Integrating Innovative and Interactive Methodologies in Popular Extension Approaches: The Biovision Farmer Communication Program in Africa David Amudavi Programme Coordinator, Biovision Farmer Communication ProgramPresented at The World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, 15 March 2011
CONTEXT• A mix of historical land use challenges, climate variability and ongoing climate change has rendered livestock and crop production systems too weak to prevent widespread and environmental degradation, increasing poverty, food insecurity, poor nutritional feeding practices.• Further population growth continues to increase unabated – Kenya’s population has reached about 40 million, supported by 23% of the land’s arable land.• Sustainable agriculture (SA) is important for meeting local food requirements while providing protection and sustainable use of locally-available natural resources.• SA is particularly appropriate for the rural communities that are currently most exposed to food shortages.• There is need to boost agricultural productivity and add value in the agri-food chain in sustainable ways that will reduce food insecurity and malnutrition among the vulnerable households living in rural communities.• Access to information on relevant technologies and practices is central – Extension is critical to this process.
What is Extension?Advisory services - to assist farmers to make decisions on solving problemsExtension education - educational activity which seeks to teach people howto solve problems by providing and extending informationTechnology transfer - activity which facilitates the transfer of researchresults for scientists by extension officers into agricultural knowledge and thenimplementation into useful farm practices, in local conditionsHuman resource management - activity for capacity buildingExtension can be used to describe the broad function of communication ofinformation from all relevant sources to assist in the process of change andinnovation in different fields (agriculture, health, cooperative, etc) includingpeople’s capacity and self-sufficiency in resolving problems and makingintegrated management decisions.
Common Elements in Definitions of Extension Extension:• Is an intervention – plays function• Uses communication as instrument to induce change• Can be effective only through voluntary change• Focuses on target processes and outcomes - adult and continuing education of men and women producers• Deployed by any person or public or private institution technically qualified in the subject of extension
Common Elements in Definitions of Extension1. Extension as an Intervention It is a goal-oriented, planned, programmed, and systematically designed,activity Intervening in terms of formulating objectives, designing and testing strategy,deploying resources, implementing and evaluating.2. Extension uses communication as instrument to induce changeCommunication instrument used in extension for inducing change; usessubsidies or regulations;Communication involves the use of symbols, packages of matter/energy whichcan elicit meaning.3. Extension can be effective only through voluntary changeEffectiveness depends on people’s willingness to be persuaded, on the extentto which they see extension as serving their own interests and benefit –purposive assistance to decision-making and opinion formation.The logic of extension requires that one seeks to induce voluntary change.
Common Elements in Definitions of Extension- cont’d4. Extension focuses on different target processes and outcomesAt individual level – targets behaviours, attitudes, knowledge,decision-making, opinion formation, etc.;At social or collective level - advertising, political agendas, publicity,advocacy, etc.Target processes – e.g. cheap and quality food for consumers,nature conservation, preventing health hazards, reducing birthrates,ensuring a sustainable use of the environment, emancipation,greater equity, energy conservation.5. Extension is deployed by an institutionExtension requires finance, it is a professional activity, and it mustbe paid for.As an instrument extension is deployed by institutions such asgovernment institutions, voluntary agencies, commercial companies,member organizations/associations.
Evolution of the Agricultural Extension Service The agricultural extension system in Kenya has evolved through various stages since colonial and post -independence eras.A) Pre-Independence Period Extension Approaches• Mainly tailored towards settler and commercial farming systems.• Well packaged programs that combined extension services with credit and subsidized inputs.• However, the extension approach used for indigenous Africans, who were mainly engaged in subsistence farming and pastoralism, was coercive in nature and therefore not readily accepted.
b) Post Independence Period extension ApproachesAfter independence, more persuasive and educational approaches andmethods were adopted.•Establishment of Farmer and Pastoralist Training Centres (FTCs &PTCs) in the 1960s and 1970s•Integrated agricultural development (IAD) approach.•Farming Systems (FS) and Training and Visit (T&V) approaches in the1980s and 1990s .•“Commodity specialised approach” used in the large exportcommodity sub-sector spearheaded by commodity boards and privatecompanies Generally, all the approaches were essentially top-down andlacked participation in articulating farmers’ demands.
c) Current Popular Extension ApproachesLessons learnt from the previous approaches, have led to more participatory and demand- driven extension approaches in recent years.These are intended to tap farmer participation and private sector contribution in providing extension services. Examples:• Focal Area Approach (FAA) – ( Use of common interest groups (CIGs)• Farmer Field Schools – Farmer to farmer extension• Commodity-based approach - Commercial enterprises• Multidisciplinary Mobile Extension Teams especially in ASAL areas Whereas extension has emphasised on increasing production, it is now acknowledged that linking production with processing and marketing is a prerequisite in transforming agriculture from subsistence to commercial enterprise.
Extension Reform Principles and Interventionso Participation o Staff motivationo Gender-sensitivity o Broader technical mandate of extension in line witho Client-focus global developmentso Demand-driven o Development ando Pluralism application of information communication technologyo Privatization (ICT) toolso Decentralization o Monitoring, evaluation and impact assessmento Location- and purpose- specific o Institutional linkages
Biovision in Kenya and Eastern Africa• Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development - Bridges the gap between research and the application and dissemination of research results through environmentally sound, economically viable and technologically appropriate agricultural methods to overcome hunger and poverty, and also supports co-operation stakeholders in this process. Its strategic focus lies in the dissemination of natural and locally available solutions in the 4-H areas, applied and taught in model projects and often led by partner organisations.• Biovision Activities in Eastern Africa – Diversified efforts – malaria control and prevention, Camel programme for climate change, Push-pull strategies for soil fertility improvement and striga control, long-term system control, IPM against fruit flies, Income generation activities, Biodiversity conservation & ecosystem services,• Biovision Africa Trust - The BVAT was established by the Biovision Foundation in 2009 to focus on developing and supporting processes that put into use innovations that can lead to market-led sustainable agriculture for welfare improvement of resource poor small-holder farmers in East Africa and beyond.
Farmer Communication Programme (FCP)Initiated in 2010 by icipe and Biovision Foundation toaddress the synergies between the differentinformation projects to ensure that knowledge,information and findings are rolled out in a practicableformat to reach farmers and other users.
Goal, Vision and Mission of FCPGoal: Improve the livelihoods of small scale farmers inAfrica by systematic application of scientifically andexperientially validated research and education.Vision:Sustained and productive smallholderagriculture of the highest quality in terms of enhancedfood production, nutrition, incomes, as well assustainability. Mission: Advance and improve access to informationon sustainable agriculture through innovations thatimprove profitability, stewardship and quality of life.
Objectives of the FCP• Enhance synergy among the information communications projects and link them to other information providers.• Create centres of excellence in rural information and knowledge services linked to livelihood improvement R&D programmes/projects.• Support building of technical capacity of information change agents in R&D programmes/projects.• Engage strategic partners to scale up access to and utilization of information on appropriate innovations in various sectors of sustainable agriculture.
FCP Theory of Change Information Productive and Farmer Deficient & Sustainable FarmingCommunication Programme underperforming System Farming System - Enhanced access to information, findings, •Limited information about Higher yields knowledge on innovations technologies, practices, Higher incomes (technologies, practices, systems Improved and stable systems, etc) •Poor decision making food security Efficient information delivery •Low technology adoption Improved nutrition infrastructure •Low technology adaptation Stable environment Enhanced access to inputs & •Poor livelihoods Improved welfare outputs markets STRATEGIC R&D PARTNERS
Innovations for Information CommunicationA) Infonet-biovision (Infonet) - an internet-based information platform An online and also offline system built with the aid of experts from reputable national and international research organizations. The applications offer trainers, extension workers and farmers quick access to up-to-date and locally relevant information. The platform contains detail on PLANT, HUMAN, ANIMAL and ENVIRONMENT HEALTH. For example, it covers more than 40 crops and a range of issues such as environmental management, malaria control, and nutritional illnesses. The programme envisages to have the website linked to market applications to inform/update farmers on latest market conditions and the buyers (the market) on what is available. Contributes to one of the National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy (NASEP) objectives of encouraging and strengthening use of information and communication technology (ICT) in extension delivery.
Innovations for Information CommunicationB) Print: The Organic Farmer (TOF) The magazine is produced every month and distributed to a readership of over 200,000 receiving concrete guidance and practical tips on how to use simple, cost-effective and environmentally friendly practices.C) Radio: TOF Radio A weekly radio show in Swahili treating relevant topics in coordination with TOF Magazines. TOF Radio is received in Kenya and Tanzania and has up to 5 million listeners.
Integrating and Adapting ICT Services• Farmer learning resource centers/ i-TOF Centres: Community-anchored and run information service Equipped with computers and laptops (OLPC) that use solar panels – to overcome problems of ICT infrastructure landscape Facilitate processes of learning and acquiring technical knowledge on certain agricultural practices as well as business management skills Provide entry points for farm-to-market-chain-links (FMCL) – ICTs in the centre could be used in the short to mid term in improving access to markets. Such centres could easily graduate to offer services such as fax, internet, typing, printing, scanning, and they are information centres, more like a research library. Through this market-farmer-extension service interaction, high yielding input and innovative practices can be communicated to farmers, and major agricultural markets can inform farmers on required product specifications.
Farmers Learning & Resource Centre in KARI Katumani
Extension Outreach Training Farmers on the Use of Digital Information Access
Integrating and Adapting ICT Services – Cont’d• Interfaces to mobile phones and call centres – ASK TOF Taking advantage of the provision of very affordable mobile phone services that are widespread, the FCP programme has established a call-in system for addressing FAQs. Undertakes capacity building to other projects to use best available technology (e.g. Safaricom) thereby scaling up its impact beyond its own reach Envisages to partners with others involved in enhancing marker access to link farmers to markets by providing information on product/service price, quantity, quality, and location• Through partners Currently several outreach activities, using Infonet as an information base, take place through a range of different partners – NALEP, KENFAP, NGOs, CBOS, etc.
Projected Ingredients for FCP GrowthTo achieve a sound and sustainable FCP, strategic efforts and partnerships will be needed in terms of:• Content development and quality control processes – (Solid Research)• Outreach activities to enhance farmers’ access to information and communication tools (e.g. Farmers’ resource centres, information hubs, call centres) – (Strong Farmer Participation)• Technical capacity building in information sourcing, packaging and dissemination – (Competent Change Intermediaries)• Resource mobilization of both technical and financial resources - advocacy, networking and multi-sectoral collaboration – (Committed Support from Donors and Policy makers)
Marketing and Sustainability of the FCP Cont’d The programme will be supported by:3. Biovision Foundation of Switzerland4. Icipe5. Biovision Africa Trust6. Foundations and Institutions7. Research & Development Institutions8. Member donors (individuals)9. Back donors
Biovision Africa Trust (BVAT)Objectives:•Fund sustainable projects and initiatives in the agro sector thatfocus on generation and dissemination of information on ecologicallysound and useful methods to improve human, animal, plant andenvironmental health;•Undertake research into the special problems facing small-holderfarmers in Kenya and other countries in Africa in order to provideuseful and practical solutions thereby alleviating poverty;•Undertake educational programs amongst the targeted small-holdercommunities either individually or in partnership with other players(public, private, civil society);•Provide leverage (Grants, assistance, etc) to other public charitabletrusts or institutions established for similar objectives.