Winter 1985 // Volume 23 // Number 4 // Feature Articles // 4FEA3

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Extension in Developing Countries: An Example

The progress and potential of two Asian Extension centers.

Irene Beavers
Professor, Adult and Extension Education
Iowa State University - Ames

In Extension work in the U.S., we enjoy a direct and positive relationship with our land-grant universities. In most other countries, Extension is organized as a unit of the Ministry of Agriculture of the government and relationships must be built with appropriate universities. This article describes one model for building such relationships, what activities are involved, and how basic Extension concepts are used.

While on a faculty improvement leave from Iowa State University in 1983-84, I had the opportunity to be attached to two relatively new Extension and Training Centers in developing countries in Southeast Asia-the University of Pertanian Malaysia (U.P.M.) and the National Extension Training Center of Kasetsart University, about 90 kilometers from Bangkok, Thailand. Both centers are on university campuses and both are in rural areas. Common Extension functions assumed by both centers were training, dissemination of research to the farmers, media production, and service. The potential for these centers to become important for the farmers in the villages will depend on how much emphasis is placed on the Extension and training function for that audience.

Through the use of village farmers for integrated farming projects, demonstration plots, and experimental research extended from the university, the farmers will be able to see ways of improving practices for their own farms. The Extension and Training Center can become a place for showing farmers ways of improving subsistence farming. Such projects will involve planning with farmers and involving them in the decision making, as well as planning with specialists at the university.


What are the objectives of Extension and Training Centers in developing countries? The National Agricultural Extension and Training Center in Thailand was a gift from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, as was the latest in audio-visual materials. The center has the potential for supplying audio-visual media and materials needed for effective Extension and training services and also can serve as a training center for production of such materials.

Other objectives assumed by this center are: transmitting technical information in agriculture to farmers, officials, and international guests; conducting short-term training in agricultural production, agricultural Extension, marketing and cooperatives for farmers, officials of government agencies, private enterprise, and the public in general; conducting research and evaluation techniques and procedures in Extension and training services; and making recommendations for improvement of these services.1

The Center for Extension and Continuing Education at U.P.M. includes a Department of Development Communication and a Department of Extension Education. The center was established in 1976 and was entrusted to link the university with the community. In turn, the Extension staff could relay problems and issues back to the university.

The university has 89 villages in 2 states and .4 districts with which it works directly. The Extension functions are: (1) developing social and economic projects, (2) planning and developing programs in several villages, (3) using students to channel Extension activities in the villages, (4) publishing and distributing materials, (5) producing and loaning audio-visual aids, and (6) services to agencies, farmers, and the public in general.2

In-service training offered by the center includes short-term courses in Extension and Development Communication and in agriculture and development, plus workshops, seminars, and conferences in agriculture and development. The training and continuing education program of U.P.M. is designed to improve the capability of development workers and to achieve the national development goal. U.P.M. extends its facilities and expertise to change agents for courses designed in module packages and oncampus noncredit courses. Courses are designed to update knowledge and skills of Extension workers in relevant technological fields including social services.3

Although both of these Southeast Asiarf centers carry out Extension-type programs, neither of the two centers is directly connected with the Department of Agriculture Extension Services of the Ministry of Agriculture. Both centers, however, work cooperatively with local Extension agents and are involved in pre-service or in-service training of Extension workers.

Extension Principles

Here are some programming principles I observed as the Extension center staff worked in the villages:

  1. Use of surveys, village visits, and discussion methods provided a means of assessing needs of the people in the village by center training participants or by those studying Extension methods.

  2. Extension workers in the village and the village, headmaster were used as contact people to initiate projects and identify key leadership for helping with various projects.

  3. Field work for students or training participants consisted of farm-to-farm visits or house-to-house visits in villages. A personal link between the village and the center was established and maintained through these visits.

  4. Integrated farm projects were set up with farmers to show methods that were practical for them.

  5. Practical training for students or program participants was obtained by working directly in the fields with the farmers, discovering the needs of farmers, and helping to improve practices.

  6. Roles, responsibilities, and functions of various agencies within the village were recognized by the Extension center staff and provided a focus for their operation within the village.

  7. For villagers with literacy skills, Extension publications were distributed to provide a link between the university and the village, and to show village people improved practices.

  8. To increase family income and to have available a higher quality of product for the market, individual leaders were selected to attend training on developing a marketable product and sharing this information with other villagers.

Work Through Farmers' Organizations

A common function of both centers was training offered for members of Farmers' Organizations. In Malaysia, one of the ways the Department of Agriculture carries out Extension activities is the Farmer's Organization. Thus, the Extension and Continuing Education Center has training to update members of the Farmers' Organizations to new subject matter discovered at the university. This is done through special Farmers' Days.

In Thailand, emphasis is placed on training Young Farmers' Organizations in the Extension centers. In fact, the Extension and Continuing Education Training Center has a special exhibit of work with this organization at the National Agricultural Fair held on their campus.

Work Through Professional Organizations and Agencies

The U.P.M. Extension and Continuing Education Center is assuming an important role in regional training for Asian countries. A regional seminar on Extension and Rural Development held at the center attracted participants from Asian countries, as well as the United States, Korea, and Nigeria. Although 80% of the participants were from Malaysia, the potential from other Asian countries will become a reality in the future. Examples of other types of organizations meeting at the Extension center include the Malaysian Community Association, supervisors of schools in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia, and Asian Modular Training Program for Trainers of Population and Development Personnel.

The Extension center of Kasetsart University also has the potential of developing into an important regional training center. The Fifth Regional Training Program on Agricultural Extension and Communication was held at the center in 1983.

Other types of programs offered at the Extension center in Thailand have included Agriculture for Out-of-School Students, Principles in Agricultural Transfer, Agricultural Extension Techniques and Methods, Teaching Techniques for Rubber Growers, and Integrated Rural Development.

Integrated Farming Projects

Both centers either have or plan to have integrated farming projects. In Malaysia, I observed an integrated farming project a farmer had been asked to try in cooperation with the Extension of U.P.M. This project included poultry raising using the droppings from the chickens to feed the plants in the pond, which in turn were used for growing fish.

University of Pertanian Malaysia Center for Extension and Continuing Education.

A similar integrated farming project is planned for the Extension center at Kamphaengsaen, except this project will include pigs as well as chickens. Another feature is that the project will be established on land owned by the center. Three farm families will be asked to live on the farm for at least three years. A cooperative will be established and the farmer will be required to sell his products through the cooperative. For the first year, farmers will be supplied with the seed and fertilizer needed. The use of center land will provide a convenient demonstration plot for use in training at the center. The project will also incorporate raising fruits and vegetables and preserving these products for food for the family.

Planning and Promotion

A basic requirement for all Extension and Continuing Education Centers is to plan and promote the program with the type of clientele they wish to reach. If the focus is to be with professional organizations, agencies, and farmers, then priority must be given to the type of program one wishes to promote with this clientele. Center staff may either respond to requests as received or they may promote the types of programs they'd like to see at their centers.

If a center wishes to become regional in its focus, then time must be devoted to promoting in the region as well as the nation. Cooperative projects with other countries in the region can lead to a regional focus for training. Planning should have a focus for a specific clientele in a specific location. But without planning and promotion, a center may not reach its intended focus. High priority must be given to planning with and promoting to the people for whom the program is intended.

These two Southeast Asian centers are developing their potential for Extension work in cooperation with the Extension program of the Ministries of Agriculture. Other developing countries could well examine the university training center as a model for future development of Extension.


  1. Irene Beavers, National Agricultural Extension and Training Center of Kasetsart University at Kamphaengsaen (Nakorn Pathom, Thailand: Kasetsart University Press, March, 1984).
  2. Universiti Pertanian Malaysia Calendar (Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia: University of Pertanian Malaysia Press, 1983/1984).
  3. Saidin Teh, Md. Salleh HU Hassan, Mohd. Hanim Mohd. Tahir, and Nor Azizali Mohd. Salleh, "University Extension and Community Service in Malaysia," in The Asian Seminar-Workshop on University Extension and Community Outreach Proceedings (Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia: University of Pertanian Malaysia, Center for Extension and Continuing Education, 1983).