Video-mediated farmer-to-farmer learning for sustainable agriculture

Video-mediated farmer-to-farmer learning for sustainable agriculture

From June to September 2011, Agro-Insight conducted a scoping study for SDC, GFRAS and SAI Platform on the production, dissemination and use of farmer training videos in developing countries, with a focus on sustainable agriculture. Literature was consulted, the internet screened, experts and users consulted and a global on-line survey launched in English, French and Spanish.

The survey was announced via various listservs, websites and blogs (Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education; CTA; eRAILS; PAEPARD; FARA-net; FFSNet; KIT; LinkedIn Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development; Prolinnova E-group; Swiss Forum for Rural Advisory Services; and various regional farmer platforms such as ROPPA, PROPAC, EAFF).

The on-line survey, with more than 500 respondents, indicated that research institutes, universities and NGOs are better linked to professional networks and hence more easily reached through the internet than extension services, radio stations and farmer organizations. Although feedback from the food industry was relatively low, most SAI Platform members were represented.

  • There is a general consensus that farmers need good agricultural training videos, but they do not browse the web in search of them. For watching videos they rely mainly on outside agencies.
  • Farmers would watch videos on their own with their family or neighbours if video disc distribution mechanisms were in place. And they are willing to pay for video discs and video shows.

Only about 20% of all respondents have never used video to train farmers and have never searched the web for agricultural videos. Many of those didn’t know where to look for videos, hadn’t found videos on the right subject or hadn’t found videos in their local language.

“I have viewed many agricultural videos in YouTube no doubt they were interesting. But I found that they were not relevant to the conditions of the farmers where I am involved in capacity building.” A. Thimmaiah, National Organic Program, Bhuta

About 85% of the respondents found local languages very important for farmer training videos. To ensure that videos are sharable and of use to the global community of extension service providers and farmers, producing many poor quality local language videos is not cost-effective. The zoomingin, zooming-out (ZIZO) approach shows how to make regionally relevant and locally appropriate videos. Organizations are willing to translate and use videos made in other countries if they are relevant and of good quality, and if video scripts are available. Lower quality videos serve intermediaries only and are rarely used to actually train farmers. The five priority areas for new video productions are: crops and trees, water management, plant health, soil health and farmer organizations.

The report compares the pros and cons of key models of farmer-to-farmer video production and dissemination, and discusses the implications for future capacity building and how each model could contribute content to a global web-based platform.

Most (82%) public and private service providers are keen on the idea of a new web-based platform devoted to agricultural training videos only. Many people opposed including advocacy and opinion sharing, but suggested a type of a discussion forum for users of the platform to exchange experiences on video production and use.

To reach farmers with agricultural videos, a new web-based platform is required, but not sufficient. Efforts to link people with different professional backgrounds and to establish regional and national communication, translation and video disc distribution mechanisms have to be established.

A new not-for-profit organization, called Access Agriculture, is proposed to facilitate content creation and sharing of agricultural training videos through its web-based platform and an evolving network of linkages and experts. Institutional set up and operational models for Access Agriculture have been discussed with SDC, GFRAS and SAI Platform, but are not included in this report.

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