AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND THE CONTINUOUS PROGRESSIVE FARMERS’ BIAS AND LAGGARDS BLAME: THE CASE OF DATE PALM PRODUCERS IN SAUDI ARABIA
Even distribution of resources and services to ensure balanced agricultural development, that benefits different regions and farmers groups in a comparable manner, has been a persistent objective of all agricultural development plans in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, small farmers with relatively limited resources attendance to and benefit from agricultural extension services is expected to be limited compared to their large and well-off counterparts. This is due to weaknesses and problems constraining agricultural extension efficiency, the most important of which is inappropriate institutional framework and organizational structure. This paper examined the thesis that small and relatively poor farmers in Saudi Arabia benefit less than their large and relatively rich counterparts from agricultural extension service. The study was conducted in the most important seven Date Palm growing administrative areas in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected from a simple random sample of 2637 farmers through face to face interviews. Cross-tabs and Chi square test were used to analyze the data. The study results revealed a statistically significant association between Date Palm producers' participation in extension activities and their educational level, farm size, possession of income from sources other than agriculture and annual income. Also the study indicated that agricultural extension failed to realize high adoption rates of modern agricultural technologies even among the so called "progressive farmers". This is consistent with the general consensus in the extant literature about the need to reform the public agricultural extension systems in most of the developing countries.
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