Report: Reforming Agricultural Extension Systems through Knowledge Management, 6-11 September 2010, India

Discussion of participants with Farmers in India

BRIEF DESCRIPTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT

Asian agriculture is witnessing rapid transformation from the traditional sustenance farming activity to the knowledge=intensive agriculture in this era of knowledge economy. Agricultural productivity has shown remarkable increase over time. Futher increase in productivity is expected to be largely innovation driven. Institutional and policy innovations with markets are important for agricultural development. Agricultural extension is expected to deliver new knowledge and innovations from researcher s to farmers in the most effective and cost-efficient way. The inadequacy of extension staff working in agriculture coupled by the limited logistics and financial resources are pointed as culprits for the slow improvement in agricultural economy particularly for small farmers. An appropriate knowledge management system can assist in capturing new knowledge and lessons learned, and creating easy to use repositories to store vital information.

This meeting reviews the usage of KM as a tool for improving AES in member countries, examine the suitability and application of the recently developed KM framework and implementation approach, and share successful cases of KM implementation in agriculture.

OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION

As a researcher and a practitioner in agricultural and rural development arena, the knowledge and experiences gained from this training may redirect my orientation of extension system from a mere transfer of technology to something more meaningful. Knowledge, as a resource can mean something more valuable beyond learning. The effect of knowledge utilization on peoples’ lives may mean more important. Thereby, creating a notion that knowledge, indeed creates employment, markets, profits and good life across generations. This, I expect to realize from this study meeting.

PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS

The study meeting was participated in by 1 participant from Bangladesh, 6 from India, 2 from Indonesia, 2 from the Philippines, 3 from Thailand, 2 from Sri Lanka, and 2 from Vietnam. The other Filipino participant , a lady Senior Agriculturist works with the Dept, of Agriculture in RFU 4A, specifically from STIARC. (See attached list of participants)

HIGHLIGHTS AND SITE VISITS

The study meeting covered topics on: 1) Key Concepts and Methods of KM and their Application in Agricultural Extension;  2) Recent Development Trends on the Application of KM in Reshaping the Agriculture RDE: The E=Agritek Innovative Strategy; 3) Technological, Institutional and Organizational Settings for Promoting KM; 4) Capacity Building and Effective Promotional Activities of KM towards Agricultural Development Extension Initiatives & Experiences in India; 5) Linking Knowledge Management and Advisory Services at FAO; and 6) Key Issues in Agricultural Extension for KM: Indian Perspectives;

The group was led to two farmer field schools about 100 km from New Delhi. Farmers welcome the group with roses and flower lays and happy faces. Mr. Singh was introduced as the farmer leader in the FFS. Participants were all male while women were found weeding in the rice fields. The first school was about rice production. Another school demonstrated and studied about millet. In this particular area, some participants were women. The group was offered snacks by the locals. The local extensionist in the area assisted in the visitation.

FFS are being supported by the national government in terms of fund in an amount of R75,000/ site for supplies. The Farmer leader is provided with free input for the demonstration farm in his own lot. Technical backstopping is provided by extensionist.

A side trip at the Taj Majal delighted the group despite the exhaustive trip.The structures in the memorable place display the fantastic beauty of ancient architectural design highlighted by ivory and colored shells and gems in handmaid engraved flowers. Structures are built in symmetry viewed from all sides. The place was built in 22 years by about 20,000 workers. The place was built in honor of a queen who is most loved by the king in — era, thus, the place’s name Taj Majal meaning “ in the name of love”.

OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION

The study meeting successfully presented the expected key points that are relevant to understand the need to reform AES in the Philippines. The stated project objectives are achieved.

It was learned from the country reports that problems besetting AES are almost similar in all countries. The lack of training and logistic support to extension staff are common observations which point to the weakness of decentralized extension system. All participating countries clamored for reforms in the AES and proposed for the institution of knowledge management as a strategy for AES. The role of KM in improving peoples lives was clearly discussed as KM’s contribution to improving agricultural productivity through knowledge-based farming system. I would say that my expectations are met.

The resource persons have mastery of the subject matter and competently presented the topics clearly . They willingly answer questions and accept suggestions from the group/ participants.

The scheduled activities were completed almost on time except for some moments of waiting for the shuttle bus after class.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

Challenges

Privatization of extension in developing countries is being promoted at the national and international level. This emerging trend is toward a more pluralistic conception of extension. For policy makers, the implication of this trend would imply the recognition and licensing of both public and private sector agencies or organizations to become part of the national agricultural extension system or network. This approach implies the need for public and private sector cooperation to address the twin problems of poor extension coverage and resource limitations (Mualouf et al. in Rivera & Gustafson, 1991, p. 590).

Responsiveness and commitment of local governments to agricultural extension services for good and profitable governance. Resource allocation for agricultural extension should be viewed as a profitable investment. Upgrading of extension staff capability should form part of the investment in addition to tools, infrastructures , market and other support services.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusion

1. Knowledge management can be an effective development strategy and a management tool for wise decision making.
2. Knowledge management is learned. KM practitioners need to be computer literate and have a strong background on development communication.
3. KM is crucial for effective, responsive , market-oriented and problem-based extension program.
4. KM includes not only science-based information and technology. Generally, tacit knowledge are observable and felt, but may not be explained. They are combined with explicit knowledge once tested and applied.
5. KM builds up a strong foundation for agricultural development because it provides useful information about socio-cultural, economic, technological, ecological and physical realities necessary for the design of a responsive extension program.

Recommendations

1. Knowledge management as a discipline, should be carefully planned, organized and shared with paramount consideration of the users and target beneficiaries.
2. The Phil. Agricultural Extension system should be integrated under the leadership of the Agricultural Training Institute .
3. E- Extension should be developed in a manner that is usable by farmers and extension staff.
4. Major players in e extension should be properly trained .
5. The Phil. Extension system may attain enormous improvement is policies are appropriate followed.
6. A strong community of farmers should be developed to handle e-extension program in the municipal and village levels. The Farmers’ Internet Coffee Shop is a good strategy that can be tried.
7. Traditional extension approaches and methods should be backed up with scientifically proven techniques and updated information ,

Action Plan

1. Re-echo what has been learned from the meeting with DA staff within the division;
2. Draw a mechanism for knowledge management with researchers and ATI staff to ensure its applicability for research and extension;
3. Prepare and submit a proposal to determine the acceptability and usage of existing knowledge management practices within the DA family to identify and document best practices in knowledge management.
4. Prepare and submit a proposal to determine impact of current ICT for KM initiatives to small farmers
5. Develop a knowledge management mechanism in my place of work.

SUBMITTED BY:

IRENE ADION
Agricultural Center Chief III
Department of Agriculture-
Regional Field Unit III

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