This topic will make you aware of some definitions of agricultural extension and objectives of agricultural extension. It is also important to you because it will help you to understand the subsequent posts. The objectives below specify what you are expected to learn after going through this topic.

At the end of the TOPIC, you should be able to:

·give some definitions ofagricultural extension

·state the objectives of agriculturalextension

·identify the kinds and levels ofobjectives in agricultural extension.

Definitions of Agricultural Extension

Extension can be defined as follows:

An education that brings about improvement in asystematic way, through carefully planned and organized programmes (Fenley andWilliams, 1964)

As a kind of work to teach rural people how to raisetheir standard of living, but with the minimum of assistance from government,and by their own efforts, using their own resources (Saville, 1965).

It is an out of school system of education in whichadult and young people learn by doing. (Kelsey and Hearne, 1966).

An informal out-of-school system of education designedto help rural people to satisfy their needs, interests and desires. It is asystem of education which involves adult learners (Obibuaku, 1983).

As a comprehensive programme of services deliberatelyput in place for expanding, strengthening and empowering the capacity of thepresent and prospective farmers, farm families and other rural economicoperators (Adedoyin, 2004).

Extension is concerned with threebasic tasks:

  1. Thedissemination of useful and practical information relating to agriculture andhome economics;
  2. The practicalapplication of such knowledge to farm and home situations. These are carriedout in an informal atmosphere, with adults as main clientele and
  3. Helping peopleto use the information in order to help themselves.

In agriculture, the scope of extension is very broad.It is not a mere matter of giving the farmer actual knowledge from new researchand technology, to help him raise his efficiency. It is this, of course, but itis more. It hopes to change his view of life, to persuade him and his familythat they may reach and enjoy a higher and richer existence (Williams, 1978).

Extension work is considered as an aspect of adulteducation which differs from formal or classroom education in that it preparesits clientele to tackle the problems of today and helps them to live here andnow. Formal education on the other hand, prepares its students for life afterschool years. The essence of extension work is that as an educational processit involves the following:

  1. Working withrural people along the lines of their immediate and felt needs and interestswhich frequently involves making a living, enhancing their level of living andimproving their physical surrounding
  2. Conductingworthwhile and acceptable activities in the spirit of cooperation and mutualrespect between the extension worker and the rural people.
  3. Utilizingsupport activities to bring extension work and extension staff up-to-datethrough use of subject-matter specialists, resource persons, in- servicetraining, conferences and the like
  4. Utilizingcertain teaching and communication techniques in attaining the educationalobjectives of extension.

Extension education is therefore an educationalprocess directed to bring about change in people. It is a dynamic process whichbrings about changes in what people know, changes in how they react tosituations and changes in what they can do with their hands. The extensionworker must therefore do all in his power to build up mutual trust betweenhimself and the farmer by:

  1. Demonstratingcompetence in needed practices or skills
  2. Conductingsuccessful result demonstrations
  3. Showing genuineinterest in the farmer and his family
  4. Doing what hepromises and only promising what he can do, and
  5. Having a socialphilosophy of extension which establishes a healthy relationship between theextension worker and the people.


  • List the threebasic tasks of agricultural extension
  • What are thequalities of a good extension worker?

Objectives of Agricultural Extension

Having looked at the definitions of agriculturalextension, it is imperative to equally look at the objectives of extension.Every extension programme or activity should have clearly defined objectives.

An objective may be defined as an end towards whichefforts are directed or a condition to be attained. Objectives can be conceivedas statements of purpose for which an extension service is established, changein clientele’s behaviour being the ultimate end.

Leagan, (1963) defined an objective as a“direction of movement”. This means the direction in which an extensionworker wants to take his clientele or the distance he wants to cover. Forexample, where or in what direction do you want to go with respect to poultryenterprise? Is it increased number of eggs? Better quality eggs, more efficientmarketing or feed efficiency? If there is to be improvement in farming or inthe development of farmers, the objectives of extension must be clearly set downand regularly modified in response to changing conditions.

Objectives and Goals

Objectives are the direction of movement, while goalsconnote the distance one intends to cover within a given period of time. Againwith respect to poultry programme, the objective may be to increase the averageflock size among poultry keepers to 5,000 layers per farmer within the nextfive years. However, the goal for the current year may be to increase the sizeby 1,000. It should be borne in mind that not all the people want to go in thesame direction or can cover the same distance.

Therefore, opportunities must be provided for peopleto move in different directions and at their own pace. Not all farmers in the communitymay want to participate in the poultry programme. Not all can attain the 5,000flock target. Alternative programmes must be provided so that people can pursuetheir divergent interests and attain their individual goals and objectives.

According to Bardsley (1982), the objectives ofagricultural extension are as follows:

“To communicate to individual members of the communityadvice and assistance with respect to knowledge and methods of technical agriculture,with due consideration of the economic and social circumstances of theindividual and other people collectively”.

The individual-oriented and institution oriented viewsof extension have become supplanted by the resource model outlined by Salmon1980

(Obinne, 1997) and it states:

“The basic concept was a pool of agriculturalknowledge which resides in and is stored by all those related to the industry:farmer, Department of agriculture, and other organizations. Each contributes tothis pool of knowledge, the farmer as a practitioner, the Department as a researchorganization, etc. The function of extension is to transfer and nurture thispool of knowledge within the rural industry. Thus extension embraces all thosewho contribute knowledge or transfer it to farmers.

Farmers are thus legitimate extension workers as muchas departmental staff. All participate in expanding the pool in different waysand at different times. The extension process was further defined as the skillsrequired to shift knowledge within the pool, and to help others integrate thisknowledge into their own practices (Bardsley, 1982).

The four elements common to modern agriculturalextension programmes according to Obinne (1997) included:

  1. Knowledge to beextended
  2. People to beserved
  3. A centralextension organization, and
  4. Extensionagent.

Kinds of Objectives

In considering objectives and goals in extension it isimportant that we think of them in relation to the people with whom extensionis dealing.

The following types of objectives may be identified.

  • Group Objectives: These refer to the purpose which agroup wants to achieve. Such a group may include Farmers’ CooperativeSocieties, Farmers Councils and the like. The objectives of the group may be toimprove the quality of cocoa beans or to market their produce in such a way asto maximise their income. In pursuing such objectives, the group exerts aninfluence on the individual.
  • Individual or Family Objectives: These are personal goals pursued inthe production of a crop or in the improvement of a home. In pursuingindividual or family objectives, the individual acts on his own, independent ofthe group.
  • Long-term objectives: are those set by an individual or group to be attainedduring a relatively long period of time.
  • Short-term or immediate objectives: are ones set and achievable withinrelatively short time, say within a year.
  • Broad Objectives: These are all inclusive objectivesof a society. They are achieved with great difficulty mainly because progressis not as apparent as in the more specific objectives. Another difficulty inthat measurement of progress is not feasible.

Levels of Objectives

Educators think of objectives as falling into variouslevels. Burton (1944) has identified four levels of objectives as follows:

  1. The over-all societal objectives: The central aim of every society is the attainment ofthe ‘’good life’’ for all its citizens. This kind of objectives is useful indefining national ends, but they are of little use to extension actionprogrammes. The following objectives listed in the Nigerian 4-year Development Planare examples of societal objectives:
  2. A great and dynamic economy
  3. A just and egalitarian society
  4. A land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens
  5. A free and democratic society.
  6. Programmes objectives: These are more specific social objectives and are thetype of statements found in programme documents of the extension services and developmentagencies. The objective towards which the activities of the extension servicesare directed is improvement for the economic and social wellbeing of the entirecommunity. This level of objectives is therefore directed to the group ratherthan the individual. Examples are ‘’to help rural people to determine their ownproblems and initiate action to help rural people attain better livingcondition.
  7. Extension workers’ objectives (teaching objectives): Objectives at this level arestated in terms of the changes which the extension worker intends to bringabout in the people with whom he works (Adedoyin, 1989). They show the abilityof the worker to translate objectives into action programmes.
  8. People’s objective: This level of objectives is related to what the people wish toaccomplish. A farmer may desire to increase his income from eggs by N100.00, ora youth club member may want to increase the number of birds in his broilerproject to 100 birds. Such objectives may not be known to the extension worker unlesshe sets out to find out for himself. If he is alert, he will easily see throughpeople’s needs and desires during the course of routine activities or through afact finding community survey.

Experience shows that the most successful programmesare those based on actual situations, such programmes include the wants, needs,and problems of the people. These constitute the worker-learner objectives withoutwhich effective extension cannot be a reality. Objectives of the extensionworker and those of his clientele need not be similar, but they need to have acommon base (Kelsey and Hearne, 1966). The objectives of the people are thosewhich they believe they can achieve through participation in projects they havebeen involved in their design.


  • Distinguishbetween objectives and goals.
  • List thevarious kinds and levels of objectives.


In this unit, you have learnt why there is the needfor agricultural extension.

The various definitions and objectives of agriculturalextension were discussed. From these discussions you would now be able to tellthe meaning of agricultural extension and the various kinds and levels of objectivesin agricultural extension.


A summary of the major point in this unit is that:

  • Agriculturalextension was defined as an educational process which helps farmers to make adecent living and to master the best way to handle their farms in order toimprove their standard of living
  • The objectivesof agricultural extension are as follows: To communicate to individual membersof the community advice and assistance with respect to knowledge and methods oftechnical agriculture, with due consideration of the economic and socialcircumstances of the individual and other people collectively.
  • The kinds ofobjectives in agricultural extension include group, individual, long-term,short-term and broad objectives
  • The four levelsof objectives according to Burton are:
    • The over-all societalobjectives
    • Programmeobjectives
    • Extensionworkers’ objectives, and
    • People’sobjectives


1. With examples, differentiate between objectives andgoals.

2. Explain the various kinds of objectives inagricultural extension.


Adedoyin, S.F. (1989). Constructing MeasurableTraining Objectives.

In: Jibowo, A.A. (ed.).Strengthening Agricultural Extension in

Nigeria (NIR/87/014 Report). Pp.239-251.

Adedoyin, S.F. (2004). Plentiful AgriculturalResources but Limited

Andragogical Transmission. 33RD Inaugural Lecture of Olabisi

Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye,51pp.

Adereti, F.O and Ajayi A. O. Concepts and basicprinciples of

Agricultural Extension In: S.F.Adedoyin (ed.). Agricultural

Extension in Nigeria. Publication of AgriculturalExtension

Society of Nigeria, pp13-20.

Bardsley, J.B. (1982). Farmers’ Assessment ofInformation and its

Sources. School of Agriculture andForestry. The university of

Melbourne, pp11-12.

Burton, W.H. (1944). The Guidance of Learning Activities. New York:

Appleton-County Crafts.

Fenley J.M and Williams S.K.T. (1964). Background for Extension

Work, Ministry of Agriculture and NaturalResources Extension

Training Bulletin No_3.

Leagan, P.A. (1963). Guides to Extension Teaching in Developing

Countries. Cornel International Bul. 5,Cornel University, Ithaca,

New York.

Kelsey, L.D. and Hearne C.C. (1966). Co-operative Extension Work.

New York: Constock PublishingAssociates.

Obibuaku L.O. (1983). Agricultural Extension as aStrategy for

Agricultural Transformation. University of Nigeria Press,

Nsukka Nigeria, 119pp.


                        NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY (NOUN)

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