to agents. All these conditions must be met for producers to make positive changes in practice with the information they receive.

With these requisites in mind, Bell analyzed the potential for agricultural extension in fragile societies in terms of challenges, needs, and opportunities.


Several challenges are common in developing countries. For example, farmers are innovative and smart, said Bell, but they are not necessarily literate. The literacy rate for males in Afghanistan is about 40 percent, so knowledge often must be conveyed through means other than writing.

In addition, the economics of farming in developing countries poses challenges. Many farmers do not have ready access to credit or agricultural inputs, and the size of their farms is often small. In developed countries, an extension agent can talk to one farmer and have an influence over large areas. In developing countries, the agent must reach many more farmers. In addition, the agricultural infrastructure and markets in developing countries may be less robust than in developed countries.

Finally, in developed countries such as the United States, the institutions involved with agriculture and agricultural extension are tightly linked (Figure 3-1). In particular, major components of research, education, and exten-


FIGURE 3-1 In developed countries such as the United States, extension systems are strongly tied to research and education in universities and to the private sector, whereas in developing countries these institutions tend to be largely separated. SOURCE: Bell workshop presentation.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement