Monday, March 24, 2008

Disseminating Agricultural Knowledge

The competition of ideas that we are engaged in is not just about radical Islam, although that is the most immediate threat. As people in the developing world become more connected and as this connectivity causes changes in the traditional social order it could spawn reactionary forces that could be threats. A big part of our competition of ideas is to assist developing countries by disseminating our hard-won knowledge about how to build and operate modern institutions and the kinds of attitudes and ideas that have proven essential to being modern people in modern societies (i.e. shrinking the gap). The story below presents an example of the kind of entrepreneurial communications operation that will play an essential role in winning the war of ideas for liberal modernity.

[Kenya] When extension services offered to farmers by the Government were discontinued in the 1990s to cut on public expenditure, Mr  Sammy Ng’etich and other farmers were wondering what they would do next.

The sad reality was that at their Kapswat village near Kapsabet town, no person had training in agriculture to offer them advice on crop or animal husbandry.

But today, Mr Ng’etich and many other farmers are celebrating the advent of vernacular radio stations and the start last month of programmes that  target farmers and what they do best: growing maize and rearing livestock.
...the new initiative by Fit Resources and supported by Britain’s Department for International Development. “A lot of organisations have provided farmers with technical skills. We sought to provide them with information which we believe they lack to make gains from their farming,” said Richard Isiaho, executive director of Fit Resources.

The plan involves integrating the radio stations, agriculture information content providers, advertisers and farmers with the ultimate aim of enabling farmers to get better farming information through the radio.

The expectation of this initiative is based on the success of a pilot project initiated through the KBC in 2006.

The 30-minute programme known as  Mali Shambani (Kiswahili for ‘wealth in the farms’) is the most listened to after news, according to a study conducted by Steadman Research.

The programme is not driven by the suppliers or advertisers, but rather by the popularity of the content. This is also a way of making the programme sustainable.

Starting last month, vernacular radio stations joined a similar partnership.

Radio Salaam will broadcast about fisheries and fruits farming in the coastal areas where this kind of farming activity is most practised. It will be broadcast in Kiswahili.

Mbaitu FM, which broadcasts in Kikamba, will air content on fruit farming and horticulture.

Coro FM will broadcast in Kikuyu, and will cover dairy farming, which is popular in Central Kenya region.

Kass FM, broadcasting in Kalenjin language, will also tackle dairy farming, and maize farming, which is popular in the region.

 The programmes are expected to reach more farmers by including those who do not listen to the KBC, partly because of difficulties understanding the Kiswahili language.

From Business Daily Africa.

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