Farmer knowledge sharing and social networks in agricultural extension : farmer perceptions from six Indonesian villages

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: This thesis is an empirical exploration of knowledge sharing and social networks among farmers in a context of agricultural extension. The exploration takes off from the development of the field of extension, examined in a literature review. The literature review shows that “traditional” agricultural extension, which implies a transfer of agricultural knowledge and information from governments and organizations to farmers, has developed and to some extent turned into more pluralistic approaches like Farmer Field Schools. Such pluralistic approaches to a higher extent consider and acknowledges other aspects of farmers’ livelihoods than the knowledge and information being transferred to farmers by “traditional” extension. Given this development, knowledge sharing and social networks among farmers has been investigated as an aspect that is important for understanding the development of the extension discourse. The study has been carried out in six villages located in the province of Yogyakarta on the island Java in Indonesia, where five of the villages have Village Learning Centers (VLCs) as part of pluralistic extension services. The thesis explores how knowledge sharing and social networks between smallholder farmers is taking place and function in relation to extension in this context. In addition, the study also explores how knowledge sharing and social networks between smallholder farmers is taking place in the village Semin, which do not yet have a Village Learning Center (VLC). Interviews have been carried out with farmers in the six villages and the theoretical field of social networks has been used to discuss the empirical material from a perspective of knowledge sharing. The findings show how social networks, in terms of groups and in terms of the social network that surrounds a person, enables knowledge sharing between farmers. Different forms of farmer groups, social events, collaborations and social relations are in different ways and for different villages important for knowledge sharing between farmers. Knowledge sharing between generations also plays a role. The findings show that some VLCs, together with farmers’ perception of their own and others capacity, are affecting the knowledge sharing. Attitudes among farmers to some extent also influence the knowledge sharing. Also, lacking resources and organization in the village Semin constitutes a problem for knowledge sharing. The findings from the villages are used in the thesis to discuss an establishment of a VLC in Semin from the perspective of knowledge sharing and social networks among farmers. The local farmer groups in Semin, together with improved organization and coordination, is emphasized as potential factors for future knowledge sharing between farmers in a context of extension in Semin.

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