Consolidated Responses for the PAFPNet Discussion for the months of November 2014 – January 2015:

Date: 28/11/2014 – 23/01/2015

“How to Improve Linkage between Farmers, Extension and Research”

The PAFPNet topic for the month of December 2014/ January 2015, “How to improve linkages between farmers, extension and research”, highlighted a very popular trend of issues being faced alongside expected measures to help diminish the linkage problems faced in the three key areas. In summing up all the responses, the most common issue acknowledged as the core break in the link between farmers, extension and research was the lack of communication and farmer consultation.

An efficient agriculture production system requires an effective communication system between farmers, extension and research. Therefore, in respect to the three interest groups, farmers, extension officers and researchers, each have different needs that all correspond to the development of agriculture. The key feature that was also underlined in the discussion was finding a common ground to meet the different needs of the three groups.

Investing the time and effort in information, communication and knowledge management (ICKM) was a proposal made to help bridge the gap between researchers, extension officers and researchers. A strategy to enforce the ICKM, according to the members, is to promote farmer consultation through on-farmer research field visits. In addition, if extension officers’ place more emphasis on promoting innovation and technology that are receptive to the needs of farmers, this would lay the pathway for a surge in farmer responsiveness.

In addition, many respondents stated that the inability to extract and store tacit knowledge was another concern hindering the connection between the three stated areas.  The ability of gaining tacit knowledge was labelled as a significant component to strengthening the link between farmers, extension and research. Discussions circulated around documenting this tacit knowledge from the key interest groups which would be accessible and manageable, whereby the content could be used to enhance agricultural development with a sustainable approach.  Additionally, the concept of mentoring was also specified as a means of capturing tacit knowledge, where farming, extension and research can be practiced and passed down to others in the same sphere of interest.

Furthermore, members also stressed the lack of funding and political interest as a hindrance to improving the linkages between farmers, extension and research.  As a result of the lack of funding, extension and research cannot cover the geographical areas assigned in various Pacific island countries. In addition, seeing this as a fundamental link, it was suggested that a boost in government policy planning be considered and emphasized in collaboration with the needs of farmers to help strengthen the connection of the three key areas.

However, seeing that the relationship between farmers, extension and research is almost non-existent, members raised a point of being more realistic with what can be provided to farmers with the current information being disseminated. Also, rather than trying to initiate new strategies to increase farmer responsiveness, actions to improve the linkages should be approached by going through already existing organizations and agricultural ministries to enhance information being communicated and generated.