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Model farmers, extension networks and the politics of agricultural knowledge transfer

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Taylor, Marcus (main author), Bhasme, Suhas (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
International: Science Direct
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication barriers, dissemination of information, extension, gatekeepers, public relations, rice, rural development, rural society, technology transfer, extension communications, agricultural extension, information flows, social roles, farmer communication, knowledge exchange, India (Southern Asia), relationships, effective communication
10 pages, via online journal, Model farmers are a common feature of many developing world agricultural extension networks within which they demonstrate new cultivation techniques and technologies to local communities. The diverse political-economic and socio-cultural roles that such farmers assume, however, are rarely afforded critical scrutiny. To do so, we emphasise the ways in which model farmers facilitate not only the production and transfer of knowledge but also of materials and legitimacy. These transfers occur both horizontally to community members and vertically through linkages with extension agents, research institutions and private sector interests. We establish how these transfers have important impacts upon both efficiency and equity. To illustrate, we use examples of model farmers drawn from research on hybrid rice dissemination in Mandya district, Karnataka. Despite having the same official functions within the extension network, the model farmers we surveyed assumed strongly different roles with notable implications for the effectiveness of knowledge transfer alongside equity considerations.