The Social Structure of the Agricultural Extension Services in the Western Province of Kenya

  • David K. Leonard
Part of the Institute of Social Studies book series (ISDS, volume 2)


In his study of Bulambia Division in the Rungwe District of Tanzania, Thoden van Velzen found that the social structure of administration was itself a constraint on socialist and economic development. Government employees were seen by peasants and by themselves as a highly cohesive, mutually interdependent elite group. They had very frequent social contact with one another, apparently without regard for rank or speciality, but interacted much less often with the local peasants. Maintaining a relatively high standard of living and speaking Swahili among themselves, they had a paternalistic attitude toward peasants and were disdainful of doing any manual work. Those locals with whom government staff did have social contact were almost invariably rich farmers. Staff built up a symbiotic relationship with these rich peasants, which involved the latter providing land, food, and assistance on government projects to the staff. They in their turn helped the well-off farmers with access to government aid, supported their dominance of local political institutions, and assisted in their conflicts with other peasants. The consequences of this social system were such that staff were themselves prime examples of inegalitarian behaviour and, in their support for the rich peasants, were reinforcing and accentuating inequality within the rural society. Their isolation from poorer peasants was such that they seemed to learn little from them and to provide them with relatively little in the way of direct positive benefits. The tension between rich and poorer peasants was such that we may infer that diffusion of innovations from the first to the second was limited.1


Hybrid Maize Senior Staff Western Province Extension Agent Agricultural Extension 
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  1. D.K. Leonard, ‘Organizational Structures for Productivity in Agricultural Extension’, in D.K. Leonard (ed), Rural Administration in Kenya (Nairobi, East African Literature Bureau, 1973).Google Scholar
  2. Fred N. Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioural Research (New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 559.Google Scholar
  3. R.G. Saylor, ‘An Opinion Survey of Bwana Shambas in Tanzania’ (Economic Research Bureau, University of Dar Es Salaam, 1970), 12, 17.Google Scholar
  4. Cf. F.E. Emery and O.A. Oeser, Information, Decision and Action (Melbourne University Press, 1958).Google Scholar
  5. Cf. E.M. Rogers, The Diffusion of Innovations (New York, The Free Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  6. E.M. Rogers, J.R. Ascroft and N.E. Roling, Diffusion of Innovations in Brazil, Nigeria and India (Department of Communications, Michigan State University, 1970), 4–53 to 4–55.Google Scholar
  7. David K. Leonard with Bernard Chahilu and Jack Tumwa, ‘Some Hypotheses Concerning the Impact of Kenya Government Agricultural Extension on Small Farmers’ (Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, 1970), 6, 7,10–12,13.Google Scholar
  8. Cf. Robers, Ascroft and Roling, Diffusion of Innovations in Brazil, Nigeria and India, 4–53 to 4–55.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1977

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  • David K. Leonard

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