The role of participatory communication in the Agriculture Support Programme in Mpika District

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Muzeta, Conrad
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This study was conducted at Agriculture Support Programme (ASP), Mpika, to determine the impact created by the use of participatory communication approaches among its target audience.A total of 61 respondents participated in the study. The respondents consisted of one lecturer from Zambia College of Agriculture (ZCA), 26 Subject Matter Specialists (SMS)and Field staff, 26 farmers participating in the ASP activities, five Programme staff.Others who participated in the study were the District Agricultural Coordinator (DACO),Micro-Bankers Trust (MBT) and the Zambia National Farmers Union.The research questions that guided the study included: what strategies had ASP put in place in facilitation of participatory communication in Mpika District among the rural farmers; what was the impact of the ASP programmes on the targeted beneficiaries. Furthermore, the research sought to gauge the sufficiency of these strategies. As a new approach, it also meant getting the level of understanding among field and district based staff on participatory communication; and capacity of the curriculum at ZCA in the teaching of participatory communication. The study revealed that there was great appreciation and understanding of ASP approaches among all the respondents. However, the greatest challenge was the assumption that the approaches were an alternative to the conversional extension approaches. This posed as a challenge on the sustainability of the activities. In addition,as long as knowledge of participatory approaches was only at field level and not at training levels also, then continuity would be lacking.Following the findings of the research, it is recommended that mechanism be put in place to ensure continued funding and follow-ups of field activities through provision of reliable transport. Further, there is need for MACO to document experiences with the use of participatory approaches and share these with policy unit at the Ministry and training institutions as a way of providing feedback.
Communication -- Mpika , Communication in agriculture -- Mpika , Agriculture -- Zambia , Agriculture -- Mpika