Designing demand-driven and inclusive rural communication services to advance family farming does not happen in a vacuum. Some preparatory work has to be done to understand the current situation and issues and the various stakeholders who are affected. This stage already requires participatory communication methods and tools that will help generate the needed information/data. Then these information have to be processed systematically so that any communication service that will be designed will be relevant to the farmers' needs and demands. In other words, designing rural communication services including the enabling policies, requires planning. Just like when we build roads, bridges, or a house some plan to guide the work is important so that errors are minimized and resources are used more efficiently.
I am happy to share that FAO together with our College of Development Communication in UP Los Banos have come up with a sourcebook on ComDev planning for rural development. It is meant for development workers, communication practitioners, agriculture technicians. The sourcebook has already been introduced and will be uploaded soon in this website.
This is also to emphasize that ComDev work is not an arbitrary thing. It also needs to be planned, an activity that too often has been neglected because everybody is so "busy." But lessons will show us that the benefits of a good ComDev plan far outweigh the time invested doing the plan.
For example, when the Agriculture Information Services (AIS) in the Ministry of Agriculture in Bangladesh put up its community rural radio for farming villages in 2011-2012, they did a baseline study on listenership and potential for community participation. For 3 weeks, villagers were gathered and data on their information needs, radio access and ownership, preferred radio programs, formats, time, music and other relevant information for designing a community radio were collected. Issues and opportunities on their involvement in radio programming and broadcasting were also sought. Eventually, when the community radio went on operation there was already a clear PLAN on "who will do what, how, when where, and with what resources." It also defined the trainings needed so that villagers can participate proficiently and more meaningfully in running the radio. Of course, there were still problems encountered but they were not as chaotic because the plan served as basis for rationalizing things.
The villagers appreciated the experience as it sort of "liberated" them from the thought that they only knew very little; now they have better self confidence and are active volunteers in collecting community news, airing news and features, and even rendering their talents in singing via radio.
The area of capacity building in ComDev planning is where our college can participate and contribute in ComDev for family farming.
The Way Forward for ComDev in Family Farming and Rural Development in Asia Pacific
Dear All, The highlights of the discussion held on 'The Way Forward' has been uploaded for your information. Thank you!