Effectiveness of communication approaches used in disseminating integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices in Muvau and Kathonzweni wards, Makueni county
Adoption of agricultural technologies can be an important step towards improving farmer productivity hence alleviating poverty. However, the adoption rate of these technologies has been so low in many countries in Africa partly because of use of ineffective communication approaches when disseminating knowledge on these technologies. In this study, an investigation has been done to find out the communication approaches used in disseminating Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) practices to farmers in Makueni County, their effectiveness and to determine whether effective communication leading to adoption of ISFM practices has an impact on production levels of local farmers in Makueni County. Using diffusion of innovations theory as the theoretical framework, the study investigated gaps in disseminating ISFM knowledge using a descriptive survey design approach. The study sampled 368 respondents from two wards; Muvau and Kathonzweni, areas where Ukamba Christian Community Services (UCCS) has been implementing projects on ISFM practices. It was established that face to face, mass media, internet based and outdoor advertisement were some of the communication approaches used in disseminating ISFM knowledge and skills to farmers. It further established that face to face approaches are still the most effective in disseminating agricultural knowledge to farmers. Effective communication leads to adoption of innovations as established by this study and this in effect has a positive impact on farmer productivity. Farmers who had had adopted ISFM had done so because of effective approach to knowledge dissemination and had realized increased yields in various crops since the application of ISFM practices. The study re-affirms that effective communication in agricultural knowledge dissemination leads to adoption and use of these technologies. Despite their being a number of communication approaches being used in agricultural communication, the study has strongly established how effective face to face approaches are compared to the rest. The choice of communication approach being used in agricultural knowledge dissemination is important needed attention should be focused when deciding which approach to use. The study recommends that technology developers, government and development partners should use face to face communication approaches when disseminating knowledge to farmers.