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V. Summary and conclusions

V. Summary and conclusions

Agricultural development is a complex process and a challenging one as well. For purposes of this study four major sub-systems of the agricultural development process have been recognized, namely, research, extension, support, and client, which are supposed to work in harmony to bring about stable and sustained growth in agriculture. So far as the client system is concerned, it encompasses both men and women as equal partners. Unquestionably, women play a significant and crucial role throughout the Third World. In addition to farm work, in which they are actively involved with men, the burden of almost all the household chores falls on them. But despite the global consensus as to their vital role both on the farm and in the household, their importance in and contribution to agriculture are not adequately reflected in the available statistics which perhaps obscure more than they reveal. Moreover, it is found that agricultural extension networks do not provide them with satisfactory services and hence there is an urgent need for a better understanding in this regard for developing effective extension and training programmes to reach women farmers.

The present investigation was undertaken to study selected factors affecting the operation of the agricultural extension services in developing countries in reaching women farmers effectively, and to suggest measures to improve the existing services so that present and future generations of women farmers in agricultural countries apply scientific knowledge and use improved agricultural techniques and skills in their farm work, which should lead to an increase in productivity and income.

The study was conducted in selected state(s) of four study countries (Thailand, Trinidad, Nigeria and Syria). A multi-stage purposive-cum-stratified random sampling design was followed. Respondents were selected from four different categories of extension services. Altogether, 480 women farmers, 58 administrators, 40 technical officers/subject-matter specialists and 42 extension agents were included as "sample of respondents" in the present study. Four research schedules were used separately for the collection of various data, according to the objectives of the study.

The salient findings of the study were summarised as follows:

A. General characteristics of women farmers as clientele of extension services

B. Capacity of Agricultural Extension Services to serve Women Farmers


The findings presented in this study show that women farmers are not a homogeneous group. They represent different socio-economic situations with different needs for extension contact and the use of extension methods. It is also confirmed that the nature and extent of their involvement in agriculture certainly varies greatly from region to region. But, regardless of these variations, there is hardly any activity in agricultural production, except land preparation, in which women are not actively involved. The findings also indicate that decision-making patterns in farm work seem to be changing and women have increasingly become important members of the family as decision-makers, both on the farm as well as at home. Despite their importance in agricultural production, women face severe handicaps. Women's access to agricultural inputs has not improved proportionately. This results in a considerable loss in agricultural productivity and output. The findings of the study show that women farmers have more contacts with the extension service than was previously reported. Though their production problems may be known to the extension sub-system, they are not known to the research subsystem, due to the poor functional linkage between research and extension. Very little research is being carried out to improve the productivity of women farmers. Therefore, agricultural extension has little or not improved technology to extend to women farmers who grow the traditional food crops. In other cases, technology is available, but women are unable to obtain the credit to purchase the inputs needed to utilize the new technology. Furthermore, male extension agents of some countries do not consider the dual role of women farmers, scheduling meetings and demonstrations at times and places which are inconvenient or inaccessible to women farmers. The findings also show the level of recognition of women farmers by extension personnel as food and agricultural producers influencing extension programming which in turn affects the women's activities, resources socio-cultural constraints and participation in extension activities. Hence the lack of clear extension objectives that specifically target women farmers and the lack of gender-specific operational guidelines reduce extension effectiveness in reaching women farmers. Besides, there are extension constraints such as inadequate gender-specific training facilities for extension agents and lack of proper allocation of extension budget for programme activities which are specifically aimed at reaching more women farmers more efficiently, which also affects extension effectiveness. It was also discovered that monitoring and evaluation on a gender-disaggregated basis at regular intervals helps to make extension programming more effective in reaching women farmers.


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