Professor Subejo of the UGM Faculty of Agriculture delivered an inaugural lecture titled “The Coexistence of Contemporary ICT and Conventional Agricultural Extension Towards a New Perspective on Agricultural Extension and Communication in Indonesia” during his appointment ceremony on Tuesday, November 21.
The agricultural extension and communication professor stated that global and national food issues are becoming more complex and require solutions and adaptive abilities, including information and communication technology (ICT).
The adoption of information and communication technology has the potential to revolutionize the existence of agricultural extension and significantly contribute to the sustainability of farming systems and small-scale farmer enterprises.
“The use of ICT in Indonesia to support the development of the agriculture sector in the future is very strategic, considering the limited number of field agricultural extension officers compared to the vast, scattered islands, the number of farmers, the availability of rapidly developing information technology, and increasing public literacy,” he explained.
The combination and integration of conventional extension models with new extension models that optimize the use of new media are relevant to current conditions, especially since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is also a strategic adaptation to the limited mobility of people and goods to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The reduction in the number and frequency of social interactions between field agricultural extension officers and farmer groups can be compensated through applications and new media to disseminate information and innovations.
In some cases, this approach has been quite successful in promoting e-marketing and distributing agricultural products in areas with adequate telecommunication infrastructure and well-trained agrarian extension officers and farmers.
The policy and orientation of agricultural extension and communication in Indonesia have undergone significant transformation. This is in line with the shift of the agricultural sector towards greater diversity, commercialization, and a greater emphasis on sustainability and efficiency.
Professor Subejo stated that current and future agricultural extension and communication policies and practices must be able to adapt to contemporary issues and future challenges in agriculture and rural areas, such as the scarcity of production resources marked by the conversion of agricultural land and the degradation of land quality, the negative impact of global climate change, the stagnation of the farmer regeneration process, and the urgency of improving institutional governance of agriculture.
“The UGM Faculty of Agriculture has been promoting smart eco-bio production for the past few years. This is very relevant to the global dynamics of agricultural development that demands the growth of strategic ideas and innovations as an active response to changes, problems, and opportunities for national and global agricultural development,” he explained.
The scarcity of production resources, agricultural land conversion, and land quality degradation require more efficient and effective farming practices while maintaining production stability.
In line with efforts to increase the efficiency of agricultural production processes, Professor Subejo advocates for developing rural industries that can provide new income opportunities for farmer families.
This can be achieved through creative economic efforts in processing agricultural products and utilizing by-products, as well as agricultural services such as agro-tourism development.
Professor Subejo also encourages efforts and strategies in extension to promote effective adaptation and mitigation strategies to address global climate change in the agricultural sector. One approach is advocating a combination of modern and traditional methods to address climate change issues in agriculture.
Agricultural extension models through climate field schools and the dissemination of information and adaptation strategies to climate change using new media, such as the DESA Apps and Lentera Desa applications developed by the Faculty of Agriculture.
Effective agricultural institutions that can accommodate the economic and social interests of the farming community are also crucial. One approach is to develop the institution of farmers by developing Farmers’ Groups or farmer associations with business units, such as cooperatives, that can carry out commercial functions.
“The design and governance of farmer institutions will be a significant theme in agricultural extension and communication in Indonesia,” he concluded.