View Career : Agricultural Extension Officer
Agricultural extension officers are intermediaries between research and farmers. They operate as facilitators and communicators, helping farmers in their decision-making and ensuring that appropriate knowledge is implemented to obtain the best results.
Agricultural extension officers need to communicate to farmers agricultural information on natural resources, animals, crops, on how best to utilise the farmland, how to construct proper irrigation schemes, economic use and storage of water, how to combat animal disease, and save on the cost of farming equipment and procedures. They need to ensure that farmers understand this information and use it on their farms in order to obtain the best production.
Agricultural extension officers often propagate new farming methods. This always takes place in conjunction with the farmers, who make the final decision. They also research food, fibre and animal products in conjunction with agricultural scientists. They assist cattle farmers, and guide and assist veterinary surgeons in the treatment of different animal diseases. Each agricultural extension officer is linked to one of the agricultural development centres throughout the country, which render agricultural services to farmers.
Agricultural extension officers encourage farmers to adopt new, improved methods of farming, using a variety of methods to reach farmers i.e. organising study groups for farmers, ‘farmer days’, demonstrations, lectures and literature, as well as informing the media. The best method though, is through personal contact with farmers on their farms.
It sometimes happens that an agricultural extension officer must re-plan a farm in conjunction with the farmer. All the resources on the farm are then thoroughly investigated. Sometimes it is necessary for agricultural extension officers to develop recovery programmes for eroded soil, protect cultivated land against erosion and develop a new pasture system.
They propagate farming and development programmes aimed at reaching marginalised farmers or those who have little access to information and extension services. They do this in collaboration with farming communities, helping them to help themselves to become more self-reliant and independent.
Some satisfying aspects of this career
- working with people
- helping to improve the quality of their lives, by helping them achieve higher yields which in turn provide better returns
Some demanding aspects of this career
- planning and implementing various programmes can become time consuming and very taxing
- good communication and interpersonal skills
- possess persuasive abilities
- keen interest and knowledge of farming and the environment
- enjoy working outdoors
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences are usually required
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, Geography, Agricultural Sciences, Information Technology
The minimum requirement for appointment as an agricultural extension officer, is a BSc (Agric) or BAgric degree.
Degree: BSc (Agric) - UFS, UL, US, UP, UKZN, UNISA and UZ, also at Agricultural Colleges such as Cedara and Owen Sitole
Diploma: CPUT, CUT, NMMU, TUT, UNISA, NWU, Fort Hare, DUT
- Department of Agriculture
- various industries and manufacturers of agricultural products and farming co-operatives
- own business, working as a consultant
- pest control companies
- agricultural co-operations
- self-employment, working as a consultant