A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SYSTEM IN THE PHILIPPINES: CASE STUDY OF LGU EXTENSION IN UBAY, BOHOL

Author: 
EFREN B. SAZ
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Public Access Documents
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Abstract: 
Using intensive interviews and observations and secondary data the study looked at a local government agricultural extension service. It situated the context by describing the agroclimatic, social and economic conditions of the area including its problems, potentials and prospects. It also took a closer look at two promising industries in the localityrice and mango production. The study further took a closer look at the local government agriculture extension service in terms of the nature of services offered viz a vis the needs of the clientele specially of the two industries in focus. An assessment of the services resources, competencies, adequacy, timeliness and quality was also done. Lastly, the study looked at knowledge management using a framework suggested by Dalkir and provided suggestions as to how a poorly equipped agriculture extension service provider such as the Ubay LGU may introduce the concept of knowledge management to make the service more effective and responsive to the peculiarities of the area and people. Ubay is a growing agricultural and commercial area in the northeastern side of Bohol province. It had the largest area devoted to rice and mango production in the entire province. Various programs in agriculture had been implemented in the area and various agencies of government were located in the municipality. Land holding was generally small with a few exceptionally large farms. A greater part of the rice production areas was rainfed although a current irrigation expansion project would quadruple the present coverage thus promising a substantial increase in rice production all other factors being present. Mango also provided a substantial source of income for many but the industrys prospects seemed mixed due to the vulnerability of the industry to various threats such as pests and diseases including the vagaries of the market and the very high demand for production inputs. The local extension service was inadequate to provide the multifarious demands of its clients. The number of regular staff had declined although replacements had been recruited. The usefulness of the replacement staff, however had been restricted in the sense that they were not fully given field tasks as a result of their employment status. Extension activities consisted of farm advisory services, farmers classes and training, farm organizing, farm demonstrations, pest and disease monitoring and facilitating services. Activities generally dominated programs and a long list of activities for the year indicated a holistic approach with almost unclear priorities. Staff tasking and the organizational structure was patterned after the national program priorities in cereals, livestock, fisheries and high value crops. Staff compensation and incentives were relatively better than other LGUs although opportunities for promotion and career advancement were nil. Staff morale and group cohesion was generally high despite the heavy work load but they felt they needed more support in terms of mobility and competency enhancement such as technical training and information materials. Knowledge management was unsystematic. Knowledge creation was hardly done since the service was not designed for this activity. Occasionally, however, staff were involved in research type activities such as varietal testing and technology demonstration (technodemo). Knowledge capture relied mostly on opportunistic activities such as presented by attendance to occasional training or conference or availability of reading material or personal encounter with experts/researchers. These knowledge, however, were not stored in a systematic manner where retrieval would be easy. Electronic means of storage was not resorted to even with the presence of a computer. It was observed that the level of knowledge of the staff on specific subjects were not similar indicating that some were more knowledgeable than others. This was due to the specialization of tasks and particular staff had to concentrate on certain specialized knowledge. Varying ages, education and training and extension experience generally accounted for the differences in knowledge level. Knowledge sharing was often done among staff but most of this was done informally. The recommended sharing mechanism such as echo seminars were not resorted to as a matter of procedure. Knowledge application was done both in the staffs own farms and among farmer clients. Owing to the many inadequacies of the service, differences in production environments and farmers resource capacities farm practices varied considerably resulting to wide variations in yields. It was recommended that the local extension service adopt a knowledge management approach. Knowledge capture must be made systematic and an organizational repository that is accessible to all staff must be put up manually and electronically where applicable. Staff should be allowed time and resources to tap the internet for new knowledge. These, in turn, must be complemented by a systematic search for local best practice for applicability and appropriateness. The staff should also establish and mediate communities of practice using the various communication gadgets and strategies available in the area.