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Factors influencing attitudes of wheat farmers about the effects of training-extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development natural resources (case study: Abeshirin Region of Kashan City).

INTRODUCTION

Natural resources are one of the major and critical sources that contribute significantly to the provision of basic human needs [6]. Human depend on the relationship with the environment for safety, health and survival [3]. However natural resources are generating renewable resources, they themselves form so slowly which are virtually considered non-renewable resources. Meanwhile, agricultural production needs natural resources so that today more than 97 percent of the world's food comes from natural sources. Degradation of natural resources is one of the most important problems of the agricultural sector in world food production process, which in recent years has intensified with increasing population and change in human activities. Statistics indicate that every year about 22 million hectares of arable land are lost which is followed by degradation of agricultural ecosystems [6]. Iran is the first in terms of volumes of natural resources erosion in the region ranking, and it is second in the world ranking. If the annual rate of natural resources loss is assumed to be 2 to 5 billion tons, about 20 percent of natural resource degradation is found in Iran on a global scale. Situation is so alarming that in the Draft Act on the Protection of Natural Resources it was declared that more than half of Iran's area (88 million hectares) is in a crisis situation in terms of erosion per hectare [10].

In debates about natural resource management and sustainable development, from planners' and policy makers' viewpoint, the utilizers have been considered as one of the target groups and their empowerment and attracting their participation as a large part of human sources living in rural areas, are vertices of programs of development organizations in different countries. It can be said that among the villagers, farmers have the most association with natural resources because of their tasks and in this regard, the most destruction of natural areas is done by them due to their ignorance and lack of knowledge and awareness about the importance and situation of these areas in a sustainable environment [20]. Farmers with activities like use of existing natural resources including water and soil, further understand the hazards of desertification and degradation of natural resources and they can be guided and used better and easier in conservation and restoration of natural resources [5]. Studies have relied on the fact that farmers' knowledge about environment, and therefore their conservative approach is not an inherent value that is derived from them. This seems to be rooted in their work roles and responsibilities closely linked with natural resources for survival [13]. The utilizers have different understanding of access to and control over natural resources and therefore they have different opportunities to share in decision making about the use of natural resources. In other words, failure in recognizing the knowledge, severely distorts human understanding of how the environment is. For example, how perceptual differences are effective in the use of natural resources and how the erosion of natural resource is affected by different utilization behaviors of the utilizers, and what forms concerns of the world about proper use of resources, are of reflection subjects in this area.

People understanding of the resource specify different roles of the utilizers in the production and sustainability and their power relations. Proper understanding of the utilizers response affected by the environment needs studies on their roles, responsibilities and how to access and control resources and also ability of decision making about the use of resources. Among these, roots and causes of natural resources destruction by farmers, their needs, desires, and capabilities, as well as identifying ways to attract local utilizers' partnership in implementation of protection and restoration of natural resources plans, including consideration of the utilizers' role in the protection and restoration of natural areas should be seriously considered [8]. Diversifying economic activities in rural areas and reduction of pressure on natural areas can also be beneficial in this regard [7].

Mission of promoting the conservation and restoration of natural resources is accompanied with the aim of achieving sustainable development in agriculture and making utilizers informed of value and importance of natural resources. The main task of promoting as an educational institution is indeed client notification in order to manifest their role in conservation of natural resources and achieving sustainable development goals by changing their knowledge and creating correct attitude and positive behavioral changes in learners [24].

Yazdi Samadi [26] examined challenges and major problems of Iranian agriculture from the perspective of educational and extension programs and mentioned to major challenges and important issues in the natural resources subdivision including scientific planning in agricultural systems, lack of necessary communication and coordination between the executive and research sectors and inefficiency of human resources. Mojtahedzadeh and Najafi [17] studies on the situation of agriculture and natural resources and lack of attention to educational and extension programs in eleven provinces indicate issues that for example, in the Markazi province they point to the lack of sufficient information about structure and texture of arable land and pastures, strong need to control wastewaters, in order to prevent soil erosion and enhance groundwater aquifers, exceeding the limits and destroying pastures and also improper grazing, and gradual fading of pastures as a result.

Karami [11] in a study entitled reception areas of natural resources conservation training in developing countries (case study: Iran) found that a multiple model of combination of training patterns and farm structure is the most powerful model for explaining behavior of adoption of soil conservation practices by farmers. The most important variables in explaining the behavior of adoption of natural resources conservation methods especially soil conservation include function of wheat, farmers' awareness of erosion problems, wheat cultivation area, the farm expenses and knowledge obtained from different sources. The research results also indicate complementary role of variables of educational patterns and farm structure.

Pandy [22] reviewed the adoption of natural resources conservation process and the role of education in this area in developing countries (educational, extension, and institutional considerations). The results of the study showed that rejection or limited adoption of educational technologies in environmental conservation is often caused by lack of setting in which the educational technologies act in the conservation of natural resources. Asafu et al. [2] examined the adoption of natural agricultural resources conservation in Eritrea. In this study, they looked at socio-economic and institutional factors that affect the level of agricultural activity for the conservation of natural resources. Number of days that the farmer practiced in natural resources conservation and participated in training courses were considered as dependent variables and assigned as indicator for the effort made to conserve natural resources. Also using Tobit model, they examined the impact of socioeconomic factors including age, education, household size, awareness of the degradation of natural resources, profit and income from operations for the protection of natural resources on the efforts focused on soil conservation. The results showed that farmers' knowledge and extension programs, programs to increase the farmers' income and research on expansion of natural resource conservation operations, can directly affect economic benefits of farmers and adoption of natural resource conservation operations in an appropriate manner.

Review by Nabhan and colleagues in developing countries suggests that businesses benefit from forest wood and agricultural development and livestock grazing on one hand and lack of important applied trainings in this area, on the other hand are the main causes of forest destruction. Moreover, lack of training, weakness of market, managerial and organizational shortcomings have been key drivers in both groups to adopt unsustainable methods of forest exploitation [18].

Also Razzaghi and Shabanali Fami [23] acknowledged role and impact of extension trainings with an emphasis on practical training in the conservation, restoration, and development of renewable natural resources. Osmanpoor [21] suggests the effect of individual factors such as level of education, field of study, place of employment, status of employment place, marital status, source of income, family size, type of occupation and age in the conservation, restoration and development of renewable natural resources. Khalighi and Ghasemi [12] examined the issue from an economic perspective and pointed out factors like income, irrigated and dry farming land, access to vehicle, livestock numbers and granted banking facilities and their impact on conservation and restoration of natural resources. Razzaghi and Shabanali Fami [23] quoted from Poeufn Berger and Mirbod [16] admitted the effects of public institutions and organizations and non-governmental organizations in the process of conservation, restoration, development and utilization of renewable natural resources. Some other researchers believe the role and impact of the government on elimination of legal limits of people ownership, belief in decentralization and devolution, strengthening the relationship between the government and the public, meeting government obligations, the belief in people participation, professional competence of authorities and experts, public awareness, identifying people's problems and proper policy making in the conservation, restoration, development and utilization of renewable natural resources.

Hosseini and Popzan [9], quoting from Barrett considered social factors (social class, occupational prestige, experience, attitude towards plans, empowering local communities, organizing local communities, paying attention to local knowledge, regarding ownership, job creation, local leaders) as effective factors in the process of conservation, restoration, development and utilization of renewable natural resources.

Malek Mohammadi [15] and Shariati [25] advocate the effect of vocational training of natural resources promoters and participation of people and utilizers in training courses on the conservation, restoration, development and utilization of renewable natural resources.

Azami et al. [4] in their study showed that the seven factors of educational factors were useful in the effectiveness of training courses on improving the operations process improvement, restoration, utilization and conservation of forest. Among these factors, "the diagnostic evaluation before holding class" significantly higher level its effect is still more popular than other factors and the more important factor in the see its impact on the effectiveness of their students and more courses. Welfare status of the course is also another factor which could be the degree of secondary importance in terms of this contract.

Hosseininia et al. [10] in their study assessed the partoralist attitudes towards sustainable integrated rangeland management (SIRM) in Tehran province of Iran. The results of the study showed that education level, attitudes toward other pastoralists, teamwork and collaboration with administrative officials, significantly affected pastoralists attitudes toward SIRM.

Alipour et al. [1] in their research found that there is a positive and significant relationship between variables like education, agricultural activity background, size of agricultural lands, number of livestocks, annual income, the income from agriculture, participation in social institutions, level of benefiting from different educational courses, level of satisfaction with elements of the held educational programs and attitude toward revival, preservation and development of the natural resources.

The overall objective of this study was to investigate the factors affecting wheat farmers' attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources in Abeshirin region of Kashan. In this study, a set of elements and activities that are effective in conservation and restoration of natural resources with systemic and comprehensive approach are defined. Elements used in this study to evaluate the role of training and extension activities are in fact collection of factors that affect resource conservation with production sustainability approach and are the basis of activities in agricultural utilization systems. According to all theoretical studies and considerations, the relationship between independent variables and the dependent variable in this study is presented in Figure 1.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

This study is a quantitative research in terms of nature, non-experimental from rate of variables control and applied research in terms of target and it has been done at both library and field levels. The study area is Abeshirin region located in the city of Kashan. Abeshirin region is located between longitudes 51 [degrees] and 30, 52 degrees and latitudes of 33 and 34 degrees, East of Kashan. The minimum height of this region is 800 meters and maximum height is 3617 meters above sea level. This area has 12 villages and most agricultural products are wheat and barley in this area. Water supply of the region is deep wells.

According to Krejcie and Morgan [14] table and considering statistical community of the survey, 216 wheat farmers randomly selected and have formed the study sample. Data were collected through questionnaire that its validity was approved by a panel of experts and its reliability was confirmed by carrying out a pilot study and calculating Cronbach alpha coefficient. Cronbach alpha values for different parts of the questionnaire are calculated more than 0.7. SPS[S.sub.Win19] software has been used for data analysis. Indicators and criteria examined in this study are as follows:

--Attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration, and development of natural resources: 8 items about the effects of the held training--extension courses were designed to evaluate this variable including to aid proper utilization of natural resources, increase in the participation of farmers and villagers in conservation of natural resources, to enhance social capital of villagers in natural resources, the courses impact in view of people regarding the importance of natural resources, more use of villagers ideas to solve natural resources problems, the courses impact in view of people regarding adverse effects of natural resources, to provide favorable conditions for development and improvement of natural resources and to direct members towards group working and strengthen the spirit of cooperation in the conservation of natural resources and a range of 5 items (totally disagree, disagree, no opinion, agree, totally agree) was used to evaluate farmers' responses. It should be noted that the trainin- extension courses held for wheat farmers include training of sapling planting, digging and sowing, natural resources conservation, natural resources regulations, fire fighting and replacing fossil fuel instead of wood fuels.

--Access to sources of information: the purpose of this variable is utilizers' access to radio, television, Internet, books and publications, workshops and training courses, experts in agriculture and natural resources, family, neighbors and colleagues and scientific visits to require information in the field of conservation, restoration and development of natural resources. To this end, eight items were designed and a range of 5 options (very low, low, medium, high and very high) was used to assess the audience responses.

--Satisfaction with training--extension courses held in the field of conservation, restoration and development of natural resources: 7 items including satisfaction of wheat farmers with the time, duration, and place of holding courses, teachers' method, how teachers deal with learner, as well as satisfaction with content of provided courses and training aids used in teaching process were designed to measure this variable, and a range of 5 options was used to evaluate response of the audience ( very low, low, medium, high and very high).

--Social participation in rural organizations: The purpose of this variable is the level of social participation in local establishments' activities by farmers like rural cooperatives, associations of parents and schools authorities, mosques, libraries and mobilization stations.

--Economic characteristics: these characteristics include variables of total annual income and annual agricultural income.

--Agronomic and professional characteristics: these characteristics include variables of total lands area and experience of wheat breading.

--Personal Characteristics: These characteristics include age, gender and education level of the farmer.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The findings showed that the mean age of the respondents was 54 years. Also 92.1 percent of the respondents were male (199 men) and 7.9 of them were female (17 women). 63.4% of the subject farmers were illiterate (137 persons), 13.9 % of them had primary school education (30 persons), 11.6% of them had junior high school diploma (25 persons), 7.40% of them had high school diploma (16 persons), 2.80% of them had Associate's Degree (6 persons), and 0.9% of them had Bachelor's Degree and upper level education (2 persons). Analysis of the economic characteristics of the farmers indicated that the farmers' total income is 450 million rials in average per year and their annual agricultural income is about 240 million rials in average.

Table 1 shows frequency and percentage of the utilizers in the study based on the scores achieved by them for the variable of attitude on the impact of training- extension courses held in conservation, restoration and development of natural resources. The results indicate that most farmers in the statistical sample, i.e. 75.5% (163 persons), obtained score 16-24, and 24.5% of them (53 persons) obtained score 8-16. Actually, most of the respondents had a mean attitude.

Table 2 shows distribution of respondents according to preference of items related to attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources. According to the table contents, of the respondents view the items contributing to the proper utilization of natural resources has been proposed as the first priority and the item of more use of the comments and statements of villagers to solve natural resources problems has been proposed as the last priority of the respondents' views on the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources.

In this section we examine the relationship between individual, agricultural, professional, economic, social participation variables, access to information sources and satisfaction with training--extension courses and variable of attitude on the impact of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources is discussed. The results obtained are presented in Table 3 and the results include:

Table 3: Correlation of variables with attitude about the effects of
training-extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and
development of natural resources.

Independent Variables          Correlation   Significant   Type of
                               Coefficient   Level         Correlation
                                                           Coefficient

Age                            -0.047        0.491         Pearson
Level of education             0.135         0.048         Spearman
Total lands area               0.177         0.009         Pearson
Experience of                  0.074         0.277         Pearson
  wheat breading
Total annual income            0.231         0.001         Pearson
Annual agricultural income     0.226         0.001         Pearson
Social participation in        -0.058        0.399         Pearson
  rural organizations
Access to sources              -0.053        0.438         Pearson
  of information
Satisfaction with              0.139         0.042         Pearson
  training-extension courses


The results of this study showed that there is significant positive correlation between variables of education and satisfaction with training--extension courses and dependent variable of the attitude about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources in the level of 0.05. In other words, increase in the level of education and satisfaction of wheat farmers with the training--extension courses improves their attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses and this finding follows the results of Osmanpoor [21] and Alipour et al [1] studies. Also there is a significant positive correlation between variables of total land area, total annual income and annual income earned from agricultural activities and variable of attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the field of conservation, restoration and development of natural resources in the level of 0.01. In other words, increase in total land area, total annual income and annual income from agricultural activities, promotes respondents' attitudes about the effects of the held training--extension courses. These findings are consistent with the results of Khalighi and Ghasemi [12], Hosseini and Popzan [9] and Alipour et al [1].

Also stepwise regression analysis was used to predict the variability in attitudes about the effects of training -extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources by the independent variables. The variables used in this analysis were education level, total lands area, total annual income, annual income from agriculture and satisfaction of wheat farmers with the held training--extension courses. According to the regression coefficients (B) and calculated constant coefficient, regression equation is as follows:

Y= 16.235 + 0.204[X.sub.1] + 0.197[X.sub.2] + 0.273[X.sub.3] + 0.321[X.sub.4]

The results of this study showed that independent variables of total land area, total annual income, annual income in agriculture and satisfaction of farmers with training--extension courses interactively explain 45% of the variability in attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources (Table 4). Also considering obtained beta coefficients, independent variable of total annual income has the highest proportion in explaining variability of attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources. In other words, increasing the total annual income, raised the possibility of applying the learned training by wheat farmers and improved their attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources.

Conclusion and Recommendations:

Natural resources of any society are that society's wealth which does not belong only to the present generation but it is a heritage that belongs to all posterity. Hence, conservation, restoration and development of this resource, is considers common tasks of international organizations, governments, NGOs, local NGOs, utilizers and nature friends. This study aimed to examine the attitudes of the wheat farmers of Abeshirin region in Kashan city about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources and analysis of its affecting factors. The results of this study showed that most of the respondents had an average attitude and the item of helping to proper utilization of natural resources as the first priority and the item of more use of villagers' opinions in solving natural resources problems as the last priority have been identified in view of wheat farmers. Also findings related to examining the relationship between variables showed that there is significant positive correlation between variables of education and satisfaction with training--extension courses and the dependent variable of attitude about the effects of training

--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources in the level of 0.05. In other words, improving education of wheat farmers and their satisfaction with time, duration, and place of holding courses, teaching methods and teachers' behavior against learners, content of the provided programs and training aids used in teaching process, improved the respondents' attitudes about the effects of training extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources. Also there is significant positive correlation between variables of total land area, total annual income and annual income from agricultural activities, and the variable of attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources in the level of 0.01. In other words, increase in land and annual income levels, provides more and better opportunities for wheat farmers to conserve, restore and utilize natural resources and improves their attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in this area. Independent variables of total land area, total annual income, annual income of agriculture and satisfaction of farmers with the held training -extension courses are able to explain 45% of the variability in attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources.

According to the above results, the following recommendations are offered:

--Due to the significant and positive relationship between variables of wheat farmers' satisfaction with training--extension courses held in conservation, restoration and development of natural resources and attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources, it is recommended to help with achievement of the goals of conservation, restoration and

development of natural resources by organizing workshops and training--extension courses with desired quality and quantity and by considering educational standards in this area and of course, consistent with the educational needs of wheat farmers.

--Due to the significant and positive relationship between education level and attitudes of wheat farmers about the effects of training--extension courses, expansion of literacy projects throughout the city is proposed so that during this period, the principles of conservation, restoration, management and development of natural resources should be taught to the utilizers.

--Given the significant positive relationship between total annual income and annual income of agriculture and the variable of attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses and taking the role of these variables in explaining the variations of attitudes about the effects of training -extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural resources, it is suggested that the government pays special attention to improve incomes and living conditions of wheat farmers and provides condition of increasing farmers' income and improving their attitudes about conservation, restoration and development of natural resources by long-term, low-interest loans and also considering non-agronomic economy in rural areas.

--It is recommended that in future studies, other factors affecting farmers' attitudes about the effects of training--extension courses held in the context of management, conservation and restoration of natural resources should be examined.

--It is also recommended that the study is conducted in other provinces of the country and their results are compared with each other.

Corresponding Author: Najmeh Daryaei, Ph.D. Student, Department of Agricultural Development, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran E-mail: n.daryaei2007@yahoo.com

ARTICLE INFO

Article history:

Received 23 January 2014

Received in revised form 19 April 2014

Accepted 6 April 2014

Available online 15 May 2014

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(1) Najmeh Daryaei, (2) Somayeh Jangchi Kashani, (3) Jamal F. Hosseini

(1) Ph.D. Student, Department of Agricultural Development, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

(2) Ph.D. Student, Department of Agricultural Development, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

(3) Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

Table 1: Distribution of wheat farmers based on the scores of
attitude about the effects of training-extension courses held in the
conservation, restoration and development of natural resources.

Score   Frequency   Percent   Cumulative Percent

8-16    53          24.5      24.5
16-24   163         75.5      100
24-32   0           0         0
32-40   0           0         0
Total   216         100       -

Notice: Domain score of attitude about the effects of training-
extension courses held in the conservation, restoration and
development of natural resources is 8-40.

Table 2: Distribution of respondents based on the priority of the
items related to attitude about the effects of training-extension
courses held in the conservation, restoration and development of
natural resources.

Items of attitude about the effects             Mean (*)   Standard
of training- extension courses                             Deviation

Contribute to the proper                        1.995      0.068
  utilization of natural resources
Courses impacts in view of                      4.458      0.499
  people regarding adverse effects of
    natural resources degradation
Increase in the participation of                2.773      0.471
  farmers and villagers in conservation
    of natural resources
Strengthening social capital                    2.513      0.519
  of villagers in natural resources
Cources impact in view of                       1.481      0.510
  peoples regarding the importance of
    natural resources
Leading members to group working                1.500      0.545
  and strenghthen the spirit of cooperation
    in the conservation of natural resources
Provide favorable conditions for                1.314      0.604
  development and improvement of
    natural resources
More use of villagers ideas to solve            1.291      0.596

Items of attitude about the effects             Coefficient of
of training- extension courses                  Variation (CV)

Contribute to the proper                        0.034
  utilization of natural resources
Courses impacts in view of                      0.111
  people regarding adverse effects of
    natural resources degradation
Increase in the participation of                0.169
  farmers and villagers in conservation
    of natural resources
Strengthening social capital                    0.206
  of villagers in natural resources
Cources impact in view of                       0.344
  peoples regarding the importance of
    natural resources
Leading members to group working                0.363
  and strenghthen the spirit of cooperation
    in the conservation of natural resources
Provide favorable conditions for                0.459
  development and improvement of
    natural resources
More use of villagers ideas to solve            0.461

Items of attitude about the effects             Priority
of training- extension courses

Contribute to the proper                        1
  utilization of natural resources
Courses impacts in view of                      2
  people regarding adverse effects of
    natural resources degradation
Increase in the participation of                3
  farmers and villagers in conservation
    of natural resources
Strengthening social capital                    4
  of villagers in natural resources
Cources impact in view of                       5
  peoples regarding the importance of
    natural resources
Leading members to group working                6
  and strenghthen the spirit of cooperation
    in the conservation of natural resources
Provide favorable conditions for                7
  development and improvement of
    natural resources
More use of villagers ideas to solve            8
   natural resources problems

(*) Likert Spectrum: 1-Totally disagree 2-Disagree 3-No opinion 4-
Agree 5-Totally agree.

Table 4: The results of stepwise regression analysis with dependent
variable of attitude about the effects of training-extension courses
held in the conservation, restoration and development of natural
resources

Independent Variable                     B        SE B    Beta

Total lands area ([X.sub.1])             0.204    0.176   0.144
Total annual income ([X.sub.2])          0.197    0.154   0.317
Annual agricultural income ([X.sub.3])   0.273    0.152   0.294
Satisfaction with training-              0.321    0.202   0.185
  extension courses ([X.sub.4])
Constant                                 16.235   0.326   -

Independent Variable                     T        Tsig    R

Total lands area ([X.sub.1])             0.251    0.001   0.563
Total annual income ([X.sub.2])          0.493    0.000   0.624
Annual agricultural income ([X.sub.3])   4.705    0.000   0.665
Satisfaction with training-              2.761    0.000   0.678
  extension courses ([X.sub.4])
Constant                                 21.754   0.000   -

Independent Variable                     [R.sup.2]   [R.sup.2]Adj

Total lands area ([X.sub.1])             0.316       0.311
Total annual income ([X.sub.2])          0.389       0.372
Annual agricultural income ([X.sub.3])   0.442       0.417
Satisfaction with training-              0.459       0.451
  extension courses ([X.sub.4])
Constant                                 -       -

F = 12.029
Signif F= 0.000
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Author:Daryaei, Najmeh; Kashani, Somayeh Jangchi; Hosseini, Jamal F.
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Apr 1, 2014
Words:5677
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