Agricultural professionals in extension services worldwide build new relationships between culturally diverse systems
Michigan State University and India’s National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management collaborate on a new book, “Innovations in Agricultural Extension.”
One of the key principles of extension services is to encourage people to take action through education. At a jointly organized conference in 2019, International Conference on Agricultural Extension: Innovation to Impact, extension programming staff and leaders from Michigan State University Extension and India’s National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, or MANAGE, proposed the idea to write a collaborative book. In our age of information, extension services everywhere face a shared grand challenge: How to disseminate information and reach the people they serve. The document would share best practices, different models and innovative initiatives in agriculture extension.
The book, “Innovations in Agricultural Extension,” has recently been published. There are 20 chapters and over 45 authors and includes a window into agricultural extension activities in India, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Tajikistan and the United States of America.
The growth and importance of agriculture has contributed to the rise of civilizations and in improving living conditions for not just farmers, but for populations everywhere. Countries have vastly different systems to support farmers through agricultural extension. Even though the support structures and contextual realities of supporting agriculture varies from location to location, there is still tremendous value in sharing best practices and success stories to learn from one another and forge new relationships.
In an effort to build bridges, learn from each other and create global connections, MSU and India’s MANAGE have established a collaborative relationship. Through organized joint international conferences and arranged educational exchange trips for staff, there has been an exploration of extension models in India and Michigan.
At the center of this relationship is a desire to learn from and be inspired by our different ways of supporting agriculture and food systems. There are also additional opportunities for staff to improve and reflect upon their cross-cultural skills. Collaborating on international projects and visiting international extension programs does more than just provide inspiration for new programming efforts; it teaches participants that differences are not wrong, and hones skills that all extension staff can benefit from when serving diverse populations.