Dissemination and Communication
Communication and knowledge sharing are an integral part of SIMLESA Phase II. So far, a strong culture and awareness of its value exists among program partners. The aim of the communication and dissemination activities will therefore be to leverage the program achievements to strengthen the uptake of best-bet technologies identified for scaling from Phase I research.
The communications unit is capitalizing on lessons learned from the previous phase while also being responsive to how communications and knowledge sharing will facilitate achieving the research and development objectives of the program. Major areas of the communications unit include:
- Communicating with and for actors on the ground for the scaling out of technologies and practices
- Knowledge sharing for policy influence to scale up SIMLESA program outcomes
- Communicating about the program, the science, and results throughout the program lifecycle
- Communications for donor relations
Various communication channels and tools are used: radio, video, television, website, posters, and flyers will be used for the different program audiences who will have different communication needs and contexts in the program countries. Some of the communication and dissemination activities that worked exceptionally well in Phase I that will continue in Phase II are annual learning event and review and planning meetings, maintenance of an online repository where all SIMLESA outputs can be found, publishing success stories about the program on the SIMLESA website.
Communication is critical at all levels of the program and was fostered using multiple and innovative techniques.
To achieve the program’s aim and overall objective, communications, and knowledge sharing, knowledge and information dissemination activities were carried out and enhanced. Overall, the communication activities aimed at identifying appropriate communication materials and approaches, focusing on SIMLESA and sister programs, research and management team, national stakeholders – as well as farmers and farmer organizations and the global research community.
During Phase I and II, the program generated news bulletins and technical reports such as semi-annual and annual reports, brochures, videos, country overview reports, policy and technical briefs. The program produced eight technical briefs in 2016. The briefs highlight research looking at the performance of the five SIMLESA countries focusing on maize and legume markets with regard to some of the principles of structured value chains.
In the local learning platforms, farmer-to-farmer sharing and learning were supported and facilitated by NGOs, public extension, seed companies, agro-dealers and business development service providers, based on the promotion of core messages on conservation agriculture-based sustainable intensification, and farming system improvement.
Communication were also achieved through regular meetings of the members of the innovation platform in the target communities.
Annual national multidisciplinary study tours including program partners and other important players in the innovation platforms such as equipment developers and livestock researchers were conducted.
As part of the 2015 SIMLESA Mid Term Review recommendation on communications, a revised SIMLESA communications plan was produced.
From now until June 2018, SIMLESA’s communications unit is expected to strengthen its activities, namely:
Implement a revised communication plan that includes particular focus on providing support material for influencing national policies, and supporting the AIPs in their role as important vehicles for adoption of sustainable intensification technologies/practices. Extra efforts will be made to ensure that the SIMLESA website is continually updated to include the breadth of outputs and data coming from the program.
SIMLESA strives to provide women and men with equitable access to inputs, credit, markets, and training opportunities by integrating gender sensitivity into all program activities.
Where SIMLESA works, women hold the key to improving the quality of life and increasing the food security of rural families. While men may have greater access to land, credit, and market networks, women have the potential to be the drivers of agricultural productivity. SIMLESA focuses on the following key pathways to integrate women into agricultural value chains and ensure all household members benefit from expanded economic opportunities.
Reducing Time and Labor Demands
Women juggle a multitude of daily household and caretaking tasks. Introducing labour-saving agricultural practices such as irrigation systems, mulching, and improved planting material helps save women time and energy. For example, women often spend a disproportionate amount of time collecting and carrying water to and from the fields. Basic irrigation systems free women’s time for other activities.
Expanding Access to Knowledge
SIMLESA provides gender-sensitive training at times and places that are convenient for women to ensure they receive equal access to the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in agriculture. Trainings focus on areas in which women participate most, while also introducing new topics such as basic business skills, among others.
Unlocking Access to Inputs and Assets
SIMLESA helps women access the inputs, infrastructure, and training they need to increase income-generating opportunities.
Broadening Decision Making Authority
Women are sometimes unable to influence the decisions that directly affect farm yields and household income. SIMLESA promotes agriculture as a family business, giving women the ability and autonomy to make decisions.