The Head of Partner and Farmer Engagement at Farmerline Company, Madam Lily Akorfa Keledorme, has suggested the use of a blended approach to train farmers to adopt appropriate farming practices.
She said a lean data study conducted by Farmerline on the effectiveness of training models for farmers found that a combination of multiple training modalities proved more impactful in influencing farmer behaviour compared to the adoption of a single training technique.
In the study, titled: “Impactful Farmer Education Models: A Lean Data Study,” Farmerline assessed the adoption rate, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of a series of training models, including in-person training, talking books, and mobile voice messages.
Addressing a virtual conference in Accra, Madam Keledorme explained that a series of training modalities were randomly deployed to 114 farmers from five communities within the Ashanti Region.
The conference, organised by Farmerline in collaboration with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), was on the theme: “Influencing farmer behaviour change: Relevant lessons for the new normal.”
The training focused on post-harvest planning and business management comprising bookkeeping, budgeting and saving.
Madam Keledorme said in spite of the enormous contribution of the agriculture sector to the economy and the survival of the citizenry, studies conducted across farming communities pinpointed low levels of formal education and financial literacy among farmers.
The development, she noted, largely accounted for the inability of farmers to secure the right profits and returns from their toil.
She said although a number of training models had been executed by the Government, development partners and private organisations to respond to the issue, there were emerging technologies that needed to be considered and used, hence the study by Farmerline.
“We sought to discern ways we could help farmers earn better profits by influencing behaviour changes and to use such methods to shape the delivery and structure of our training programmes,” Madam Keledorme said.
“Our focus was to help farmers increase their knowledge on post-harvest planning activities, especially in business management so they can budget and plan for the next season, including doing bookkeeping, revenue and profit calculations, savings and reinvestment of capital.”
Madam Keledorme said the study revealed that a good blend of in-person training and digital tools, when used rightly, would make a significant impact on farmers for behaviour change.
She indicated that although all the models had specific advantages that made them useful, they all had shortfalls, which made them inapplicable in some situations.
“The individual models were effective to some extent but we established that a blended approach of training farmers and a continuous engagement increases adoption,” she said.
Madam Keledorme said the adoption of digital tools had become more significant, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic where physical engagement between trainers and farmers had become minimal.
She, however, urged facilitators and development organisations to consider the training content and objective to determine the ideal digital tools to employ.
“One of the takeaways of this study is that digital tools will play a significant role in enforcing behaviour change beyond COVID-19 and it is important for us to work collectively to improve the welfare of farmers,” she said.
Famerline helps in transforming smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs by increasing their access to information, inputs and resources to increase productivity.