Training Needs of Indonesian Agricultural Extension Workers for the 21st Century: A Recommendation Based on a Field Study
Agricultural extension in Indonesia has undergone major policy changes, depending on the government in power. In particular, since 1998, the government passed Law No 16/2006, aimed at making the extension system more democratic and participatory, especially for smallholder farmers. Law No. 16/2006 is in line with the “pluralistic and demand-driven extension approach” adopted by many developing countries since 2000, which allowed public and private extension systems to exist side-byside. Success of the new extension approach rests on the degree to which extension workers are able to mobilize smallholder farmers for "demand-driven" development that bases extension on smallholder farmers’ needs. This survey of 78 public extension workers in Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia examined challenges in implementing the pluralistic and demand-driven extension approach, including training needed to help extension workers deal more effectively with these challenges. The study found that the challenges relate to agreeing on extension goals; eliciting collaboration with non-government agencies and other development partners; and using ICTs to narrow the farmers-to-agent ratio. In general, the study found that extension workers need training in communication and development, also known as communication for development (C4D) to effectively facilitate development and navigate the increasing complexity of development programming in the 21st century. Thus, we recommend C4D training for extension workers as a way of enhancing their effectiveness. Fortunately, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are promoting this strategy. Therefore, we urge the government of Indonesia to explore C4D as a strategy for strengthening extension in the country.