Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Chapter 10

Development of modules for agricultural extension trainers and workers in Thailand

Mr Thitirong Rungrawd
Department of Agricultural Extension
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Bangkok, Thailand


Thailand's abundant natural resources have been used extensively to increase productivity and alleviate poverty. With the rapid growth of the population from 26.4 million in 1961 to 60 million in 1997, the competition and demands for these natural resources have increased significantly. This has resulted in the emergence of various environmental problems due to the depletion and/or deterioration of these resources. As a consequence, the use of the remaining natural resources needs to focus on improved and increased efficiency in order to derive the greatest benefits.

The acceleration of economic expansion in the earlier national development plans was due mainly to the availability of abundant natural resources at that time. This was especially so in economic sectors such as agriculture, mining and quarrying that were directly based on natural resources. Over the years, however, the structure and role of these sectors have changed dramatically. Their share of the GNP decreased from about 39.5 percent in the first planned period (1971 to 1976) to less than 10 percent during the seventh planned period (1992 to 1996). Although the total employment figures increased from 13 million in 1971 to 19 million in 1997, the percentage employed in the agriculture, mining and quarrying sectors decreased from 79 percent to 43 percent during this period.

The extensive use of natural resources may have accelerated the growth in national development but it is also depleting such resources and degrading the environment. These have resulted in various environmental problems and pollution related especially to the following four key areas:

Land and forest resources

In order to increase agricultural production, the use of land for agriculture expanded rapidly and new areas were opened up. This gave rise to problems of forest land encroachment and land ownership. At present more than 5 million hectares of national reserve land have been encroached upon, representing 25 percent of the total reserves. The uncertainty of land ownership has not only reduced production efficiency but also resulted in the indiscriminate use of the land.

Water resources

Population growth greatly increased the demand for water for human consumption, agriculture and industry. Only about 15 percent of the water set aside for agriculture from large irrigation projects is available for use and small-scale water resources have not been widely developed.

Mineral resource

The abundant mineral deposits in the country have been extensively mined for both domestic use and for export. Such mining activities not only reduced mineral resources but the mining processes

have also created various types of environmental problems particularly in land degradation and erosion.

Marine resources

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the use of large machinery and equipment for the fishing industry. The increase in the number of trawlers fishing in the area has significantly reduced marine resources at a rate faster than they can be replenished.

1.1 Environment and agricultural development challenges

Despite ongoing efforts made in the national plan to develop land and water resources to improve agricultural production, many problems still need to be addressed. In the case of land, little progress has been made in solving the problem of soil salinity, erosion and deterioration. More than 3 million hectares in the country's northeast remain affected by soil salinity and over 5 million hectares throughout the country still suffer from the loss of soil nutrients and fertility. Up to 3 824 villages still lack water resources for agriculture while another 12 678 do not have an adequate water supply for household use, especially in the dry season.

Land and water resources are significantly affected by agricultural and economic development programmes. The planning for natural resources development is carried out centrally at the national level and participation by organizations/agencies at the provincial, regional and local levels is usually minimal. At the national level, the participating agencies involved in land and water resources development include the Departments of Land and Land Development, Royal Forestry, Land Management Office of Agricultural Land Reform, the Royal Irrigation Department, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Office for Accelerated Rural Development.

The management and implementation of natural resources programmes and activities are also carried out by national government agencies. Participation by local organizations and grassroots level personnel in the development process is usually insignificant. However, as national resources are linked strongly to the environment, participation at all levels is important. The participatory approach is necessary in order to identify environmental problems and determine solutions. In view of this, education and training activities related to environmental issues should be targeted primarily at the grassroots level personnel.

The national plan pertaining to natural resources and environment also includes policy guidelines which focus on:

The development of multilevel and multisectoral plans and the implementation of the activities based on these policy guidelines therefore represent a significant achievement to meet environmental and agricultural development challenges for the agencies concerned.

1.2 The institutional framework and training mandate

The Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE) established in 1967 under the MOA is the only key agency with an extensive rural network and trained personnel at the village level. The extension system under the DOAE has been well established and is structured on a hierarchical basis to provide (at various levels) the technical and non-technical services to the agricultural and rural communities.

The DOAE comprises 12 technical divisions at the national level and six regional agricultural extension offices (RAEOs) which are under its direct jurisdiction. These six RAEOs directly oversee the 76 provincial agricultural extension offices (PAEOs) which in turn are responsible for the supervision of 792 district agricultural extension offices (DAEOs) throughout the country. The DOAE has a total of 5 170 agricultural extension workers at the subdistrict level.

The DOAE's primary goal is to provide extension services, including the transfer of technical skills and knowledge on crop production and agri-business and farmers' groups formation. The ultimate goal is to help raise farm income and upgrade rural standards of living so as to create economic stability for society as a whole. Hence, one of the key responsibilities of the DOAE is to provide ideas to target farmers so that they can engage in their occupation in line with the natural environment to ensure sustainable agricultural development.

The training division designs training programmes and organizes and conducts training for DOAE officials and farmers' groups at various levels to ensure that they are in line with the overall national plan. It monitors, evaluates and reports on training activities and links with research and academic institutions to acquire training resources for its programmes. These responsibilities set the mandate for DOAE to be the most appropriate agency for the EET outreach programme in rural communities.


The effects of toxic residues from agricultural chemicals, soil erosion and water pollution as a consequence of the implementation of various agricultural projects have been the issues of environmental concerns and problems. One of the projects, the Highland agricultural extension project which started in 1979 and covered ten provinces in northern Thailand was to improve the quality of life of the hill tribe population. The project which addressed these environmental issues was set to decrease deforestation and encourage the hill tribes to grow economic cash crops other than opium.

The DOAE field personnel in cooperation with the rural communities tried to resolve these issues with other relevant agencies concerned, including the soils development department, the Royal Thai irrigation department and pest control centres. However, due to the limitations of time, trained personnel and other resources among these agencies, the resolution of these issues and problems were not very successful. In view of this situation, the DOAE planned to explore various other options and opportunities to overcome this predicament.

The initiative

In 1994, DOAE became involved in the EET activities which were initiated by FAO. A senior official from DOAE was invited to attend the " First regional workshop on environment education through agricultural extension", held in Kuala Lumpur in June 1994 and organized by the UPM (now called the Universiti Pertanian Malaysia), Malaysia. DOAE was identified as the strategic institution to undertake the development of an EETM for training extension workers in the agricultural sector in Thailand. The objective was to improve their knowledge and skills on environment protection and conservation practices and disseminate this information to the farm families and rural communities so as to facilitate sustainable development in the agricultural sector.

In view of the impending needs for EET in the agricultural sector, the DOAE submitted a project proposal to FAO to request technical and financial assistance to develop a training module on environmental education for agricultural extension personnel in Thailand. The project proposal was accepted by FAO and in September 1994, an LoA was signed between FAO and DOAE. To implement the project, DOAE appointed a CAC, a TM and a team of six to eight module writers (including trainers, curriculum developer, subject-matter specialist, etc.) who would be responsible for developing the EETM. With the pool of technical and professional human resources within DOAE as well as other relevant and collaborating agencies, DOAE was therefore well positioned to implement the project. The results and outputs of the project would be utilized to address and overcome the environment issues and problems in the agricultural sector.


Over the two-year period (1995-1996) since the implementation of the project by the DOAE, the EETM development process and activities involved and benefited many key personnel from the following:

The final output of the project was a prototype of an EETM on environmental conservation in Thailand (135 pages, in Thai). Due to limited resource allocations during the period, the module could not be reproduced in large quantities. Only a limited number of copies of the module were produced. These were made available to 28 provincial extension trainers who had already been trained to utilize the module. They used it as the main resource material to conduct the training at their respective local levels.

In view of the limited availability of national level funding, especially as a result of the recent financial crisis, to implement the project's activities at the national level, DOAE therefore has requested provincial level personnel to undertake these activities using their own budget allocations or to collaborate with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to implement such environment-related activities at the local level.

The prototype EETM was just one visible aspect of the benefits derived from the EETM project's activities undertaken by DOAE. The other aspect which was perhaps more important was the development of human resources. A core group of professionals was involved in the development processes and mastered the practical skills on curriculum and training modules development activities.


4.1 Participatory process and methods in developing the EET curriculum

Upon signing the LOA with FAO in September 1994, the DOAE immediately set up a working group (a module writing team) which would be responsible for the EETM development. A CAC who was the head of the planning division, and a TM from the training division were appointed. The module writing team, which comprised a total of ten members, was selected from the following six key sections of DOAE:

Planning division (3 officers including the CAC)
Training division (1 officer who is also the TM)
Horticultural crop promotion division (2 officers)
Personnel division (1 officer)
Agricultural administrative development division (2 officers)
Office of agricultural inputs development and promotion (1 officer)

The initial task of the module writing team was to prepare the EETM project's implementation plan which emphasized the participatory nature of the activities and tasks. The schedule of the nine key activities was spread over a ten-month period and implemented as follows:



Conduct and assess specific training needs

January 1995

Identify training contents of EETM

February 1995

Conduct writing workshops for module writers

March-April 1995

Pretest draft EETM

May 1995

Revise and improve EETM draft

June 1995

Conduct TOT workshop

July 1995

Revise and improve EETM

August 1995

Conduct content validation seminar

September 1995

Prepare final draft camera-ready copy of EETM

October 1995

4.1.1 Conduct and assess specific training needs

This activity which started in January 1995 was to identify the critical and priority areas related to environmental issues and concerns. This involved 18 extension workers from the highland agricultural extension centres from eight provinces. The key issues discussed were on training needs on environment protection and conservation matters that were related to agricultural development projects.

4.1.2 Identify training contents of EETM

Based on the results of the TNA, the module writing team summarized the contents pertaining to the knowledge and skills in environment and natural resource protection and conservation into two main parts:

This activity was completed as scheduled in February 1995.

4.1.3 Conduct writing workshops for module writers

The training contents identified were divided into the following seven key areas:

The CAC and TM organized and conducted a series of five writing workshops for the module writers during March-April 1995. Each module writer was assigned a subject to write and the contents developed were reviewed by other members of the module writing team. The module, units and activities comprised objectives, activity plans, technical contents, skills elements, learning activities, trainers' instructions and training support materials including visual aids.

4.1.4 Pretest draft EETM among module writers

The pretesting of the draft prototype EETM was conducted in May 1995 by the module writing team. The main purpose of the pretest was to ensure consistency and coherence and relevance of the subject-matter in the module. The pretesting of the draft EETM also involved extension trainers and workers, SMSs and technical experts on natural resources and environment conservation from the board of the National Environment Institute and Land Development Department.

4.1.5 Revise and improve EETM draft

After the pretest activities the contents of the EETM were revised based on the feedback from the pretest and improvements made on the layout, format and contents as well as the module presentation. This activity was completed in June 1995.

4.1.6 Conduct TOT workshop

The TOT workshop on the utilization of the prototype EETM was conducted in July 1995. Twenty-eight provincial extension trainers from 11 provinces participated in this activity. The objective of this TOT workshop was twofold: (a) to try out the EETM draft, (b) to train potential users/trainers on the delivery skills and utilization of the 15-hour EETM. The training process followed the activities and time schedule as stated in the activity plans of the module. However, Unit 3, Study tour/field trip was not conducted as this was a field activity.

4.1.7 Revise and improve EETM

The results of discussions in the workshop led to the improvement of some of the methodology used in skills learning activities as well as the teaching aids and training support materials. Revisions were made accordingly to improve the final draft of the EETM. This activity was completed in August 1995.

4.1.8 Conduct content validation seminar

The validation seminar was conducted in September 1995 and involved key resource persons from various agencies. A technical review committee comprising technical experts on natural resources and environment conservation, trainers and SMSs was involved in this two-day seminar to validate the contents of the module and provide technical clearance for distribution and utilization.

4.1.9 Prepare final draft camera-ready copy of EETM

The final draft camera-ready copy of the EETM (Thai version) was prepared in October 1995. This is a 135-page document labelled as an Instructor's module on EET for extension workers in Thailand. The module contains all the activity plans, transparencies, case study materials, information sheets, group exercises and pre-post training evaluation questionnaires.


The budget/expenditure for the EETM development project are summarized as follows:

Training needs assessment

US$3 600

Training module writing workshops (5)

US$3 200

Pretest draft EETM

US$1 200

Revise and Improve EETM

US$1 200

TOT workshop (2 days)

US$3 600

Improve and prepare final prototype


EETM (camera-ready copy)

US$ 400

Administration costs

US$ 500

Total expenditure:

US$13 700

Of the total expenditure, FAO contributed a budget of US$8 100 for the development activities; the remaining budget (US$5 600) was provided by DOAE.

4.2 The training module

Module perspective

The EETM is comprised of the following essential components:

Unit/activity perspective

Each unit content comprises:

Module Structure

The module is divided into three units and seven activities as follows:

Unit 1: Identifying environmental components and problems

Activity 1:

General environmental problems

Activity 2:

Ecosystem and environment

Activity 3:

Soil resources and conservation

Activity 4:

Water resources and conservation

Activity 5:

Agricultural chemical application and the environment

Unit 2: Community participation in environment conservation

Activity 6:

Community participation methodology


This activity is divided into six sub-activities:


Sub-Activity 1: Community assessment


Sub-Activity 2: Village leader selection


Sub-Activity 3: Learning group formation


Sub-Activity 4: Activity group formation


Sub-Activity 5: Extension on activity group


Sub-Activity 6: Group networking

Unit 3: Environment field visit/observations

Activity 7: Visit to environment problems areas pertaining to soil and water pollution, and/or others.

Module descriptions/details

Aim of the module:

This EETM (Environment Conservation in Thailand) aims to improve the knowledge and skills of the agricultural extension workers in disseminating and communicating to the farm communities important information and practical action-oriented practices on environment protection and conservation for sustainable agricultural development.

Unit 1: Identifying components and problems in the environment

Time: 9 hours

Activity 1: General environmental problems (90 minutes)

Objective: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to:

classify general environment problems, the causes and impact on human beings.


Training methods: Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids: Group discussion exercise, transparencies, information sheet

Activity 2: Ecosystem and environment (90 minutes)

Objectives: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to:

  1. define the ecosystem and its various systems;
  2. classify the ecosystem components and explain the concept of a balanced ecosystem;
  3. explain the practices that help conserve the environment.


Training methods: Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids: Transparencies, information sheets, case study, group discussion exercise

Activity 3: Soil resources and conservation (90 minutes)

Objectives: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to:

explain the concepts relating to:


Training methods: Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids: Transparencies, group discussion exercise, information sheets

Activity 4: Water resources and environment (90 minutes)

Objectives: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to explain the following:


Training methods: Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids: Transparencies, group discussion exercise, case study, information sheets

Activity 5: Agricultural chemical utilization and the environment (180 minutes)

Objectives: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to explain the following:


Training methods: Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids: Transparencies, card technique, information sheets

Unit 2: Community participation in environment conservation

Time: 3 hours

Activity 6: Community participation in environment conservation

Objectives: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to:

  1. explain the process of community participation in environment conservation;
  2. advise the community on environment conservation.


Sub-Activity 1:

Community assessment (30 mins.)

Sub-Activity 2:

Village leader selection (30 mins.)

Sub-Activity 3:

Learning group formation (30 mins.)

Sub-Activity 4:

Activity group formation (30 mins.)

Sub-Activity 5:

Extension on activity group (30 mins.)

Sub-Activity 6:

Group networking (30 mins.)

Training methods:

Lecture and group discussion

Teaching aids:

Transparencies, case study, group discussion



Unit 3: Environment field visit/observations

Time: 3 hours

Activity 7: Field visit to environment problem areas concerned and observe the effects and causes of soil and water pollution, soil degradation, erosion, etc. due to human interference and poor management of the environment.

Objective: On completion of this activity, the trainees should be able to:

explain the damages caused by poor resource management in agriculture.

4.3 Training implementation

Development activities for the EETM started in January 1995 and the first revised draft was completed in June 1995. This draft was then used to conduct the workshop for the TOT. Resource persons for the training/workshop included five module writers from the module writing team, two provincial trainers and two other technical resource persons. The workshop was conducted in July 1995 in Chiangrai in the northwest of the country where the participants were located. Twenty-eight provincial extension trainers from 11 provinces participated in this two-day activity. The objective was to try out the EETM draft and to train potential users/trainers on the delivery skills and utilization of the 15-hour EETM. The training process followed the activities and time schedule outlined in the module. Only Unit 3, Environment field visit/observation was not conducted.

The workshop participants provided valuable feedback to improve the module. Based on this, the final prototype EETM was prepared. This would then be used for subsequent future plans for EET scaling up and roll-out activities as discussed in Section 6.

Training strategies

The module was developed to train agricultural extension workers at the field level by trainers from the regional and provincial levels. The principle for utilization of the module is based on the participatory approach and flexibility. Farmers in the rural communities are the key target beneficiaries. The duration of training is three days: the first two days are be in the classroom and based on lectures, discussions, case studies and group exercises; the third day is in the field, studying environmental issues. Assessment of the training is based on the feedback/discussion throughout the training as well as on written evaluation questionnaires.


The sustainability of EET depends on the viability and ability of DOAE to continue with the EET activities irrespective of the turnover of personnel within the department. In order to be sustainable, the programme of activities must be seen to be important and relevant to the department's mandate. This area of EET activities is undoubtedly a primary concern of DOAE and therefore should be sustained. However, the sustainability of the EET depends on various factors such as financial resource allocation, the proven usefulness of the training, available trained personnel to conduct the training, etc. In order that such activities can be conducted it is necessary to reproduce copies of the EETM and make them available to the provincial and district level extension staff. This would also ensure that the EET activities could at least be sustained at the various levels.

In order to institutionalize the EET programme within the DOAE's training mandate, the EET activities should not only be sustainable but its credibility recognized. As an initial step to institutionalize the EET programme in DOAE, at least 90 agricultural extension workers from the highland agricultural extension centres in eight provinces will participate in the training course based on the EETM. The training courses will be conducted in three different training centres in Chiengrai, Kanchanaburi and Nan provinces. These participants will be divided into three groups of 30.


According to the national plan pertaining to use of natural resources and environment and their policy guidelines, many concerned agencies should make an effort to integrate environmental issues into their existing programmes. However, the implementation of an EET programme has not been put into practice due to the lack of specific implementation guidelines. The key agency responsible for this activity is the MOST but it does not have representatives at local grassroots level. Nevertheless, it is able to support this programme by providing some allocation in the annual budget at provincial level. The EETM therefore becomes one of the most valuable documented resources (in the area of natural resource management and environment) for this agency. The EETM can be integrated with other existing training programmes by using the budget resources provided by MOST to its provincial level offices.

The agencies concerned at the provincial level, especially the offices of agricultural extension and community development, should be able to benefit from EETM if the module is distributed to all the provinces in Thailand. Three key activities were planned for implementation in 1997-1998. The first activity was to reproduce 1 500 copies of the EETM and distribute them to all the provincial and district levels offices (PAEOs and DAEOs) so that they would be able to incorporate EET as a component of all the farmers' training programmes. The second activity was to train at least 20 master trainers at the provincial level and these trainers would in turn train up to 200 extension workers of the Royal agricultural extension projects. The third activity was to train another 90 extension workers of the Highland agricultural extension project using the EETM. The total budget to implement these three activities was estimated at about US$58 600, of which about one third would be solicited from foreign sources.

For the long-term plan, the EETM would be used to train all the agricultural extension agents as well as the local communities. Conservatively, it is estimated that at least 100 target beneficiaries (extension agents and the local farm leaders) in each province can be trained each year using the EETM. The resources to implement this activity will be obtained partly from the provincial budget allocation of MOST.

The future plan for EET may be summarized in the following Table 1:



Although the main educational objectives of the development of EETM were to create awareness and develop knowledge and capability of agricultural extension workers (as well as farmers) on natural resources and environment conservation, this exercise also affected many other senior officials at the national and provincial levels who were responsible for formulating agricultural development projects/programmes. The agencies involved in developing the EETM became aware of the environmental crisis because of these activities. Through their participation and involvement they were encouraged to integrate the EET component into their existing programmes.

Without further encouragement and improved efficiency on the utilization of the EETM, it would be difficult to accelerate the implementation of the environmental conservation and protection activities in the country. It is important for the majority to be aware of the environmental crisis and be committed to play a role to help protect the environment. In view of this, it is planned for the EETM to be distributed to all the local district level offices which would be responsible for coordinating the dissemination of knowledge and skills on environmental conservation and protection to the local communities.

The collaborative efforts of DOAE with FAO to undertake the EETM development activities brought about many positive results and impacts. Most of the staff from the institutions/agencies that were involved are now aware how to solicit knowledge on environmental issues and implement environmental training activities. The DOAE had planned to implement the utilization of EETM for the TOT and other agricultural extension personnel but due to two major problems this activity was delayed. The first constraint concerned the lack of budget (due to a financial crisis in Thailand) for the reproduction and distribution of EETM. Secondly, the CAC for the project was transferred to another agency due to a promotion exercise and the successor did not follow up the activities. These two problems were the main reasons for the delay in the implementation of planned EET activities.

The most important lesson learned from the EETM development project experience was the participatory approach in the entire module development process and activities. This approach was followed not only with the country but also shared with the network members from the other participating countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and China. From the commencement of the first EETM development activity through to the completion of the module, training processes and activities, the participation and support provided by FAO as well as other member countries as always very encouraging. The efficiency and quality of the outputs demonstrated by some other countries were exemplary. The regular regional workshops attended by the network members to share their experiences on the methodologies, approaches and contents in the module development process provided invaluable inputs to improve the EETM for Thailand. This had a very positive impact on the participatory-oriented approach on the implementation of the EETM development project in Thailand.

Top Of PageTable Of ContentsNext Page