Technical liason and support personnel in technology dissemation

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Technical liason and support personnel in technology dissemation
Claar, J. B
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Agricultural extension work -- Research ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Technology transfer ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographic references (leaves 30-32).
General Note:
General Note:
"January, 1985."
Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by John B. Claar.

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Technical Liason and Support 0/ 5/ /
r Personnel in Technology Dissemination
I Background

Emerging countries and international donor agencies have long

recognized the formidable task of disseminating information to large

numbers of small holders as one of the ingredients of successful

agricultural development. In fact, most countries with colonies developed

some type of extension service during the colonial period. (Swanson and

Claar 1984) These were continued in a modified form after independence.

However, in spite of international assistance, progress in improving them

has been slow and many LDC's consider the performance of their extension

services to be unsatisfactory.

Assistance in extension by international donors has been spotty over

the years. In the case of USAID, the requests for extension assistance

dropped to a rather low ebb during the 70's and early 80's. (Nobe 1984)

During that period USAID carried out a great many projects with extension

functions but they have usually been operated as independent entities.

In the 60's USAID undertook several significant institution building

projects along the lines of the Land Grant model (e.g. Pakistan, India,

Sierra Leone.) Although these efforts involved extension in various ways,

the country's extension service was inevitably not a part of these


Prepared by: John B. Claar
Director of INTERPAKS
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois
January, 1985


It became clear in these cases that extension, as one of the few

units of government that reached all of the way to the village level was

tightly held by government and that universities were not in a very good

position to take on something so large, so spaciously distributed, and

with so many different roles to perform. Rebuilding an extension service

into an effective unit not only involved many barriers of a semi-political

nature, it was also an expensive proposition. As a result, USAID spent

much of its efforts on improving agriculture research. However, the need

to improve knowledge transfer persists and in recent years USAID has

increased its efforts in this direction, including sane new institution

building projects in the field. In addition, as will be discussed

presently, such USAID supported projects as Farming Systems Research have

great implications for Extension.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has worked at

improving extension in developing countries rather continuously. In

addition to supporting many extension personnel in the field, they have

given the training of extension workers a great deal of attention.

However, as important as these initiatives have been, extension has

continued to have a great many problems. These problems that plague the

traditional extension service have been well documented. (Sigman and

Swanson 1984) Generally, extension services have been very poorly funded

with far too high a percentage of the total budget going into salary

emoluments as contrasted with operations. They have usually been top

down conceptually, frequently attempting to help achieve pre-determined

national production goals. Extension staffs, frequently from urban

backgrounds, have been poorly trained, especially in practical farming,


have suffered from low status in the employment system, and lacked

incentives for excellent performance. They have also been poorly

supported in the field. Poor housing and associated living conditions

made field assignments undesirable from a family viewpoint and from a

professional perspective, lack of mobility and the tools of the trade,

such as demonstration equipment, greatly limited effectiveness and dulled


In addition, extension's form and image have been greatly affected

by the assignment of a wide variety of semi-political and administrative

activities that frequently reduced credibility with clients. (Rogers 1983)

But perhaps the greatest problem of all in explaining extension's

performance has been the paucity of "farmer ready" usable technology

moving through the system. Frequently the information available has been

geared to maximum yields and experiment station conditions, the type of

technology most applicable to large farmers. Frequently studies of LDC's

report that technical know how exists in the country to increase yields

markedly but is not being applied by farmers. (York 1982) Such gaps

between extension and research are almost universal. Extension inevitably

has been mainly a distribution system and has focused on its field

operations. It has generally failed to provide for accessing and

preparing information for dissemination. In a study by Swanson and Rassi,

Asia and Africa reported about 6% of their extension staffs to be made

up of extension specialists, compared to about 19% in the U.S. and


Thus extension in many developing countries may be likened to a

retail store without ties to a dependable wholesaler, or a large


distribution system waiting for someone else to turn on the material that

is expected to flow through it. This paper will focus on this latter

problem with an emphasis on suggesting solutions. But first, two major

developments with great impact on extension must be reviewed. These two

developments while in no sense substitutes, have been aimed at solving

many of the problems noted above and helped rekindle interest in improving

extension systems.

The Training and Visit System

The first of these is the widespread adoption of the Training and

Visit system which was pioneered by the World Bank as a solution to the

many problems plaguing extension services. (Benor, Harrison and Baxter


Basically T&V involves a farmer-contact system, greatly improved

training, an enhanced status for extension workers, improved farmer/agent

ratios and the development of a group of technical subject matter

extension specialists. The system also places emphasis on field work

and requires both disciplined training and teaching. There can be little

doubt that this effort has greatly improved extension in many countries.

Yet many criticisms have been leveled at it. Those with substance seem

to be that it is top-down and discipline oriented rather than farmer

oriented, it is not sufficiently flexible to deal with a wide variety

of conditions, is quite expensive, especially where agriculture is not

highly productive, such as in rain-fed or semi-arid conditions, and has

not solved the research-extension gap very well. In a recent World Bank

report, the training of field agents to better understand farm conditions


and farmers problems and to access more small farmer technology were given

high priority for future attention in T&V.

Farmina Systems Research/E

The second broad development with great implications for extension

is the Farming Systems Research movement. Farming systems research places

emphasis on finding out what farmers' problems are, and upon doing

research to solve them in the farmers' frame of reference. Normally,

field surveys of farmers are made and proposed technology that considers

the farmers total system is tested and demonstrated on the farmers fields.

The audience is quite familiar with this approach and with its

history. Therefore, it will not be explained in detail. (Hildebrand 1983)

But the implications of this approach to extension operations will be

explored briefly.

Research-Extension Interrelationships

In most societies farmers are free to accept or reject the

recommendations from research and extension. The implications of the

situation is that technology must be viewed by farmers as consistent with

their decision-making criteria if they are to utilize it.

This is especially true in the case of small farmers where household

criteria are generally nuch more important than market criteria in

decision-making and production activities are closely screened as to their

effects on such things as family labor, stability or production, personal

tastes, capital requirements and planting sequences. Farming systems

research relates to such things and creates enlarged options for extension


by generating information that can more readily be used in the small

farmer setting. In fact FSP/E interacts directly with the farmer in many

ways. Thus the margin of research activity is extended toward extension

type work and a greater intermediate zone of needed interaction is


The implications for extension of a country undertaking an FSR

program are many.

Extension and research share a continuum. Figure 1 shows one

approach to visualizing this continuum and the gaps that frequently

occur. In general, extension occupies the right side and research the

left side. This all too pat and comfortable division can result in

serious failures in achieving the objectives of both organizations in

serving the host country. Traditionally, extension has emphasized its

field operations and researched its laboratories and experimental plots.

Hence, an artificial administrative line has been drawn between sections

of the continuum, which causes disfunctions. This line, labeled a

"functional gap", in Figure 1, is very common and it reduces the

effectiveness of both extension and research organizations.

There is no place in this continuum for a vertical line between the

functions of research and extension. Each of the organizations must reach

significantly across the "functional gap" in Figure 1 in order to perform

well or even acceptably. At best, any line must be slanted and it must

reach from pole to pole through the technology development and technology

transfer systems.

For example, as already noted in FSP/E, the research team leaves

its traditional venue and works extensively with farmers also. These









i I


13- t. i I
II i "f -

i I'

- - feedback loop
...... ... dlsfunctonal feedback path




contacts involve problem and resource assessment, field testing, and

demonstrations on farmers' fields. These activities take research all

the way to the right side of the continuum. Extension is in an excellent

position to help with those things. Extension has a major stake in

helping research to identify problems needing research and to assist with

adapting research information to different soil and climatic conditions;

hence a part of extensions' role takes it into the technology development

section of the continuum. Conversely, to be sure their work is

operational, researchers must see technology tried under farmer conditions

and understand problems that farmers are encountering. Therefore, the

line between these two highly related organizations must be slanted or

even curved. (Shaner 1984) Also, if successful, FSR/E will yield a new

type of more complex technology for extension to use in diffusion, which

will have far-reaching effects on how it does their work. This type of

technology that is oriented to specific farming conditions cannot be

applied blindly from farm to farm and will require a management approach

by extension,

These facts have implications for how both FSR/E and extension are

organized and conducted. Functional gaps between them are very costly

in terms of performance and will become increasingly unpopular. Special

steps will need to be taken to make extension a full partner in the

farming systems research program. The FSR/E approach includes a number

of areas such as on-farm demonstrations that could just as easily be

defined as part of extension's mission. Clearly, extension can facilitate

these and other activities and at the same time benefit from them

directly. It is important to both organizations that these linkage


functions be done well.

Working closely with FSP/E programs will usually involve a major

shift in the philosophy and focus of extension services. Same extension

services see their major goal as encouraging farmers to meet sane

pre-determined production targets or quotas. In this case, most work

in a top-down authoritarian style, and a shift to a farmer-centered

approach may have to start with a change in the basic purpose of the

organization. Many "new" things for extension may be involved in the

FGR/E project area.

For example, there are extensive implications for the training of

extension workers that arise from the FSR/E approach:

a. Training of future extension workers should include Farming
Systems Research and the use of a clientele-centered approach for

b. Field agents need to be taught respect for farmers, to place
priority on field work, and to work in a farmer-centered mode that
relates technology to the resources and goals of farmers.

c. Field agents will need to be comfortable with farming practices,
how to put on demonstrations and to advise farmers about emerging
techniques. This is much more practical knowledge than they have
generally had.

The objectives and missions of the extension service, at least in

the project area, should be stated so that they are consistent with the

new emphasis.

In addition, incentives for excellent performance should be

developed, evaluation criteria should be used that are consistent with

the new objectives.

Still another area of special need in FSR/E project areas involves

personnel management. Many extension personnel are moved frequently.

Care should be taken by extension to leave personnel in one location in


the project area long enough for them to establish credibility and have

some impact in order to relate systems technology to farmers. Priority

should be placed on field service to the farmer in the project area, and

extension administrators should try to avoid disturbing local plans with

overriding requests.

While several of these factors may be viewed as just "good extension

work," they are especially important in the FSR/E project areas because

of the attempt that is being made by FSB/E to understand the farming

systems in use, the criteria that farmers use in decision-making and in

suggesting new technology that is suited to the farmer's situation. These

tasks, which are made at the same time more important and reachable by

FSR/E, have special implications for persons in extension who are mainly

responsible for the subject matter content in extension.

From this brief discussion of traditional extension, the innovations

introduced through the implementation of such projects as T&V and FSR/E,

one thing stands out. Extension in developing countries has not yet

achieved a satisfactory linkage with sources of information. (Axinn,

Thorat 1977)

The fact that much technology is said to have been available for

years in some countries without adaptation for extension use suggests

strongly that extension services have not organized themselves to secure

and adapt information for their use in the field.

International experience indicates that technical extension personnel

are the keys to successful linkage with information sources and getting

such information to flow through. Generally speaking, technical support

and liaison personnel are scarce in the extension services of developing


countries and where they exist, as in T&V, have in many countries not

been able to carry out these functions in a satisfactory manner. Yet

in the U.S. where such specialists make up nearly 20% of the average

extension staff, they are given credit for successfully integrating with

research and providing both content and quality controls. Most LDC's

do have some extension specialists but these problems continue


Setting up a corps of extension specialists then does not

automatically yield the desirable results. What are the keys to making

such a system work?

The job is complex, involving subtleties in attitudes and

relationships. Sometimes the information simply may not be available.

Too, knowledge sources must cooperate; and how technical personnel are

deployed may be as critical to their success.

This role is so critical and, where there is no history or tradition,

sufficiently difficult that it will be treated in considerable detail.

While setting up a corps of technical liaison and support personnel

may not be a panacea for all extensions problems, it appears to be a

necessary component that is presently undervalued by many and frequently

performed poorly.

Technical Liaison and Support Staffs in Extension

There is a growing recognition in international circles that an

adequate, effective corps of Technical Liaison and Support Personnel is

essential to effective knowledge transfer and that effective models are

not in place. Extension must be able to reach out to all knowledge


sources to acquire inputs. And extension, to the extent necessary, must

have the internal capability to acquire and adapt technology for use by

its clients. Farming Systems Research projects which emphasize testing

and demonstrations make extension's job easier in this regard. However,

even in these cases, systematic technical liaison, as contrasted with

administrative liaison, is essential, including liaison on the research

projects. Extension can help in fact, needs to help in its own self

interest with all field aspects of research, from identifying problems

to testing technology. Research and extension have a vested interest

in each other and both need to set up liaison mechanisms for the other

to plug into. Therefore, research and extension services need to remember

that solving the research-extension gap requires giving as well as

taking. (Claar and Watts 1984)

In view of the mutual values that can accrue from such liaison, it

is nothing short of amazing that linkage with research continues to be

viewed as a major problem along with inadequate "content" in extension.

Of course, extension and research do share a continuum and when the

pressure for results is on, it is all too easy to suggest that the other

end of the continuum has failed. Too, the two organizations may be

competing for scarce dollars and there may be fear of making the other

look good. However, the more general problem seems to be that countries

put a low priority on the whole continuum, thus leaving the total function

poorly funded.

It should be easy to sell these two organizations, in their own self

interest, to try and help each other do its job. In fact, such an

attitude of mutual support is the starting point and an essential


condition for a successful relationship. Project should be designed to

make such self-interest obvious and liaison and support not only expected

but easy. Support in extension has two meanings in this context. Support

for research by involvement in all aspects of farmers' contact for

research projects. But as significant as this is, the need for support

of field staff within extension is equally critical to performance. In

fact, such Technical Liaison and Support Staff (sometimes called extension

specialists) are at one time a primary source of content, training,

backstopping, and quality control.

It may not be an overstatement to say that many countries in the

developing world discovered the importance of a field system and

implemented it without an equally firm understanding of the parallel need

for support. Whatever the reason, it now seems time to correct the

imbalance where it exists and to develop a whole extension system with

greater emphasis on content. This topic will be addressed through

questions and answers.

What are Technical Liaison and Support Personnel?

These are personnel who are usually specialized by disciplines or

commodities, who are concerned with the quanitity and quality of

technology and related information to be disseminated by extension

services. Some are vertical specialists, such as commodity specialists;

others work on systems, such as farm management specialists. Still others

cut across disciplines, such as engineers. They are concerned with

subject matter availability, with its accuracy, its applicability, putting

it into useful forms, program development, supporting the system as it


is disseminated evaluating impact, and feeding problems to research.

Such personnel will give about equal attention to interacting with

research development and to preparing information and instructing the

extension staff in its use. In summary, while they are not supervisors,

these support personnel must be concerned with all aspects of acquiring

and moving information through the extension system and getting it applied

by farmers. Hence the job description must be very flexible so that

problems can be dealt with on a individual basis.

What are some of the ccmpetencies that should be stressed?

Technical liaison and support personnel are difficult to find because

they need to be educated so that they can be respected by researchers

and interact with them on research activities. Ideally, they should have

the same type of training as researchers, plus instruction in teaching

techniques, methods, and adult education. It is important that they also

have better than average speaking and writing skills in order to perform

their various roles.

But there is one other aspect of the work of liaison and support

staffs that is very important. They must have an in-depth understanding

of the practical aspects of farming. They must understand the farming

systems of farmers in a given area and why farmers are using them. They

must be at home in setting out demonstrations and in consulting with field

agents and farmers about problems in their fields. This practical

understanding is especially important since in many developing country

situations practical knowledge of farming and farmers is quite inadequate

among new employees.


What are the specific tasks to be covered in the job description?

Several of these have already been alluded to. A summary of the

main aspects follows:

Technical liaison and support personnel are not administrative

supervisors of field staff. This assignment should be carried by an

administrative officer. TL&S personnel instruct, prepare materials and

programs, and assist the field agent in using the material accurately

and wisely. Hence, it is important the TL&S personnel travel with agents

to farms periodically to observe and counsel field agents as problems

arise. TS&L personnel are first, last and always content people, program

developers, trainers and coaches in the use of subject matter to solve


Liaison role. There are many things that must be integrated and

brought together in order for many new innovations to be recommended.

For example, credit may be needed, new seeds stocked, and special

fertilizers or pest control capability developed.

In addition to maintaining liaison with technology sources, TL&S

personnel need to view them as a clientele. For these units that provide

services to the farmer can also be a channel to providing information

to them. Hence, TL&S personnel need to provide information about what

the extension service is recommending to farmers to the leadership levels

of related organizations, and encourage them to help in dissemination.

They are not regulatory personnel. In order for these personnel

to perform these roles they need to be viewed as a "friend" and supporter

to the extension staff and the organizations with which they are expected

to conduct liaison. Therefore, they would not be asked to administer

regulations for government or to be involved with punitive actions either

within or outside extension. Such assignments would seriously impair

the open communication which needs to exist between these people and their


Specific aspects of the job description

a. Seeking out relevant technical information from all sources. This

function includes interacting with research colleagues as well as

monitoring external sources. It means integrating information from

a recommendation that farmers can understand and apply readily.

It means developing programs that utilize mass media and other

methods in tandem and taking part as the program is implemented.

b. Interpreting technology and trend information for field use. This

involves fitting it to categories of farmers, and packaging it into

usuable, saleable programs.

c. Training extension workers and teaching them how to use the

information effectively. This includes but must not be limited to

formal training. Extension TL&S staff must know each of the field

staff in their area of responsibility and work with them in field

situations so that they can coach them through problem areas and

improve their competence and security. Therefore, informed training

may be more important than formal training in getting the job done.


d. Making direct presentations or working with communication personnel

to develop mass media to targeted audiences.

e. Advising research colleagues of problems encountered by farmers and

facilitating opportunities for the researchers to observe them.

This means inviting research colleagues to travel with them to

observe field problems or to take part in programs with extension

personnel and/or farmers.

f. Communicating with related organizations in their subject matter

field to facilitate linkage and coordination. This includes

suppliers and marketing firms who can advise on problems as well

as help pass on information to their clients.

g. Backstopping agents as they encounter problems in the field and

providing appropriate remedial training. Many field agents, because

of limited practical training, may be wary of exposure to farmers'

practical field problems. This should be a challenge to the TS&L

personnel to provide remedial training.

h. Monitoring experiences of farmers and programs in agricultural

development. Following up with agents and farmers to get reactions

to new technology and to see what new problems the farmers have

observed is a critical part of the specialist's job.

Are there any special things to keep in mind in deploying TL&S personnel?

The employment of even a well trained TL&S staff does not guarantee

effective performance of the role. And there are a number of things that

need to be planned to facilitate performance.


Research and extension missions. The missions of these organizations

should specifically state a policy of mutual support and liaison so that

all staff are aware of it. Such policies should provide for both formal

and informal assistance and lateral as well as vertical liaison. That

is, all staff should view the personnel of the other organization as

"family," and give their needs priority attention. This joint decision

by the Directors of both organizations to set a favorable environment

for linkage and mutual support is a key to successful performance of these

highly related functions.

Mobility. Mobility for these staff members who must relate to many

groups outside, as well as the extension staff per se, is of paramount

importance. Such personnel are scarce in most countries and travel time

is not very productive. Design teams need to provide for the mobility

required by the job secription. There is a tendency to cut back

everything equally when cuts must be made in budgets. These personnel,

in a large measure, determine the content and technical quality of the

whole organization and if they are not able to perform, the quality of

extension's performance will suffer. Providing TS&L staff with the tools

and mobility for their job should be the last thing to cut. There is

no reason to maintain a plumbing system if there isn't any water.

Structure. Much of the impact of extension is determined by whether

technology is accessed and brought into the system. Therefore deploying

staff to make this critical job easy should be carefully considered in

project design. Structuring the TL&S staff along the same lines as the

research staff can facilitate carnunication in several ways. For example,

if commodity or farming systems assignments are made in research, making

assignments along the same divisions in both extension and research will

facilitate work. Nothing makes working together more difficult than being

organized along different lines or covering different geographical areas.

Reasons for difference are superficial and nust not be tolerated.

Office location. It is possible to have excellent mutual support

when people are housed apart from each other, especially if telephone

and written messages are reliable and readily available. At the same

time, the author knows of a case where two people who where physically

in the same office didn't speak to each other for years.

However, in the main, proximity does facilitate communication and

joint activity, such as traveling together to observe research underway.

Therefore, design teams should consider deploying TL&S staff so that their

office locations place them close to their counterpart researchers as

well as to research sites. It may be especially desirable to locate sane

of these personnel at field research stations or universities that are

active in agricultural research. Such office locations tend to enhance

the credibility of TL&S personnel and the understanding of their technical

roles. In this way extension personnel can take leadership for field

days and research and extension personnel can work together in explaining

research and how to apply it.

Joint research and extension appointments. In the USA this technique

has been utilized widely to facilitate the smooth functioning of the

research-extension continuum. Some such extension specialist staffs have

as high as 60-70% part-time appointments in research. This helps to

eliminate differences in quality and training between these two groups

of highly related staff, as well as insuring that communication gaps won't

exist. This may be especially workable at field stations where the two

roles may be quite compatible and save much travel to the site from the

central office.

Instructional support services. TL&S personnel should have most

of their training in subject matter, although hopefully the will have

had some training in the educational phases of their work. Nevertheless,

instructional aids and communications techniques are very important to

getting the job done. Therefore the availability of persons specializing

in transmitting messages are important counterparts to technical and

administrative personnel in program planning and execution.

Availability of communicators who are partners in determining how

to transmit messages as well as helping develop tools and materials to

do so should be one of the areas considered by design teams. Facilities

to perform these roles must also be available. Too often, if such

personnel and facilities exist, they operate as separate program thrusts

rather than as partners with extension in the communication process.

The organizational patterns for research and extension varies so

greatly that using organization charts to represent ideas is fought with

considerable risk. The following figures are partial and will be used


to suggest two broad approaches to research extension linkage and the

deployment of extension, technology, liaison and support personnel.

What are some of the organizational options that might be considered?

1. The normal organization model for technical liaison and support

staffs attaches them to the Director's office or at the provincial

level to similar administrative units. Frequently they report

directly to an Associate, Assistant, or Deputy Director for Technical

Services. Figure 2 shows such separate organizations, in which an

FSP/E project has been added in one or more provinces. In such

organizations, functional gaps between research and extension are

frequently if not universally found. Something more is needed.

In this separate system, an added option (Figure 2A) could be to

establish personnel to perform the liaison functions. It is well

to differentiate between administrative liaison at various levels

and technical liaison. Technical liaison might well be performed

by one or more of the Extension Technical Liaison and Support Staff.

Assigning such liaison personnel should greatly improve

caununications and cooperation. However, unless the liaison

personnel are supported by an effective technical liaison and support

staff in extension, problems in utilizing the information within

extension may be expected.

2. Another interesting approach is to set up a joint technical adaptive

research and extension support unit. Figure 3 displays a division

director who is jointly employed by the Research and Extension

Figure 2

Separate Research and Extension Organizations

Technical Liaison
SUpport Personnel


S Technical Liaison
I and Support Personnel

Figure 2A
Separate Research and Extension Oraanizations

(Option A)
- Administrative Deputy Director for Deputy Director
Liaison Technical Services for Field Services

(Option B)
Technical Liaison Technical Liaison
Ort Personnel

Provincial Director
1 ---

Technical Liaison

Support Personnel




Directors and who reports to each of the Directors for their

respective functions, under the watchful eye of a Director General.

It was pointed out earlier that it is difficult to classify a number

of the functions on the Research Extension Continuum as research

or extension. This especially true in such areas as problem

identification, field testing and preparing recommendations for field

use. So why not put these highly related, farmer oriented activities

under the same leadership. Carrying out this approach of course

requires close cooperation between extension and research.

Another option with this general approach would be for the Director

of the technical research and extension support division to report

formally to a Director General, while working informally with both

the Director of Research and Director of Extension for their

particular functions. In this latter structure, the Director of

the Technical Division would act very much like Department Heads

do in land grant colleges. This approach has nuch to recommend it,

not only for affecting close cooperation, but also for keeping the

personnel oriented to their subject matter functions.

In either of these latter approaches, adaptive research would be

a function of the Technical Division. In the case of farming systems

research projects, they would also likely be placed in this division

for administration. Option B suggests that such teams might be drawn

from both the research and extension units. (Johnson and Claar 1984)


Cbviously there is a wide variety of structures for extension and

research units to carry out their functions. The two described above

suggest ways for mutual support to be effected because it is critical

to both units in their own self-interest. Figures 2 and 2A are

examples of a cooperative approach, while Figures 3 and 3A represent

an integrated system. The important point is that design teams of

special projects should keep the long-time functioning of research

and extension in mind and plan for the essential linkage, regardless

of the form they choose.

Finally, there is another area where research and extension need

to work closely together. This is in identifying the problems that

constrained their progress in stimulating agriculture development

and in reporting them to superiors and planning units, together with

suggestions for change. For example, low fixed prices may make the

adoption of technology unfeasible or provide little incentive for

farmers to market their supplies.


After all, research and extension organizations are a part of a

country's mechanisms for achieving certain ends in agriculture

development. Each must function well to justify public support. Gaps

or lack of functional support between extension and research will become

increasingly intolerable in the years ahead. Extension services

frequently take a constant flow of technology into the system for

granted. A checklist of selected frequently forgotten aspects of setting

up a TL&S staff in extension follows:

Figure 3

Director General for Research

Director of Research

I II Director of


Ext. Field
\ -- i --

Res. Pers.-

Ext. Technical
- Liaison and Support

--- -N

Director Technical Adaptive
Research and Extension Support

Ext. Field

||ill |

ii | L

- --

Figure 3A

Director General for Extension and Research

Director of Research


:ion A)

Director of Extension

Technical Adaptive Research and
Extension Support Division

Adaptive Research

FSR/E Teams

(Option I

Extension Technical
Liaison and Support Staff


Field Service




A Checklist of Inportant Considerations

in Setting up or Operating a TL&S Group

1. Develop an in-depth understanding with knowledge sources, starting

at the top. Don't take it for granted. Developing a memorandum

of understanding between extension and major knowledge sources should

enhance the relationship and provide greater continuity. Many a

good idea doesn't pay off because the supporting steps weren't

taken. Some elements of an agreement might be:


Extension and research will provide mutual support as a priority

part of their job. Facilitating research should be a part of each

extension workers job and facilitating dissemination a part of each

researchers role.

Things that Extension might agree to do:

a. Provide information to researchers about problems that are

encountered in the field, with a meeting between appropriate

people in the organization no less than once a year to discuss

mutual concerns and provide assistance in making needed surveys.

b. Invite researchers or otherwise facilitate appropriate research

personnel to visit farmers to see such problems first hand and

to discuss need with farmers.

c. Help identify and make contacts with farmers needed in

facilitating research activities and field testing technology.

d. Make personnel available to assist with the day to day

supervision of field tests and demonstrations.

e. Maintain a corp of technical liaison personnel which will have

a major assignment in facilitating the above functions and

enhancing the transfer of information to extension for

dissemination. And organize and house them to enhance the

performance of these activities.

f. To assign extension personnel as appropriate to workgroups on

task forces of research personnel such as Farming Systems

Research groups, who have extension related functions to perform

and which have regular need for farmer contact.

Some things research might agree to do

To cooperate with extension personnel in performing the various

research functions which involve farmer contact and identification

of problems needing research. These functions and how extension

will be involved need to be spelled out in detail, including the

procedure for doing so.

To take part in the training of extension personnel as feasible

and needed.

To take part in fielddays as feasible to help explain research.

To make farm visits on request by extension to help identify

problems with which extension needs help.

To work with extension personnel to help decide what should be

recommended to farmers based on research results. This involves

extrapolating from specific research results as well as

simplification without loss of validity.



2. There is no perfect place for TL&S personnel to be housed as the

very essence of their role involves frequent and in depth contact

between the extension field system and knowledge sources. But other

things being equal the accessing of information and its introduction

into the extension system will be enhanced by proximity and

involvement with research personnel.

3. Work with research counterparts will be benefitted by having similar

organziational structure in extension and research. Barriers are

reduced when administration units have the same subject matter

components and role definitions. For example, including wheat among

the responsibilities of a field crop person in one of the units as

a part of cereal grains in the other may impede ccmtunication.

4. Place high priority on employing people with the credentials and

attitudes that will enhance their acceptability to researchers and

other sources of technical personnel; and then provide them with

the tools of their profession. However, practical knowledge of

farming and familiarity with field problems must go hand in hand

with the ability to understand and communicate with technical

sources. The ability to reduce complex things to understandable

terms and to write and speak are also also important abilities but

must not take priority over the first two. Ability to relate to

extension agents and farmers is usually enhanced by a genuine concern

for their performance and welfare. Therefore, one frequently hears

about employing persons in the role who "like people". When linked


with the other requirements, this is an important consideration but

again can not substitute for technical competence and practical field


5. Don't develop a mechanical inflexible role for TL&S personnel.

Technical liaison and support staff are to train and facilitate the

performance of extension personnel as needed. Therefore, the

approach to their work must be very flexible. Too often such

personnel work only in formal teaching situations and do not work

with extension agents in the field. Some extension agents are able

to attend workshop sessions and then proceed directly to using the

information in the field. But others, a great many others, will

be unsure of themselves either because they didn't grasp it fully

or because the dissemination of the information per se may expose

the agent to related practical field questions with which they feel


Therefore, using technical support personnel only for training in

formal situations will not get the job done. Extension must have

enough of such personnel to follow up with specific agents in making

farm visits. The specialist should observe, support and demonstrate

as needed to insure that the field agent is able to perform on their


This role is called backstopping. It is frequently missing or very

poorly done. Obviously, technical support personnel must either


have transportation or be located close to both knowledge sources

and field personnel.

One excellent way to train agents is for the technical specialist

to function as guest lecturer with an agents farmers. This helps

insure transferrence and provides security to the agent as he or

she hears the questions answered that will be involved with

follow-up. If field visits together are not possible this guest

lecturer approach will be very useful in augmenting training

workshops. Helping the agent with field demonstrations is also both

excellent training and a major step in insuring the practical

knowledge of field staff.

In other words, the training role of the TL&S personnel does not

end with a formal workshop regarding new technology. Instead it

just begins.

6. Use mass media and other aids in tandem with field programs. Some

extension services do not have mass media or the capability to

provide visual aids to agents in the field. But where they exist,

they should be planned and used together as a part of the

dissemination system in parallel and not as separates.

How to put out demonstrations or answers to typical questions about

a given technology or problem are examples of support materials of

high priority that specialists might provide. Visuals to help people


understand by seeing as well as bearing are important too, especially

where part of the clientele are illiterate or poorly prepared.

7. Determining progress and new problems must be a concern of all TL&S

staff. Efforts to determine these things may be extension wide or

even performed together with research colleagues. But TL&S personnel

should press for such work and gather the information as best they

can within their own sphere of operations. Being able to form good

judgments of these matters is essential to developing an effective

plan of work for the next season and in helping guide research and

field testing.

8. TL&S personnel must clearly not be administrative personnel, as they

must be viewed as friends and helpers of the agents. Yet,

administrative personnel must be able to ask them for appropriate

help, such as providing backstopping for specific personnel. It

is essential too that extension TL&S personnel report the results

of such work to administration as well as providing early warning

to administrators about problems that appear to be emerging (e.g. the

build-up of insects or diseases.) Hence TL&S personnel should report

conditions and problems to administration but should not be

responsible in any way for personnel actions.

9. Finally, spend some money on helping extension TL&S personnel keep

up to date and well informed. A good principle is to employ only

as many field staff as you can keep trained and supported.


10. Keep in mind that the role of the TL&S staff is to enhance the use

of agricultural information to solve problems and to support

development, with special but not exclusive reference to extension.

Input suppliers and others who contact farmers are important clients

of research and extension. They need to know what is being

recommended to farmers so that they can stock it, or supply it.

And if they know what extension is stressing, they can help

disseminate general information to farmers along with their specific

product. This is a natural area in which research and extension

personnel can cooperate.


Reference Notes

1) bar. Extension: A Reference Manual (Second Edition) edited by Burton

Swanson, FAO, Rome: Swanson and Claar discuss the evolution and

status of Extension Services. 1984 Ch.1 pp.1-19.

2) K. C. Nobe Organizational Constraints to Greater Involvement in

Agency for International Development funded AGr. Programs in Less

Developed Countries, in Knowledge Transfer in Developing Countries;

Status Constraints, Outlook, edited by J. B. Claar and L. H. Watts

INTERPAKS, University of Illinois. 1984 pp.22-30.

3) Viki Segman and Burton Swanson Problem Facing National Agr. Ext. in

Developing Countries INTERPAKS No. 3 University of Illinois 1984,

Sigman and Swanson made a survey of problems as seen by extension

in IDC's.

4) Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations (Third Edition) The Free

Press, New York 1983 pp.318-319 and 329-330. In these pages, Rogers

discusses the importance of credibility as it relates to change agent


5) In a USAID supported study in 1982 it was found that the technology

existed to increase production of cereals from 50 to 70% and

vegetable from 160 to 260% if it were applied by farmers. The study

concluded that the information was not generally available through


extension nor was it profitable to apply it to several crops under

current policy. Strategies for Accelerating Agriculture Develoment,

The International Agr. Dev. Ser. U.S.D.A. July 1982 p. 7

6) Burton Swanson and Jafar Rassi, International Directory of National

Extension Systems, College of Education, University of Illinois,

Urbana-Chanpaign. p.274

7) The T&V system has been supported widely by the World Bank. A new

edition of the original statement by D. Benor and J. O. Harrison.

The new publication is by D. Benor, J. 0. Harrison and M. Baxter,

Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System, World Bank,

Washington D.C. 1984

8) Peter E. Hildebrand, The Farming Systems Approach to Technoloay

Development Transfer Utah State University, Logan, Utah 1983.


9) Willis W. Shaner Linking Extension with FSR. Knowledge Transfer in

Developing Countries. Edited by J. B. Claar and Lowell Watts.

University of Illinois, 1984. Shaner develops a matrix showing the

desirable interrelationships between extension and research T&V

report in FSR projects! pp.45-55.

10) George Axinn and Sudhakar Thorat, Modernizing World Agriculture,

Praeger Publishers, New York, Washington, London, 1977 pp. 127.


11) For a comprehensive discussion of these interrelationships see

Knowledge Transfer in Developing Countries: Status, Contraints.

Outlook edited by J.B. Claar and L. H. Watts, INTERPAKS, University

of Illinois, Urbana, 1984. pp.11-12

12) S. Johnson and J. B. Claar. Intersection of Farming Systems Research

and Extension Organizational Implications. Annual Farming Systems

Research Workshop, Kansas State University, October 8-10, 1984.