Participation of Smallholder Farmers in Agricultural Extension service in Zambia: An Evaluation of the Ministry-operated extension service in Mumbwa District of Central Province

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Makasa, Victor
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The study evaluates the public agricultural extension service delivery in Zambia with respect to the participation of smallholder farmers. The study describes the extension service implementation, establishes the smallholder farmers’ level of access to extension and finds out the factors that influence farmer’s participation in agricultural extension. The study was carried out in Central Province of Zambia in Mumbwa District. An interviewer-administered questionnaire survey of 100 smallholder farmers, randomly selected, together with the review of secondary information and semi-structured interviews with seven extension staff were all part of the study methodology. A review of academic literature highlighted that community participation is a wide subject and that top-down and bottom-up approaches to development form the two ideal extreme ends of the participation continuum, but a more interactive form of participation is what is required. It was also argued that genuine participation leads to enhanced service delivery, efficiency, effectiveness, adoption of appropriate farming practices and sustainability. The study revealed that extension workers found it difficult to secure farmer participation and that they relied much on the local leaders’ interventions rather than their tact, persuasion and demand–driven extension packages. Access to the extension service was found to be very low and participation of smallholder farmers was found to be below average compounded by infrequent extension activity in the area. The little participation that occurred was found to be high on passive and incentive-driven participation and low on interactive participation. Factors influencing the participation of the farmers were numerous and ranged from farmers’ personal to farm to livelihood characteristics. The study also revealed that extension workers needed to have their conditions of service improved, their means of operation made available to them, and also rewards for good performance to be put in place. In addition the study observed that farmers would be willing to participate in extension activities that address their various needs and consequently it is extremely vital that extension services are relevant to these needs. A vigorous gender sensitization was recommended. It was recommended that the disadvantaged/vulnerable sub-groups of smallholder farmers be given more attention if their participation is to be secured. Extension workers also needed to have their skills in participatory procedures enhanced.
Smallholder Farmers in Zambia , Agricultural Extention Service in Zambia