29 April 2010

Strategic communication: from technologies transferred to empowered farmers

According to Phouttasin Phimmachanh of the Laos NAFES, adoption of strategic communication approaches has helped transform the effectiveness of research and extension in Laos.

He started by explaining how agriculture in Laos is generally moving from a subsistence to a market led environment, and that this poses information and decision making challenges for everyone involved in the sector - farmers, extension and research, and policy makers.

The main focus of his presentation was on strategic communication processes they recently adopted.

Two of the key reasons they adopted this approach:

First, communictaion materials were often developed in a top down way - "to meet the needs of the boss or the needs of the project", rather than to meet the needs of farmers. Second, these materials were often promotionsal rather that educational.

He characterized this past experience as "just producing without knowing where it goes and whats the impact of it."

He characterized the new approach: "so now we try to produce differently and to better communicate with farmers." This new approach is systematic, strategic, it draws in multidisciplinary research-extension-farmer teams, is designed and tested with target users, and involves better M&E.

One of the key lessons: "the communications process is not any more about transferring technologies, it is about empowering farmers to make their own choices"

See his presentation:

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