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Report sets out challenges for farmer-friendly info

22 October 2015

Working with partner in the Legume Alliance in Tanzania, CABI has commissioned and published a report called

an Information needs assessment: Tanzania 

The report aims to do two things.  First, the team asked representatives or key groups and organizations how they accessed information on agricultural practices.  Secondly they reviewed some materials produced as part of phase 1 of the Africa Soil Health Consortium.

The aim is that the report will guide the Legume Alliance in the materials/content that needs to be produced and distributed. It will also help to define the monitoring, learning and evaluation issues as it offers part of the baseline in Tanzania.

TZ information needs assessment

Information material production and dissemination is an intricate process that takes many steps. Determining the right content and format is key, and is time consuming. But even the ‘perfect information material’, will not reach farmers or intermediaries without the right dissemination strategy.

In terms of content, important conclusions arose from discussions with farmers. In and around Arusha and Mbeya more information was needed on crops such as maize, beans which are B&MGF priority crops and potatoes and vegetables which are not. So there is a challenge to the Legume Alliance to diversify its funding and look at how wider campaigns can be supported over time.

Information design has to solve something of a paradox:

  •    Farmers want information be specific to a crop as providing detailed information on which products to use, how to apply, at what dosage, where

to buy these, specific to an agro-ecological zone and location

  • Farmers also want concise information with texts reduced to the minimum

It should also be comprehensive, containing information on the whole production cycle (including land preparation and post-harvest management practices).

Finding the right balance is a challenge that the Legume Alliance will seek to address. Further more the monitoring and evaluation will seek to package lessons on this subject to help build a body of knowledge about packaging farmer-friendly information on agricultural technologies.

Farmers do not seem to access TV and many did not access radio either for agricultural information. There is a challenge to see how film could be used outside of TV and demonstration plots can be incorporated into information campaigns. In terms of print farmers stated a preference for calendars, leaflets, posters, however they also talked about durable information formats they could take with them to the fields. They wanted large print and appropriate photos of real life situations to illustrate the points raised in the text

The report also looks at the information needs of agrodealers and extension officers including the need to package training and physical distribution strategies along side material production.

The report was authored by Wouter Kleijn, Helena Posthumus from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam with the support and guidance of Peter Shao,a consultant working for Africa Fertilizer Agrobusinesss Partnership.