It is important to have a thorough understanding of responsible pesticide use and associated practices. However, the value of this knowledge can be multiplied several fold if you also know how to effectively pass this information on to farmers and convince them to change their behavior. The concept of behavioral change is key. Many educational activities, even if they are successful in giving a target group the knowledge and skills required, must be judged as unsuccessful if behavior is not influenced. This is a particularly common concern when promoting responsible use. Farmers may know a certain activity is wrong or dangerous but continue to practice it.
In this final module we would like to give you some references, examples and ideas about designing change programs for farmers and let you think about how these principles might be applied.
We will start this module by giving you a suggested approach to designing a change program. In the promotion of responsible pesticide use, some of the most recent success stories have come from strategic extension campaigns and traditional Extension approaches. More and more, development professionals are looking at ways to use modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate rural access to knowledge and information. Links to sites with information on these approaches will be provided.
A change program is, "A series of sequentially planned learning opportunities to achieve an objective and that encompasses both content and method." The content is essentially the information you feel to be important for any particular target audience. Methods are techniques and mechanisms you use to deliver your content and bring about the desired change and include such activities as demonstrations, meetings, tours, contests, radio and TV shows and commercials, print media, etc.
Designing a change program involves a number of steps and generally includes:
Strategic extension campaigns (SECs) use mass media convey research findings and recommendations in a simplified form in order to motivate attitude change. SECs have been shown to achieve rapid impact because they reach large numbers of farmers in an area all at once, including remote locations normally not visited by extension trainers.
References on SECs
Traditional Extension Techniques
Although the Training and Visit system of Extension has largely been discredited as an effective way to promote IPM, good ideas can be found by looking at some of the tried and true Extension methodologies developed over the years. Below are links to two excellent resource sites with extensive information on various Extension methods and Extension training.
Information and Communication Technologies
A major problem rural populations have traditionally faced has been their inability to access needed information and knowledge. This has been the driving force behind both traditional Extension activities as well as the newer, more participatory approaches.
Before you go on to design your own change program you might want to take a bit of time to look at some other initiatives and what has been said about them. An excellent way to learn is from other’s mistakes and successes. The two main examples we would like to highlight here are FAO’s Farmer Field School approach and the Safe Use Programs sponsored and implemented by the Global Plant Sciences Industry. As you will see, both of these approaches have been shown to have strengths and weaknesses.
FAO Farmer Field Schools
The IPM Field School is a field based programme that provides learning experiences usually for groups of up to 25 farmers. This approach to promoting responsible use deals with the topic in the context of IPM and minimizing risks associated with the use of chemical insecticides – primarily by advocating that they are not used or used less often and in lesser amounts. The Field School lasts for a full cropping season and meets at least 12 times for about four to five hours per meeting. At each meeting, farmers are guided through several activities: agroecosystem field observation, analysis and presentations; special topics; and group dynamics. Participants are given the opportunity to observe and analyse the dynamics of the rice field ecology across a full season. Schools are based on the four IPM implementation principles previously discussed:
CropLife International’s Safe Use Projects
The Global Plant Science Industry developed it’s safe use projects in response to its commitment to the FAO Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. Additionally, this industry has a firm commitment in promoting stable and sustainable agriculture throughout the world. Their Safe Use projects were piloted in 3 countries in collaboration with national and international organizations, government agencies, donors, aid agencies, NGOs etc.. Farmers are an active and integral part of these efforts.
The three Safe Use projects under this Initiative share some common objectives but each has its own goals to deal with the particular circumstances found in each of the project areas. The overall objectives of the projects are:
A complete description of the projects can be found through the link below: