Farmer-friendly print – a checklist
August 2012 ASHC Checklist In July 2012 ASHC facilitated two workshops with partner organizations in Ghana. Each was asked to define what they thought constituted farmer friendly material. One of delegates was a farmers’ representative called Asiedu Biney. He said: “I want messages that are down to earth…” ASHC has combined the findings of these workshops to suggest a checklist for the production of down-to-earth printed materials.
- Technology Realistic suggestions of what can be achieved. Include an honest assessment of the impact a technology will make. Include a clear explanation any risks. An understanding of the impact of a technology on a farming family – not just on farm production but the unintended consequences (stover no longer used as cooking fuel can create a burden of collecting firewood)
- Economic data A clear cost benefit analysis (even allowing for fluctuating commodity values). Clear comparisons – with improved seed and without, with organic material and without. Information on likely markets for surpluses.
- Design Good design and strong use of colour. Layout in a logical order and format.
- Text Easy to understand information. Farmer’s jargon, not scientific language. Short words and short sentences. Written bearing in mind that children of the house will do the reading. Should ensure that images reinforce all key processes that are recommended.
- Images Real photographs – reflecting real conditions – with named farmers in named locations Clear comparisons – with improved seed and without, with organic material and without. Language In the right language – in Ghana we found that people who could read, could read English as well or better than they could read local languages. They decided print should be in English and radio and film in local languages.
- Measurements Use of non-conventional methods to explain qualities and distances based on available and familiar items – in addition to conventional methods seed sachets 50kg fertilizer bags (the bags that the farmers actually used could contain up to 85kg of harvested maize) Coke/Fanta crown tops cutlass blades Whilst ensuring that we do not use kitchen equipment for any agricultural practices.
- Gender Ensure that the text and images reflect the differences in the way men and women work. For example in making the ISFM introductory film, ASHC realised that women only usually had access to small animal manure – so more images of sheep and goats were included in the film.
- Customisation Space for local customisation so that the nearest agro-input dealers and extension service contact details can be written on the print At the technical advisory group meeting for ASHC in May 2012 some recommendations for communicating integrated soil fertility management to farmers.
- Quality assurance The technical advisory group (TAG) is central to the quality assurance and sign-off of ASHC materials. This will mean that a suitable member of the group will be allocated to peer-review the technical aspects and the clarity of the information – rather the style or design. If no suitable TAG member can do this in a timely fashion – we need specific inputs from other acknowledged experts who will be asked to peer-review the materials. Peer review of the underlying science is seen an essential part of safe-guarding farmers from unnecessary risk and checking that good ISFM principles are applied. Materials that have gone through this process should be recognizable as ASHC-supported products – even if the design is based on a partners house-style.
- Rational economic decision-making Materials should stress the need to adapt advice to local conditions Materials need to help farmers to work out the likely costs of any set of recommendations and the implications or partial adoption Materials need to talk about accessible markets for any surplus harvests.
- Brands Text and photographs within the ASHC materials should not single out brands of agricultural inputs. There was a danger that these brands would be seen as the recommendation – rather than being indicative. Chemicals need to be listed in terms of the active ingredients – so that agro-dealers can help farmers to get the right sort of inputs deal with pests and diseases. Exception would be where ASHC worked with private sector in-put manufacturers or suppliers to produce materials or in showing non-standard measurements where branded container may need to be identified to clarify
- Site-specific materials The materials developed should be designed and written for a particular locality – and then adapted for use elsewhere.
If you have suggestions for improving this checklist please email Grace Omondi at ASHC The ASHC team would like to thank: Africare, Christian Rural Aid Network Ghana, The Soil Research Institute (Kumasi), Ministry for Food and Agriculture and their partners for helping to compile these recommendations.
This information has been produced as one of a series of ‘How to…” guides designed to help improve the quality and relevance of ISFM materials produced for sub-Saharan Africa..