Riyadh extension agents’ perceptions regarding organic agriculture and implication for training

Open Access
Author:
Alotaibi, Bader Mohsen
Graduate Program:
Agricultural and Extension Education
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
March 26, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Co-Chair Edgar P. Yoder, Dissertation Advisor
  • Co-Chair Mark A. Brennan, Committee Chair
  • John C. Ewing, Committee Member
  • Connie D. Baggett, Committee Member
  • Mark D. Threeton, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • Extension agents
  • Orgainc agriucltur in Saudi Arabia
  • Sustainable Agriuclture in Saudi Arabia
  • Rural Developmet in Saudi Arabia
  • agricultural extension training
Abstract:
The purpose of the study was to determine Riyadh Region extension agents’ perceptions regarding organic agriculture and implications for training. Variables studied were level of interest in training in organic agriculture, role of extension in organic agriculture, sources of information related to organic agriculture, and agents’ perceptions of organic agriculture. A census was conducted to collect data from the extension agent target population. Almost 95% of agents indicated their interest in receiving future organic agriculture training. Agents expressed the most interest in training topic areas related to organic agriculture in general, marketing of organic produces, weed management, and transitioning to organic agriculture. Almost 50% of extension agents reported they were not currently confident in providing organic agriculture information to clients. Agents indicated that field days at organic farms, training at colleges on organic agriculture topics, and workshops about organic agriculture would be the most useful information sources. Extension agents overall had a slightly positive perception of organic agriculture in general, and it was found that agents in Riyadh had an ambivalent perception about the role of extension agents in organic agriculture. There were no significant differences in the summated scores for agent perceptions regarding organic agriculture practices, the role of extension in organic agriculture and training interest in organic agriculture when examined by age, educational level, responsibility for providing organic agriculture information, previous experience with organic agriculture, and agent specialization areas. The researcher concluded that since approximately one-half of the extension agents were not confident in providing information regarding organic agriculture and around 40% of agents had no training related to organic agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture of Saudi Arabia and universities will need to provide more training and programming in organic agriculture via formal and/or non-formal education, if they wish to increase and enhance the role of extension in organic agriculture.