, FAO-RAP, and the assistance and support of the RAP secretarial staff.
63. Dr R.B. Singh expressed his profound appreciation to all the participants, resource persons and observers for the excellent inputs throughout the Consultation, the positive exchange of information and the initiative in proposing the elevation of extension to a more prominent level of importance - nationally, regionally and internationally - as an important mechanism for combating hunger and poverty. He also expressed appreciation to Dr Dato Ismail bin Ibrahim, Chairperson of the Consultation, for the excellent leadership he provided to the meeting and likewise to the facilitators and resource persons for their stimulating presentations and papers that provided the framework for the Consultation's exchanges.
64. Dr Dato Ismail bin Ibrahim, Chairperson of the Consultation, likewise expressed similar sentiments before bringing the meeting to a close.