Thursday, July 28, 2011

Embracing Videos For Extension

Majority of the farming class live in rural areas and for many, maintaining even a subsistence-level lifestyle is a daily concern. This may have contributed significantly to keep the youths at bay from this sector.
Currently, many international organizations like Biovision and SNV are attempting to help these rural families by increasing their agricultural output and one way to bolster their agricultural production is to develop strong agricultural education systems. These women in Machakos, Kenya, seem to have realized just that. In their small groups under the umbrella of the Katoloni CBO, they are using cheap digital cameras to make videos for extension purposes. They make videos of relevant farming practices they intent to disseminate and interviews of successful farmers using the local farmers. When farmers watch such videos with people they identify with, the information being communicated is highly adopted than when foreign videos are used. This particular way of doing things has brought about a paradigm shift in agricultural extension in the area.
The government is working to develop agricultural and extension education programs and institutions but in some cases, the importance of agricultural and extension education has been given low priority.  In other cases, the importance of human resource development is recognized, but it lacks agricultural educators and extension personnel who can plan and implement these programs at all levels. Where are the youths then? Why can’t they be used to provide these services?
This case in Machakos, I’d say is one of its kind in the country and can be replicated elsewhere. Extensionists, and in this context the youths, can tailor videos to meet the requirement of the farming class in their regions for use in disseminating specific information. This kind of human resource investment can yield important results in the form of increased agricultural productivity and decreasing unemployment levels among the youths.
The process of developing, transferring, and using agricultural technology requires this kind of innovation and therefore the country must encourage and support it if success in both developing agricultural potential in the rural areas and in meeting national food requirements is to be attained.

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