An evaluation of the effectiveness of communication between small-scale farmers and agricultural extension service providers : Case study of the Chongwe District farming community
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Information provision to small-scale farmers such as those in Chongwe District has proven to be a big problem and challenge for the Zambian Government. As part of the solution to the problem, the Government has since identified agricultural extension services to be one of the most important sources of information. Extension staff from Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MACO), as well as the mass media especially radio, are some of the channels used by agricultural extension service providers to disseminate information to the farmers. However, It is not clear whether the communication between the small-scale farmers of Chongwe District and the agricultural extension service providers is effective enough to bring about desired behavioural change among the farmers. It is also not clear who the initiators of the messages in the communication process are, that is, whether it is a two way process. The important questions asked therefore, are: do the farmers participate in the initiation of the developmental messages which are meant to bring about positive change for themselves since they know their problems and needs better and what do they consider as the most effective channels and method/s for disseminating information to them? This study was thus embarked on to find answers to the concerns raised above. It was undertaken to investigate the effectiveness of the methods used for communicating with the farmers, the adequacy and appropriateness as well as the relevance of the agro information disseminated to the farmers in Chongwe District. The study was undertaken to find out the problems encountered in the communication system currently existing in Chongwe District. The study is meant to make a contribution to the betterment of the communication process between the Chongwe District small-scale farmers and the agricultural extension service providers. Results of the study show that the communication system in Chongwe District is not very effective and efficient. Though the farmers receive agro information, it is not adequate and feedback is slow, making the full participation of farmers difficult.