The purpose of the study was to establish the current state of public research-extension-farmers linkages in Nyanga district of Zimbabwe. Public agricultural research and extension are custodians of agricultural development. This is not to disregard other private and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The quantitative study had a target sample of 150 communal farmers (N=150) which were systematically sampled from the three clusters in Nyanga districts? wards 19 and 22 as well as 12 extension officers (N=12) and six research officers (N=6), all of the responded well to the questionnaires. The data from the completed questionnaires was analysed using SAS Enterprise Guide version: 43.
The study revealed that the frequency of communication and communication channels used by the three stakeholders does not suggest or support any proper structural linkages. However, farmers were satisfied with the frequency of communication and the overall work of extension officers in promoting farmer development. They also appreciated the practical and useful information they receive from the extension officers. However the same could not be said for the research officers. Farmers indicated that they are not satisfied at all by the services they receive from research officers from Nyanga Experiment Station (NES). All farmer respondents from Sedze cluster have never engaged with research officers from NES in any farming business yet they are only 30km away from NES. In other words, the farmer-research and research-extension contacts are almost non-existent while the farmer-extension contacts are relatively better. Throughout this study, there were some contrasting responses from both research and extension officers and the farmers. The public officers rated the services they offer to the farmers as very good but the farmers never rated them that good. Other findings revealed that there are no organised farmer-research-extension linkages. Only low levels of informal networks exist between farmers and extension officers. There were reports of a research-extension steering committee but there were no indications of its functionality in this study. The decisions on research themes are done at the research head offices (top-down approach) robbing the farmers and even the frontline extension officers of the opportunity to contribute. There was great excitement shown by farmers from Manjoro and Weaving clusters who are working with research officers from NES on organic pesticides trials. This indicated that farmers are so much willing to engage researchers in activities that are aimed at improving farmer development.
The merger of Agricultural, Technical, and Extension Services (AGRITEX) and DR&SS did not improve technology generation and dissemination, rather it created confusion, overlaps and duplication of duties. This was reversed in 2010. The public research and extension officers are working under severely stressed budgets, a situation that could be a major contributing factor in job burnout being experienced by research officers. However, under these conditions both research and extension officers indicated that they are energetic and proud as well as hard working on their job. They further hold some pride in working for their departments where they foresee good future prospects. They have also accomplished worthwhile things in their lives as a result of their job. Both sets of officers also indicated that coordination problems are experienced in their work and that they require in-service training to deal with the ever changing environment under which they work.