Building the capacity of extension agents

Improving the delivery of new techniques and technologies to smallholder farmers is a key aim of the HSAD program. A recent activity focusing on this component of the program was a five-day training course held at the Erbil Extension and Training Center.

The course, delivered to 59 participants from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kurdistan Regional Government, aimed to build the organizational and communication skills of attendees. The introduction highlighted the applied and cognitive framework of leadership skills and the psychological and social attributes needed by extension agents, before moving on to the planning of agricultural extension programs and approaches to agricultural technology transfer.

Participants also learned about communication concepts, the constraints to effective communication, and the difference between education and learning. Other sessions covered topics such as leadership management and the differences between manager and leader, time management and its impact on the processes of innovation and creativity, and modern trends in leadership management and their use in agricultural extension.

On the final day, participants were divided into eight groups, each of which was asked to identify a problem and work out its causes and how to tackle them, using extension in a practical way. Groups then reported back to the full meeting where the problems and solutions were discussed in detail.

This course will contribute to improving the design of extension programs in the Kurdistan region and forms part of HSAD plans to strategically modernize and improve extension services.