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The Institution of Agricultural Extension in the New Socio-Economic Order: Some Issues and Hypotheses

Punjabi Meeta and Vinod Ahuja ()

No WP2000-03-01, IIMA Working Papers from Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department

Abstract: This paper has presented an economist’s perspective to the institution of agricultural extension and raised some issues that have recently assumed importance. Focusing on three main components of the extension system – the providers, the people and the price, the paper has argued that there is enough room for priv(ate sector participation in delivery of these services. While the information with strong public good component will need to be supplied by the public sector, there are sufficient opportunities where private sector can play a complementing role. In addition, a number of other innovative models of service delivery have emerged across the world in the recent past which need to be examined in detail. The paper also argues that the practice of delivering pre-packaged generalised prescriptions/recommendations to all categories of farmers has resulted into wasted efforts. The service providers need to understand the clients better in order to minimize losses due to mismatch between demand and supply. For example, the paper points out that small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, women, rural youth and so on need differentiated extension input and a targeted approach would be necessary to maximize the potential of information and knowledge as a factor of production. While acknowledging the question of who should pay for these services and how much is a complex one and more research is needed in Indian context on these issues, the paper also points that there is enough international evidence to build on where the commercialization of agricultural services has helped reorient the extension services to be farmer oriented, to balance demand and supply of information and to provide services in an efficient manner.

Date: 2000-03-01
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