LIL Master's Students Honored
A young farmer views an animated educational video on a smartphone in Mozambiquein as part of Mocumbe's research project.
Two masters students at Iowa State University, Sostino Mocumbe and Naboth Bwambale, who conducted research related to Robert Mazur's LIL project Farmer Decision Making Strategies for Improved Soil Fertility Management in Maize-Bean Production Systems not only successfully defended their M.S. theses in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Sustainable Agriculture and Sociology, respectively, they also received prestigious awards for the excellence of their work.
Mocumbe's research explored the “Use of Animated Videos through Mobile Phones to Enhance Agricultural Knowledge among Bean Farmers in Gurúè District, Mozambique” received ISU's highest award for humanitarian development and contribution to theory.
Mocumbe’s study focused on the use of animated videos delivered through mobile phones to enhance access to agricultural information and its adoption among bean farmers in Mozambique, comparing this method’s effectiveness to that of extension agents delivering information. He explored the factors influencing farmers’ decision-making processes in experimenting with and adopting integrated soil fertility management practices and technologies, which have been promoted in Uganda but with limited success in increasing the adoption rate.
Determining the effectiveness of videos to deliver information to farmers that they’ll then adopt is critical in Mozambique, where there are insufficient numbers of extension agents in to reach more than a small percentage of farmers across the country.
Regardless of the teaching method, the study indicated that all the farmers, both men and women, significantly increased their understanding of the topic. Although participants in Extension Only had the lowest comparative scores and those in Animation Then Extension the highest, the Animation Only group scored as well as both combined methods and significantly better than those [in Extension Only.
The results suggest that the use of animated videos through mobile phones can potentially complement or replace extension in delivering agricultural topics—an important finding in regard to improving extensive educational means for rural, isolated areas with limited personnel.
Bwambale’s was awarded the prestigious Research Excellence Award from Iowa State University at his graduation in December 2015 for his research that explored “Farmers’ Knowledge, Perceptions, and Socioeconomic Factors Influencing Decision Making for Integrated Soil Fertility Management Practices in the Masaka and Rakai Districts, Central Uganda.” He was also the lead author of a presentation on this topic delivered at the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference held in Livingstone, Zambia, February 28 to March 4, 2016, in recognition of the 2016 International Year of Pulses.
Bwambale’s study focused on declining soil fertility as a critical factor limiting crop production among smallholder farmers in Uganda.
Bwambale found that the relative advantage of a practice (derived from local availability of materials, multifunctionality of the practice and cost of investment), the ability to observe the success of the practice before adoption, and compatibility of the practice with existing farm operations. The influence of these factors varies among farms because of significant heterogeneity in household wealth, land tenure, social networks, access to input-produce markets and extension services. Extension agents and farmer-to-farmer interactions are the most trusted information sources for ISFM. Recommendations to facilitate adoption ISFM practices include: use of iterative learning approaches that foster interaction among farmers, extension specialists, and researchers; conducting benefit-cost analyses of various practices to facilitate development of adaptable and flexible ISFM measures; and catering for heterogeneity in smallholders’ resource endowments - particularly land size, livestock ownership and income; and policies and programs that improve tenure security and access to credit to facilitate investment in ISFM practices and technologies.