Results Asia-Pacific consultation on ComDev, community media and ICTs for family farming

on 29 September 2014. Posted in News from the region

womenradio nepalFrom August 25th to September 12th, the Food and Agriculture Organization, in collaboration with the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) hosted a regional virtual consultation on Communication for Development, community media and ICTs for family farming and rural development in Asia Pacific.  Participants were invited to share their ideas and opinions and most of all, to help in forging the way forward for communication for rural development in the region. 



What did the discussions revolve around?  How did participants respond?

WEEK 1 - What are the key issues related to family farming that require communication/community media/ICT support?

An idea which was often reiterated amongst participants was the need for extension officials to become more aware and gain the skills to use communication technology, such as video, in agricultural extension work. Furthermore,  it was recognized that language is often a barrier for information transfer, which is most notably seen across the Pacific islands, Indonesia to India and also within the countries themselves. More information in local languages and local context would aid family farmers of the region. Finally, there is much opportunity to use communication technology, such as
participatory video and mobile telephony, to capture traditional agricultural and environmental-management knowledge.  

WEEK 2-In your region, what should be priority areas of action for ComDev in agriculture and rural development?

The first priority area is to advocate for rural communication rights which should be stated clearly in national broadcast regulations.  Furthermore, the idea of the creation of a ComDev training center was brought up by many in order to provide reorientation and training to agricultural workers.  This could create a critical mass of development or extension workers trained in ComDev which would support and sustain the ComDev efforts in family farming. Such centre could help local activists get mobilized and translate messages and information into their own languages thereby filling in the information gap.  Finally, ICTs and performance arts (music, dance) could be more deeply incorporated into youth farmer groups or school courses. By projecting the image that today’s farmer/fisher is entrepreneurial, tech savvy, socially networked, and destined for success could draw more students to the sector.  More scholarships and funding for graduate studies in ComDev is needed especially in Asia and Africa where students are interested but lack of funding hinders their efforts.

WEEK 3-What processes and methodologies can be applied to design demand driven and inclusive rural communication policies/services to advance family farming in your country/region?

While many processes were brought up, it was strongly suggested that there is a need to change the negative image of agriculture and promote it as a profession that ensures sustainable food production. Modern communication technologies could be seen as a way to attract youth to farming by making it appear to be “modern” and sophisticated.  Furthermore, agriculture and farming activities should be promoted by media.  It was also suggested that the mobile phone has the most potential to reach the farmers individually in Asia. It is the best means of ICT for the rural smallholder farmers as it is portable, handy and cost effective. A strong emphasis should be put on community media or concept like community radio or farm radio as a tool for information sharing for the farmers. The programme design should not be one way; but should encourage should be participatory for learning for development environment.

Who was involved?

The discussions were open to all, including development professionals, community media practitioners, rural development agencies and the private sector alike.  Interested and eager participants came together in a designated group on the CCComdev platform.   Participants came from a variety of organizations such as PhilRice, and a variety of other  academic institutions such as the University of Queensland and at the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños

What happens next?

The inputs from the consultations will serve to inform the Forum on Communication for Development & Community Media for Family Farming (FCCM), a joint FAO and AMARC initiative to be held in Rome, Italy from 23-24 October, 2014.   In addition, for all those who still wish to have their say, a global consultation on the topic is currently taking place via the E-agriculture platform, to discuss and complement the outcomes of the regional consultations. 

Read the final report of the Asia-Pacific Consultation here

Links to other regional reports (Latin America and Africa)