Main Article Content
Farmers, both male and female have indigenous knowledge systems, which do not mesh well with the more formal research and extension information networks. The purpose of the study was to develop and test a methodology that can be undertaken by field level staff. Tools were developed to determine farmer information networks, disaggregated by wealth and gender. Additional tools were developed to analyze farmer information delivery preferences, the type of information flowing through the information links, the frequency of use and the perceived quality of information. Richer and progressive farmers had information networks that went outside the confines of the community. Information was obtained from the radio, extension workers, private enterprise (buyers and sellers) and vernacular language newspapers. This group of farmers are suspicious of family and friends. Poor farmers agricultural information network was confined to their relatives, friends, the church, the local women’s group, radio, and very rarely the extension worker. For both groups delivery of good quality technical and marketing information remains a problem. The merits and problems of the different information mechanisms are discussed. Little or no institutional memory exists at the community level. Most farmers prefer to “learn by doing”; contrasted with the service providers who preferred the classroom delivery mode. Farmer indigenous knowledge and information systems have implications for both contracted and delivered research and extension services. In policy terms, richer farmers have reasonable links with local government officials, are very market oriented. The market may be able to deliver information to this group, but market traders are viewed with suspicion. Delivery of information to the poor, who are food insecure and rarely interact with the market, is a problem. Alternative less market oriented information delivery mechanisms must be developed, and incorporated into an information and communication strategy. How different formal knowledge and information systems can link farmers knowledge and information system is discussed.