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close this bookAgricultural Extension: Guidelines for Extension Workers in Rural Areas (SKAT; 1994; 298 pages)
View the documentPreface
View the documentA few words on this English edition:
View the documentImpressum
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentIntroduction to the Guidelines
View the documentCommon Difficulties
Open this folder and view contentsQuestions List
close this folderTheory Chapters
View the documentA Definition of Extension
View the documentB Communication
View the documentC Value Concepts - Value Systems
View the documentD Functions of Extension
View the documentE Animation / Organizational Development
View the documentF Adult Education
View the documentG Transmission of Information
View the documentH Problem Solving Assistance
View the documentI Developing Extension Topics
View the documentJ Extension Approaches
View the documentK Farming Systems Research (FSR)
View the documentL Goal Oriented Project Planning
View the documentM Dialogue in Extension
View the documentN Recommendations for the Writing of Reports

G Transmission of Information

1. Background

Extension organizations are located within a network of information flows about agriculture and related topics.


This diagram shows that:

· extension services can tap a wide variety of information sources
· extension services have several partners in their information duties
· extension services are not the only source of information for farmers and farming families (- > contradictions, competition).

2. Five Steps in the Transmission of Information

Below is a step-by-step diagram of the information tasks and activities which an extension service may need to perform.


Step 1: Collect Information: receive, find

There are two ways of obtaining information, the random and the purposeful. The way it is obtained will involve parts of both methods, depending on the circumstances and the sources of information.

From randomly

- seeing a poster


- reading a newspaper


- listening to the radio


- visiting a fair or exhibition


- talking to someone


- participating in a workshop


- studying professional journals


- asking colleagues


- calling information services

To purposefully

- going to libraries

This list shows that we recognize a difference between: - the way in which information is obtained and - the availability of information sources

Step 2: Examine the Information: assess it, file it, throw it away

a) Assessing information

The following 5-step model will help in assessing information:

1. Overview:

- What is it about?


- What does the information deal with?


- What does it relate to?

2. Essentials:

- What is the main point?


- What mainly attracts attention?

3. Closer examination:

- What detailed information interests me in particular (content)?


- What particularly appeals to me (layout)?

4. Gaps:

- What questions remain unanswered?


- Where can I find the lacking information?

5. Others interested:

- Who might also be interested in this information?


- In what form would it best appeal to him?

The decision on how to use the information is made relatively easy after analysis on the basis of the five steps indicated here: translate the information into action (- > go to work), or further process it (Step 3), or file it (- > see below), or throw it away (- > wastepaper basket).

b) Filing Information

Filing information means opening a small information section. An information centre can function only when the documents it contains can be quickly found by cross-referencing. A good basis for this is provided by the keyword indexes of specialist libraries, the information centres of associated institutions or those found in handbooks. However, it is always useful to compile also a list of keywords from one's own topics and then to determine a cross-reference system for filing one's own documents on the basis of these two sources. The list of keywords used in these Guidelines was also created in this way and can be adapted for your own use.

The best way to choose the type of filing system (box files, hanging files, binders etc.) and to find out about the advantages of each system is to visit an existing information centre.

Watch out: Any documentation is a means to an end and not an end in itself!

Step 3: Processing Information: select, (re)formulate, edit

What does "processing information" mean? Two examples from everyday life will explain this: In a report from the research station an extension worker finds very interesting information about cattle feeding which he would like to pass on to the cattle farmers in the region. But the report is written in complicated research jargon and full of foreign words and technical terms. To make things worse, the test results are presented in long tables with a mass of detail. The extension worker will have to select the information that is important to the farmers and package it differently. In doing this the extension worker may need to contact the researcher. He would like to have his article checked and, later, to give the researcher feedback on the significance of the topic and requests about the content, form of future publications.

Second example: The farmers in a certain region are always asking their agricultural extension worker legal questions about communally-held machinery and equipment. The main questions in the discussions are always much the same. At a meeting one day the extension worker decides to publish a leaflet in co-operation with a member of staff at the agricultural technology research station and a lawyer of the farmers' association. Together they answer the main questions and compare the advantages and disadvantages of the communally-held machinery with those of alternative forms of machine availability (individual ownership, rota systems, hiring of machines etc.) The three co-authors combine their own experiences and information to produce this leaflet.

Four Points to Remember when Processing Information

a) Think from the point of view of the information receivers, take their questions into account and clarify the following questions:

· Who are the information receivers?
· What do they want to know? What questions do they ask?
· Why do they need the information?
· When do they need the information?
· Which details are of particular interest to them? What are their reading and learning habits?
· What effect is the information intended to have on them?
· Which medium is best suited/most accessible/appropriate for the transmission of this information?

b) Write clearly

Friedemann Schulz von Thun introduces in his book, "Miteinander reden - Storungen und Klarungen" (literally: "Talking to Each Other - Interferences and Clarification") a method for assessing the clarity of a piece of information. It helps us to judge four aspects of a piece of information.


The assessment is done as follows: reviewers read and judge a piece of information, based on each of the four aspects mentioned above. They then give four scores, one for each aspect. The result of this test is then entered in a four-part "clarity window", e.g.:

Simplicity of the language





Additional stimulation

Below we assess two texts on the basis of this scale; the first is the publication of a "research result" and the second is a popular version:

The voluminous expansion of subterranean agricultural products is in reciprocal relation to the intellectual capacity of their producers.

- -




The most stupid farmers grow the biggest potatoes.

+ +




Schulz of Thun also writes: "Perhaps one day it will become compulsory to add "clarity windows" to all books and articles. This would be an effective consumer protection and would also encourage authors to achieve higher scores."

c) Structure the information

· Start with the important things!

· Use the reader's questions as titles or sub-titles (to arouse the reader's interest)! . Emphasize the important parts in drawings and tables!

· Use illustrations (photos, drawings, cartoons) purposefully!

d) Check the Content of the Information

- > Return the processed, rewritten texts to the original author and take his/her criticism into account.

- > Invite test readers (if possible from the potential readership) and ask them to check how clear the texts are.

Step 4: Transmit Information: choose the medium, check for sources of interference

Which medium is best for transmitting the information?

- > the spoken word:

address, lecture, radio broadcast, rumour, personal news, conversation

- > text:

rural newspaper, special review, daily newspaper, wall news-sheet,


leaflets, technical


leaflets, brochures, letters, circulars

-> illustration:

placards, posters, pictures

- > combinations:

film, TV, video, placards, picture, books, comics, courses

Checklist to help decide the medium to use

Checklist to help identify any sources of interference:

Which media are used locally?

- Are we addressing the right audience?

Which are easily understood?

- Are we informing them at the right time?

Which are easily available?

- Does our information contradict other incoming in formation (opinions, views)?

Which medium will best serve the purpose of this information?

- Is the presentation of the article/broadcast appropriate for its content?

Step 5: Gather Feedback' Determine Effects

What feedbacks do I get on my information efforts? From whom? Is this feedback reliable? Is it generally applicable? How can I get the receiver of my information to provide more feedback?

Often a person is already well-advised when s/he gets the essential information.

An extension service makes life much easier for itself if it collects information and prepares and hands out leaflets to answer commonly-asked questions.


Schulz von Thun, F.; 1981: Miteinander reden - Storungen und Klarungen. Rororo 7489, Hamburg.

Schirm, R.; 1977: Kurzer, knapper, praziser. Verlag Econ, Dusseldorf.

Zielke, W.; 1974: Gute Berichte flussig schreiben - gezielt informieren. Verlag moderne Industrie, Munchen.

Rico, G.L.; 1984: Garantiert schreiben lernen. Rowohlt, Hamburg

Written and compiled by:

Ernst Bolliger, Tonino Zellweger

Related Keywords

Pointers to the GTZ - Manual

4.8 Farmers' Meetings/Information Days

Volume 1:

4.9 Radio Broadcasts


4.10 Agricultural Fairs

Volume 2:

5.1 Technical Leaflets/Brochures

109 B6: A peasants' newspaper in Peru

5.3 Rural Newspaper

131 C1: Failure in intercultural communication

B Communication

139 C2: Traditional level of knowledge


323 E14: Circulars for advisers


325 E15: How to prepare and deliver a speech

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