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We need help on better understanding of extension problems

Last modified June 11, 2012 07:12

Dear members of INSAM, we are these days more often involved in matters you should describe as “extension agrometeorology”. Loosely that can be defined as that agrometeorology you need in training of extension intermediaries. By Kees Stigter

Dear members of INSAM, we are these days more often involved in matters you should describe as “extension agrometeorology”. Loosely that can be defined as that agrometeorology you need in training of extension intermediaries.

Extension agrometeorology may be more strictly defined as that agrometeorology that attends to (i) local suffering in agricultural production from weather and climate and persistent ways to diminish it and (ii) windows of opportunity that (micro)climate offers “on farm”. For both approaches, a combination of local innovations and scientific understanding must be used, in a participatory approach with farmers.

This should lead to the establishment of agrometeorological services by and with farmers and means first and foremost field work with farmers. To carry it out, we will have to make use of new educational commitments as “Climate Field Shops”, “Climate Field Services”, Climate Field Schools (CFSs) and other possible ways of Agrometeorological Extension and Farmer Training. These all ask for institutionalization of scientists listening to farmers and training and working with extension agents. 


To presently get or remain on the road to sustainable agriculture, in agricultural and rural social sciences we should, among others, care for policies of establishing and supporting a rural response to climate change, and of institutionalization of that response. In the mentioned new educational commitments we should discuss with farmers and extension intermediaries the local consequences of climate change that they encounter. Extension agrometeorology should join hands with other extension fields to mobilize production and protection forces in a multi-functional agricultural production. Trees outside forests should play an important role in such production and protection functions where they can be well established.

We have defined and practiced in Indonesia “Climate Field Shops” as meetings between (agro)climate scientists, extension intermediaries and farmers (and after some time also farmer facilitators) that talk about the vulnerabilities that farmers suffer due to the consequences of climate change and possibly other environmental and socio-economic changes taking place. If other scientists (such as agro-hydrologists, agro-entomologists, agro-phytopathologists etc.), could join, we talked about “Science Field Shops”. We are embarking on such efforts on a larger scale with an Indonesian "National Network for a Rural Response to Climate Change".

Climate Field Schools (CFSs) have loosely been introduced in Indonesia to teach farmers (extension) climatology. But farmers complain that this is mostly teaching climatology etc. to adults but not the Climate Services they need. We therefore want to talk here about the need for “Climate Field Services”, which are the agrometeorological services we talk about already for almost 15 years, also on the INSAM website, but now as actually established and validated jointly by extension intermediaries and farmers in the latter’s fields. The Climate Field Schools can better be used to train extension intermediaries.

Now we are meeting the problem that in many countries where they are most needed, extension intermediaries have reduced in number. And those remaining have almost nowhere been trained “in service” on how to assist farmers in coping with the consequences of climate change in their agricultural production. I have just experienced this again in various African countries that I visited this year (Lesotho, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe) and we have met some examples in Asia before. 


Therefore, we at INSAM need your help. We want to know about comparable experiences with problems and potentials of extension in your country/Service. How can we actually attend to the need for new educational commitments necessary to get “Climate Field Services” actually established with farmers in their fields?
Please send us examples of (agrometeorological/-climatological) extension problems or successes, and of difficulties or successes encountered in training of extension intermediaries to solve such problems, particularly given the consequences of climate change. Please send such complaints/stories/examples to <cjstigter at usa.net> and we will have them (and have them discussed) on our website. 


Please encourage other organizations to take part. By January 2013 I will report on what we received. Without well trained extension services, with a changing climate food security will never be reached for resource poor farmers and the urban poor. 


With many thanks and kindest regards, 


Kees Stigter, founding president of INSAM

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