In the context of sustainable agricultural development, agricultural extension has a very crucial role to play. The tasks and responsibilities of extension service will need to be broad-based and holistic in contents and scope, thus beyond agricultural technology transfer. Its normal task of transferring and disseminating to farmers appropriate agricultural technologies and good farm practices would not be sufficient. Extension agencies, services, and workers will need to exercise a more proactive and participatory role and serve as knowledge/information "brokers", initiating and facilitating mutually meaningful and equitable knowledge-based transactions among agricultural researchers, trainers, and primary producers. To improve its cost-effectiveness, proper strategies to advocate favourable and explicit agricultural extension policies are needed. Modern strategic planning and quality management tools and approaches should be utilized in developing or restructuring extension organizations or institutions. More innovative methods must be developed to identify systematically farmers problems and felt needs, and to help formulate and set agricultural research agenda based on such needs and problems. In short, there is a need to develop and improve the conceptual, technical, and operational methods and tools in order to strategically plan, efficiently manage, and scientifically evaluate a problem-solving, demand-driven and needs-based agricultural extension programmes.
It is thus imperative that the body of knowledge on agricultural extension be continuously improved, updated, and disseminated. It is also important that the review and inventory of the "State of the Art" in agricultural extension theory and best practices should be shared widely among agricultural extension practitioners, educators and scholars. FAO's Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) has now completed the Third Edition of a classic reference manual on agricultural extension. The First Edition of such a Reference Manual was published in 1973, and the Second Edition in 1984. This Third Edition entitled: Improving Agricultural Extension: a Reference Manual is completely new, and reflects many of the issues raised and discussed during a FAO-sponsored Global Consultation on Agricultural Extension held in Rome in December 1989.
It is not easy to undertake a normative task such as in trying to compile generic agricultural extension "know-how" that can be applicable globally. However, FAO/SDRE has tried to minimize such a problem by involving extension practitioners, educator, and scholars from many countries with different educational backgrounds and working environments. A total of 38 authors from 15 countries contributed to the 23 chapters of this publication. We hope that this book which is aimed at agricultural extension planners, managers, trainers, educators, and field practitioners could be useful in improving the quality of agricultural extension and in generating new ideas and methods for increasing further the cost-effectiveness of agricultural extension programmes.
The preparation of this publication was coordinated by Prof. Dr. Burton E. Swanson, in collaboration with, and under the guidance from, the FAO's Extension Education and Communication (SDRE) staff. Prof. B.E. Swanson was assisted by two of his colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, Dr. Robert P. Bentz and Dr. Andrew J. Sofranko, and together they edited the contributions of the 38 international authors who wrote the 23 chapters. We hereby would like to express our gratitude to these authors and editors, especially to Prof. B.E. Swanson for his untiring efforts in coordinating with authors in 15 different countries.
This third edition of this Reference Manual would not have been completed without the strong support and useful contributions from FAO's Extension, Education, and Communication Service (SDRE), especially its Chief, Dr. Tito E. Contado, and its Extension Education and Training Methodology Specialist, Dr. Ronny Adhikarya, who has taken the initiative, and provided the leadership, in conceptualizing and producing this publication. Both of them have also written chapters for this Reference Manual.
Rome, August 1996
FAO of the United Nations
Stein W. Bie
Research, Extension and Training (SDR)
Division Sustainable Development Department