Leadership and social intelligence of coconut farmer leaders and implications in extension services
Coconuts cultivated in small and marginal holdings pose social and economic challenges in extension outreach programmes. A study was undertaken during 2016-17 regarding the leadership and social intelligence of coconut farmer leaders, to assess their socio-personal variables and their relationships in two blocks of Alappuzha district. The results showed 46 per cent of producer societies were of five or more years of activities and 86.7 per cent of the leaders holding positions in multiple organizations. Regarding the knowledge levels, 66.61 per cent had a medium level and 94 per cent had more than 15 years of experience in coconut cultivation. Coconut producers' societies could establish only a few linkages and time spent by farmer leaders for societies were found to be very low. Whereas 58 per cent of farmer leaders had a medium level of leadership practices and occupational status, the social intelligence of the leaders was positively correlated with leadership abilities. Social intelligence of 56 per cent of them was in medium level and experience in coconut cultivation was the only variable positively and significantly correlated. This study highlights the importance of identification of training needs in leadership and social skills of farmer leaders, evolving realistic criteria for leader selection, inclusive policy for gender and youth representations in leadership positions and pathways to evolve pro-active power dynamics in grass root level farmer organizations. Doubling farmers' income and enhancing the productivity of small and marginal farmers require vibrant and responsible social support through farmer producers' organizations in the coconut sector.
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