Conflicting and complementary views of farmers and extension workers: an analysis of the impact of development policies and extension approaches on smallholder farming systems in Sri Lanka

Herath Mudiyanselage, Udaya Nandani Herath (2019) Conflicting and complementary views of farmers and extension workers: an analysis of the impact of development policies and extension approaches on smallholder farming systems in Sri Lanka. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (3MB)


Transformation of economic policies from a closed to a liberalised open economy in Sri Lanka has had a significant impact on agriculture and extension since the late 1970’s. Most extension projects adopted during different political regimes in the past had not been successful in developing the rural agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. Hence, the national extension service today seems to face with the challenge of catering to the real farmer needs through efficient extension delivery. A major role of agricultural extension in developing countries including Sri Lanka, is to disseminate knowledge generated through the public-sector research organizations. Thus, the central research question addressed by this thesis investigates the factors affecting the delivery of agricultural information encompassing state policies, extension agents and smallholder farmers as the main elements in the process. The study was conducted employing a combination of research tools including survey methods, extended interviews and field observation. This study pursued the theoretical background of ‘Sustainable Livelihood Approach’ which is considered central to analysing rural development strategies.

Despite many government-initiated extension efforts, present extension strategies too have overlooked smallholder farmers, aside from paddy farmers who receive institutional support. Group extension strategies have failed to create a marked impact on individual farmers who are constrained by social capital, further limiting their access to physical and financial capital bases. Farmers whose capabilities are shaped by social capital and benefited by institutional support, are prone to adopt new crop combinations leading to better livelihood outcomes. Study reveals that the possession of human and social capital bases, has a bearing on information sharing. Performance of the extension workers hindered by lack of motivation, poor working environments and low capacities, affect the farmer extension link thus creating a knowledge gap. Further, Government policies and extension strategies affect information sharing, as reflected by the extension interventions in the field.

Two clear paradigms are identified with a knowledge interface. Extension officers stand at one side, equipped with scientific knowledge and farmers remain on the other side, constrained by traditional knowledge and limited institutional support, awaiting long-term solutions for sustainable livelihoods.

In conclusion, the thesis reiterates the need for a National Agricultural Extension Policy encompassing strategies for capacity building of extension workers for an effective extension delivery, while empowering smallholders for better utilization of advisory services to improve their livelihoods.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Parfitt, Trevor
O'Reilly, Patrick
Keywords: extension approaches, policies, smallholders, resource bases, economic development
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Politics, History and International Relations
Item ID: 55950
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2019 06:26
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 13:00

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View