sion are based in universities, which may have strong connections with the private sector. In contrast, linkages are much less strong in developing countries, meaning that institutions work largely in isolation from each other.
The number one need for successful extension, said Bell, is technical knowledge, which has to be credible and unbiased to win acceptance by agricultural producers. In their role as agricultural experts, extension agents provide farmers with objective, neutral advice based on science.
In addition, in their role as peacebuilders, extension agents must ensure that their activities do not exacerbate conflict. Bell suggested a number of desirable technical and personal skills for extension agents (Box 3-1). Agents also need to have the personal rapport to apply these technical skills in the field.
Desirable Skills for Extension Agents
• Team building
• Concept development
• Change management
• Conflict resolution
• Project management
• Priority setting
• Time management
Successful extension activities require participatory approaches, Bell said. Producers have considerable local knowledge that needs to feed in to the extension process, both because of the way this knowledge interacts with the information an extension agent provides and because of the value of this knowledge to other producers.
Extension should take a process-driven approach, according to Bell, in which consideration of audiences and needs leads to solutions, the development of core messages, the delivery of those messages in an accessible form, and evaluation of outcomes. The process should start at the level of the producers rather than through top-down directives.