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close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 55 (CTA Spore, 1995, 16 p.)
close this folderCTA Activities
View the documentCommunication: challenge and change
View the documentAgricultural and rural development
View the documentNew titles in the Tropical Agriculturalist series
View the documentFarmers planning processes
View the documentImproving animal traction technology
View the documentAfrica seen from the sky

Communication: challenge and change

The ability to acquire and use sophisticated audiovisual technology does not necessarily mean that we are communicating effectively. This ability tends to blind users to the continuing need for basic skills in communication. As some wit once wrote "I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, BUT I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!" This could almost have been an appropriate epitaph on the gravestone of so many failed development projects.

It was to discuss how to improve communication skills in general, and the use of audio visual media in particular, that an international conference of communication specialists was covered in Paris from 2427 October last year. The seminar was organized by CTA in collaboration with the Groupe de recherche et d'anges technologiques (GRET). The meeting brought together audio-visual producers and users, film makers, photographers, model makers and a cross-section of those involved in rural development, particularly in rural extension and information dissemination. The seminar, entitled Audiovisual communication in the rural development practices of ACP countries - past lessons, future directions, had lessons for more than just rural development. All ACP countries depend on the agricultural sector and it is now recognized that sustainable national development cannot occur without effective rural development.

In the past, most rural communication has been a 'top-down', teacher to pupil approach. If communicators are to get through the resistance to change evidenced by many rural people, the rural people must be treated as equal partners, not inferiors, in the communication process. Rural people have traditional knowledge which may need updating, but does not deserve to be ignored; they understand their own situation and they have their own priorities. They also have their pride and their dignity. Communicators would do well to adopt a more participative approach when dealing with rural people, starting with what Marc Levy of GRET called 'the basic skills of inter-personal communication'. And they should master these skills before they turn to the new and exciting tools that technology has provided.

Many delegates at the seminar were able to demonstrate to their fellow delegates how they were already putting this into practice. Mr Stanley Gacheru, the Head of Kenya's Agricultural Information Centre, explained how videos are used to show extension staff first the wrong and then the right way to organize and speak at farmers' meetings and how to hold demonstrations of new techniques. Afi Yakubu, of Ghana, spoke of her technique of blending the old with the new by involving people of northern Ghana in the planning and production of her films, and using their proverbs and songs as vehicles for their traditional knowledge. Using the medium of their own language to speak to young people in the Caribbean, video producer Christiana Abraham of Dominica demonstrated how pressing social problems could be tackled through the use of drama in 3-4 minute 'mini-soap' TV programmes.

Despite the amply demonstrated skills evidenced by the participants, as always the talk was of constraints to progress through lack of funding for appropriate inputs and understanding of requirements. The main problems are the cost of the equipment, its maintenance and the training needed to use equipment both correctly and creatively. But these requirements must be seen in the context of another important consideration: audio-visual products are of little value unless they are integral components of a comprehensive programme and strategy. No matter how good a "product" a video, for instance, may be it will only be utilized effectively if their is a context for its use and its distribution; otherwise the product will simply sit on the shelf.

No doubt funding and skills training can and will be made available, but even so these cannot provide successful communication without changes at government level and among extension staff themselves. As Jacques Sultan of FAO commented, "Tools are only as good as the skills of the people who use them". His remark was echoed in part by M. Philippe de Soussay of the French Ministry of Research who observed: "It is not the technology of audio-visual media that is important but the use to which that technology is put. If governments and decision-makers do not take these lessons to heart then the knowledge that is essential for rural and national development will continue to be largely wasted."

Agricultural and rural development

CTA collaborates with German development agencies in the dissemination of rural and agricultural information. A new journal has been added to the field of agricultural and rural development. This journal, which is published twice a year, is the result of partnership between CTA and three German development agencies: DLG, DSE and GTZ.

Agricultural and rural development is a technical journal of high quality, reporting on research findings and practical approaches for an integrated rural development system. The articles are of interest to development workers in ACP countries. but will also interest researchers, students and teachers as well as decision-makers both in ACP and EU countries. The journal also provides an opportunity to make good use of the experience and knowledge gained from Germany's bilateral development cooperation.

New titles in the Tropical Agriculturalist series

The Tropical Agriculturalist is a series of practical field guides published by CTA in association with Macmillan, Maisonneuve et Larose and ACCT. The books are intended to serve as guides by producers, farmers, farm managers and agricultural extension officers and as references for students, teachers and lecturers. Four new titles in the series have recently been published.

Sorghum examines the characteristics and cultivation of this important crop in a variety of different agricultural conditions and zones. Aspects covered include the crop's morphology, cultivation, the control of pests and diseases, optimum growing conditions, harvesting and economics. A considerable amount of tabulated data has been included and the text is well-illustrated throughout.

Warm-water crustaceans are increasingly important economically in many parts of the world. They are a valuable food commodity and many by-products can be gained through processing them. The guide covers the main species that can be farmed and includes aspects of production from pond preparation and management to harvesting and marketing. A number of recipes are also included in the comprehensive and easy-to-read text.

Animal breeding looks closely at the various techniques that can be used in breeding animals, such as selection, and cross-breeding. Examples of the various techniques are given and their advantages and disadvantages in tropical and sub-tropical environments are assessed with regard to improving the core traits of animals. The book also deals with basic genetics and examines factors such as the effect of climate on animals and the importance of preserving the genepool in native tropical beds.

Animal health Volume 2 is a valuable guide for anyone involved with maintaining and establishing the health of animals in tropical and subtropical countries. All the important diseases are covered, including infectious and contagious diseases, helminth infections, diseases transmitted by arthropods, and diseases and arthropods associated with environmental and husbandry factors. Each disease, its symptoms, causes and limiting factors, is presented in a clear style and provides worthwhile information for all those interested in obtaining a basic knowledge about specific animal diseases.

Sorghum by J Chantereau and R Nico 1994 98pp ISBN 0 333 54452 8
Warm-water crustaceans by J Arrignon, J Huner, P Laurent, J Griessinger, D Lacroix, P Gondouin and M Autrand 1994 160pp
ISBN 0 333 57462 1
Animal breeding by Gerald Weiner 1994 208pp ISBN 0 333 57298 X
Animal health (Volume 2 Specific diseases) by Archie Hunter 1994 214pp ISBN 0 333 57360 9 Available from CTA

Farmers planning processes

What does a farmer in the Mono region of Benin and a dairy farmer from the Netherlands have in common? On the face of it, very little except that the survival of the Beninois farmer and his family, and the survival of the Dutch dairy farmer's business, both depend on making the right decisions about whether or not to adopt or invest in a new method of cultivation or some technical innovation.

Two documentary films, the first called Who knows the land, which is about a Beninois farmer, and the second, A day in the country, about a dairy farmer from the Netherlands, open the debate about agricultural innovation in different and evolving knowledge systems. The two films have been combined in a multimedia pack aimed at ail, who are interested in rural development, particularly those from the South.

The material, which is outstandingly well conceived and presented, includes a work book which will help extentionists to lead discussion about the issues. A second instalment encourages more detailed consideration of innovative agricultural ideas.

The package is available in English and French. Governmental and non-governmental organizations and educationalists in developing countries may be entitled to receive a pack free of charge.

Improving animal traction technology

This book derives from the first ATNESA workshop held in Lusaka, Zambia. It contains some 85 edited papers prepared by 105 authors from 20 countries. The text is supported by more than 400 ill. ustrations, including 175 photographs.

Within the theme of Improving animal traction technology the papers focus on several important topics, including profitability; animal management; tillage and weeding; implement supply; gender issues; technology transfer; transport; and diversifying operations.

This book provides a wealth of ideas and experiences concerning animal traction in many countries and will be valuable to all people interested in this important field of agricultural development, especially those involved in training, extension, research, development, planning and infrastructural support.

Improving animal traction technology
proceedings of the first workshop of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA) held 18-23 January, 1992, Lusaka, Zambia organized with financial support from CTA. The proceedings are edited by Paul Starkey, Emmanuel Mwenya and John Stares 1994 490pp ISBN 92 9081 127 7 published by IT Publications, 103-105 Southampton flow, London WC1B 4HH, UK and available from CTA.

Africa seen from the sky

Remote sensing has applications that could be useful for development and yet this latest technology seems to be beyond the reach of developing countries. A documentary film Africa seen from the sky looks at the opportunities and the constraints, and considers how developing countries can gain access to the latest technology for observing the Earth.

Produced by Masicence with support from CTA, the film complements the book Remote sensing of the Sahelian environment which was published in 1990 by CTA and CCH. Africa seen from the sky - scientific documentary by Olivier Retour and Henri de Latour, 26 minutes duration, Mascience international - avenue Pres Agneaux 83, 1160 Brussels, BELGIUM