Frederick Baijukya, N2Africa Tanzania Country Coordinator, IITA, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. James Watiti, Coordinator – Development, Communication and Extension (CABI), Nairobi, Kenya. Karen Hampson, Senior Program Development Manager, Farm Radio International (FRI), Arusha Tanzania. Dunca Sones, Communication Specialist (CABI), Nairobi, Kenya
The SILT research aimed to test and understand how a campaign approach, with different formats and media targeting different members of a typical small-scale farming family (i.e., with young/older or male/female and combinations), could best reach each individual, and then influence their knowledge, decision-making, and adoption as a household. The extension and communication information was presented as a campaign-based approach, and the technical campaign material was all drawn from a single, technical brief developed by the delivery consortium.
Specifically, the project sought to understand the contextualized insights into the merits of different combinations of media and approaches, to provide key learnings for future scaling-up programs, while at the same time increasing the profitable production of common bean and soybean in Tanzania.
The research challenge was to test how the different combinations of media and approaches work together:
The campaign approach focused on developing a variety of media, including print, demo plots, training days, and radio to support traditional extension approaches. This contrasts with most development communication projects, which are usually constrained to a single form of communication due to limited time, knowledge of alternative forms of media, or budget limitations. Many development communication projects involve intensive face-to-face efforts that are cost and labor intensive.
SILT hoped to show that there are alternatives and a range of options to suit different target groups, budgets, and objectives. The selection of media and the editing process refined in this project created nuanced information that targeted specific members of the households in an inclusive way and contributed to project success.
A key target was to reach 500,000 farming family members through the multimedia campaigns. We directly contacted with 600,000 over 3 years. Another key target was to have 100,000 farmers starting to practice one of the promoted improved legume technologies. The evidence showed that this target had been exceeded, and many farmers have started to use more than one promoted practice, and shifted knowledge related to legume farming.
Overall, study results showed that combining multiple extension strategies enhances scaling up processes with gender-disaggregated facts as follows:
- Women and youth easily accessed information when general agricultural advice is given using interactive approaches that encouraged them to participate, e.g., community-based demonstrations and field days.
- Use of radio achieved wide coverage; however, integration with interactive radio listening groups at community level ensured more targeted reach of women and
- Information sharing was observed at family level particularly by older and male family members. Though currently less structured, it provides an opportunity to promote family focused learning. Uptake of technologies requiring cash input was low.
- Despite variability in methods of obtaining information, there were no observed significant gender differences in uptake of technologies between men and women implying the need to focus on system- wide strategies to make inputs available such as improved seeds and input brokerage.
Key ingredients to successful scaling up
Key enabling factors included having a wide variety of partners covering the complexity of activities and issues involved: seed supply, research, policy, communication, and interactive radio. These partners realized early on the value that each organization brought to the consortium, and that synergies and close integration would be the key to achieving and sustaining our objectives.
Another key factor was the high level of consistency of the message across the campaigns at scale. Having one technical brief, signed off at national level, was vital. However, what really made the difference was the skill involved in, and therefore the effectiveness of, tailoring these messages to the targeted audience segment.