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Mass scale training of smallholder farmers: can video teaching be a substitute to method demonstration? An experimental study on knowledge transfer in south Indian villages

Author: 
Dr. Kolandavel Natarajan
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

Agriculture development in developing countries hinges on the sustained adoption of improved agriculture practices evolved by agriculture research system. The agriculture extension agencies across the world act as a bridge between the agriculture research system and farming community facilitating the flow of information between them. Farmers’ training is an important component of transfer of technology. Extension workers are required to choose training methods to reach out to geographically dispersed smallholder farmers in short period of time in a cost efficient manner without compromising on the training effectiveness. Method Demonstration has been an important training method used to transfer knowledge and skill to farmers in India and other developing countries. In spite of its proven effectiveness the manual intensive group teaching process involved in the Method Demonstration limits it potential to transfer knowledge to mass of smallholders in short period of time, especially before planting season to quickly transfer agriculture innovation for mass adoption. An experimental study was conducted in South Indian villages to test the suitability of Video Teaching as an alternative to Method Demonstration to convey the agriculture message as effectively as Method Demonstration. Given its amenability to duplicate the content and play the content in multitude of places across geographies, Video Teaching might be an alternative, provided its effectiveness is tested empirically. The research study used the sophisticated Randomized Block Experimental Design to compare the effectiveness of Video Teaching and Method Demonstration in effecting Knowledge Gain among the subjects (farmers). The results showed that Video Teaching is comparable with Method Demonstration, implying that it can be used to transfer knowledge across geographies. Treatments exposed to the subjects had the rank order of effectiveness as: Video Teaching + Method Demonstration, Method Demonstration and Video Teaching in terms of Knowledge Gain.

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