Innovative methods of communication can help to improve the reach and impact of new knowledge in the smallholder farming sector. arron inamara from NARI explains this issue
INNOVATIVE methods of communication can help to improve the reach and impact of new knowledge in the smallholder farming sector.
This is particularly important to the work of agencies that are involved in agricultural research for development.
On its part, the National Agricultural Research Institute (Nari) has been exploring various options, besides print media, in order to better deliver agricultural information to farming communities.
One of these options is the use of short instructional videos.
Since 2012, Nari has featured 20 of its released innovations in videos.
These videos capture activities concerned with farm management such as crop breeding techniques, livestock feed production and pest and disease control measures.
Those that have generated great interest include videos about cost-effective method of raising village broiler chicken; methods of multiplying seed materials (mini-sets); and methods of adding value from crops like sweetpotato, African yam and cassava.
The Institute uses its field days, agriculture innovation shows (AIS), and farmer training workshops to disseminate its innovation videos.
During these events, videos are usually made available along with other information materials.
During the 2018 AIS, a preliminary survey of selected videos was done to understand their levels of accessibility and impact.
Results showed that lack of access to Nari videos remains a major obstacle.
It continues to undermine dissemination of new agricultural knowledge that can positively transform the smallholder farming sector. Farmer resource centres also serve as points of the distribution of the videos.
Last year, 10 farmer resource centres were launched across the highlands region under the second phase of the European Union funded Rural Economic Development project.
Through various projects, Nari’s interest in using video in communicating agricultural knowledge can be realized.
One project that is particularly focussed on tapping into this media is the European Union funded Climate Change Resilience (EUCCR) project.
The project’s visibility strategy considers the use of electronic media formats.
There is a particular interest in taking advantage of on-line and off-line media such as customized web and Face book pages.
It is anticipated that videos would be part of the entries that will be shared on these sites.
Presently, effort has begun on the production of videos for the EUCCR project.
These are short instructional videos that will feature sustainable practices that smallholder farmers could adopt to build resilience against impacts of extreme climatic events such as drought.
The videos will be used as aides during farmer trainings and demonstrations at pilot and outreach sites.
The completed outputs will capture technologies that can be easily replicated at famer level.
The videos will feature themes and key messages that are aligned with the objectives of the project.
The use of videos will offer many advantages for us and our partners involved in the project.
First and foremost, it will be able to deliver new knowledge about agricultural innovations it has developed using a medium that very much resonates with the socio-cultural background of the rural farming communities.
This is most relevant when one considers the level of illiteracy among farmers and how best to communicate new ideas to them.
Videos are advantageous in this regard as they present new knowledge in a see-and-do style.
This is very similar to observational learning that is common among the oral cultures of our rural farming communities.
Therefore it is most likely that smallholder farmers will identify with videos and easily learn new knowledge that is presented in the audio-visual format.
This will be more beneficial and effective compared to literary alternatives such as emails, pamphlets and textual webpage posts because they can listen to verbal explanations that are accompanied by visual demonstrations.
The other interesting possibility to consider is the potential of distributing videos to reach a greater number of audiences using e-platforms.
This resonates with long term plans of the EUCCR project using customized mobile phone Apps to reach farmers on internet platforms such as the Facebook and Youtube.
The convenience and efficiency of uploading and disseminating a wide range of multimedia electronically has already been explored through the concept of e-agriculture, in PNG.
The multiplier effect of e-platforms offers us the potential of improving the reach and impact of instructional videos among our smallholder farmers.
A recent report by the Business Council of PNG has stated that effective communication between the government, the business sector and the general population is needed to enable all stakeholders to be fully informed and engaged in the development of the country.
We hope to contribute meaningfully towards this vision by utilising the wide range of advantages of video as a tool for creating, storing and ultimately disseminating tailored agricultural information packages.
- Aaron Inamara is Nari’s information and communication officer