Changing Roles of Agricultural Extension: Harnessing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Adapting to Stresses Envisaged Under Climate Change
The linkages between agriculture and climate are pronounced and often complex. Agricultural systems are most sensitive to extreme climatic events such as droughts, floods and hailstorms, and to seasonal variability and changing rainfall patterns. The role of inadequate institutional support is frequently cited in the literature as a hindrance to adaptation. In context of climate change, extension will increasingly face challenges of addressing vulnerability. The effectiveness of extension will be influenced by the factors such as identifying vulnerable regions, vulnerable groups, farmers having multiple stressors, areas which will be doubly exposed, for assessing and strengthening the coping strategies among vulnerable regions/groups and improve the ability for adaptive measures. Effective and timely provision of information will play a crucial role in future extension. Despite the need for timely and well-targeted information on climatic risks, there are currently a number of gaps and challenges in providing climate information to the farmers. Of late, organisations in agriculture realised the importance of managing the Knowledge (Implicit & Explicit; Internal & External) for the dissemination purposes. In this chapter, we have discussed at length the cases for developing insights into the contemporary initiatives of integrating ICTs and climate information in extension. In order to promote the development of appropriate community-based ICT endeavors for sharing climate change information and technology options at grassroots level, it is important that we also understand the attributes that must be considered for building more practical and broad based approaches. For the benefit of the readers, a comprehensive framework involving various components of climate change vis a vis Extension is provided. In the context of climate change, information needs assessment and strategies for strengthening Research-Extension-Farmers linkages are discussed in this chapter. Further looking at the complexities of climate change scenario, it is proposed that ICT enabled extension framework may be tested, refined and adapted in future extension endeavours.