A transformative learning perspective analysis of the agricultural extension programmes in Ngwezi settlement scheme in Mazabuka, Zambia

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Buumba, Makala Precious
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The University of Zambia
This study analysed the agricultural extension programmes from a transformative learning perspective in Ngwezi settlement scheme in Mazabuka District. The Ngwezi settlement scheme is located along the Ngwezi River plain which runs from the Magoye area eastwards for over thirty miles and is inhabited by small holder farmers. The study had three objectives: to examine the process of developing the curriculum for agricultural extension programmes in Ngwezi settlement scheme; to assess the instructional methods of the agricultural extension programmes in Ngwezi settlement scheme; and to determine the contextual factors that influence the transformation of farmers who undergo agricultural extension programmes in Ngwezi settlement scheme. A descriptive design was employed by the study. Purposeful sampling was used to select extension officers and convenient sampling to select lead farmers and follower farmers. The total number of respondents presented in this study is 72 follower farmers, 20 lead-farmers and 3 extension officers. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview guides. Qualitative data was analyzed based on categorizing similar themes as they emerged and was presented in narrations. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences and results was presented using frequency distribution tables. The study showed that the process of developing the curriculum for agricultural extension programmes was non participatory. The extension officers, lead farmers and follower farmers all indicated that they were not involved in the process of designing the contents of the agricultural extension programmes. With regard to the methods used the most common methods were the lecture format, group discussions, individual visits and demonstration plots in delivering content. The study also showed that farmers in Ngwezi settlement scheme were practicing what they learnt and that they were motivated to practice because their yields had increased. However, the farmers indicated that they were facing challenges with agriculture equipment; funds; poor rains; inputs such as seeds, herbicides, and fertilizer; infrequent visits from camp officers; markets; and agriculture shops. The other challenge is that follower farmers felt used by lead farmers to benefit inputs and hence, many follower farmers had withdrawn from the agricultural extension programmes. The study revealed that despite the relevance of the programmes in the settlement scheme, farmers still needed new lessons to be introduced and this was seen by the researcher as a gap that was created due to the fact that the owners of the programmes were left out in the process of developing the curriculum. In this regard, their needs were not taken into consideration. The study recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture should come up with a deliberate policy to ensure that projects and programmes intended to bring about development apply transformative learning principles. It also recommended that the government should urgently increase funding to the Ministry of Agriculture to improve the effectiveness of the extension system in Zambia.
Development of curriculum--Agricultural extension programmes--Zambia , Instructional methods--Agricultural programmes--Zambia