END-USERS NEED INFORMATION TOO!
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CTA. 1995. END-USERS NEED INFORMATION TOO!. Spore 56. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47023
Most people involved in development would agree that to develop new technologies is not enough in itself: ways have to be found of getting new ideas, management practices and materials out to potential users. Not just to a small number of...
Most people involved in development would agree that to develop new technologies is not enough in itself: ways have to be found of getting new ideas, management practices and materials out to potential users. Not just to a small number of households with whom we have been working in a 'participatory research' mode, but also to a much wider clientele. That is not the end of the story: we also need 'feedback' mechanisms so that there is some prospect of improving the focus of the next round of research.. We hear a lot about systems modelling, action research, agroecosystems modelling and farmer participatory research. Of course, all of these are important techniques and fully merit enthusiasm. But are we not in danger of focusing so narrowly on these that we lose sight of the wider realities? One of these realities is that no government can afford to develop technologies on a micro-spatial basis. The best that they can do is invest in research for the broad dimensions of rural conditions of what has been developed elsewhere in the hope that farmers might find at least some of it useful. Another reality is that government extension agents are no longer the main direct source from which farmers obtain ideas: they pick up ideas from friends, from seeing what others are doing, and increasingly from radio, newspapers and television. This kind of information technology revolution is happening in more and more rural areas, but how far are new ideas about the development and dissemination of new technology taking it into account? Is the use of mass media necessarily one-way and 'top-down', or can it be made interactive, for instance by interviewing small farmers themselves so that they can put across their ideas in their own words, and then following up in a later programme by presenting the responses of others to these ideas? Can government (or NGO) research and extension services interact with mass media in cost-effective ways? John Farrington, ODI, Regent's College, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, London NW1 4NS, UK