January 9, 2020

Research Brief: Showing Videos Improves Adoption of New Agricultural Techniques

Women in Mozambique watch an animated video on a post-harvest bean storage method. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

Animated videos on phones and other devices may be an effective method of teaching new agricultural techniques to farmers in underserved communities, new research suggests. Two years after viewing videos showing how to store beans in jerrycans to protect against insects and rot, 97 percent of farmers retained the information and 89 percent had adopted the practice, according to findings published in the journal Information Technology for Development.

“These animated intervention strategies are viable for scaling since they can be produced in the local languages of the farmers and distributed through readily available resources such as smartphones,” Dr. Julia Bello-Bravo, assistant professor of food science at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan (USA), said in a statement.

“It’s a cost-effective approach to reach isolated communities that might not otherwise have access to these important agricultural solutions,” Dr. Bello-Bravo says.

The study followed up on research conducted in the same regions of Mozambique two years prior. That earlier study compared the efficacy of teaching farming techniques through video demonstrations versus live, in-person training. It found similar rates of retention. Following up two years later, the researchers found that the videos appear to have long-term impact.

The videos studied are part of the MSU-based SAWBO (Scientific Animations Without Borders) library of dozens of educational animations in topics such as agriculture, economics and health.

“We are dealing with the Last Mile Problem – how to get information to people in hard-to-reach places so they are aware of the techniques that can improve their own lives,” said Dr. Barry Pittendrigh, an MSU Foundation professor of entomology, who co-founded SAWBO with Dr. Bello-Bravo.

See the paper: “An 89% solution adoption rate at a two-year follow-up: evaluating the effectiveness of an animated agricultural video approach,” Information Technology for Development https://doi.org/10.1080/02681102.2019.1697632

SAWBO Video Library: https://sawbo-animations.org/

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