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South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

On-line version ISSN 2413-3221
Print version ISSN 0301-603X

Abstract

SIMELANE, S. M.; TERBLANCHE, S. E.  and  MASARIRAMBI, M. T.. Perceptions of extension officers regarding public extension services: a case study of horticultural extension officers in the Hhohho region, Eswatini. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2019, vol.47, n.1, pp.1-19. ISSN 2413-3221.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2413-3221/2019/v47n1a485.

The role ofpublic extension in the sustainability and development of rural smallholder farmers is central to rural development. Although the benefits of public extension cannot be quantified to justify its funding, it remains pivotal to the success of poor smallholders with low literacy levels. The reports on agricultural extension in Eswatini paints blink picture on public extension. Data was collected on a census of 13 horticultural EOs alongside a snowballed sample of 82 farmers across the Hhohho region. The senior extension staff participated in a group discussion. The EOs were predominantly young males and were not trained in extension service delivery. The farmers were predominantly older females and had low levels of education. The EOs perceived themselves as good in horticultural issues and average in farmer management and agribusiness issues. They faced a number of challenges including work overload, being under-staffed, poorly resourced, inactive farmer groups, inconsistency of farmers' participation, and poor personal welfare. Institutionalising smallholder farmers in the community development plans (CDPs) and organising them into formal groups like cooperatives was identified as the first step towards improving public extension. This should be supported by training of EOs on Extension and business management. This would improve the efficiency of offering extension services and other benefits of collective operations. This would also reduce the EOs required per RDA and will enable the government to improve the welfare and operations of EOs.

Keywords : Public extension services; smallholder farmers; extension officers; perceptions.

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