Written by: Karine Poirier, AMARC International
The Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming opened at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Headquarters, in Rome, Italy, today. Participants met to discuss the role of communication to improve rural development. In his presentation, Francesco Diasio, Acting Secretary General of the World Association of Community Broadcasters, highlighted the recent findings of the regional virtual consultations held by FAO and AMARC in three continents: Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa.
Assessing the current situation, Mr. Diasio suggested that knowledge management remains a problem and that good practices needs to be shared. Low literacy is an issue in all regions surveyed by the virtual consultations, participants from the African region stating that the use of brochures, video and community radio helps to convey clear messages and information directly to the population and to family farmers. An assessment of the communication and technical needs should be implemented as to better focus any development plan. Mr. Diasio also mentioned gender inequity and digital divide as two important issues that needed to be addressed. The participants of the virtual consultations in all regions mentioned the importance of ICTs in attracting youth to the agricultural sector. ICTs should be more accessible and an effort to build reliable infrastructures should be prioritised.
Can ICTs and traditional media boost the development of family farming? Obviously, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. But, as the participants of the virtual consultations rightly pointed out, there is a need to improve the production of contents in local languages, focus of capacity building and training, improve the infrastructures of communication services and redefine the concept of public service.
As we move forward, there is a need to rethink the emphasis that is put on ICTs. Mr. Diasio said that we need to remember that every communication initiative should be adapted to the region and cultural context. After all, rural participation is standing between new and traditional technologies.