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Satisfaction with ASHC write-shop in Ghana

The ASHC team held a very successful rice write-shop in partnership with the Agricultural Value Chain Mentorship Project in Bolgatanga, Ghana from 18-21 March 2013.

The ASHC led the write-shop to find better ways to package information for smallholder rice farmers. Rice is an important cash crop for farmers in Ghana. However production is not as high as it should be, and as such yields are low. Farmers often apply inappropriate agricultural management practices at the wrong time. Often the rice that is grown is from recycled seed, which is of low quality. There is also shortage of organic matter in the soil and farmers don’t correct this problem. The rice programme at Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), headed by Dr Wilson Dogbe, has been working on new technologies that can help rice farmers to increase crop yields and improve livelihoods

In reviewing the lessons of why this write-shop had been so successful, Grace Omondi from the ASHC communications teams concluded:
“For the first time in an ASHC write-shop we encouraged participants to take an active part in the facilitation and recording of the findings.This builds a much greater sense of ownership in the group and builds their capacity to do it themselves.”

The other major change in Bolgatanga was that the write-shop started with the whole group going into the field to talk with farmers at the Tono Rice Irrigation Project at Navrongo. This really focused our minds and reminded us why we needed to complete the tasks. But, more importantly it helped us to identify the important messages and real limiting factors faced by the rice-growers. One thing they reiterated was that they needed to get the same messages from all sources – extensionists; radio; poster and leaflets. So we worked on a simple script for radio – based on questions and answers. This prompt sheet is also perfect for use by extension workers with the flip chart we are developing.”

The write-shop was productive. In just three-days the participants completed the majority of the work on 11 different communication products.

Lowland rice outputs:
• Poster in English and Dagbani
• Leaflet – highlight ISFM steps from land preparation to post-harvest
• Radio script/ prompt sheet
• Factsheet
• Flipchart for extension workers

Irrigated rice outputs:
• Radio script/prompt sheet
• Poster on fertilizer
• Poster on good spacing
• Production guide/module for irrigated rice
• Factsheet

ASHC is very grateful to Emmanuel Awude from IFDC Ghana who returned to visit the farmers at Tono at the end of the workshop and came back with their ideas on how to improve the materials drafted at the write-shop. Further field testing was undertaken by the ASHC team in Tamale.

Ghana News Agency reported on the write-shop – Scientists set out to increase agricultural production and More irrigation facilities can boost rice production in Ghana

Radio Bishara, the local radio in the northern region ran a feature including an interview with Dr. Wilson Dogbe, CSIR-SARI’s, head of rice programme

Monitoring data
There were 28 write-shop participants, comprising of scientists, agricultural extensionists, farmers, media and communication personnel. The ASHC team of Grace Omondi; Lydia Wairegi and James Watiti was accompanied by George Kpor from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Duncan Sones, an ASHC communications associate.

Media partners at the write-shop included Bishara Radio, Countrywise Communication, Radio Kitawoln and Ghana News Agency.

The write-shop participants were asked 9 simple multiple-choice questions to try to get a sense of their experience. The responses to these questions were summarized by job role. However the overall satisfaction rating was 4.27 out of 5 or 85.4% satisfaction.

If we exclude question 5 which related to the length of the workshop, the satisfaction rating rises to 4.5 out of 5 or 90% satisfaction.

The job roles were:
• Implementers (5 questionnaires returned)
• Researchers (6 questionnaires returned)
• Farmers (0 questionnaires returned)
• Audio-visual producers (4 questionnaires returned)
• Extension (2 questionnaires returned)

2 questionnaires were returned without job roles specified.

The three follow-up questions were:
• How could we make this write-shop better?
• What further support do you need from ASHC to get the materials completed?
• What else could ASHC do to help you?

What the implementers said… For me it felt rather long…Perhaps we could just pick one or two key feedback point/s – in narrative style as opposed to bullets?
• Extend duration – all of us are adults – this would build in flexibilities.
• A longer duration will be more appropriate to exchange the very interesting and wonderful techniques to disseminate farmer-friendly technologies
• Include all actors in the agricultural value chain
• Have enough time to discuss developed posters/ materials and pretest them with farmers to be sure it would serve their needs
• Fine tuning draft materials
• Design or graphic techniques
• Availability of ASHC should we need direction and clarification and inputs to some of the our other work
• Come together to agree and pre-test the developed materials to become a working document that would serve the needs of farmers
• Provide step-by-step guides for future us.
• Communication on soya bean & maize farming
• A separate platform will be very useful in education technical personnel on how to communicate to specific audiences. This will help us a lot with other projects we find ourselves in

What the researchers said…

  • Use it as a platform to give basic graphic design training
  • Interact not only wit farmers – but processors, marketeers, to learn of the constraints faced by all in the rice value chain so as to developed materials to help all
  •  Its okay for me!
  • I believe illiterate farmers (may be one) can be invited for the workshop and make a contribution in the development of the posters
  • If participants could have a day of hands on training on techniques for setting up different formats
  • Support the remaining graphics and typesetting of the communications materials prepared
  • How to use the editing software
  • Support given is enough. It will help me develop materials for other crops
  • The draft would be would be completed by giving them to other staff to go through before publishing
  • To develop one script for upland rice
  • Such meets should be organized once in a whole to sharpen the skills acquired
  • Backstopping
  • Move to write-shop on other crop commodities – maize legumes etc.
  • If possible for ASHC to support with publishing and reproduction of the communications materials

What extension wanted…

  • It should have been more than three-days approximately five or more. Individuals should have been pre-informed to bring along the necessary images for the fact sheets
  • The write-shop could have been made better when the number of days are increased to care of a lot of deliberations
  • By developing the messages with the involvement of more farmers from across the three northern regions of the country
  • Another workshop be organized to complete the write-ups
  • Journals and pamphlets could be produced by ASHC for wider critiquing
  • Continue in contact providing relevant informatio
  • More of such write-shops should be organized to help both farmers and extension officers to increase yield in order to curb the food security menace

What the audio-visual producers wanted…

  • You can make it better by increasing the number of days
  • The way this is good – BUT we can invite agro-dealers within the catchment area so that they can also contribute
  • We can make better next time by increasing the duration – the works schedule for a day is too much and impedes high concentration
  • Financial and material
  • More information about programme (write-shop)
  • Professional advice and consultancy with the necessary equipment
  • To support financially more training in terms of video production and distribution to farmers
  • One more meeting is okay
  • By sponsoring a radio programme to educate farmers as their farming season gets closers

Unclassified wants…

  • Involve more ‘unorganized’ farmers and their farms
  • We should contacted the farmers and agrodealers – we should sent to the famrers what we have done here for 3 days
  • Time and trained translators for the local languages
  • We should contact agro-dealers and the NGOs
  • This write-shop and several other workshops have concentrated on improving yield. It is important that we together considering factoring financial management for farmers