Assessing communication channels and the impact of agricultural information used by farmers in watermelon production in Yimbo east ward, Siaya county
Agricultural sector forms the backbone of the global economy and serves as the means of revenue of about 50% of the world’s population and Kenya is not an exception. In this regard Agriculture has been prioritized vision 2030, which aims at transforming Kenya to a middle income and rapidly industrializing country by the year 2030. This study sought to establish the communication channels used by watermelon farmers in Yimbo East Ward to access Agricultural information, the impact of the Agricultural information and challenges the farmers experience while trying to access the information. The target population of the study was 30 farmers in the region but the researcher was able to access 25 who accounted for 83%. Data was collected through structured individual interviews and observations were made during the farm visits. The data collected was analyzed using narrative analysis and exploratory analysis to graphically summarise the situation on the ground. The study found out that most of the watermelon farmer’s use radios, fellow farmers and telephone calls to acquire agricultural information on watermelon production while extension officers, television, mobile text messages, farm magazines and newspapers were the channels which were least used. The study concluded that radios, fellow farmers and telephone calls had numerous strengths hence were considered more advantageous by farmers than the other channels. Further, extension officers and radio were the two channels considered by many farmers in the study to have accurate information. There is therefore need for to establish a community FM radio stations to promote dissemination of information on watermelon production and knowledge to farmers in the region because of numerous advantages of radio. Further, the watermelon farmers required agricultural information on market prices, financial management and methods of irrigation, use of insecticides and soil improvement. Positive impacts of the information experienced by farmers were mainly high quality produce and early maturity. On the other hand, the main negative impacts of the information received included lack of follow-up process to stimulate the success, higher cost but lower productivity and low selling price. Some of the challenges that farmers experience were mainly costs of acquiring information and lack of feedback. Setting up of well-equipped community resource centres would be a plus as the famers could access information at their leisure and affordably. Farmers need to be engaged, persuaded and shown the benefits of variety communication channels in watermelon production through farmers field days and demonstrations in order for them to learn, ask questions and provide their own feedback to the extension officers as well as researchers. Lastly, the study not only recommends more agricultural extension officers in the region but facilitated with necessary equipment and funds for them to remain relevant in terms of information and knowledge delivery to the farmers.