D Functions of Extension
One can argue about what an extension service is and what it should do; the story of the six wise men from India is a good example of what may result.
Six wise men from India met an elephant. They carefully felt its body, because they were blind. The first found a tusk and said, "It seems to me that this magnificent specimen of an elephant strongly resembles a spear." The second explored the side of the creature's body and found it high and flat. "Aha!" he cried and concluded, "This animal is like a wall. "The third had discovered a leg and declared, "I know what we are dealing with - this creature is like a been. The fourth got hold of the trunk and said, "This so-called elephant is really only a snake ". The fifth was holding one of the animal's ears, stroking it with his fingers. "I have it!", he exclaimed, "This creature is like a fan!". The sixth came upon the tail and explored it. "Listen to me!" he demanded, "This animal is nothing more than a rope."
Thus, the blind men argued about the shape of the elephant and, although each was right to some extent, they were all wrong.
This story has resulted in the creation of the "extension elephant". No-one will deny that this comparison-like any analogy - has its weak points. However, we do not want to talk about the clumsiness of the elephant but rather, with the help of the drawing, to divide extension work into three clearly defined groups of extension functions.
1. The "Must Functions" (the real extension functions) give the elephant its shape
It stands on its four legs which it uses to perform the outward-oriented functions of:
- Animation (creating awareness/encouragement)
With its head, eyes and ears it prepares for the future: - Developing extension topics and methods.
Its trunk and tail help with giving it direction: - Extension planning
Within its body it ensures the internal control of:
- Management of extension (i.e. staff management and organization of the extension service)
2. The "Can Functions " (extra extension functions on which the "must functions" depend) are strapped to the elephant as a saddlebag which it carries only when no-one else can perform these duties:
- Obtaining production inputs
3. The extension elephant is often asked to perform other functions (such as pulling trees). These functions interfere with the actual extension work and so are called "interfering functions":
- Policing duties
This picture of the individual functions allows us to see the different aspects of extension work. However, several of these functions are often done together in practical, day-to-day extension work.
What is the Practical Meaning of all These Extension Functions?
Real Extension Functions
When performing the real extension functions the extension worker is acting as animator, adult educator, information sharer or problem-solver, as circumstances require.
Extra Extension Functions
If the extension worker performs extra extension functions, s/he often runs the risk of slipping into the role of manager or implementer.
When carrying out interfering functions, the extension worker will be seen by the farmer as a policeman or an administrator.
In different seminars more than one hundred extension workers from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe assessed the importance of the following ten extension functions. The frequency of their mention clearly reflects the three groups of extension functions.
Which functions should an extension organization perform?
LBL; 1980: Konzept Beratung in der Landwirtschaft. LBL, Lindau (CH).
Written and compiled by:
Ernst Bolliger, Peter Reinhard, Tonino Zellweger
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