NEED FOR PARADIGM SHIFT FROM TOP DOWN TO PARTICIPATORY EXTENSION IN THE PUNJAB, PAKISTAN: PERCEPTIONS OF FARMERS, CHANGE AGENTS AND THEIR SUPERVISORY STAFF
ABSTRACT Participatory approaches emerged in the late 1980 as a response to continued failure of top down approaches. It was realized that most technologies developed by researchers alone were inappropriate for smallholder farmers. Farmer s conditions and, by then seen as partners in research and extension, and the key players in the innovation process. The present study was conducted to explore the perceptions of farmers, organizational staff including the change agents commonly called as extension workers, and their supervisory staff regarding the need for paradigm shift from top down to participatory extension in the governmental agricultural extension system in the Punjab province, Pakistan. Based on the perceptions of stakeholders an analysis of the currently practiced governmental top down agricultural extension system and the participatory extension system of selected NGO (PRSP) was conducted. The questions are there a need for the paradigm shift from top down to the participatory extension in the Punjab? How should this change take place? And what are the perceived implications for this change? Were answered. The organizational staff which includes change agents and their supervisory staff of both systems (Top Down and Participatory Extension); and their joint contact farmers were contacted to collect the needed information from Faisalabad district which is one of the prominent and important district of the Punjab province. The data were collected through the research instrument which was tested for its reliability and validity. The data collected were thus analyzed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The respondents agreed that the participatory extension system (PES) had more strengths than that of the top down extension system (TDES). They indicated a need for Paradigm shift from TDES to PES in the governmental extension system. They indicated that the change should take place step wise in one year. The most important implications of this change were identified as: The country will be self sufficient in all major cash crops; the traditional knowledge of farmers will improve; there will be visible change in the socioeconomic conditions of farmers. The main characteristics of the perceived future participatory extension system were identified as: It should address the real problems of farmers; multidisciplinary teams of researchers, extension workers, and farmers should work together for information generation and dissemination; It should ensure sustainability; there should be working relationship between government, rural communities and other agencies like banks, donor agencies and government line agencies; there should be strong and regular feedback regarding the solutions of problems related to farming community; it should be run by the government through participatory extension approach; it should use farmer friendly mode; It should ensure maximum farmers participation; the need for the physical infrastructure schemes be initiated by the people themselves; Department of Agricultural and it should be run through the active involvement of CBOs ; Department of Agriculture ( extension ) should be run on partnership basis.
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ABSTRACT: The Agricultural Officers (AOs) are the development professionals in the field of agriculture in Pakistan. The agricultural extension service which is a provincial responsibility in Pakistan tries to educate farmers regarding the adoption of latest technology. Recently they have been requested to work under a different paradigm i.e. Decentralized Extension which required the role change of AOs from supervision and officer to front line extension worker. Therefore this study was designed to identify and prioritize the training needs of AOs regarding professional and technical competencies in the Punjab, Pakistan. The study used a description survey research methodology. Out of 341 agricultural officers, a random sample of 181 was taken. A questionnaire was developed by the researcher from the synthesis of related literatures and organizing series of workshop. The questionnaire was consisted of four sections: (1) Demographic information; (2) Assessment of professional competencies; (3) Assessment of technical competencies; (4) Appropriate time and method of in service training. It was also tested for validity and reliability. The Cronbach s alpha for various categories of competencies ranged 0.84 to 0.97. The questionnaire comprised 105 professional competencies and 38 technical competencies. Each competency statement required the respondents to rate the item on two similar 1 5 point Likert scales. One rating was for possessed level of competency and the other for importance level of competency. The overall response rate was 79.5% (144) out of the 181 respondents. The data were analyzed statistically using computer soft wares Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) The discrepancy values between importance and possessed level of competencies (training needs) AOs were positive values for all professional competency categories ranging from lowest value 0.61 to highest value 2.18. It was concluded that priority wise professional areas of competence in which agriculture officers need training included; computer skills and their application in agriculture extension, use of modem audio visual aids; participatory extension methodology; professionalism; human behaviour / public relations; program planning; extension teaching methods; and supervision and administration. The discrepancy values between importance and possessed level of competencies (training needs) were positive values for all technical competency categories ranging from lowest value 0.50 to highest value 1.18. It was concluded that priority wise technical areas of competence in which agriculture officers need training included; use farm machinery; application of plant protection measure; horticultural crops; and agronomic practices.01/2003;