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The study leans on the theoretical frameworks of the agricultural knowledge and information system (AKIS) and the farming system perspective and utilizes tools from participatory rural appraisal. Due to the time constraints and the different focus on linkages, the exercise can only offer a few specific recommendations for some problem areas identified in particular sites. The true potential lies in identifying these problem areas in a rapid and participatory manner. Further to PRA, it identifies the different actors, their roles and their constraints which future communication activities need to address. The methodology cannot give final answers, but it does provide entry points. It is a starting point for more focused sessions on specific problems which could be related not only to technology, but to marketing, credit, health, education, infrastructure. It calls for a process in which ATs and/or MAO take the positions of facilitators for the identification and assessment of problems and initiation of solutions. The adoption of the approach requires a shift from the linear transfer-of-technology model to the systems approach.

This chapter includes recommendations on how to strengthen the municipal and provincial capacity to identify and enhance two-way linkages in technology identification, generation and transfer activities.


Mapping linkages in a knowledge system uncovers the mechanisms which are functional to the exchange of information demands and supply. The matrices for evaluating linkages is a first step in the systematic analysis of linkages following several simple criteria, of which the one referring to the control of the linkage appears most important. For rural development programmes which target poverty alleviation, this criteria is of fundamental importance as it reveals who is being served by a linkage.

This study provides ample evidence of the need for a new role for the AT. These committed workers are already most effective when facilitating rather than instructing. Their professional aspirations and the farmers' needs call for this new role.

For the elected mayors and their staffs, the approach provides a tool to assess farmers' needs, identify networks and seek out those actors with which to strike agreements for collaboration. The MAO will be best equipped to negotiate with all sectors if and when he/she has an understanding of the existing needs, resources and patterns of information demand and supply.


Analyse the problem of linkages for agricultural development at the local (LOU) level using a knowledge and communication system perspective.

In order to strengthen the municipal and provincial capacity to identify and enhance two-way linkages in technology identification, generation and transfer activities, the problem must be tackled from a knowledge and communication systems perspective. The review indicates that mapping networks of information exchange with the active participation of its actors provides them with immediate charts of possible action. Existing patterns of access to information point to the services which are already functional as well as to those which could be established or abolished.

The fragmentation between LGU and regional and national research centres was a natural result of the Local Government Code. New linkages must be designed on the basis of a systematic understanding of the knowledge and communication systems at the LGU level as much as at the regional and institutional levels.

Example: Several of the linkage maps show farmers travelling directly to universities to ask for answers to new or specific problems because their linkage to the university is often through a personal contact rather than through an established university clinic/advisory service. SCUs could review their outreach strategies in light of what would appear to be client-driven demand for advice.

Recognize and make use of multiple sources of innovation and information.

There are multiple sources of innovation and information within a given farming system. In addition to the formal research institutions (DA research stations and state colleges and universities), input suppliers, credit suppliers, traders and private individuals all demand and supply information. The linkages among them can be identified and their performance assessed in order to recognise and remedy bottlenecks in the system.

It is telling that most of the institutional linkages mapped during this review are vertical. However, there are practically no horizontal linkages at the municipal level. Such linkages would entail collaborative arrangements between public and private sector institutions to strengthen their relative advantage in specific information areas.

Example: In the case of Mamala 1, had the pesticide supplier received the DA materials on pest identification and product recommendations, the supplier would have been able to respond to farmers' needs in a professional and scientific manner. A municipal "facilitator" (AT) equipped with diagnostic and communication skills could establish and improve such linkages on a regular basis.

Horizontal linkages at the LOU level will enhance the integration of public and private sector actors, especially if there are incentive mechanisms for production (such as contracts for yield achievement for a given commodity) and for applied research (such as financial support for applied research on themes/subject matter determined on the basis of aggregated farmer demands).

Establish a common set of criteria on which to develop, monitor arid evaluate linkages

The criteria utilised for the assessment of linkage performance in this review is a beginning. Further refinement will be necessary. In order to improve linkages in a system, the criteria by which their performance is assessed may in turn constitute the guideline for their improvement.

Example: The job description for a new agricultural facilitator (former AT) which addresses such criteria as relevance, timeliness, or control in terms of functions, would lead to a realistic and rewarding job.

The redefinition and rationalisation of the functions of municipal agricultural workers must be designed on the basis of common criteria dealing with linkage performance.

Establish new roles for the agricultural technician and the municipal agricultural officer as information brokers, facilitators, enablers and problem solvers

A new role of facilitator, enabler and problem solver requires "new" ATs in terms of their professional identity, attitudes, skills and knowledge. This profile constitutes a true broker of information demand and supply. A problem solver, rather than a conveyor of standardised recipes, is required.

The private sector, namely NGOs, have experience training personnel in this capacity. In contrast, the public sector has a major job ahead if it is to revise the definition of the AT. Among the new skills, the facilitator will need to become an expert communicator. A professional communicator will need professional and financial incentives, just as other professionals expect them. However, a new professionalism for the public sector facilitator will require modified rules for other actors with whom they often interact, namely researchers. Incentive packages which increase accountability of research (on the basis of responding to farmer demands) will render the facilitators' job more competitive.

For a policy decision to be taken in this direction, the following elements will need attention:

The training task required is daunting; however, there are few options. Continuing with the conventional job description of an extension worker is not desirable in an era of diminished government services. The LGC provides an opportunity to redefine the role of the municipal `'facilitator" within the new decision-making patterns. The new municipal facilitator must be part of a local agricultural problem-solving system. In this context, the approach developed by this study may enhance decision-making capacities at the local level.

In essence we are talking about agricultural learning systems. Researchers and farmers already follow the cycle of agricultural learning, trial after trial, and season after season. If we are able to provide facilitators with a learning cycle as part of their job, we will have the building blocks for agricultural learning systems.

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