Communication for Rural Innovation: Rethinking Agricultural Extension
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The aim of this book is to adapt the view of what agriculture extension is and why it is important. This opening chapter outlines the problems that agriculture extensions are facing, breaking them down into two sections: challenges that farmer and agriculture face, and challenges within the agriculture extension. The authors provide areas for challenges that farmers and agriculture face through: food production, food security and intensification; poverty alleviation, income generation and future prospects; sustainability, ecosystems and natural resource management; globalization and market liberalization; multi-functional agriculture; agrarian reform; food safety and chain management; and knowledge intensity, knowledge society and commoditization of knowledge. Challenges within the agriculture extension involve: dealing with collective issues; co-designing rather than disseminating innovations; matching the technical and social dimensions of an innovation; catering for diverse farming and livelihood strategies; managing complexity, conflict and unpredictability; becoming learning organizations; being brokers in an era of participation; coping with dwindling resources; and changing professional identities. Although these issues deal with agriculture and land-use, they also broadly encompass rural resource management. The authors note that the problems that humans face are partly man-made and can be solved largely through effective communication. They conclude that agriculture extension's new role should be "to manage communication in processes that are somehow aimed to bring about new patterns of coordination."