METHODS OF DISSEMINATING NEW IDEAS AND TECHNIQUES TO FARMERS
There are three main extension teaching methods. That is, methods used in disseminating new ideas and techniques to farmers are grouped into three classes:
- Individual method.
- Group method.
- Mass method.
a) Individual Method: The individual method includes farm and home visits, aimed at direct contact between farmers and the extension agents. The purpose is to give advice or assistance on a wide range of farm and home problems. In order to succeed, it may require the assistance of volunteer leaders or administrators to arrange meetings so as to develop public relations with organisations and important individuals. Examples of individual methods of disseminating ideas and innovations are:
- Farm visits.
- Home visits.
- Office visits.
- Telephone calls.
- Personal letters.
- Text messages through G.S.M.
Advantages of Individual Method
- It gives and obtains information that will be useful to farmers and /or researchers.
- It can only work for a small group of farmers.
- More attention is given to the individual farmers than any other method.
- It may involve the use of telephone which makes information dissemination faster.
Disadvantages of Individual Method
- It is a time-consuming method.
- It is also a very tedious method.
- Extension agent cannot reach many farmers.
- It may be very expensive e.g. telephone calls.
b) Group Method: The group method involves the working together with groups of farmers under the supervision of the extension worker(s). Examples of group methods are:
- Field trips.
- Group discussions.
- Excursions or Tours
- Agricultural shows.
Advantages of using demonstration as an extension teaching method
- It enables participants to debate issues and make sound judgements about lessons being taught.
- It appeals to logic and reasoning.
- It provides a problem-solving practical experience. That is, it makes learning easier.
- It allows the teaching of a larger number of farmers at the same time.
- It helps to move farmers from the awareness and interest stages of learning to those of trial and adoption. That is, it captures the attention of farmers.
- It is more economical in terms of time, energy and other resources compared to other methods.
- Communication is made much easier for the extension officer and agent.
Field trips as agricultural extension teaching method:
- It is a planned visit by a group of farmers to places of agricultural importance such as a successful farmer’s farm, demonstration farm, a research institute or agricultural institution.
- Field trips are undertaken to observe in a real situation, recommend agricultural practices and inputs not locally available, and to obtain information directly from successful farmers.
- During the trip, the attention of farmers is drawn to interesting things and important points.
- Back in their community, the group should meet and discuss what they saw and learnt.
Agricultural show as an agricultural extension teaching method
- It is a day set aside for showcasing successful farmers’ farms and displaying improved agricultural inputs, implements and machinery to farmers.
- They are held in villages, towns and cities and have a nationwide character.
- During such shows, selected farmers, input suppliers and other stakeholders in agriculture display their produce and products for recognition and award.
- Very often, processed food are also exhibited.
- It is characterized by festive moods, speeches, addresses and awards.
Advantages of Group Method
- It enables extension workers to reach out to many farmers at a time.
- It saves time and money.
- It is not as tedious as in the case of individual method.
- Farmers tend to show more interest in what may be introduced.
Disadvantages of Group Method
- Some members of the group may easily discourage others.
- Extension agent may not always find all members of the group to be present all the time.
- Extension officers may not be enough to carry out their jobs in many groups.
c) Mass Method: Mass method involves the dissemination of information through special media of communication to the farmers. The method is used to create awareness and interest in the new ideas and techniques among the majority of the farmers. In other words, this method enables many people to know about the new innovation. Mass method includes the use of:
- Display boards or bill boards.
- Fliers, handbills, leaflets, pamphlets distributed.
- News Bulletins.
- Projected visuals or film shows or videos.
- Websites or Internet.
- Journals or proceedings or periodicals.
Posters as an agricultural extension teaching method
- They are illustrated sheets of paper or cardboard with a few words to briefly explain the illustration.
- The illustrations may be in the form of cartoons, pictures, tables or graphs.
- The illustrations or words are bold and in a few bright colours so they can easily be read.
- The messages should be simple and precise for easy understanding.
- Posters are to be mounted at vintage points to allow as many farmers as possible to see and learn from them.
Types of Mass Media: There are two major types or groups of mass media. These are electronic media and print media.
- Electronic Media: This involves the use of electronics like radio, television and film show to disseminate information to farmers. Through the electronic media, many people can easily be reached if only they have the means. It is an expensive method by which farmers can easily be contacted.
- Print Media: This involves the use of media like newspapers, banners, handbills, newsletters, hand-outs and pamphlets to disseminate information to people. Just like the electronic media, information can get to many people but illiteracy, combined with poverty would prevent many people from getting the desired information.
Advantages of Newspapers as agricultural extension teaching method
- They have a long-lasting effect since farmers can always refer to previous information.
- They can also be used in areas where there is no electricity.
- The pictures they often carry serve as useful teaching aids.
- They are less expensive.
- They can be widely circulated.
Disadvantages of Newspapers as agricultural extension teaching method
- Newspapers cannot easily reach all farming communities because of bad roads.
- Besides, newspapers do not have information feedback mechanism.
- It is also true that not all farmers can afford to buy newspapers.
- Their use is restricted to only few literate farmers.
Advantages of Television as agricultural extension teaching method
- Television is particularly effective in the dissemination of agricultural information because the farmers learn by both hearing and seeing clear pictures of what is being taught.
- Messages conveyed by television tend to last longer in the minds of farmers.
- It also makes it possible for such information to reach farming communities that are not accessible by roads.
Disadvantages of Television as agricultural extension teaching method
- Television sets are expensive and not all farmers can own them.
- It requires source of power to operate.
- Use of television does not allow the extension worker to get a feedback on the lessons taught.
- Transmission may not reach all areas.
Advantages of Mass Media
- They can reach out to a large audience, provided it is within means.
- They may not require the presence of extension agents.
- The new techniques and innovations can easily reach the farmer at a fixed date and time, e.g. either on radio or television.
- Time wasting and stress involved in going round the farmers are eliminated.
- Farmers can put the new ideas to use by themselves.
- The information, especially print media, last long.
- The printed information can be posted or received by mail.
- Pictures (in electronic) can easily be served as teaching aids.
- It is useful in information dissemination to deaf but literate farmers.
Disadvantages of Mass Media
- They are very expensive to operate, e.g. talks on radio or television.
- They are only useful to the educated farmers; illiterate farmers can not benefit.
- They are only available to farmers who are wealthy enough to own television and radio sets.
- Farmers may find it difficult to ask questions on matters which they do not understand.