Agricultural extension provision in many developing countries is affected by the quality of the extension staff. To understand the factors that can improve the capacity of extension staff in a decentralized extension context, a single-case study of a successful district level public extension organization in Ghana was studied. To improve the capacity of extension staff, the case study emphasised the importance of combining formal needs-based training and an organizational learning culture.
The study suggests that traditional training in technical areas and extension methods is not sufficient in this context. With the shift from a top-down to bottom-up management approach, managerial staff need a new training in participatory management and administration. With a cross-sector pluralistic system, they also need training about the mechanisms that will facilitate coordination, collaboration and lobbying within the extension system. Also, with a broader focus and roles of district extension, the field staff would need a broader knowledge base of technical expertise that takes into consideration indigenous knowledge of farmers, and attitudes of searching for knowledge that they do not have, or for seeking out others to provide the necessary knowledge. The study highlighted the importance of fostering an open environment where extension staff feel comfortable to meet, interact, share information and ideas, and motivated to work.
Agricultural Extension, Decentralization, Human Resource Development, Training, Staff Motivation, Organizational Learning