Skip to main content

Agriculture Extension


The term extension was first used in the United States of America in the first decade of this century to connote the extension of knowledge from the Land Grant Colleges to the farmers through the process of informal education. In India, the terms community development & extension education became more popular with the launching of Community Development Projects in 1952 & with the establishment of the National Extension Service in 1953. Since then, Community development has been regarded as a programme for an all-round development of the rural people, & extension education as the means to achieve this objective.

Extension education is an applied behavioural science, the knowledge of which is applied to bring about desirable changes in the behavioural complex of human beings usually through various strategies & programmes of change & by applying the latest scientific & technological innovations.

Extension education has now developed as a full-fledged discipline, having its own philosophy, objectives, principles, methods & techniques which must be understood by every extension worker & others connected with the rural development. It might be mentioned here that extension education, its principles, methods & techniques are applicable not only to agriculture but also to veterinary & animal husbandry, dairying, home science, health, family planning, etc. Based upon its application & use, various nomenclatures have been given to it, such as agricultural extension, veterinary & animal husbandry extension, dairy extension, home science extension, public health extension, & family planning extension.


It may, however, be mentioned here that when extension education is put into action for educating the rural people, it does not remain formal education. In that sense, there are several differences between the two. Some of these differences are:

Formal education

Extension education

  • The teacher starts with theory & works up to practical.
  • The teacher (extension worker) starts with practicals & may take up theory later on.
  • Students study subjects.
  • Farmers study problems.
  • Students must adapt themselves to the fixed curriculum offered.
  • It has no fixed curriculum or course of study & the farmers help to formulate the curriculum.
  • Authority rests with the teacher.
  • Authority rests with the farmers.
  • Class attendance is compulsory.
  • Participation is voluntary.
  • Teacher instructs the students.
  • Teacher teaches & also learns from the farmers.
  • Teaching is only through instructors.
  • Teaching is also through local leaders.
  • Teaching is mainly vertical.
  • Teaching is mainly horizontal.
  • The teacher has more or less homogeneous audience.
  • The teacher has a large & heterogeneous audience.
  • It is rigid.
  • It is flexible.
  • It has all pre-planned & pre-decided programmes.
  • It has freedom to develop programmes locally & they are based on the needs & expressed desires of the people.
  • It is more theoretical.
  • It is more practical & intended for immediate application in the solution of problems.

Objectives of extension education: The objectives of extension education are the expressions of the ends towards which our efforts are directed. In other words, an objective means a direction of movement. Before starting any programme, its objectives must be clearly stated, so that one knows where to go & what is to be achieved. The fundamental objective of extension education is the development of the people.
Agricultural extension in our country is primarily concerned with the following main objectives:

(1) The dissemination of useful & practical information relating to agriculture, including improved seeds, fertilizers, implements, pesticides, improved cultural practices, dairying, poultry, nutrition, etc.

(2) The practical application of useful knowledge to farm & home and

(3) Thereby ultimately to improve all aspects of the life of the rural people within the framework of the national, economic & social policies involving the population as a whole.

Principles of extension education: The extension work is based upon some working principles & the knowledge of these principles is necessary for an extension worker. Some of these principles, as related to agricultural extension, are mentioned below.

  1. Principle of interest & need: Extension work must be based on the needs & interests of the people. These needs & interests differ from individual to individual, from village to village, from block to block, & from state to state &, therefore, there cannot be one programme for all people.
  2. Principle of cultural difference: Extension work is based on the cultural background of the people with whom the work is done. Improvement can only begin from the level of the people where they are. This means that the extension worker has to know the level of the knowledge, & the skills of the people, methods & tools used by them, their customs, traditions, beliefs, values, etc. before starting the extension programme.
  3. Principle of participation: Extension helps people to help themselves. Good extension work is directed towards assisting rural families to work out their own problems rather than giving them ready-made solutions. Actual participation & experience of people in these programmes creates self-confidence in them & also they learn more by doing.
  4. Principle of adaptability: People differ from each other, one group differs from another group & conditions also differ from place to place. An extension programme should be flexible, so that necessary changes can be made whenever needed, to meet the varying conditions.
  5. The grass roots principle of organisation: A group of rural people in local community should sponsor extension work. The programme should fit in with the local conditions. The aim of organising the local group is to demonstrate the value of the new practices or programmes so that more & more people would participate.
  6. The leadership principle: Extension work is based on the full utilisation of local leadership. The selection & training of local leaders to enable them to help to carry out extension work is essential to the success of the programme. People have more faith in local leaders & they should be used to put across a new idea so that it is accepted with the least resistance.
  7. The whole-family principle: Extension work will have a better chance of sucess if the extension workers have a whole-family approach instead of piecemeal approach or seperate & unintegrated approach. Extension work is, therefore, for the whole family, i.e. for male, female & the youth.
  8. Principle of co-operation: Extension is a co-operative venture. It is a joint democratic enterprise in which rural people co-operate with their village, block & state officials to pursue a common cause.
  9. Principle of satisfaction: The end-product of the effort of extension teaching is the satisfaction that comes to the farmer, his wife or youngsters as the result of solving a problem, meeting a need, acquiring a new skill or some other changes in behaviour. Satisfaction is the key to sucess in extension work. "A satisfied customer is the best advertisement."
  10. The evaluation principle: Extension is based upon the methods of science, & it needs constant evaluation. The effectiveness of the work is measured in terms of the changes brought about in the knowledge, skill, attitude & adoption behaviour of the people but not merely in terms of achievement of physical targets.



Extension is an educational process for bringing about the maximum number of desirable changes among the people, which involves both learning & teaching & needs some tools or methods commonly known as extension-teaching methods. It is, therefore, necessary here to understand what is meant by learning, teaching & extension methods.
'Learning' is the process by which an individual, through his own activity, attains a change in his behaviour. It is an active process on the part of the learner. The essential role of an extension worker is to create effective 'learning situations'. An effective learning situation requires the following essential elements:

  1. An instructor (an extension worker, e.g. an extension officer or a village-level worker).
  2. Learners (the farmers, the farm women & the youth).
  3. Subject-matter (the recommended improved practices, such as the seeds of high-yielding varieties, fertilisers, balanced diet, etc.)
  4. Teaching material, such as a flannel-board, a black-board, charts, models, samples, slides, film strips, etc.
  5. Physical facilities, such as sitting accomodation, good visibility, etc

The extension worker should skillfully manipulate the elements of the learning situation & provide satisfactory learning experiences for the people. The farmer, the farmer women or the farm youth are the focal points in the learning situation. The main aim of an extension worker is to bring about a change in this behaviour of the people with the help of a judicious combination & use of different elements. all the teaching should be carried out according to the needs & resources of the local community or group.

'Teaching' is the process of arranging situations in which the things to be learnt are brought to the notice of the learners, their interest is developed & desire aroused, i.e. they are stimulated to action.

for example, if we want to teach the farmers the use & advantages of chemical fertilizers, we do this by conducting demonstrations on their fields, showing them how the fertilizers are applied, & compare the yield of the fertilized crop with that of the crop to which no fertilizers has been applied. After seeing the beneficial effect of fertilizers, the farmer is convinced & motivated to action & starts using fertilizers regularly.

Extension-teaching methods: The extension-teaching methods are the tools & techniques used to create situations in which communication can take place between the rural people & the extension workers. They are the methods of extending new knowledge & skills to the rural people by drawing their attention towards them, arousing their interest & helping them to have a successful experience of the new practice.
A proper understanding of these methods & their selection for a particular type of work are necessary.

Classification of extension teaching methods:

(A)ACCORDING TO USE: One way of classifying the extension methods is according to their use & nature of contact. In other words, whether they are used for contacting people individually, in groups or in masses. Based upon the nature of contact, they are divided into individual, group & mass-contact methods.

Individual-contact methods: Extension methods under this category provide opportunities for face-to-face or person-to-person contact between the rural people & the extension workers. These methods are very effective in teaching new skills & creating goodwill between farmers & the extension workers.

Group-contact methods: Under this category, the rural people or farmers are contacted in a group which usually consists of 20 to 25 persons. These groups are usually formed around a common interest. These methods also involve a face-to-face contact with the people & provide an opportunity for the exchange of ideas, for discussions on problems & technical recommendations & finally for deciding the future course of action.

Mass or community-contact methods: An extension worker has to approach a large number of people for disseminating a new information & helping them to use it. this can be done through mass-contact methods conveniently. These methods are more useful for making people aware of the new agricultural technology quickly.

Important extension-teaching methods under these 3 categories are listed in the following chart.

Chart 1. Classification of extension-teaching methods according to their use

Individual contacts

Group contacts

Mass contacts

Farm & home visits

Method demonstration & result demonstration


Office calls

National demonstration leader-training meetings


Telephone calls

Conferences & discussion meetings & workshops

Circular letters & radio

Personal letters

Field trips

Television, exhibitions, fairs, posters

(B)ACCORDING TO FORM: Extension-teaching methods are also classified according to their forms, such as written, spoken & audio-visual. Some of the important methods under each of these 3 categories are given in Chart 2.

Chart 2 Classification of extension-teaching methods according to their form



Objective or visual


General & special meetings

Result demonstration

Leaflets, folders, News articles

Farm & home visits

Demonstration posters

Personal letters

Official calls

Motion-picture or movies, charts

Circular letters

Telephone calls, radio

Slides & film-strips, models, exhibits


A brief description of some of the extension methods which are commonly used by extension workers is given below.
Farm & home visits. Farm & home visits constitute the direct or face-to-face contact by an extension worker with the farmer or the members of his family. During these visits, information is exchanged or discussed. The visits may be to get acquainted with the problems of the farmers, or to organizational purposes. Such visits provide an opportunity for a two-way communication.

Result demonstration: Result demonstration is an educational test to prove the advantages of recommended practices & to demonstrate their applicability to the local condition. It is conducted by a farmer under the direct supervision of an extension worker. It is designed to teach others, in addition to the person who conducts the demonstration. It helps the farmers to learn by seeing & doing. This method can be used to show the superiority of practices, such as the use of fertilizers, insecticides & pesticides & high yielding varieties of seeds.

Method demonstration: It is used to show the technique of doing things or carrying out new practices, e.g. preparing a nursery-bed, treating seed with insecticides & fungicides, line-sowing, taking a soil sample, grafting fruit trees, etc. This method is usually used for groups of people.

National demonstrations: National demonstrations are the "first-line demonstrations," conducted by researchers on the farmers' fields to show how production can be increased per unit of area & per unit of time. These demonstrations usually include the system of multiple cropping & the use of high-yielding varieties, along with the best package of practices. They were first initiated on a modest scale in 1965 & have now become a part of the agricultural production programme in the country.

Group discussions: All the farmers cannot be contacted by extension workers individually because of their large number. It is convenient & feasible to contact them in groups. This method is commonly known as group discussion. It is used to encourage & stimulate the people to learn more about the problems that concern the community through discussion. It is a good method of involving the local people in developing local leadership & in deciding on a plan of action in a democratic way.

Exhibitions: An exhibition is a systematic display of information, actual specimens, models, posters, photographs, and charts, etc in a logical sequence. It is organized for arousing the interest of the visitors in the things displayed. It is one of the best media for reaching a large number of people, especially illiterate & semi-illiterate people. Exhibitions are used for a wide range of topics, such as planning a model village, demonstrating improved irrigation practices, soil conservation methods, showing high-yielding varieties of seeds & plants, new agricultural implements & the best products of village industries.

General meetings: These are usually held for passing on certain information to the people for future action. Extension workers give lectures to the people on certain pre-selected items of work, such as the celebration of Van mahotsav, a national festival.

Campaigns: Campaigns are used to focus the attention of the people on a particular problem, e.g. rat control, village sanitation & plant protection, the production of rabi crops & family planning. Through this method, the maximum number of farmers can be reached in the shortest possible time. It builds up community confidence & involves the people emotionally in a programme.

Tours & field days: Conducted tours for farmers are used to convince them & to provide them with an opportunity of seeing the results of new practices, demonstration skills, new implements etc. & to give them an idea regarding the suitability & application of these things in their own area. Such tours may also be arranged to enable the rural people to visit places & institutions connected with the problems of rural life, such as research institutions, training institutions, agricultural universities, model villages, areas of advanced developments, leading private farms, exhibitions, & agricultural & cattle fairs.

Printed matter (literature): Newspapers, magazines, bulletins, leaflets, folders, pamphlets & wall news-sheets are another set of mass media for communicating information to a large number of literate people. They are used for communicating general & specific information on a programme of technology or a practice. Small folders, leaflets & pamphlets are used to give specific recommendations about a practice, such as the use of fertilizers, vegetable cultivation, green-manuring & the growing of individual crops, e.g. wheat, barley, gram & sugarcane.

Radio: It is a mass medium of communication & can reach a large number of people at any given time involving the least expense. Extension workers use the radio for communicating information on new methods & techniques, giving timely information about the control of crop pests & diseases, weather, market news, etc. For this purpose, talks, group discussions, folk-songs, dialogues & dramas are usually organized. There are 38 stations of All-India Radio broadcasting regular rural programmes.

Television: It is one of the most powerful media of communication. It has come into vogue only in the recent years. It combines both audio & visual impact & is very suitable for the dissemination of agricultural information. It is more useful in teaching how to do a specific job. A beginning has been made in India for using this medium for development programmes since 1967, & it is expected that its use will become more extensive in the coming years.

Motion-pictures (movies): Movies are an effective tool for arousing interest among the people, because they involve seeing, hearing, & action. They are the most suitable medium for drawing bigger audience. a film show can be followed by a discussion with the villagers.


Visual aids are the tools of teaching through the sense of sight. They are supporting materials & they alone cannot generate learning. They should be considered only a tool that helps to do a job in a better way. Visual aids are of different types. The following are the more commonly used ones in India:

  1. Posters
  2. Flannel-graphs
  3. Flash cards
  4. Puppets
  5. Slides & film-strips
  6. Models
  7. Bulletin boards
  8. photographs
  9. Black-boards
  10. Cultural programmes
  • Posters: A good poster creates awareness & interest among the people. It inspires & takes people towards action. It consists of 3 main parts. The first usually announces the purpose or the approach, the second sets out conditions, & the third recommends action. A poster should be bold enough to attract attention of the people, & should communicate only one idea at a time. It should have simple letters which are clear & forceful. The size of a poster should not be less than 50*75 cm.
  • Flannel-graphs: Flannel-graphs serve as a good teaching aid. When a piece of sandpaper is fixed to the back of a picture, a photograph, a letter, etc. They can be made to adhere easily to a piece of thick flannel cloth, fixed on a board. They are used as an aid for group methods like informal talks or lectures.
  • Flash cards: Flash cards are a set of small compact cards approximately 30 to 45 cm. In size, & are used to bring home an idea, such as the benefits of a smokeless chulha, the cultivation of hybrid maize, compost-making & other practices. Pictures on the theme are drawn on these cards in a logical sequence which is flashed before the audience. Upon seeing them, the villagers are able to follow a story more easily.
  • Puppets: Puppets are very popular & especially suitable for village situations. Puppet shows can be effectively organized to gather the rural people. For a puppet show, a short story, brief scenes & quick dialogues are necessary. Such shows can teach a lesson about health, literacy, agriculture, or home-making.
  • Slides: A slide is a transparent picture or photograph in an individual mount. For viewing the image, the picture is projected through a slide-projector which brings the enlarged image into focus on a screen. Slides are excellent aids of illustrating talks & showing people concrete activities & aspects of development. They can be effectively used to show different situations & methods of carrying out an activity. They can be arranged in a series for giving an illustrated talk on improved agricultural practices, cultivation of crops, etc.
  • Film-strips: They are a series of black-and-white or coloured pictures depicting a single idea, & instead of being individually mounted are printed on a single length of strip of 35-mm film. Such strips can be shown to an audience of about a 100 people. The additional advantage in using the film-strips is that the film can be stopped anytime during the show to explain or discuss a difficult or interesting point.
  • Models: Models create a sense of realization in a person. Models of new farm equipments, compost pits & sanitation devices & animals are mostly prepared for those people who are not in a position to see them in the actual form. They are used to create interest, promote understanding & influence the people to adopt a certain practice.
  • Bulletin-boards: A bulletin-board can serve the purpose of making announcements, displaying events of short duration & photographs of local activities. The information should be written in simple language.
  • Photographs: They are a very simple visual aid. Good photographs show some action & catch the feelings & emotions of the people. They are so arranged that they tell a story. They are displayed on a bulletin-board at a common meeting-place where a large number of people can see them. They should be clear & bold in composition with proper captions.
  • Black-boards: They provide writing & drawing surface for chalk. They are usually used in schools, colleges & meeting places. They make possible the use of sketches, drawings, words, symbols of a combination of them to emphasize a point. Black-boards are most useful in group-teaching methods.
  • Cultural programmes: Local cultural programmes, such as folk-songs & dramas, are used as an effective medium of communicating the message of development programmes. Dramatization of a theme or story creates a lively interest among the audience. Folk-songs & dances related to the subjects of local interest & importance, when acted on the stage, bring them home more forcefully.

For an effective use of extension-teaching methods, it is not enough to know these methods & their techniques. What is more important is the appropriate selection of a method or combination of methods for a particular situation. In fact, when a farmer is exposed to a new idea several times by different methods or a combination of methods, he is likely to accept it more quickly. Farmers learn about new practices through several stages. These stages are known as: (1) the awareness stage- when a person comes to know of a new practice but lacks the complete information; (2) the interest stage- when he becomes interested in a new idea & wants to know more about it; (3) the evaluation stage- when he mentally applies the new idea to his present situation & evaluates it; (4) the trial stage- when he applies the new idea or practice on a small scale in order to determine its utility under his own situation; and (5) adoption stage- when he decides to continue the full use of the practice. Thus, it is the cumulative affect on people through exposure to an idea repeatedly that result in action.

Programme-planning: The first step in any systematic attempt to promote rural development is to prepare useful programmes based on peoples needs. The development of such programmes, which harmonize with the local needs as the people see them & with the national interests with which the country as a whole is concerned, is an important responsibility of extension personnel at all levels-national, state, district,block & village. Programme planning is the process of making decisions about the direction & intensity of extension-education efforts of extension-service to bring about social, economic & technological changes.

Principle of extension programme-planning: The planning of an extension programme is done on the basis of certain well recognized principles which should be clearly understood & followed by extension workers. The main principles are:

  1. The programme-planning should be based upon a careful analysis of a factual situation.
  2. In a good programme-planning, problems for action are selected on the basis of recognized needs.
  3. A good programme-planning determines objectives & solutions which are feasible & offer satisfaction.
  4. The programme should be permanent & flexible to meet a long-term situation, short-time changes, & emergencies.
  5. A sound programme should have both balance & emphasis.
  6. A good programme has a definite plan of work.
  7. Programme-planning is a continuous process.
  8. Programme-planning is a co-ordinating process.
  9. Programme-planning should be educational & directed towards bringing about improvement in the ability of the people to solve their own problems individually and collectively.
  10. A good programme-planning provides for the evaluation of results.

The programme-planning process: The steps involved in this process are as follows:

  1. Collection of facts: Sound plans are based on availability of relevant & reliable facts. This includes facts about the village people, physical conditions, existing farm & home practices, trends & outlook. Besides, other facts about customs, traditions, rural institutions, peoples' organizations operating in the area, etc. should be collected. The tools & techniques for collecting data include systematic observations, a questionnaire, interviews & surveys, existing governmental records, census reports, reports of the Planning Commission, Central Bureau of Statistics, & the past experiences of people.
  2. Analysis of the situation: After collecting facts, they are analyzed & interpreted to find out the problems & needs of the people.
  3. Identification of problems: As a result of the analysis of facts the important gaps between 'what is' & 'what should be' are identified & the problems leading to such a situation are located. These gaps represent the people's needs.
  4. Determination of objectives: Once the needs & problems of the people have been identified, they are stated in terms of objectives & goals. The objectives represent a forecast of the changes in the behavior of the people & the situation to be brought about. The objectives may be long-term as well as short-term, & must be stated clearly.
  5. Developing the plan of work: In order to achieve the stated objectives & goals, the means & methods attaining each objective are selected & the action plan, i.e. the calendar of activities is developed. It includes the technical content, who should do what, & the time-limit within the work will be completed. The plan of work may be seasonal, short-term, annual or long-term.
  6. Execution of the plan of work: Once the action plan has been developed, arrangement for supplying the necessary inputs, credits, teaching aids, extension literature etc. has to be made & the specific action has to be initiated. The execution of the plan of work is to be done through extension methods for stimulating individuals & groups to think, act & participate effectively. People should be involved at every step to ensure the success of the programme.
  7. Evaluation: It is done to measure the degree of success of the programme in terms of the objectives & goals set forth. This is basically done to determine the changes in the behaviour of the people as a result of the extension programme. The evaluation is done not only of the physical achievements but also of the methods & techniques used & of the other steps in the programme-planning process, so that the strong & weak points may be identified & necessary changes made.
  8. Reconsideration: The systematic & periodic evaluation of the programme will reveal the weak & strong points of the programme. Based on these points the programme is reconsidered & the necessary adjustments & changes are made in order to make it more meaningful & sound.

Programme-planning is not the end-product of extension activities but it is an educational tool for helping people to identify their own problems & make timely & judicious decisions.
From the above mentioned cycle, it is clear that the planning of an extension programme comprises a logical series of consecutive steps. The first 4 steps form the programme-phase. The steps 5-7 form the action-phase. The step 8, i.e. reconsideration, joins the 2 phases together, where it leads to the fact-collecting step, thus beginning once more the never ending or continuous process of planning the extension programme.
The procedure followed for planning extension programmes, including agricultural development programme, is as follows:
A state government indicates to the districts & blocks the tentative outlays proposed in their respective areas under the various heads & the financial & other assistance that may be expected. The blocks prepare their respective annual plans, taking into account the special local problems & the local contributions & the state finances available. These are then consolidated district wise, on the basis of which the state plan is formulated. The plans are prepared by the panchayat samities for the blocks & the zila parishads for the districts where the panchayati raj is in force. Where this set-up has not yet been introduced, the plans are prepared by the block development committee & the district development committee for the block & the district respectively. The outlay of the state plans are finally approved by the Planning Commission.


The community development programme in India aiming at the all-round development of the rural people and the Extension Service as a nation-wide organization to achieve these aims are of relatively recent origin in India. This new programme and administrative set-up of Extension Service is the outcome of several years efforts and reforms made over the years. The evolution of this programme and the new set-up are described in four stages:

Stage I - Pre-Independence Era (1866-1947)

Stage II - Post-Independence Era (1947-1953)

Stage III - Community Development and National Extension Service Era (1953-1960)

Stage IV - Intensive Agricultural Development Era (1960-onwards)

Stage I. Pre-Independence Era (1866-1947)

During the pre-Independence era, various scattered and short-lived efforts were made towards rural development in various parts of the country by individuals or some organizations. Notable among these were Mahatma Gandhi's work at Sevagram, Tagore's work at Shantiniketan, Spencer Hatch's efforts at Marthandam, F.L.Brayne's work at Gurgaon, Firka Development Scheme in Tamil Nadu, India Village Service, etc. It was during this period that the Department of Agriculture came into being in June 1871 under the then Government of India, and by 1882 agricultural departments in most of the provinces started functioning in skeleton form. Recognising the need for new and improved methods of cultivation based on agricultural research, the then government of India also set up an Institute of Agricultural Research at Pusa in Bihar in 1905. Though valuable work was done there and useful information was obtained as a result of agricultural research, and attempts were made from time to time to carry the results of investigations to the farmer's field, the progress was very slow. The bulk of new agricultural knowledge and skill remained unknown to tillers of the soil because of the lack of effective and adequate extension service. The villages continued to remain neglected and disorganized. The yield of crops were low, the animals remained underfed with very low productivity. The villager's lot, on the whole, presented a gloomy picture.

In fact, a number of reforms took place in India during this period. In order to avoid the recurrence of famines, Famine Commissions were appointed from time to time and they made very valuable recommendations. But it was the Royal Commission on Agriculture's recommendation (1928) which established a firm foundation for co-ordinated research and effective agricultural administration. As a result, the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (now Indian Council of Agricultural Research) was established in 1929. The main recommendations of this Commission were:

  1. Full measures of success cannot be achieved unless the organization is based on research. Interchange should be freely permitted between the administrative and research and teaching branches in the years of service. Promotions to research posts in the superior provincial agricultural services from provincial agricultural services should be permitted in cases of outstanding merit;
  2. There should be a body for agricultural research at the national level for promotion, guidance, and co-ordination of agricultural research work in India. It will also take up training of research workers, impart information to agricultural and veterinary workers and arrange for the publication of scientific papers;
  3. The director of agriculture should have in him the combination of an administrative capacity and high scientific qualifications; and
  4. The field recruitment to the superior provincial agricultural services in any province should not be restricted to the province itself or to India.

Besides the agricultural departments, there were other development departments, such as health, education, irrigation and animal husbandry, but all these departments were working in isolation and reaching the people directly, without any co-ordination among themselves.

Stage II. Post-Independence Era (1947-53)

Grow-More-Food Campaign: The urgent need for stepping up food production was realized even in the pre-Independence era and a Grow-More-Food Campaign was started. Under the campaign, targets for increased agricultural production were laid down for the first time on an all-India basis.

But the campaign failed to achieve its targets. Soon after Independence (1947), the Central Government re-defined the objectives of the Grow-More-Food Campaign as the attainment of self-sufficiency in food grains by 1952, and simultaneously increased the targets of production of other crops to meet the shortfall as a result of the partition of the country. At the same time, arrangements were made for integration and co-ordination of the entire campaign for increasing agricultural production. Some state governments associated the public with working of the campaign by setting up non-official committees at the village, taluka, district and state levels. The plans were revised from time to time to make the campaign more effective.

Grow-More-Food Enquiry Committee Report: Though efforts were made to revitalize the Grow-More-Food Campaign, it was observed that the system was not functioning properly and the cultivator's response to the programme was very poor. As a result, the Government of India in 1952 appointed a committee known as the GMF Enquiry Committee to examine the working of the Grow-More-Food Campaign.

The findings of this Committee revealed that the problem of food production was much wider than the mere elimination of food imports and that agricultural improvement was a very important part of a much wider problem of raising the level of rural life in the country. The Committee came to the conclusion that it was only by bringing about an appreciable improvement in the standards of rural life to make it fuller and richer that the rural masses could be awakened to take interest in not only increasing agricultural production but also improving their owm conditions and creating a will to live better. The committee also pointed out that

(i) all aspects of village life were interrelated,

(ii) improvement could be brought about by a number of detached programmes operating independently,

(iii) there was lack of unity of efforts,

(iv) the available finances was not adequate, and

(v) the rural community as a whole did not participate effectively in the campaign. In short, "the movement did not arouse nation-wide enthusiasm and did not become a mass movement for raising the level of village life".

In its recommendations, the Committee proposed the formation of development block, each consisting of 100 to 120 villages, and the appointment of revenue officers as development officers or extension officers, assisted by technical officers for agriculture, animal husbandry, co-ordination and engineering. For actual work in villages, the Committee suggested the appointment of one village level worker for every five or ten villages. "He will be the joint agent for all development activities and will convey to the farmer, the lessons of research, and to experts the problems of the farmers, and arrange supplies and services needed by the farmers, including preliminary assistance in the animal and plant disease." The Committee also described broadly the functions of the extension service, the manner in which the extension organization would operate, the arrangements required in training of the required staff, the way in which non-official leadership should be associated with the work of village development at the village, taluka, district and state levels. The need for setting up an independent organization of the suggestions made, the manner in which the assistance should be rendered to the state governments as well as to villagers for development work, the role of the central and stage governments in this effort was also emphasized by the committee.

Based on these recommendations, the Planning Commission, which was set up earlier by the government of India to prepare a plan for development consistent with the available resources, gave the highest priority to the development of agriculture and irrigation in the First Five-Year Plan. The Commission fixed substantially high targets of internal production and decided, as recommended by the Enquiry Committee, that the drive for food production should form part of plans for overall agricultural development, and that agricultural improvement in its turn should form an integral part of the much wider efforts for raising the level of rural life. The Commission prescribed "Community Development" as the method for initiating the process of transformation of the social and economic life of villages and "Rural Extension" as its agency.

The Etawah Pilot Project (1948-52): The idea of intensive all-round development work in a compact area was put into practice as a Pilot Project in Rural Planning and Development in the Etawah District in Uttar Pradesh in 1948, which can be regarded as a forerunner of the Community Development Project in India. Albert Meryger, an American Engineer, played the key role in the initiation and implementation of the project. The programme was based on the principle of self-help, democracy, integrated approach, felt needs of the people, rigorous planning and realistic targets, institutional approach, co-operation between governmental and non-governmental organizations, close co-ordination between the extension service and the supply agencies and the collaboration by technical and social scientists. After an initial period of trial and error, a new administrative pattern was evolved. It percolated to the village level; the activities of different nation-building departments were channeled through one common agency and a multipurpose concept of village level worker was introduced. Each village level worker looked after 4-5 villages. The project was supervised by a district planning officer assisted by four specialist officers and other supporting staff.

The Community Development Project (1952): As a result of the Grow-More-Food Enquiry Committee Report and the successful experience of the Etawah Project, 15 Pilot Projects were started in 1952 in selected states with the financial assistance received from the Ford Foundation. Besides helping to increase agriculture production and bettering the overall economic condition of the farmers, these projects were meant to serve as a training ground for the extension personnel. It was soon realized that for the creation of an urge among the rural population to live a better life and to achieve permanent plentitude and economic freedom in the villages, a much bolder and dynamic effort was called for. It was recognized that the success of this new effort depended upon and whole hearted co-operation of the beneficiaries, government officials and non-officials at every stage, the education of rural masses in the technique of rural development and the timely provision of adequate supplies of the needed inputs and other requirements.

For undertaking this new programme, the Government of India entered into an operational agreement with the Government of the U.S.A under the Technical Co-operation Programme Agreement. Under this Agreement, 55 Community Development Projects were started in different parts of the country on 2 October, 1952 for three years.

The Projects covered nearly 25,260 villages and a population of 6.4 millions. Each project, in turn, consisted of about 300 villages covering 400-500 square miles and having a population of about two lakhs. The project area was divided into three development blocks, each comprising 100 villages and a population of 60,000 to 70,000. The development blocks, in turn, were divided into groups of 5-10 villages, each group being in the charge of a multipurpose village-level worker. The main aims of these projects were: to increase agricultural production by all possible means, to tackle the problems of unemployment, to improve village communications, to foster primary education, public health and recreation, to improve housing, to promote indigenous handicrafts and small-scale industries and to improve the villager's lot through their own primary effort. In short, the programme aimed at achieving all-round socio-economic transformation of the rural people.


Stage III. Community Development and National Extension

Service Era (1953-60)

In view of a very enthusiastic response received from the rural population in all projects and the keenness shown and the demand made by the people for Community Development Programmes, the Government of India decided to extend it rapidly to other parts of the country. However, owing to limited financial and technical manpower resources, it was also decided to launch, along with Community Development Projects, a programme which was somewhat less comprehensive, and to integrate both under one comprehensive service, the National Extension Service was inaugurated on 2nd October 1953. Whereas Under the Community Development Projects, intensive development work was taken up in all fields, the scheme of National Extension Service was designed to provide the essential basic staff and a small fund for the people to start the development work essentially on the basis of self-help. The operational unit of this service was a N.E.S.Block comprising about 100 villages and 60,000 to 70,000 people. The N.E.S.Blocks were later converted into Community Development Blocks which had higher budget provisions in order to take up more intensive development programmes. The Pattern of Community Development Programme was further revised (modified with effect from 1 April1958). According to this pattern, there were four stages:

(1) Pre-Extension Stage, (2) Stage I Blocks, (3) Stage II Blocks, and (4) Post-Stage II Blocks.

(1) Pre-Extension Stage. At this stage, there was a budget provision of Rs.18, 800 for one year. The staff consisted of a block development officer, one agricultural extension officer and five village-level workers whose main duties were to survey the whole block area, to prepare the ground work for the intensive stage and conduct agricultural demonstrations.

(2) Stage I Blocks. After one year of the Pre-Extension stage, the block stepped into Stage I, with a budget provision of Rs.12 lakhs for five years for intensive development. During this period, provision was made to have one block development officer, eight extension officers, ten village level workers(VLWs), two gram sevikas, three stockmen (veterinary), one physician and 3-4 midwives, one compunder, a sanitary inspector and the necessary office staff. It was generally expected that because of intensive work during this period the programme would gain momentum and the people would subsequently follow up the programme of their own accord.

(3) Stage II Blocks. In this stage, the staffing pattern was more or less the same, but there was a difference in the budget provision. The budget in this stage was five lakhs of rupees for a period of five years, i.e. one lakh per year.

(4) Post-stage II Blocks. This was the permanent stage. It was meant for the follow up work. The budget was one lakh of rupees per year. At this stage, all the developmental activities as in Stage II, under the various heads, such as agriculture, animal husbandry and co-operation, were to continue.

Starting with 55 Community Development Projects in 1952, the entire country was covered with the Community Development Programme by 1963. In all, there are 5,263 blocks, besides 101 tribal development blocks. a block is the unit of planning and development. This is a new administrative unit meant foe tackling the problems of the rural people in entirety and in a concerted and co-ordinated manner.

In this new set-up of Community Development Blocks all the Nation-building government departments were brought together and in order to ensure co-ordination at the block level, a new post of a block development officer was created. This officer is the co-ordinator of the programme and team leader and is supported by 8 extension officers drawn from the development departments. They were one each from the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operative, panchayat, rural industry, rural development, social education and welfare of women and children. Each normal block was provided with 10 village level workers and two gram sevikas (lady VLWs).

Under this new set-up, the block is treated as an administrative unit for all the development departments, and the village-level work is the contact person between these departments and the people.

Panchayati Raj System: After the initiation of the Community Development and National Extension service in India and its working for sometime, it was realized that the people's participation was not coming forth to the desired extent.

The objectives of a planned development programme, such as the Community Development Programme, could be achieved only if the latent energies of the people were released to revive the village communities, so that local leadership might develop and enable the local people to take up the planning and implementations of development programme themselves. In order to achieve this objective, it was decided in 1958 to introduce the Panchayati Raj, as recommended by the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee. This system envisages a three-tier system at the district, block and village levels, as indicated below:

District level - Zilla Parishad
Block Level - Panchayat Samiti
Village Level - Village Panchayat

The Panchayati Raj system emphasized the importance of planning from below, so that the needs and aspirations of the local people may be viewed in the context of the local resources and what the government can provide.

According to this system a Panchayat will be established in each village. These village Panchayats would be responsible for the planning and implementation of the Community Development and Extension Programmes at the village level. At the block level the Panchayat Samities consisting of all the presidents of the village Panchayats in the block and some co-opted members are constituted. The Panchayat Samiti is in complete charge of the planning and implementation of the Community Development Programmes. The B.D.O. is the chief executive officer of the Samiti and all the extension officers are subordinate to him. The President of the Samiti is in charge of the adminstration of the entire staff and of the programme, as approved by the Samiti. The financial resources of the Samiti consist of money derived from land revenue, taxes; funds allotted for Community development, funds recieved from All-India Boards, etc., contributions from Panchayats and the people.

The third tier of the Panchayati Raj is the Zila Parishad consisting of all the presidents of the Panchayat Samitis in the district, the people's representatives such as the Members of Legislative Assemblies, Members of Parliament, and the District Collector and some co-opted members. The Zila Parishad consolidates plans prepared in respect of all the blocks in the district and co-ordinates activities of the Samities.


Organizational Set-up for Community Development Extension Service: The organisational set-up for Community Development Programme runs from the national level through state, district and block levels to the village level and there are three main constituents of this new set-up.

(a) The direct-line staff such as State Development Commissioner, B.D.O and Village Level Worker.

(b) The auxiliary or specialist staff, such as different heads of technical departments at the state and district levels and extension officers at the block level.

(c) Panchayati Raj System - The Zila Parishads, Block Samitis and Village Panchayats.

(A)National Level: At the National level programme, the policies are formulated by the National Development Council presided over by the Prime Minister of India. Membership of the Council consists of the Central ministers of the concerned ministers, chief ministers of all states, and members of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission provides guidance for Plan formulation and gives it approval to annual and Five-Year Plans of the states as well as of the Centre. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is responsible for giving national guidance, policy formulation and technical assistance in regard to Agriculture Extension and Community Development ( now Rural Development Programmes ). In the Agriculture department, the Agricultural Commissioner, Government of India, assisted by a number of assistant commissioners and directors, with the supporting staff, is in charge of all agricultural development programmes at the national level. Within this Department, special mention may be made of the Directorate of Extension Training responsible for the training of Extension officers, VLWs, instructors of Village-Level Workers Training Centres and others and the Directorate of Farm Information which is concerned with the dissemination of new agricultural technology and innovations through various media.

(B) State Level: At state level also, there is usually a State Development Committee presided over by the Chief Minister of the state with the other concerned ministers as its members. This Committee is responsible for the state's plan and programmes and for fixing the targets for regions and districts. Besides this committee, there are usually a number of other advisory or technical committees.

As regards the actual administrative functioning, the State Development Commissioner is the top-level executive responsible for directing, co-ordinating and providing overall guidance for development programmes and maintaining a two-way channel of communication between the state governments and the Central government. He co-ordinates the activities of different development departments, such as agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operation, panchayati raj, health, education, irrigation, power and electricity. The heads of these technical departments are responsible for planning and implementing the technical programmes and for providing the necessary technical guidance, manpower and support.

(C)District Level: At the district level also, there is usually a District Development or District Planning Committee presided over by the District Collector or Deputy Commissioner. The other members of this committee are the heads of the departments in the district, chairman and vice-chairman of the district boards, representatives of voluntary organizations, local bodies and members of parliament and state legislatures.

In the states, where the Panchayati Raj is operating, the Zila Parishads are responsible for planning, co-ordinating and consolidating the development programme in the district.

The District collector is the key official who co-ordinates the activities of all development departments at the district level. The district-level technical heads of agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operation, panchayats, public health, irrigation, education and rural industries are responsible for planning and implementing the development programmes relating to their departments. Administratively, they are responsible to the district collector on one hand and to their state heads of development departments on the other.

(D)Block Level: A district is subdivided into a number of community development programmes. The Block development officer is the head of the block team, and co-ordinates all the activities of the development departments at the block level. He is assisted by eight extension officers from different fields, namely agriculture, animal husbandry, health, co-operation, panchayats, engineering, social education and rural industry.

At the non-official level in the states, where the Panchayati Raj has been implemented, the Panchayati samiti (also called the Block), this Samiti) has the statutory powers for formulating and executing development programmes. The Samiti is assisted by the B.D.O and the extension officers. Wherever the Panchayati Raj is not working, there are block development advisory committees.

(E) Village Level: At the village level, the multi-purpose village-level worker is the main extension staff. He is the last extension functionary in the administrative hierarchy and is the main contact person. He is responsible for all developmental work at the village level, and forms a connecting link between the various technical departments and the rural people. Usually, in a normal community development block, there are 10 village-level workers. Their number has been double in the Intensive Agricultural Development Programme (IADP) blocks.

On the non-official side, usually there is a Panchayat in every village or for a cluster of villages, and is responsible for planning and implementing the community development programmes and ensuring people's participation in them.

Agricultural Universities While the various administrative set-ups, as described earlier, were tried and adopted, another notable innovation for improving the standard and quality of agricultural education, research and field extension (extension education), was introduced in India in the form of agricultural universities in various states. The first such university established in 1960 was the Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agricultural Science and Technology at Pantnagar(Uttar Pradesh). Subsequently, in each state one (in some states more than one) agricultural university was established and at present there are twenty-two such Universities in India. In these Universities, teaching, research and extension education are integrated. For extension education programmes and activities, each of these Universities has a directorate of extension education, headed by a director who is supported by a team of subject matter specialists from all the major disciplines, such as genetics, agronomy, animal husbandry, soil science, entomology, plant pathology, horticulture, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering and extension education. The directorate of extension education of the university is primarily responsible for keeping the extension personnel of the states department of agriculture up to date with the new agricultural technology, communication of new agricultural technology to farmers, the training to farmers and extension personnel bringing out suitable extension literature for use by the farmers and extension workers and carrying out extension-education programme and developmental activities in selected areas.

Stage IV. Intensive Agricultural Development Era (1960-onwards) Intensive agricultural District Programme (Package Programme). Under the Community Development Programme, the production efforts and the available resources were diffused over the entire country. The educational and extension efforts among the millions of farmers to be tackled remained thin and restricted. By the middle of the Third Five-Year Plan, it became increasingly evident that agricultural development was not making satisfactory progress. As a result of the report of the Ford Foundation team, known as "India's Food Crisis and Steps to Meet It", a significant departure took place during the period and a new programme known as the "Intensive Agricultural Dictrict Programme", based on the principles of concentration and better management of resources and efforts in potential and responsive areas, with assured water supply, was started in 1960. Since then, at least one district in each state has been covered under this programme. The scheme not only involves the adoption of a package of new practices, but also ensures the availability of credit and production inputs, adequate research information, training and education of farmers and extension personnel, storage and marketing arrangements and price assurance which would encourage the farmers to adopt scientific methods of farming. Each Intensive Agricultural District Programme district is the charge of the project officer who is assisted by an assistant project officer, four or five subject-matter specialists and other supporting staff. At the block level, besides a block development officer, there are four agricultural extension officers, two co-operative extension officers and a few officials from other fields. The number of VLWs is 20 in each block. A little later, a similar programme, but less in intensity and thinner in staffing pattern, was started in 1964. This programme is known as the "Intensive Agricultural Area Programme (IAAP)." Now about 10 per cent of the total cultivated area in the country is under the Intensive Agricultural District Programme and Intensive Agricultural Area Programme.

High-yielding varieties programme. A new dimension which was created in the community development programme has been the Agricultural Production Programme, known as the High-Yielding Varieties Programme of wheat and paddy and hybrids of maize, sorghum and bajra evolved and introduced in the country since 1965-66. To start with, 100 districts were selected for this purpose, but later on it spread to other areas also. This programme aimed at covering 13.162 hectares by 1970-71. This significant development has a vital bearing on the increasing of agricultural production and the bumper harvest of over 108 million tonnes of food grains during 1970-71 has clearly shown the impact of this new strategy.

Multiple-cropping programme: Yet another strategy recently introduced in the country is of multiple-cropping which aims at maximising production per unit of land and per unit of time by takeing three or four crops from the same piece of land in a year. This has been made possible because of the new short-duration, high-yielding varieties and improved agricultural technology.

Small Farmer's development Agency (SFDA): The aims of the SFDA are to identify the problems of the small farmers, to prepare appropriate programmes to overcome them and ensure the availability of inputs and credit. In all, about 50 SFDA projects have been established through out the country under the Fourth Five-Year Plan and Rs.68 crores were allotted for these projects during the Fourth Plan.

Marginal farmers and agricultural labourers projects. The principle objective of this scheme is to assist the marginal cultivators in making the maximum productive use of their small holdings by undertaking horticulture, animal husbandry and dairying. Efforts are also to be directed towards bringing in larger incomes by channeling credits, improved inputs and improved practices. Under this scheme, 41 projects were scheduled to be established throughout the country in the Fourth Five-Year Plan to cover farmers having holdings of not more than one hectare and agricultural laborers having a homestead and earning half or more of their income from agricultural wages. Each Project aimed at covering about 20,000 households during the Fourth Five-Year Plan, of which about two-thirds would be from the marginal farmers and the rest from agricultural labourers.

The integrated area development programme: The foregoing review clearly indicates that most of the programmes for agricultural development have lacked a totality of approach and have been concerned with one or only a few aspects of a given agricultural situation. A recent thinking, therefore, has been going on in the country for sometime and some states and agricultural universities have already taken initiative for the "Integrated Area Development in Agriculture", which implies planning for given geographic area with respect to all aspects of agricultural development, with a more comprehensive approach, built around krishi vigyan kendras and generating viable rural communities.

Education and training for implementing agricultural strategy. The acceptance of a progressive democratic approach based upon science and technology implied that the extension workers and the farmers in the whole process of change would work as equal partners. The training of extension workers as well as of farmers was, therefore, emphasized from the very beginning of this programme and a number of special kinds of institutions, including gram sevaks and gram sevikas training centres, orientation and study training centre, extension wings in the college of agriculture, veterinary and home science, extension educational institutes, national institute or community development, panchayati raj training centers, etc. were started in the country. The principles and concepts of selective areas pattern and intensive agriculture pattern threw a new challenge and an integrated training programme for the farmers, farm women and young farmers has recently been initiated through the country through farmer's training centers. The agricultural universities and research institutes are also playing a very important role in organizing and conducting training programmes for farmers and extension workers.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.