The Importance of Agricultural Extension Officers
Agricultural extension officers occupy a strategic position in the agricultural production cycle.
Agricultural extension officers act as middlemen between critical information/research and farmers. On the one side, they liaise between the farmers and research scientists, and on the other side between farmers and policy makers. it is their goal is to assist farmers with decision making by ensuring that efficient knowledge is obtained in order to achieve successful results.
A constant supply of timely and appropriate information to this group of agricultural information users will enhance the quality of information they provide to farmers, researchers, and policymakers.
Agricultural extension officers communicate to farmers about agricultural information on natural resources, animals, crops, on how best to utilize the farmland, how to construct proper irrigation schemes, economic use, and storage of water, how to combat animal disease and save on the cost of farming equipment and procedures. It is critical that farmers fully comprehend this information and apply the advice with their agricultural production.
Agricultural extension officers often propagate new farming methods, and because farmers have the last say, agricultural extension officers always consult and work closely with them. Agricultural extension officers encourage farmers to adopt new, improved methods of farming, using a variety of methods to reach farmers i.e. organizing study groups for farmers, ‘farmer days’, demonstrations, lectures and literature, as well as informing the media. The best method though is through personal contact with farmers on their farms.
They propagate the farming and development programs aimed at reaching marginalized farmers or those who have little access to information and extension services. They do this in collaboration with farming communities, helping them to help themselves to become more self-reliant and independent.
Providing information only to research scientists without making it available to agricultural extension officers will negate desirable integration. ,,In Africa, the ratio of agricultural extension officers to farmers is far too small. Therefore, an adequate supply of information will lighten the burden of extension officers.