Perceptions of Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) on the Performance and Impacts of Decentralized Agricultural Extension: The Case of Eastern Samar and Leyte Provinces, Philippines
This thesis is an investigation of the performance and impacts of decentralized agricultural extension in two provinces of the Philippines – Eastern Samar and Leyte. The study secured the perceptions of 141 agricultural extension workers (AEWs) and 22 key informants. Secondary sources of information such as government reports and existing literature were examined to complement the primary survey data. The study employed a mixed method of research where the quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS and the qualitative results were grouped according to similar themes and ideas. The SPSS analyses include the descriptive data, Mann-Whitney U tests, and multivariate analysis using logistic regression. The results of the study suggest that the objectives of decentralizing agricultural extension has not met the expectations of AEWs and key informants due to key factors such as lack of funds at the local level, low priority for agricultural programs, and partisan politics. On the other hand, positive outcomes include timely release of salaries, direct access to human resource and financial resources at the local level, and proximity of AEWs to household family members. This study has proved that after 20 years of decentralization, the AEWs in Eastern Samar and Leyte provinces were dissatisfied with decentralization as expressed by their support for the renationalization of agricultural extension. The study likewise highlights the significance of the leadership qualities of local chief executives (Governors and Mayors), competence, and in-depth understanding of the value of agriculture and rural sector development. These characteristics are required for successful implementation of decentralized agricultural extension. The study recommends a nationwide survey on the impacts of decentralized agricultural extension to ascertain whether a majority of AEWs in the country favour renationalization of agricultural extension. It also calls for a stronger policy that will hold local chief executives accountable for failure of governance particularly in the field of agricultural and rural development. Finally, it encourages an active participation and sustained vigilance of various stakeholders to ensure that the principles of decentralization are adopted and practiced by local governments to meet the needs of the small and marginal farmers and fishermen at the local level.