Indian Veterinary Extension Forum (IVEF), Puducherry, P.V. Narasimha Rao Telangana Veterinary University (PVNRTVU), Hyderabad, and Karnataka Veterinary Animal Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), Bidar, co-organized this workshop to mentor young veterinary extension professionals for conduct of scientific research. P.V.K. Sasidhar who participated in this workshop as a resource person shares his experiences here.
Extension research is often multi-disciplinary in nature. It can grow stronger and contribute better if it adopts changing concepts, approaches, tools and techniques. Although research is conducted in extension on different topics, it often fails to reach and create impact due to poor quality of publications. In addition, the studies with unsound methodology, poor statistical analysis, routine and redundant research topics, which are irrelevant to the context, have also constrained extension research in making effective contributions to improve field practices or develop new streams of knowledge. Hence, there is a need to create awareness on various aspects of extension research and mentor young extension researchers to ensure identification of relevant problems, conduct research with sound methodology and communicate findings for the benefit of all stakeholders.
With this background, a two days’ workshop was organized by IVEF with the following objectives:
- Sensitize young extension professionals on importance and value of quality research
- Mentoring of the young professionals by experts on undertaking quality research
- Generate indicators for quality research through interaction and dialogue between experts and participants based on diverse research and extension activities.
Day – 1 (4 July 2016)
Dr. Ch. Satyanarayana (Local Organizing Secretary) welcomed the participants. Dr. S.T. Viroji Rao (Director of Extension, PVNRTVU) highlighted that extension is bigger than what we think and urged the young professionals to apply the concepts of extension in their research to solve livestock farmers’ problems. Dr. V. Ravinder Reddy (Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Science, PVNRTVU) stressed that though the extension researchers are conducting research on pertinent issues of the farming community, accessibility of these research findings through quality publications has to be ensured. He also stressed that research without sound methodology, statistical analysis and redundant research topics have limited scope. Dr. K. Kondal Reddy (Registrar, PVNRTVU and Associate Dean, CVSc, Hyderabad) highlighted the importance of mentoring young researchers by teachers giving examples of Chanakya, Chandragupta, Aristotle, Alexander, Jijabai and Shivaji. He also acknowledged that proper mentoring of youngsters helps in quality research and also reduces inter-personal gap between seniors and juniors.
Dr. S. Ramkumar (President, IVEF) reminded that extension does not work in vacuum and go?? with other entities hand-in-hand. He further emphasized that we need to know for whom we are working, what is the geography of the location and changing policy framework with respect to time, technology and territory. He advised the young professionals that getting PhD degree is a responsibility and learning is a continuous process with elements of learn-unlearn-relearn. Dr. K.C. Veeranna (General Secretary, IVEF) informed the objectives and activities of IVEF in a nutshell.
Smt. V. Usha Rani, IAS (Director General, MANAGE) who was the Chief Guest pointed that there are number of forums on agricultural extension, but forum for veterinary extension is very innovative and she congratulated IVEF for organizing this type of a mentoring programme. She mentioned that MANAGE has trained approximately 80,000 extension professionals so far, but not many of them are from livestock sector. Lot of efforts and investments have gone into agricultural extension, but with low efforts and investments, animal
husbandry sector has done a good job. MANAGE has realized the importance of this sector and established an allied sector extension unit. MANAGE is planning to test a model on a pilot basis in Telangana state by adding an extension unit to veterinary hospital to provide need based information to farmers. She asked the IVEF to suggest areas for collaborative research, extension and training in the area of livestock extension to be undertaken by MANAGE. Dr. Prakash Kumar Rathod (Organizing Secretary) proposed vote of thanks.
SESSION 1: NEED AND IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY RESEARCH IN EXTENSION
Dr Rasheed Sulaiman V (Director, Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy) gave a presentation on the ‘Need and Importance of Quality Research in Extension’. He highlighted the role of research in creation of knowledge and contributing to the growth of the discipline. He pointed to the increasing concerns on the low quality of extension research (raised in several AESA blogs on this theme) and its limited contribution to extension practice and policy. We need to engage in quality research to provide new insights to extension policy/ practice and should also make needed changes in the extension curriculum to make extension research and practice more relevant, he argued. He further stressed that, most studies which evaluate extension methods focus on the impact of extension on farm
productivity while assessments of cost effectiveness and scalability are often missing. He discussed the recent activities of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) and AESA on capacity needs assessment of extension professionals at individual, organizational and enabling policy levels and also development and promotion of good practice notes on different aspects of extension delivery. Further he shared the type of evidence which Indian policy makers in extension look for and the need to address these through policy relevant research. At the end he proposed a few suggestions that could potentially improve quality of research in livestock extension.
- Develop a status/position paper on research issues in veterinary extension.
- Engage with policy makers in the livestock sector to envisage what evidence they need on livestock innovation (knowledge generation and use).
- Undertake research on the same problem across states (with common methodology)
- Use AESA platform and social media to promote good practices in livestock innovation.
- Use broader formats to promote research knowledge (discussion papers, policy briefs, blogs).
- Organise more focussed workshops like this (than doing conferences with large number of people).
This introductory presentation drawing examples from extension research across the globe set the broader context for the workshop and it was a good exposure to young researchers to understand what is happening globally in extension and advisory services.
SESSION 2: RESEARCH@e-EXTENSION
Dr Saravanan Raj (Director, Agricultural Extension, National institute of Agricultural Extension Management) presented on research related to eextension focusing on the role of ICTs in extension, changing focus of ICT4D interventions and the latest ICT tools such as mobiles and social media. Citing several examples, he emphasized the huge potential of social media in livestock extension and narrated the case of AESA Facebook Group which has currently more than 16500 members. At the end he conducted a card exercise on e-extension research studies that can be undertaken in livestock extension.
SESSION 3: HOW TO EVALUATE EXTENSION PROGRAMMES?
I gave a presentation on the scope of evaluation, need for conducting quality evaluation studies, differentiation between appraisal, monitoring and evaluation, different types, techniques, approaches and indicators of evaluation. I also discussed two evaluation studies using Bennett’s evaluation hierarchy by sharing evaluation proposals, survey instruments and evaluation reports.
SESSION 4: PREPARATION OF WINNING RESEARCH PROPOSALS
Bharat S. Sontakki (Principal Scientist, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad conducted this session. He focused on the how to sell a research idea, skills needed for winning research projects (technical, managerial and communication), anatomy of a typical project proposal, concept note and its anatomy, how the concept notes and research projects are reviewed and assessed, assessment criteria, weights and scores with examples, common reasons for rejection, crucial aspects of winning a research project, preparation of budget, and guidelines and tips in proposal writing. At the end, he shared a concept note template and asked the participants to write a concept note for a relevant research project. The selected concept notes were discussed on the next day.
Day 2 (5 July 2016)
SESSION 5: IDENTIFYING RESEARCH AREAS/THEMES IN EXTENSION
Dr. S. Ramkumar (Professor and Head, Dept of Veterinary and AH Extension, RIVER) conducted this session focusing on the challenges in identifying problems for research. He narrated his personal experiences in selecting research problem at the MSc (Kerala Agricultural University) and PhD level (University of Reading, UK) and stressed that problems are by products of curiosity and asking ‘why’ is very important. He discussed various priorities of students at different levels viz., BVSc & AH (practice in reality, service to society and ` extension/advisory), MVSc (subject specialists, academic and research contribution) and PhD (research, subject and academic contributions).
He further differentiated the factors influencing identification of problems at different levels viz., MVSc (guide, faculty, exposure to the world of research interest, review), PhD (previous research experience, intellectual ability, guide, expected outcomes, review) and Independent Research Project (area of interest, importance of the area, funding prospects, ability of putting up concept notes and log frames, support team, networking). He also discussed how different people perceive a problem from their own perspectives, how reading, reviewing, networking and travelling help in identifying research problem and how understanding of the changing situation helps in identification of useful problems for research.
SESSION 6: STATISTICAL TOOLS FOR EXTENSION RESEARCH
Dr. P. Sethuraman Sivakumar (Principal Scientist, CTCRI, Thiruvanthpuram) conducted this session and he focussed on the application of important statistical tools in extension research. He emphasized that extension research still depends heavily on many of the obsolete tools and it needs to catch up to address its declining credibility. He discussed various innovative methods and integrated tools in extension research. He stressed that theory is the foundation for the success of any discipline and addressing extension field problems which is guided by theory will not only solve the problem, but also provide useful insights into the process. He advised to employ multivariate research
methods which integrate data collection tools with appropriate statistical methods and help extension researchers to conduct research effectively and efficiently.
SESSION 7: RESEARCH DESIGNS
Dr. S.V.N. Rao (Professor and Head (Rtd.), Dept of Veterinary and AH Extension, RIVER) presented various research designs and for what type of research each design is used. He also discussed the criteria for selection of research designs, identification of study population, sampling procedure, methods of data collection/processing, interpretation of results and report writing. He further discussed related concepts like variance, control group and errors in testing hypothesis. He later adopted question and answer method of presentation by giving a number of research titles and eliciting response from young participants on which research designs to be adopted with advantages and disadvantages.
SESSION 8: ACTION RESEARCH FOR PROMOTION OF LIVESTOCK BASED LIVELIHOODS
Dr. K.C. Veeranna (Professor and Head, Dept of Veterinary and AH Extension, College of Veterinary Sciences, Shivamogga) presented the concept of action research, its necessity in livestock development, how to conduct community based action research, criteria and methodology to be used in action research. He discussed in detail a case study of a completed action research for promotion of livestock based livelihoods in Karnataka with focus on Identification of problem and interventions, community mobilization and organization, training and capacity building of community, community managed artificial insemination centers, fodder production and its utilization, strategic supplementation of area specific mineral mixture and introduction of Osmanabadi breed of goat. At the end he discussed the way forward on how to sustain the results of action research.
In his closing remarks Dr. D. Venkateswarlu (Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Telangana) highlighted the importance of extension in field situation and emphasized that extension is equally important as treatment/diagnosis, teaching and research. He also expressed that animal husbandry department and university need to work in mutual cooperation for the welfare of farming community. Further, extension needs quality human resources for catering to diversified needs of farming community and hence, universities have to produce quality manpower along with capacity development of field level extension personnel. Changing environment globally demands new knowledge, skills and technologies. Accordingly, extension professionals need to be updated and work in a multidisciplinary model.
WHAT I LEARNT
I participated in the workshop as a resource person to share my experiences on evaluating extension programmes. However, I am also equally benefitted by attending all other sessions and gained insights on several issues like global developments in extension advisory services, cost effectiveness and scalability of extension programmes, policy discussions, e-extension, crucial aspects of winning a research project, identifying research problems, application of statistical tools and various research designs.
This workshop with eight sessions was a methodically planned event and organized by youngsters for youngsters. Two young faculties – Dr. Praksah Kumar Rathod and Dr. Ch. Satyanarayana took the lead roles and organized the event in a commendable way. Also appreciation goes to IVEF leaders for organizing such a successful and productive workshop.
I like the way young professionals participated in the workshop with lot of interest and enthusiasm. All the sessions were lively with active participation of youngsters seeking several clarifications by relating them with their current research works. Out of 37 participants, 6 are PhD scholars, 14 are
MVSc scholars and rest are in their very early career, serving as Assistant Professors / field veterinarians. The participants are from all the south Indian states in addition to UP and Sikkim.
Indian Veterinary Extension Forum (IVEF)
Indian Veterinary Extension Forum (IVEF) was registered (Reg No. 241 of 2006) under Societies registration Act in Februray, 2006 in Pondicherry. Now IVEF has 160 active veterinary extension professionals serving in India.
Cater the intellectual needs as well as developing professional expertise of its members.
- Provide a platform for the bonafide members to exchange their technical knowhow and take collective decision for all round development of the discipline in particular and profession in general.
- Organize workshops, seminars, brainstorming sessions etc on topics related to Veterinary & A.H Extension. The purpose behind such sessions is to evolve a set of recommendations in order to address problems related to rural development through livestock sector.
- Guide the state and central government, ICAR, VCI, SAUs/ SVUs in developing different extension strategies and policies related to Veterinary & Animal Husbandry Extension.
- Uphold the dignity of the discipline in every sphere and take steps to improve the quality with respect to teaching, research, extension and training in the field of Veterinary & Animal Husbandry Extension.
- Identify and reward the intellectual bonafide members for their substantial contribution for the broad development of livestock sector in the country.
- Establish linkages with other organizations and render counselling and consultancy services to various clientele groups.
- Take up research projects and evaluation studies in the field of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension and allied fields.
- Publish scholarly peer reviewed research journals.
- Organize training programmes for the development of extension workers and change agents of various institutions engaged in livestock development.
- Assist, subscribe and cooperate as and when possible with its affiliates and/or be affiliated with any other similar organization/institution for fulfilment of its objectives.
Through this two days’ workshop, IVEF showed the way on how professional societies in extension should take a lead in building the capacities of young professionals who are the future researchers. Organizing this type of frequent workshops will change the mind-set of young researchers and go a long way in the progress of discipline.
IVEF is planning to conduct a similar workshop for the benefit of young extension professionals of North India. I look forward to more such professional interactions and learning opportunities.
P.V.K.Sasidhar is Director, School of Extension and Development Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi-110068 (India). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org