Grains and field crops, Biosecurity, pests, weeds and diseases
Department of Agriculture Western Australia
The question I have asked is 'Are farmer groups a fad or the future?' I believe there is no question about it. Farmer groups ARE an important part of future agricultural extension. With shrinking government resources devoted to extension, a farmer group approach has many advantages. These advantages have been shown in Western Australia with landcare catchment groups and lice cell groups and these have been recognised by both extension workers and farmers. What makes these groups different to groups of the past? Farmer groups have come and gone in an almost cyclical fashion. An exception is the Kondinin Group, which started off as a small pasture improvement group and has developed in to a significant agricultural extension organisation. Some dairy farmer groups in Victoria have also become well established. Certainly, there has been more groups succumb than to continue from strength to strength. Of course, a group's demise may not reflect failure. If the group goals have been achieved, then the lifespan of the group has been reached. So, why should groups of the future be any different? Is it our expectation that they continue to function as a permanent entity in the future? Certainly, the rwo major farmer groups which exist in this state - catchment groups and lice cell groups - differ from groups of the past. They have a strong community base, there is group ownership of the problem being addressed and extension workers providing support have received some training in group skills. Therefore, I believe the real question is 'What FORM will farmer groups take?', not whether they will exist in the future. I've divided the talk into two parts. The first part describes several programmes I learnt about whilst in Canada and the second part deals with farmer groups in Western Australia, particularly lice cell groups.
Number of Pages
Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia. (1992), Farmer Groups - A Fad or the Future. Department of Agriculture Western Australia, Perth. Report.
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