This blog piece was originally posted on the ASHC blog
Over the past few months the GALA delivery team has been trying to understand how households in Tanzania obtained and share information on farming practices. This will help us to understand the effectiveness of different communication approaches in delivering agricultural information to small-scale farmers. It will also help us to reflect on which currently change attitude and behaviour.
Our approach to gathering this information was an intra-household survey where up to 4 members per household were interviewed. There was a specific focus on improved legume technologies, in particular for soybean and common bean
The interviews took place in 332 households with a total of 998 respondents were interviewed across 5 regions in Tanzania.
The results of the survey show that farmers rely mainly on their own experience (67%) and on a limited array of sources of information represented mainly by extension agents, neighbours and radio.
There were significant differences in farmers’ sources of information by sex and age category.
• Men were more likely to receive information from radio
• Women relied on own experience and other household members for their information.
• The proportion of young people and older people accessing information from all sources was low.
Farmers’ awareness of practices was related to possible information sources they were exposed to. It was largely the case that demonstration plots and agro-dealers were important information sources in promoting production inputs and more recently introduced practices such as soil testing, use of inoculants, use of lime to adjust soil pH levels and PICs storage bags.
Around 82% of farmers said that they shared information usually on traditional agricultural practices. There was, so far, minimal sharing of information for practices more recently introduced. The more recently introduced practices were also the least used, for a series of reasons, such as limited awareness, limited access to inputs and high cost of the inputs.
Overall, there is a margin for improving learning and knowledge of more recently introduced technologies. This means that overall there is a tricky balance between raising awareness of these technologies and inputs and building the distribution networks for the inputs such that the two remain balanced.
Given varied sources of information used by household members, enhancing information sharing through integrated gender-sensitive /responsive programming is a key strategy to achieve impact. This is not just thinking about the type of media and approaches used to share information – but understanding how to deliver information in a way that appeals to and attracts people on the one hand, and removes barriers that prevent attendance on the other.
by Silvia Silvestri, GALA project manager