More than 60 percent of the world's population live in rural areas. For many, maintaining even a subsistence-level lifestyle is a daily concern. Many international organizations are attempting to help these rural families by increasing their agricultural output. A way to bolster agricultural production is to develop agricultural education systems. Many nations are working to develop agricultural and extension education programs and institutions. However, in some cases, the importance of agricultural and extension education is frequently given low priority. In other cases, the importance of human resource development is recognized, but nations lack agricultural educators and extension personnel who can plan and implement these programs at all levels.
Agricultural and Extension education efforts have contributed much to agricultural development in North America and Europe. In the United States, agricultural education programs in secondary and post secondary schools continue to provide essential technical and managerial skills that young people need to succeed in farming and related agricultural areas. Traditionally, extension programs have been directed toward meeting the needs of farmers, families and communities. Societal changes are opening new arenas for people oriented information and education. Extension's redefined mission indicates Extension helps people improve their lives through an educational process that uses scientific knowledge focused on issues and needs.
Other countries have followed a similar pattern by investing in agricultural and extension education. These human resource investments are now yielding important results in the form of increased agricultural productivity. The process of developing, transferring, and using agricultural technology requires trained people at all levels. Nations must provide appropriate agricultural and extension education if they are to be successful in both developing agricultural potential in the rural areas and in meeting national food requirements.