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PEOPLE-CENTRED FARM MAGAZINE FOR DEVELOPMENT
Kumar N, Kumar B and Kashyap SK
At present a number of farm magazines are being published by many government organizations, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Agricultural Universities, NGOs, etc., but all with the same top-down approach in which supposedly all knowing agricultural experts and editors present the agricultural technologies to the supposedly nothing knowing farmers. They least care whether the information is really required by the farmers and even if required, it has been supplied at a right time to the right persons and whether it has really been understood by the intended reader.
Mere use of print media to reach to the masses does not guarantee that communication has taken place because it is not sure that the information was really needed by the farmer and in a form in which it was supplied to him. The first step in producing a farm magazine is to assess the need of the farmer. Assessment of the need of the farmer can best be done when there is a dialogue with the representative group of farmers. Many a times a lot of information is supplied by the magazine which is already known or not at all required by the farmers. Audience or readers’ participation is, therefore, essential to select a message. The lack of this factor in most public sector magazine has resulted in incomplete or no communication. A systematic approach to understand the need of the reader fills up this gap and makes the message specific to them.
But, the process does not end with the outlining of readers’ preference and needs, the designing of the message also requires farmers participation. The communication may again be incomplete if the reader has not understood it because of its language, content, presentation, etc. The basis of how the message should be communicated also comes through a dialogue with the representative group of farmers should be communicated also comes through a dialogue with the representative group of farmers (readers). The farmer here acts both as the sender or source as well as the receiver thus transforming the communication process from one way (sender to receiver) to circular two way process (from receiver as source to sender and then again to receiver).
Sustainable agriculture and development also calls for participatory approach. In participatory magazines the local experience, indigenous knowledge and farmers’ experimentation can also be utilized to achive the
sustainability in agriculture as was done by the All India Arecanut Growers Association in Puttur, Karnataka which published faem journal ‘ Akike Pathrika’ in Kannada. In this magazine the farmers were involved in planning, production and distribution. A wall newspaper Batabaran published by the Nepal Forum of Environment Journalists also focused on conservation, environmental protection and sustainable development.
The paper discusses the approach of ensuring the farmers’ participation in the development of a farm magazine and the steps involved in it. So far not much work has been done on these lines except in a few cases where some non-governmental organizations have tried it as mentioned above. However, no standardization of the process has been done specially for a government organization owned farm magazine which is the thrust of this paper.