Definition of several extension approaches
Extension comes in many sizes and shapes. Although the following classification, made primarily for agriculture, is not complete and the distinctions between the types are not absolute, it gives an idea of the possibilities and opportunities that exist for the extension planner and for the policy- and decision-maker at the national level.
The general extension approach. In contrast to several other approaches, this approach assumes that technology and knowledge that are appropriate for local people exist but are not being used by them. The approach is usually fairly centralized and government-controlled. Success is measured in the adoption rate of recommendations and increases in national production.
The commodity specialized approach. The key characteristic of this approach groups all the functions for increased production - extension, research, input supply, marketing and prices - under one administration. Extension is fairly centralized and is oriented towards one commodity or crop and the agent has many functions.
The training and visit approach. This fairly centralized approach is based on a rigorously planned schedule of visits to farmers and training of agents and subject matter specialists. Close links are maintained between research and extension. Agents are only involved in technology transfer. Success is related to increases in the production of particular crops or commodities.
The agricultural extension participatory approach. This approach often focuses on the expressed needs of farmers' groups and its goal is increased production and an improved quality of rural life. Implementation is often decentralized and flexible. Success is measured by the numbers of farmers actively participating and the sustainability of local extension organizations.
The project approach. This approach concentrates efforts on a particular location, for a specific time period, often with outside resources. Part of its purpose is often to demonstrate techniques and methods that could be extended and sustained after the project period. Change in the short term is often a measure of success.
The farming systems development approach. A key characteristic of this type of extension is its systems or holistic approach at the local level. Close ties with research are required and technology for local needs is developed locally through an iterative process involving local people. Success is measured by the extent to which local people adopt and continue to use technologies developed by the programme.
The cost-sharing approach. This approach assumes that cost-sharing with local people (who do not have the means to pay the full cost) will promote a programme that is more likely to meet local situations and where extension agents are more accountable to local interests. Its purpose is to provide advice and information to facilitate farmers' self-improvement. Success is often measured by the willingness to pay.
The educational institution approach. This approach uses educational institutions which have technical knowledge and some research ability to provide extension services for rural people. Implementation and planning are often controlled by those who determine school curricula. The emphasis is often on the transfer of technical knowledge.
Source: Axinn in FAO, 1988.