Information needs of agricultural researchers and extension agents in addressing farmers' production-related constraints and information needs in the Gambia.
Janneh, Falankoi Manyima Sheriff.
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This study investigated the information needs of agricultural researchers and extension agents in addressing farmers' production-related constraints and information needs in The Gambia. The overall objective of the study was to identify the types of farmers' production-related problems faced by the above agents of change, which were translated into information needs, types of information providers and delivery systems used, and to assess their effectiveness. Coupled with this was the need to gauge the status of the T & V (Training & Visit) model of extension in the country as well as the linkage between research and extension. The sample comprised 32 researchers from NARI who were all included because of their small number and 68 extension agents selected through stratified random sampling from the Departments of Agricultural Services, Livestock Services, Fisheries and Forestry. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed among the respondents located in the five divisions across the country. The findings indicated that out of a total of 54 respondents, 63% represented the extension agents while 37% were researchers. Of the same figure, 92.6% were male while 7.4% were female. The researchers' ages ranged from 31 to 56 years old, while the extension agents were between 25 to 55 years old. With regard to educational qualifications, most of the highly qualified staff were within the research services while extension had the least. It was also revealed that 59.3% of the respondents have more than 15 years of work experience. In respect to language proficiency, it was observed that 98.1% could speak more than one local language, that is to say, ranging from two to four languages. The findings also established 44 cases of information needs, which Gambian researchers and extension personnel experienced with only 11 information providers used to satisfy those needs. Of these information providers, professional forums (96.3%) and personal sources (81.5%) featured prominently as the most frequently used and effective sources. Personal contact (81.5%) was the most common delivery system employed to disseminate information and technical advice to farmers. As regards the respondents' perceptions about the T & V (Training & Visit) model of extension in the country and the linkage status between research and extension, 68.5% believed that T & V is non-existent while 79.6% attested to the current weakness of the research-extension linkages in the country. Finally, it was recommended that an agricultural library be established in each division to cater for the information needs of all the stakeholders. Also, the unit for the Research-Extension Liaison Officer (RELO) should be reinstated to further strengthen the linkage, coordination and interactive communication between research and extension services.
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