1. The framework of development

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The concept of development
Agricultural and rural development
Principles of rural development programmes
The importance of extension


The concept of development

All rural extension work takes place within a process of development, and cannot be considered as an isolated activity. Extension programmes and projects and extension agents are part of the development of rural societies. It is, therefore, important to understand the term development, and to see how its interpretation can affect the course of rural extension work.

The term development does not refer to one single phenomenon or activity nor does it mean a general process of social change. All societies, rural and urban, are changing all the time. This change affects, for example, the society's norms and values, its institutions, its methods of production, the attitudes of its people and the way in which it distributes its resources. A rural society's people, customs and practices are never static but are continually evolving into new and different forms. There are different theories which seek to explain this process of social change (as evolution, as cultural adaptation or even as the resolution of conflicting interests) and examples of each explanation can be found in different parts of the world.

Development is more closely associated with some form of action or intervention to influence the entire process of social change. It is a dynamic concept which suggests a change in, or a movement away from, a previous situation. All societies are changing, and rural extension attempts to develop certain aspects of society in order to influence the nature and speed of the change. In the past few decades, different nations have been studied and their level of development has been determined; this has given rise to the use of terms such as developed as opposed to developing nations. In other words, it is assumed that some nations have advanced or changed more than others, and indeed these nations are often used as the model for other, developing, nations to follow.

This process of development can take different forms and have a variety of objectives. The following statements illustrate this:

- Development involves the introduction of new ideas into a social system in order to produce higher per caput incomes and levels of living through modern production methods and improved social organization.
- Development implies a total transformation of a traditional or pre-modern society into types of technology and associated social organization that characterize the advanced stable nations of the Western world.
- Development is building up the people so that they can build a future for themselves. Development is an experience of freedom in deciding what people choose to do. To decide to do something brings dignity and self-respect. Development efforts therefore start with the people's potential and proceed to their enhancement and growth.

Much has been written about the process of development, and the approaches which developing nations should adopt in order to develop. Reviewing this literature it can be concluded that a process of development should contain three main elements.

Economic. The development of the economic or productive base of any society, which will produce the goods and materials required for life.
Social. The provision of a range of social amenities and services (i.e., health, education, welfare) which care for the non-productive needs of a society.
Human. The development of the people themselves, both individually and communally, to realize their full potential, to use their skills and talents, and to play a constructive part in shaping their own society.

Development has to do with the above three elements. It should not concentrate upon one to the exclusion of the others. The economic base of any society is critical, for it must produce the resources required for livelihood. But we must also think of people and ensure their active participation in the process of development.


Agricultural and rural development

This guide is primarily concerned with rural extension and with the livelihoods of farmers and their families. The concept of rural development must therefore be considered with particular reference to agriculture, since agriculture is the basis of the livelihood of most rural families. In the past two decades there has been increasing emphasis on rural development programmes and projects, and recognition that the development of rural areas is just as important as the building up of urban, industrial complexes. Development must have two legs: urban industrialization and rural improvement.

There are very strong reasons why resources should now be put into rural development. More than half the people of the world and the vast majority of the people in developing countries (Asia, Africa and Latin America) live in rural areas and gain part or all of their livelihoods from some form of agriculture. Most of these people are also still very poor and dependent on agricultural practices that have benefited little from modern technology. They live in isolated and often inhospitable places, with little access to the resources they need to improve their agriculture. Many lead their lives barely at subsistence level. Solely in terms of numbers of people, there is a very strong case for giving high priority to rural development.

It can also be argued that agriculture is a vital part of the economy of any country and that its development is critical to the development of the country's economy as a whole. This relationship can perhaps be best understood by studying the following diagram (see p. 4).

Agriculture's important role is one of production, both of food for the rural and the urban population and of cash crops for the export market, to earn foreign currency. In this process demand is stimulated for other products and services, and employment opportunities emerge to absorb the society's work-force. As the cycle develops, the increasing agricultural production causes an increasing demand for inputs, which ensure the resources required to maintain the agricultural production. Land is a basic resource for most countries and the exploitation of that resource in the interest of its citizens is one of a country's main responsibilities.

Agricultural production

This concern to improve a country's agricultural base, and thus the livelihood of the majority of its inhabitants, is usually expressed in terms of programmes and projects of rural development. However, while agriculture is rightly the most important objective in the development of rural areas, rural development should also embrace the non-agricultural aspects of rural life. There are many definitions and statements on rural development that attempt to describe succinctly what it is trying to achieve. Perhaps the one used in conjunction with the UN-sponsored Second Development Decade in the 1970s best illustrates the broad nature of rural development:

- The Second Development Decade equates rural development with the far-reaching transformation of the social and economic structures, institutions, relationships and processes in any rural area. It conceives the goals of rural development not simply as agricultural and economic growth in the narrow sense but as balanced social and economic development.

Rural development is a process integrated with economic and social objectives, which must seek to transform rural society and provide a better and more secure livelihood for rural people. Rural development, therefore, is a process of analysis, problem identification and the proposal of relevant solutions. This process is usually encompassed within a programme or a project which seeks to tackle the problem identified.

However, as can be seen from the above statement, the problems that rural development programmes attempt to solve are not only agricultural; such programmes must also tackle the social or institutional problems found in rural areas. Indeed, if the kinds of problems which rural development programmes confront are considered in very broad terms, they may perhaps be divided into two.

Physical. These are problems which relate to the physical environment of a particular rural area, e.g., lack of water, poor infrastructure, lack of health facilities, or soil erosion. Rural development programmes can study the nature and extent of the problem and propose a course of action.

Non-physical. Not all the problems which farmers face are physical in nature. Some problems are more related to the social and political conditions of the region in which the farmers live, e.g., limited access to land, no contact with government services, or dependence upon a bigger farmer. These problems are also very real even though they exist below the surface.

Farmers and their families face a whole range of problems

In thinking of rural development, therefore, a whole range of problems which the farmer confronts daily must be considered. Some of these problems will be physical or tangible, and relatively easy to identify. They can quickly be spotted by observation or by means of a survey and once the extent of the problem is understood a relevant course of action can be proposed. For example, fertilizer can be recommended to improve the production level of a certain crop.

However, not all of the problems that farmers face are physical nor can they always easily be seen. Many of these problems derive from the farmer's place in the social and political structure in the rural area. Farmers and their families are involved in a complex web of relationships with other farmers in the area and often these relationships bring about problems. Dependence upon a money-lender, for example, is a problem facing many farmers in developing countries. Farmers may also have little access to the resources necessary for development, nor any way of getting such resources. Finally, they may have had very little contact with rural development programmes or other government services, and may not know how to take advantage of such activities.

It should be emphasized that the problems a farmer faces are complex and not all of them are physical or tangible. With this in mind, the kinds of strategies which rural development programmes can adopt can be considered. The first point to make is that there is no one strategy which is relevant to the problems of all rural areas. Different areas have different kinds of problems and the strategy must be adapted accordingly. There are three broad rural development strategies to be considered.

Technological. Here, the emphasis is upon technological transformation of different aspects of the rural society, e.g., improved cropping practice or better water supply, by the provision of the inputs and skills required to bring about the transformation.
Reformist. In this strategy, importance is also attached to technological change, but with a corresponding effort to provide the means by which the farmer can play a bigger part in rural development, for example, through organizational development, or participation in rural development programmes.
Structural. This strategy seeks to transform the economic, social and political relationships which exist in rural areas in such a way that those who were previously disadvantaged by such relationships find their position improved. Often this strategy is carried out by means of an agrarian reform programme.

The above strategies are not presented as concrete models to be followed without question. Nor is it suggested that rural development programmes must adopt any one strategy. They are presented to show the range and mixture of strategies which a rural development programme can follow. A farmer's problems will probably demand different action at different levels if they are to be tackled in a comprehensive manner.


Principles of rural development programmes

Rural development strategies usually take the form of programmes which implement projects in a specific rural area. Such programmes form the basis of most government and non-government efforts to assist rural areas, and they include both agricultural and non-agricultural projects, e.g., maternal and child health programmes. Specialized staff supply the expertise required, and ministerial or other institutional budgets provide the necessary financial resources. External aid is also usually channelled into such programmes in the rural areas.

While this guide does not intend to examine the areas of programme planning or implementation, it does suggest a number of very broad principles which should be followed by rural development programmes. The content of these programmes is a matter for the specialists in the particular field, i.e., agriculture, health or water supply. It is important, however, for all such programmes to establish beforehand a set of principles to guide their activities. The following principles are suggested to implement rural development programmes.

Access. Try to ensure that the programme and its benefits can reach those in need, and beware of the consequences if some farmers have access to the programme while others do not.
Independence. Devise a programme which helps and supports the farmer but which does not make him or his livelihood dependent upon the programme.
Sustainability. Ensure that the programme's plans and solutions are relevant to the local economic, social and administrative situation. Short-term solutions may yield quick results, but long-term programmes that are suitable to the local environment have greater success.
Going forward. Technological aspects of rural development programmes should help the farmer to take the next step in his development and not demand that he take a huge technological leap. It is better to secure a modest advance which can be sustained than to suggest a substantial advance which is beyond the ability of most.
Participation. Always try to consult the local people, seek out their ideas and involve them as much as possible in the programme.
Effectiveness. A programme should be based on the effective use of local resources and not necessarily on their most efficient use. While efficiency is important, its requirements are often unrealistic. For example, the maximum use of fertilizer is beyond the means of most farmers. But an effective use of resources, which is within the capabilities of most farmers, will have a better chance of a wider impact.


The importance of extension

Within the framework presented in this chapter, the concept and practice of the central issue of this guide must now be examined: extension work in rural communities. Extension is essentially the means by which new knowledge and ideas are introduced into rural areas in order to bring about change and improve the lives of farmers and their families. Extension, therefore, is of critical importance. Without it farmers would lack access to the support and services required to improve their agriculture and other productive activities. The critical importance of extension can be understood better if its three main elements are considered:


Extension is not concerned directly with generating knowledge; that is done in specialized institutions such as agricultural research centres, agricultural colleges or engineering departments. Extension takes this knowledge and makes it available to the farm- family. Rural extension, therefore, is the process whereby knowledge is communicated, in a variety of ways, to the farm family. This process is usually guided and supported by an extension agent who works at the programme and project level, and who is in direct contact with farmers and their families.

To do this extension work, agents have to be trained in the different aspects of the extension process. One aspect of this training is giving the agent the technical or scientific knowledge required for the job. This is usually done during the agent's professional training; however, it is only one element in the process. The other two elements of the process are equally important. It is not enough for an extension agent to have technical knowledge; he must also know how to communicate this knowledge and how to use it to the benefit of the farm family. Training in extension, therefore, is an equally important aspect of the training of any agent who wishes to work with farmers.

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