Food and nutritional security can be increased by keeping farmers informed about relevant research results. Traditionally print media, audio and oral narratives have been used to give advice to farmers on improved practices and advances in agriculture and technology.
In today’s digital era, enriched media and especially videos complement the extensionist communication tools. They also reach out directly to farmers. FoodAfrica partner Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) is facilitating effective dissemination of the programme’s results by using video.
Africa has the highest potential for phone and mobile data penetration. This makes the use of mobile data and simple social media applications a viable tool for communicating with farmers, even in very remote locations. Access to computers with video capabilities have also become commonplace. Therefore dissemination of research results through voice, video and images has become possible.
Many humans learn and understand better when they are presented with visual information. With images or voice, videos can for example provide a step by step guide on the application of some research results. Videos can be used as a stand-alone or supported by other tools. Videos are flexible and can be easily modified to local languages with subtitles, voice over or both.
FoodAfrica partner HAMK is now working on videos to communicate the results of the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project and the Senegal Dairy Genetics project. The EADD is documenting the innovative volunteer farmer trainer extension to boost milk production. In Senegal the research is seeking for the optimal combination of genes using artificial insemination to produce cross breeds and their adaptability to the local environment. Both projects seek to communicate effectively on how farmers can make use of research results, for example to increase milk production. The farmers, who are the end users of the research results are able to share their own experiences and associated processes in a way other farmers can relate to.
Together with the research team HAMK is producing videos showing how farmers are adapting better quality fodder production, how to care for their animals and explain the benefits targeting farmers who at the moment have limited knowledge of the system.
The HAMK team has been supporting the video documentation of the research results and the process. The material collected is co-edited in close collaboration with the local partners and researchers. The extension system which is based on farmer-to-farmer cooperation works as an operational framework for the exploitation of the results. The aim is to have a pool of FoodAfrica results in digital and interactive format by the beginning of 2016. The different work packages in FoodAfrica are in the process of finalizing their research findings, which makes it possible to concentrate on dissemination during the last year of the programme.
Text: Eija Laitinen & Peter Kuria Githinji (HAMK)