The first extension staff training (EST1) was carried out successfully in five provinces to commensurate with the laid down tasks and time frame. A total of 99 camp/block extension officers and 24 technical officers were trained in basic horticulture and Integrated Plant Nutrition Systems. The trainees were trained in basic knowledge and skills required for successful vegetable production. Sufficient hand-on practicals were given to the trainees.
The relevant topics on vegetable production site selection, nursery management, cultivar choice, land preparation, seed rate, spacing, weeding, fertiliser, pests and diseases and marketing were covered. There was active participation of the extension officers. The extension officers found the training to be adequate and useful.
There is great need to train extension officers whose qualifications are mostly at certificate level and with little experience in horticulture. It would be useful to incorporate the following elements in the next extension staff training:
· More practical time on management of specific vegetable crops - cabbage, rape, tomato, onions, melons, paprika, pumpkins.
· Physical identification of pests and diseases and management.
· Physical identification of soil types and use of fertilisers.
· Planning a horticultural garden.
· More practical time on irrigation techniques, operation and maintenance pumps.