Purposes, goals and challenges regarding farmers\' participation in agricultural Extension services in Nkhotakota district
The study investigates the views of extension staff regarding the purpose or goal of participation, the current practice of participation and the degree of participation expected by extension staff as well as constraints to community participation in extension in Malawi. The focus is on Nkhotakota district where 109 extension workers were involved in group interview sessions allowing extensive interaction and discussion before individuals recorded their viewpoints regarding various issues. In this study, participation is perceived equally as a goal and as a means as opposed to either the one or the other. All purposes of participation are regarded as important, however, the contribution of participation to improved sustainability, more effective extension or rural development as well as towards self-help and self-sufficiency received wider support. The study concludes that the level of community involvement in extension is generally low. Among service providers, NGOs are more advanced in implementing a participation leading towards ownership and self-determination compared to other organisations. The most acceptable degree of participation is where the service providers and community mutually share, as equal partners, the responsibilities of initiating, planning, financing, coordinating and implementing of development programmes or projects. The major constraints, which hinder communities\' involvement in agricultural extension, are lack of formal education of farmers, unwillingness of researchers and extension agents to involve farmers and inadequate resources available to service providers.
South African Journal of Agricultural Extension Vol. 35 (1) 2006: pp. 106-119