Development experiences of the last decades have shown that human resources development is essential for food security and market integration. Achieving sustainable agricultural development is less based on material inputs (e.g., seeds and fertilizer) than on the people involved in their use. This focus on human resources calls for increased knowledge and information sharing about agricultural production, as well as on appropriate communication methodologies, channels and tools.
New agricultural technologies are generated by research institutes, universities, private companies, and by the farmers themselves. Agricultural advisory services (including traditional extension, consultancy, business development and agricultural information services) are expected to disseminate new technologies amongst their clients. The role of research and advisory services is to give highly accurate, specific and unbiased technical and management information and advice in direct response to the needs of their clients. Due to poor linkages between research and advisory services, the adoption of new agricultural technologies by farmers is often very slow and research is not focusing on the actual needs of farmers. In many countries low agricultural production has been attributed, among other factors, to poor linkages between Research-Advisory Service-Farmers and to ineffective technology delivery systems, including poor information packaging, inadequate communication systems and poor methodologies.
In Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKIS), people and institutions are linked together to promote and enable mutual learning and generate, share and use agriculture-related technology, knowledge, skills and information. The system integrates farmers, agricultural educators, researchers, extensionists and the private sector (support and input services, traders) to harness knowledge and information from various sources for better farming and improved livelihoods.
However, this integration among people and institutions, particularly in the research-extension-farmer relationship, has not been successful in many parts of the developing (and developed for that matter) world. Extension services are often under-equipped in terms of staff, transport and accommodation as well as inadequately trained for effective communication. Especially in areas where small scale agriculture is predominant and a wide array of crops is grown, there is a need for extensionists with a broad level of technical skills and expertise. There is also a basic difference in the information and extension needs between market-oriented, transitional and subsistence based farming. In addition, recent experiences show that depending on the situation, the human components of the system go beyond the researchers, educators, extensionists and farmers. Other key players such as informal leaders, community workers, businessmen etc. contribute substantially to the AKIS model.
Iran- Tehran-Karaj-University College Of Agricultural &Natural Resources (UTCAN), University of Tehran