This topic will make you aware of some definitions of agricultural extension and objectives of agricultural extension. It is also important to you because it will help you to understand the subsequent posts. The objectives below specify what you are expected to learn after going through this topic.

At the end of the TOPIC, you should be able to:

· give some definitions of agricultural extension

· state the objectives of agricultural extension

· identify the kinds and levels of objectives in agricultural extension.

Definitions of Agricultural Extension

Extension can be defined as follows:

An education that brings about improvement in a systematic way, through carefully planned and organized programmes (Fenley and Williams, 1964)

As a kind of work to teach rural people how to raise their standard of living, but with the minimum of assistance from government, and by their own efforts, using their own resources (Saville, 1965).

It is an out of school system of education in which adult and young people learn by doing. (Kelsey and Hearne, 1966).

An informal out-of-school system of education designed to help rural people to satisfy their needs, interests and desires. It is a system of education which involves adult learners (Obibuaku, 1983).

As a comprehensive programme of services deliberately put in place for expanding, strengthening and empowering the capacity of the present and prospective farmers, farm families and other rural economic operators (Adedoyin, 2004).

Extension is concerned with three basic tasks:

  1. The dissemination of useful and practical information relating to agriculture and home economics;
  2. The practical application of such knowledge to farm and home situations. These are carried out in an informal atmosphere, with adults as main clientele and
  3. Helping people to use the information in order to help themselves.

In agriculture, the scope of extension is very broad. It is not a mere matter of giving the farmer actual knowledge from new research and technology, to help him raise his efficiency. It is this, of course, but it is more. It hopes to change his view of life, to persuade him and his family that they may reach and enjoy a higher and richer existence (Williams, 1978).

Extension work is considered as an aspect of adult education which differs from formal or classroom education in that it prepares its clientele to tackle the problems of today and helps them to live here and now. Formal education on the other hand, prepares its students for life after school years. The essence of extension work is that as an educational process it involves the following:

  1. Working with rural people along the lines of their immediate and felt needs and interests which frequently involves making a living, enhancing their level of living and improving their physical surrounding
  2. Conducting worthwhile and acceptable activities in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect between the extension worker and the rural people.
  3. Utilizing support activities to bring extension work and extension staff up-to-date through use of subject-matter specialists, resource persons, in- service training, conferences and the like
  4. Utilizing certain teaching and communication techniques in attaining the educational objectives of extension.

Extension education is therefore an educational process directed to bring about change in people. It is a dynamic process which brings about changes in what people know, changes in how they react to situations and changes in what they can do with their hands. The extension worker must therefore do all in his power to build up mutual trust between himself and the farmer by:

  1. Demonstrating competence in needed practices or skills
  2. Conducting successful result demonstrations
  3. Showing genuine interest in the farmer and his family
  4. Doing what he promises and only promising what he can do, and
  5. Having a social philosophy of extension which establishes a healthy relationship between the extension worker and the people.


  • List the three basic tasks of agricultural extension
  • What are the qualities of a good extension worker?

Objectives of Agricultural Extension

Having looked at the definitions of agricultural extension, it is imperative to equally look at the objectives of extension. Every extension programme or activity should have clearly defined objectives.

An objective may be defined as an end towards which efforts are directed or a condition to be attained. Objectives can be conceived as statements of purpose for which an extension service is established, change in clientele’s behaviour being the ultimate end.

Leagan, (1963) defined an objective as a “direction of movement”. This means the direction in which an extension worker wants to take his clientele or the distance he wants to cover. For example, where or in what direction do you want to go with respect to poultry enterprise? Is it increased number of eggs? Better quality eggs, more efficient marketing or feed efficiency? If there is to be improvement in farming or in the development of farmers, the objectives of extension must be clearly set down and regularly modified in response to changing conditions.

Objectives and Goals

Objectives are the direction of movement, while goals connote the distance one intends to cover within a given period of time. Again with respect to poultry programme, the objective may be to increase the average flock size among poultry keepers to 5,000 layers per farmer within the next five years. However, the goal for the current year may be to increase the size by 1,000. It should be borne in mind that not all the people want to go in the same direction or can cover the same distance.

Therefore, opportunities must be provided for people to move in different directions and at their own pace. Not all farmers in the community may want to participate in the poultry programme. Not all can attain the 5,000 flock target. Alternative programmes must be provided so that people can pursue their divergent interests and attain their individual goals and objectives.

According to Bardsley (1982), the objectives of agricultural extension are as follows:

“To communicate to individual members of the community advice and assistance with respect to knowledge and methods of technical agriculture, with due consideration of the economic and social circumstances of the individual and other people collectively”.

The individual-oriented and institution oriented views of extension have become supplanted by the resource model outlined by Salmon 1980

(Obinne, 1997) and it states:

“The basic concept was a pool of agricultural knowledge which resides in and is stored by all those related to the industry: farmer, Department of agriculture, and other organizations. Each contributes to this pool of knowledge, the farmer as a practitioner, the Department as a research organization, etc. The function of extension is to transfer and nurture this pool of knowledge within the rural industry. Thus extension embraces all those who contribute knowledge or transfer it to farmers.

Farmers are thus legitimate extension workers as much as departmental staff. All participate in expanding the pool in different ways and at different times. The extension process was further defined as the skills required to shift knowledge within the pool, and to help others integrate this knowledge into their own practices (Bardsley, 1982).

The four elements common to modern agricultural extension programmes according to Obinne (1997) included:

  1. Knowledge to be extended
  2. People to be served
  3. A central extension organization, and
  4. Extension agent.

Kinds of Objectives

In considering objectives and goals in extension it is important that we think of them in relation to the people with whom extension is dealing.

The following types of objectives may be identified.

  • Group Objectives: These refer to the purpose which a group wants to achieve. Such a group may include Farmers’ Cooperative Societies, Farmers Councils and the like. The objectives of the group may be to improve the quality of cocoa beans or to market their produce in such a way as to maximise their income. In pursuing such objectives, the group exerts an influence on the individual.
  • Individual or Family Objectives: These are personal goals pursued in the production of a crop or in the improvement of a home. In pursuing individual or family objectives, the individual acts on his own, independent of the group.
  • Long-term objectives: are those set by an individual or group to be attained during a relatively long period of time.
  • Short-term or immediate objectives: are ones set and achievable within relatively short time, say within a year.
  • Broad Objectives: These are all inclusive objectives of a society. They are achieved with great difficulty mainly because progress is not as apparent as in the more specific objectives. Another difficulty in that measurement of progress is not feasible.

Levels of Objectives

Educators think of objectives as falling into various levels. Burton (1944) has identified four levels of objectives as follows:

  1. The over-all societal objectives: The central aim of every society is the attainment of the ‘’good life’’ for all its citizens. This kind of objectives is useful in defining national ends, but they are of little use to extension action programmes. The following objectives listed in the Nigerian 4-year Development Plan are examples of societal objectives:
  2. A great and dynamic economy
  3. A just and egalitarian society
  4. A land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens
  5. A free and democratic society.
  6. Programmes objectives: These are more specific social objectives and are the type of statements found in programme documents of the extension services and development agencies. The objective towards which the activities of the extension services are directed is improvement for the economic and social wellbeing of the entire community. This level of objectives is therefore directed to the group rather than the individual. Examples are ‘’to help rural people to determine their own problems and initiate action to help rural people attain better living condition.
  7. Extension workers’ objectives (teaching objectives): Objectives at this level are stated in terms of the changes which the extension worker intends to bring about in the people with whom he works (Adedoyin, 1989). They show the ability of the worker to translate objectives into action programmes.
  8. People’s objective: This level of objectives is related to what the people wish to accomplish. A farmer may desire to increase his income from eggs by N100.00, or a youth club member may want to increase the number of birds in his broiler project to 100 birds. Such objectives may not be known to the extension worker unless he sets out to find out for himself. If he is alert, he will easily see through people’s needs and desires during the course of routine activities or through a fact finding community survey.

Experience shows that the most successful programmes are those based on actual situations, such programmes include the wants, needs, and problems of the people. These constitute the worker-learner objectives without which effective extension cannot be a reality. Objectives of the extension worker and those of his clientele need not be similar, but they need to have a common base (Kelsey and Hearne, 1966). The objectives of the people are those which they believe they can achieve through participation in projects they have been involved in their design.


  • Distinguish between objectives and goals.
  • List the various kinds and levels of objectives.


In this unit, you have learnt why there is the need for agricultural extension.

The various definitions and objectives of agricultural extension were discussed. From these discussions you would now be able to tell the meaning of agricultural extension and the various kinds and levels of objectives in agricultural extension.


A summary of the major point in this unit is that:

  • Agricultural extension was defined as an educational process which helps farmers to make a decent living and to master the best way to handle their farms in order to improve their standard of living
  • The objectives of agricultural extension are as follows: To communicate to individual members of the community advice and assistance with respect to knowledge and methods of technical agriculture, with due consideration of the economic and social circumstances of the individual and other people collectively.
  • The kinds of objectives in agricultural extension include group, individual, long-term, short-term and broad objectives
  • The four levels of objectives according to Burton are:
    • The over-all societal objectives
    • Programme objectives
    • Extension workers’ objectives, and
    • People’s objectives


1. With examples, differentiate between objectives and goals.

2. Explain the various kinds of objectives in agricultural extension.


Adedoyin, S.F. (1989). Constructing Measurable Training Objectives.

In: Jibowo, A.A. (ed.). Strengthening Agricultural Extension in

Nigeria (NIR/87/014 Report). Pp. 239-251.

Adedoyin, S.F. (2004). Plentiful Agricultural Resources but Limited

Andragogical Transmission. 33RD Inaugural Lecture of Olabisi

Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, 51pp.

Adereti, F.O and Ajayi A. O. Concepts and basic principles of

Agricultural Extension In: S.F. Adedoyin (ed.). Agricultural

Extension in Nigeria. Publication of Agricultural Extension

Society of Nigeria, pp13-20.

Bardsley, J.B. (1982). Farmers’ Assessment of Information and its

Sources. School of Agriculture and Forestry. The university of

Melbourne, pp11-12.

Burton, W.H. (1944). The Guidance of Learning Activities. New York:

Appleton-County Crafts.

Fenley J.M and Williams S.K.T. (1964). Background for Extension

Work, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension

Training Bulletin No_3.

Leagan, P.A. (1963). Guides to Extension Teaching in Developing

Countries. Cornel International Bul. 5, Cornel University, Ithaca,

New York.

Kelsey, L.D. and Hearne C.C. (1966). Co-operative Extension Work.

New York: Constock Publishing Associates.

Obibuaku L.O. (1983). Agricultural Extension as a Strategy for

Agricultural Transformation. University of Nigeria Press,

Nsukka Nigeria, 119pp.


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