Educational animations filling the gap for extension services

by James Kamuye Kataru

In Western Kenya Kakamega County, farmers face various challenges in their practices. County governments employ a number of extension officers to provide essential services, but those are often limited to artificial insemination (AI) and livestock management. Non-governmental organizations and the private sector have extension officers who provide extension services hence facilitating government effort to improve community farming practices and output.

Through SAWBO animation videos, farmer-to-farmer extension has been enhanced by groups being trained to access, download and share educational videos demonstrating basic farming skills using locally available but largely ignored means and tools. One example, The Jerrycan-Bean Storage method is becoming popular among communities as an economic way of preserving seed for crops such as beans, groundnuts, soya beans, millet and at times maize, whose seed is not bought from local agri-shops but selected from the best of the previous harvest.

Agricultural Animations on the SAWBO web site. image by SAWBO

The growing household population has reduced the size of arable land causing a spike in the search for farming skills and tools that increase yields and improve preservation of harvest. This has strained extension officers and pushed farmers to seek knowledge from their peers, community based organizations, non-governmental organizations, SAWBO, and other groups that provide such education.

Beneficiaries of SAWBO animation videos

SAWBO’s animation videos on agriculture are revolutionizing farming and cutting down post-harvest losses. These videos can be widely used by the following groups to enhance provision of extension services.

NOTE: Always remember to stay safe when doing extension work – keep a social distance, wear masks, wash your hands, and encourage others in your network to do the same.;

Agricultural extension officers: An effective extension officer should be armed with charts, pamphlets, reference books, props, and SAWBO animation videos to effectively disseminate information. In fact, with the need to social distance due to COVID-19, SAWBO animation has becomes a great way to educate people and allow everyone to stay safe.  It’s easy for farmers to download SAWBO videos on their phones and flash disks then share or watch later with family.

NGO’s, CBO’s and other farming groups: The Non-governmental fraternity is playing a major role in improving farming techniques in Kenya and the East Africa region. The use of education animation tools in the expansive digitally inspired community service is becoming an effective tool of entrenching the lessons learned by beneficiaries.

Agricultural companies: Most agricultural produce growers and manufacturers have grappled with huge budgets to train their workforce on basic practices. SAWBO’s animation videos can help cut down costs of hiring extension services since they can be shared by workers who’ll watch them at their convenience and internalize the processes outlined hence improving their overall output.

Agricultural training and other learning institutions: Equipping trainees and students with requisite information and knowledge is core for these institutions. To complete the process, SAWBO animations can be made part of the digital learning and practicing aides used in class and out on the farms. Both primary and secondary schools that teach agriculture as a subject should be encouraged to use these animations for demonstrations, after which the knowledge is carried home to the family farm.  

Individual farmers and their families: As indicated above, farmer-to-farmer extension has been entrenched in our society with encouraging results. Farmers prefer learning from their peers on new methods, practices, products, seed, fertilizers, and other farming tools. This is a ready market for SAWBO animation videos which can be shared by farmers because they are free, easy to view, educational and straight forward. They are also brief, factual, and detailed.

Players that have enhanced the provision of digital extension services

One convincing reason why animation videos are filling the gap for extension services is because of an expansive mobile communication network in Kenya and East Africa. By the end of 2019, Kenya had over 46 million mobile subscriptions. This trend has helped expand the Kenya mobile data network with the following players shifting the consumption of information from traditional formats to digital and increasing the market that SAWBO can capture for its animation products; 

  1. Telecommunication service providers

In Kenya, a leading telecommunication provider has introduced cheap phones with advanced internet capabilities. At Kshs. 20 per day subscription, most rural Kenyans who entirely rely on agriculture can afford to get the latest technological trends and improve their lives. Small scale rural farmers now have capacity to download, watch and share SAWBO videos and information filling the gap of extension services.

  • Solar energy and TV providers

Other players that have increased the uptake of digital information in Kenya and East Africa are solar energy providers such as M-Kopa, BBoxx, Sun King etc. which not only light up homes, but provide smart phones and TV sets that can be used to download and watch SAWBO videos.

We can firmly conclude that Kenya and the Swahili speaking nations are ready to extensively use SAWBO animation videos to fill the gap of extension services. All major players, from the government to development partners in enabling fields, have put in place structural enhancements to a wide, ready digital products market that’ll work to SAWBO’s advantage.

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