Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs) were developed by Farm Radio International as a way to help farmers learn about, evaluate, and introduce new agricultural practices that they are interested in trying. With training and facilitation support from Farm Radio International, selected radio stations work closely with farmers and farmer organizations, agricultural extension and advisory services, researchers and others to carefully plan and deliver a four-six month radio campaign. During the PRC, farmers are able to explore, exchange knowledge, gain information and share experiences with a new agricultural practice that can improve their family’s food security. Lively and entertaining, PRCs feature the voices, stories and perspectives of ordinary farmers through a mix of radio formats, including panel discussions, vox pops, village debates, phone-in shows, mini-dramas and music. Farmers provide feedback and are involved in monitoring and evaluating the PRCs throughout. New Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as cell phones, MP3 players, interactive voice response systems, and bulk SMS messaging systems are linked with radio to boost the interactivity, reach and accessibility of PRCs.
This sourcebook is meant to equip development and communication professionals with a useful set of guidelines, reference materials and learning resources to apply communication in rural development initiatives. The main goal is to enable readers to design and implement rural communication strategies combining participatory methods with communication processes, media and tools best suited for a specific situation.
Radio is a powerful communication tool. Experience with rural radio has shown the potential for agricultural extension to benefit from both the reach and the relevance that local broadcasting can achieve by using participatory communication approaches. The importance of sharing information locally and opening up wider information networks for farmers is explored with reference to the specific example of vernacular radio programmes based on research on soil and water conservation. This paper describes this specific experience in the context of rural radio as a tool for agricultural extension and rural development, with reference to the dramatically changing technology environment that is currently influencing information and communication processes worldwide. The implications for policy makers of harnessing rural radio to improve agricultural extension are also discussed.
While the need for e-agriculture strategies is acknowledged by many stakeholders, most countries are yet to adopt a strategic approach in making the best use of ICT developments in agriculture. E-agriculture strategies will help to rationalize resources (financial and human) and address holistically, the ICT opportunities and challenges for the agricultural sector in a more efficient manner while generating new revenue streams and improve the livelihoods of the rural community as well as ensure the goals of the national agriculture master plan are achieved. The existence of e-agriculture strategy and its alignment with other government plans will prevent e-agriculture projects and services from being implemented in isolation.
Sound structural design is as important to portals as it is to buildings. The interface is a user’s introduction to the portal. It is also the key to accessing the content and services provided by the portal. As we design and deploy portals we should consider how to organize information and applications in a way that makes sense to users. This of course is a problem for several reasons. First, there are many users and their needs vary. Second, how even a single user uses the portal depends on the task he or she is trying to accomplish. If performing a routine task, for example, entering a time card, the user will want rapid access to the application. This is no place for needless clicks through a hierarchical set of applications. On the other hand, if the user is researching a new product line, he or she will want to browse through related content, follow promising paths of related information, and quickly narrow the search in response to hunches about new angles on the problem. The only way to meet these needs is to provide multiple ways to navigate and to keep the overall organization consistent.
Content within pages should follow a pattern. The three-panel model balances formal structure with flexible organization of content. Landmarks, activ links, and other navigation techniques will help users quickly move around within the portal.
Of the world’s 1 billion plus poor, seventy-five percent live in rural areas and most of these people depend on agriculture to survive. Enhancing farmers’ and agricultural workers’ livelihoods is therefore a key element in addressing global poverty. While farmers are faced by many problems, three are regularly cited as amongst the most important, namely: 1) access to credit, 2) access to better market prices, and 3) access to credible, relevant information.
In terms of information access, there has been increasing attention given to the potential of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to better connect farmers with the information they need. ICT has the capacity to dramatically expand communication between people and to improve access to information (and money). The question has been how can this promise of ICT be realistically harnessed to help the world’s rural agricultural poor?
Information Communication Technology (ICT) has tremendous power to strengthen our Agricultural Extension efforts. However, many ICT efforts are unsuccessful as they neglect elements that help build success. Use “AID” (Awareness, Interest, Doable) to evaluate your ICT program.
A MEAS factsheet
Of the more than one billion global poor, 75 percent live in rural areas and most of these people depend on agriculture to survive. Enhancing farmers’ and agricultural workers’ livelihoods is thus key to addressing global poverty. While there are many problems, poor farmers regularly identify the most important as: 1) access to credit, 2) access to better market prices and 3) access to credible, relevant information.
The aspect of information access has received increasing attention, especially in terms of the potential role of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to connect farmers with the information they need. ICT has already been shown to have the capacity to dramatically expand communication and improve access to information (and facilitate monetary transfers). However, the question more recently has been, how can the promise of ICT be realistically harnessed to help the world’s rural poor?
A MEAS brief
This document has been prepared to inspire reflection about the role of communication in advancing family farming. It includes an analysis of examples of ComDev approaches applied to smallholder farming and rural development and the issues that they encompass: food security, natural resource management, rural livelihoods, agricultural innovation, and capacity development. One emerging concept is that of “rural communication services,” which seeks to enhance rural livelihoods by facilitating equitable access to knowledge and information – understood as public goods – along with social inclusion in decision-making and stronger links between rural institutions and local communities.6 An additional concept pertains to the need to develop national communication for development policies and strategies that focus on the information and communication needs of family farmers and rural communities. Such policies would help to mainstream and institutionalize ComDev pproaches at different levels and among all development partners, in particular among overnmental agriculture and telecommunication ministries and media regulators but also among armers’ organizations, rural institutions, community media and the private sector.
Agriculture continues to be the most important sector of the Indian economy and agriculture is a more or less a compulsion for livelihood of millions of farmers. Land and water resources have almost reached their limits, price of commodities are fluctuating almost every day, profits are negligible for most of the marginal and small farmers and most of all getting information is cumbersome. In present day agriculture, soft resources like knowledge and skills are as important as hard resources like inputs, and sometimes more important. But estimates indicate that 60 per cent of farmers do not access any source of information for advanced agricultural technologies resulting in huge adoption gap. The requirement of field level extension personnel is estimated to be about 1.3 -1.5 million against the present availability of about 0.1 million personnel. The mobile phone comes into the picture here. In today’s world, almost everybody owns a mobile phone. This huge reach, if harnessed in agricultural extension, can change the face of agriculture altogether in a developing country like India where we have nothing to lose by using it as a medium to disseminate agricultural information in multimodal form. Many initiatives have been taken in this regard to utilize mobile phones by private sector ( Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited, Nokia, Airtel, Tata Consultancy Services, etc. ) and public sector (Ministry of Agriculture, Universities like Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, research institutions like Indian Council of Agricultural Research, State Governments of Haryana and Kerala, Indian Meteorological Department and others) in agricultural advisory service for agronomic practices, weather forecasts and market price . With increased dependency, the mobile phone is becoming a common communication platform of the world, especially for agriculture.
Delivering mobile-enabled agricultural services (‘mAgri services’) to women in developing countries is a major market opportunity for the mobile industry that also offers substantial social benefits. The mAgri services market is nascent but growing—GSMA has tracked 106 active, global deployments by mobile network operators (MNOs) and third party providers. Women working in agriculture account for an estimated 556 million potential users globally,2 but are underserved as a unique customer segment.
Putting the horse in front of the cart A presentation held by Andrea Bohn, MEAS, at the ICT4AG conference in Kigali, Rwuanda, in October 2013.
For agricultural development practitioners, social media tools can expand the reach of your ommunity, strengthen partner relationships, support programmatic initiatives, and provide a vital eans to increase the visibility of your public profile and engagement.
A handbook by USAID
A toolkit for practitioners
Using low-cost videos within your agricultural development project can be an effective way for increasing the scale of your activities by leveraging the expertise of local experts and farmers for a broader audience. Since the videos may be created in the field by your staff, the cost will be lower than professionally produced videos, and the turnaround time from concept to final product will likely be much faster. Given the cost and time benefits, you will also likely be able to create many more videos than you would be able to do otherwise.
For decades now, radio has been a dominant source of information for farmers in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Although the reach of radio varies from country to country, it is estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of households in Africa have access to a functional radio. The liberalization of regulatory environments in a number of countries has further increased the number of independent and community radio stations broadcasting over the airwaves.1 Given the fact that adult literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa are just over 60 percent and that electricity in many rural communities is non-existent, battery-powered radios are often the most affordable and practical way for rural farmers to access information.
The purpose of extension is to disseminate advice to farmers. Knowledge gaps contribute to yield gaps. Services and quality inputs are essential productivity-enhancing tools. However, their optimum use requires knowledge. Farmers also need information on prices and markets, post-harvest management, produce quality determinants, and safety standards. Some farmers marshal knowledge themselves. The “resource-poor” majority, growers of much of India’s food, need external, science-based, extension to complement local knowledge. Much debate focuses on how best to achieve the desired outcomes that extension can convey. Many countries have neglected extension and indeed agriculture as a whole. But interest appears to be returning globally, and India is no exception. In 2009, a National Seminar on Agriculture Extension discussed knowledge management, convergence of extension systems, the role of information and communication technology and mass media, private sector initiatives including public– private partnerships, and farmer- and market-led extension systems. This article builds on that discus- sion. It looks at extension in relation to both primary production and market links, and acknowledges the contributions of all providers of extension, public and private.