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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program
Phase 7 (2017 Deadline)

Improving agricultural extension in Pakistan through communication for development
US Partner: Robert Agunga, The Ohio State University
Pakistan Partner: Badar Siddiqui, Pir Mehr Ali Shah (PMAS) Arid Agriculture University
Project summary
In this project, the team will implement a social science-based, Master’s degree program in “Communication for Development” (C4D) curriculum at the university level to improve development performance; and strengthen agricultural extension in the field by promoting participatory development strategies.

Progress Report

2020: How do we make agricultural extension more effective in reducing poverty reduction by increasing the success rate of development programs? The answer lies simply by providing communication training for extension workers under the rubric of “communication for development” (C4D). This project titled “Improving agricultural extension in Pakistan through communication for development was designed to do just that by taking a step by step or systematic approach.

The problem is that extension workers in developing countries, including Pakistan, are trained in agricultural science, not in communication and development science, otherwise known as C4D. The other problem is that C4D as an academy and a profession is hardly available in the universities of developing countries and must be incorporated. The project goal, therefore, was to establish a curriculum to train Master’s students in C4D to serve as an example of how extension will address communication functions, such as participation, integration, and farmers’ capacity building.

By starting the C4D Master’s degree program at the PMAS- Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi, other agricultural universities, such as the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Sindh became interested and are going to start their programs in Year II, with assistance from the Rawalpindi experts. In short, within three years, the new extension graduates will be C4D trainees and their performance in the field will demonstrate their effectiveness in meeting farmers’ needs.

The goal was to expand the Pakistan program to neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. We had set for ourselves, a five (5) year goal. However, our project had only a three-year funding which means we have to look for funding from elsewhere to reach our goal. We also had field experiments on strengthening current extension field staffs in C4D. Thus, those in the field and those coming out of agricultural universities will be expert in C4D. This is how, we believe, extension can play a key role in agricultural and rural development. We hope that we will have the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of our strategy.

In particular, we felt that by using C4D to address the complex development challenges of Pakistan we will demonstrate to funding institutions our ability in solving related development problems. In a nutshell, we feel that many of today’s development challenges, such as participation, leadership, empowerment, and managing change, are communication based and can be effectively addressed by incorporating C4D professionalism in development programming. We are grateful to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan for giving us the opportunity to demonstrate this simple but effective development experiment.

2019: During this period, the primary investigator had the opportunity to visit Pakistan to discuss the upcoming master’s degree program with students. Seminars and workshops were held to discuss the concept of Communication for Development or C4D. This concept is the framework through which the master’s degree program is based. The investigator visited Peshawar University of Agriculture, University of Faisalabad Institute of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Arid University of Agriculture, all in Pakistan. In addition to university workshops and seminars, the investigator had the opportunity to visit officials and offices such as the Director-General for Extension at Lahore, the Agricultural Ministry and Research Offices and a number of Punjab Department of Extension Offices in an effort to share potential positive outcomes of this project for extension in Pakistan. Finally, the investigator visited several villages to discuss the formation of farmer associations and to also engage women and youth. This period also saw the initial development of several online courses for the master’s degree program. The courses are: a) Information and Communication for Development; b) Youth for Development; c) Women in Development; d) Leadership and Community Development; and f) Internship Coordination

2018: Communication for development (C4D) is presented as an emerging discipline and profession for addressing critical problems afflicting poverty reduction development programs. These are: promoting local participation, facilitating interagency collaboration and strengthening the capacities of field staffs to implement increasing complex and sophisticated development programs. Our C4D strategy presents communication as the key to community mobilization, participation and empowerment; as the glue that binds development partners together to work towards common cause; and as a curriculum for preparing development management professionals.

The development challenges in Pakistan warrant the need for C4D professionalism. Since these practitioners are not readily available, they have to be trained. This being the first of three years of the project, we have focused on the post-graduate Master’s degree program—the development of a curriculum and getting it approved by the university. Our next step is recruitment and training of students in a two-year program. Graduates will be appointed as district development facilitators. The overall C4D experiment will be evaluated after three years and its impact assessed for replication. Our conviction is that many of today’s development challenges—leadership, empowerment, cultural relations, and managing change—are communication based and can be effectively addressed by incorporating C4D professionalism in development programming. C4D is the missing piece to the development puzzle. Pakistan, with its large rural population and its strong extension workforce, offers a great opportunity for field-testing C4D.