A study of radio farm forum as a communication strategy in agricultural extension : the case of Solwezi district

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Mbashila, Patrick
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In Zambia, the delivery of extension services by the main extension service providers in the government ministry has been declining over the years. New dissemination methods and approaches that address the needs of the poor and women, therefore, need to be identified and promoted. One of the wished-for ways of complementing conventional extension services is the Radio Farm Forum listening groups, but little is known on how effective and functional these forums have been to the present time. The success of forums depend on how the farmers participate and make use of the information obtained from the radio, effectiveness of the messages broadcast to influence positive adoption among the farming community, and government support in this direction. The purpose of this study was to establish the degree to which RFFs as a strategy in agriculture extension has been beneficial to the farmers in Solwezi district in North Western Province of Zambia. It also sought to identify the clients' media perception, attitude and usefulness towards participative communication. Specifically, the study focused on identifying and assessing the farmers' personal characteristics, media perception and extension institutional factors that influence Radio Farm Forum as a communication strategy in agricultural extension. A questionnaire was administered to 120 peasant farmers, selected by using the multistage sampling method from eight blocks of the district. Besides, the researcher held focused group discussions in each of the camps included in the study. In-depth discussions were also held with staff at both the district and provincial offices in the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyse the data. The objectives of the study were to: (a) investigate the form and content of agricultural radio communication messages farmers were most interested in; (b) assess whether farmers realised the importance of listening to agricultural programmes disseminated on radio; (c) identify barriers hindering effective listening to agricultural programmes and get farmers' suggestions for solving the existing problems; (d) assess farmers' listening frequency to agricultural programmes disseminated on radio; and (e) find out on what the farmers used the knowledge they gained from the radio for. The findings in this study revealed that the majority of the farmers had no contact with their extension officers to discuss issues related to the Radio Farm Forum. They testified that they gain much of their agricultural knowledge from radio broadcasts, but are affected by poor radio reception. It also came out that the subjects they preferred most during the radio broadcast were crop production followed by cooperative subjects and to a lesser extent the livestock production lessons. Information derived from this study is expected to provide some insights into how Radio Farm Forum groups can be improved, and how it can be used to increase the diffusion and adoption of agricultural innovations in Solwezi and Zambia as a whole.
Radio in agriculture -- Solwezi , Radio -- Solwezi , Agriculture information services -- Solwezi , Farmers -- Solwezi