Role of Radio in Rural and Agricultural development

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1 Role of Radio in Rural and Agricultural development Richa Sachan 1, Sneha Singh 2 and Kirti 3 Research Scholars Department of Extension Education Institute of Agricultural Sciences Banaras Hindu University Varanasi Contact no Abstract Agricultural extension services and electronic media play an important role in the adoption of new agricultural technologies. Among many reasons, one of the foremost reason is the communication gap between government policies and common masses as people largely remain ignorant. In order to bridge this gap, media are excellent tools to increase knowledge. The local communities needs are often neglected by the mainstream media and commercial channels but the radio understands their needs. Even if the radio is an "old-fashioned" medium in the current information age, in rural areas it is still the most widespread, accessible and affordable mass medium. In recent years, many small FM stations with distinct local content and audience appeared in rural areas. Rural Radio can empower communities to participate in dialogue and decision-making that influence their social, economic and cultural environment. Rural Radio gives the opportunity to be both part of the audience and member of the team of producers. This form of communication has proved to be very successful as a tool for social development at grassroot level. Keywords: Radio, Agriculture, Rural Development, media

2 Introduction Agriculture is back on the development agenda and radio is still seen as one of the most effective ways of reaching rural populations. Radio as a communication medium plays an important role in the nation s socio-cultural, political and economic development in all aspects. It is a powerful communication system medium in Indian rural agricultural markets, where, in the absence of regular and stable electric supply in rural and far flung areas. People have to depend on radio to meet their needs of information, education and entertainment. Community and village panchayath radio serves to bring small communities together, focuses on the common man s day-to-day concerns and helps in realizing local aspirations in rural markets. It aims to contribute to the lives of the local community by creation of content by the people and for the people of that community. In communication for development it is not uncommon to talk about Rural Radio as an interactive tool. However, to the layperson this may sound awkward since radio is by definition a mass medium with a topdown characteristic. Yet, Rural Radio still arouses interest and curiosity. Even if the radio is an "old-fashioned" medium in the current information age, in rural areas it is still the most widespread, accessible and affordable mass medium. In recent years, many small FM stations with distinct local content and audience appeared in rural areas. Rural Radio can empower communities to participate in dialogue and decision-making that influence their social, economic and cultural environment. Rural Radio gives the opportunity to be both part of the audience and member of the team of producers. That radio is becoming ever more popular among the masses at the rural areas and also the towns and cities of the country is reflected in the detailed findings of the India Census The remarkable fact is that despite the presence of so many avenues of entertainment and information gathering at the disposal of the people specially in urban and town areas, such a presence of radio is quite commendable. This is proof enough that radio s utility as a suitable medium of development communication has remained important and intact till date. A new concept which is becoming popular in our country which has a high potential for being used for furthering the cause of development communication is Community radio. It is nothing but a small-calibre FM radio station with a limited range used for local purposes for disseminating information. Several established private corporate houses are also coming forward

3 to set up facilities for helping the rural population in getting proper connectivity to the outside world. What is Rural Development According to Lele Uma, "Rural development is clearly designed to increase production and raise productivity. Rural development recognises, however that improved food supplies and nutrition together with basic services such as health and education can not only directly improve the physical well-being and quality of life of the rural poor, but also directly enhance their productivity and their ability to contribute to the national economy". Nyerere Julius K. says, "Rural development is participation of people in a mutual learning experience involving themselves, their local resources, external change agents and outside resources. People cannot be developed, they can only develop themselves by participation in decisions and cooperative activities which affect their well-being. People are not being developed when they are herded like animals into new ventures". Role of Rural Radio in dissemination of agricultural research There exists a gap between the scientific/agricultural researchers and the farm users. A lot of findings from the research institutions and laboratories are not used by farmers. The gap between the researcher and the farmer is even wider in the rural areas; large distances separate researcher from rural farmer. Other barriers like language and diversity of cultures also come into play making it even more difficult for the research information to reach the intended audiences. Rural Radio can facilitate linkages between farmers, extensionists and researchers. Helen Hambly (International Service for National Agricultural Research ISNAR) shows that Radio stations could be linked with Agricultural Research in the following aspects: exchanging knowledge and research receiving information about research products giving feedback on the reaction of communities to the research activities/ results collecting information from communities about their needs for agricultural technologies announcing progress on collaborative research.

4 Rural radio can be used to disseminate agricultural research in the following ways. Research findings can be distributed through radio to Non governmental organisations (NGOs) dealing in agriculture, extension workers, farmers themselves, academic Institutions Rural radio can make the link between researchers and extension workers by offering information on where research can be obtained and used, how to pass it on to users and communities' feedback regarding research. Rural radio can be used to collect feedback from Communities through programmes. farmers can give their responses to research and share their experiences on use of research. Communities provide alternatives depending on their experiences. Radio can also be used to announce processes of research and extension work. It provides venues for meetings with extension workers, advise on where to get inputs/services and advise on where to get technical support. Advantages of Radio Radio, television, cinema, print media and theatre are instruments through which the masses could be exposed to new ways of thinking and taught new attitudes in order to stimulate economic development. However, over the years the so-called masses have begun to appropriate these tools and to stimulate a truly bottom-up development. The growth of Rural Radio stations reflects both: the improvements in information technologies and the shifting development paradigm towards a more participatory style of information and knowledge transfer. Its major advantages are that being a localized radio centre all issues of local importance get priority over anything else. Further, these stations are maintained by volunteers and other workers elected or chosen by the local community itself. So, there is hardly any scope for outside interference and undue pressure for broadcasting something which may not be conducive for the immediate local community. In simple terms this is a system of radio broadcasting which is for the people, by the people and of the people. Mass media specially Radio are of crucial importance in rural areas of developing countries. Equally important is their role in communicating the information needed for individual s every-

5 day lives: from market prices and credit facilities to weather reports, music, entertainment and culture. In many rural areas and also in towns and cities of the country at different points of time people working in the agriculture fields or other places while listening to Radio at the same time. This is possible as the person s hands are free to work because his or her eyes are not engaged in the process which makes him or her free. This is a very important advantage for radio which makes it far more suitable for spreading or disseminating information and education on agricultural and rural development. Among the components of this media which includes Radio, TV, cinema, Cable TV etc., Radio is found to be the most suitable one for rural as well as agricultural target audiences. The major advantage or scoring point of this media above the print media is that its messages need not be carried physically to the masses and can be sent through the air. Only the masses need to possess a radio set for the purpose. This is why it is suitable for serving people almost 24 hours of the day. This is not possible in case of print media as it has to be physically delivered at the doorstep of the masses targeted by it. Constraints Rural radio is expensive to manage. One must have enough finances to run this kind of community-based broadcasting because it involves dealing with people who may not have communication skills. An other issue is the availability of radio sets. These may not be readily available to communities because of affordability. Translating messages into various languages is not an easy task. One needs to have people who are well versed in the language. Lack of collaboration between researchers, extension staff and communicators may hinder the smooth operation of rural radios. The scientific jargon is sometimes very difficult to interpret. It is time consuming especially when people who are working on the programme have no training in communication. A lot of training has to be undertaken especially for the radio listenership clubs and this requires financial facilitation.

6 Recommendations Public participation in management of regional radio stations or production centres should be encouraged. This would ease pressure on national public broadcasters and make programming more relevant to local people. Establishment of farmer driven radio listenership groups, where farmers identify their needs, and programmes are made for them. These programmes are then listened to, discussed upon and recommendations are made for community action. Research messages should be translated into the simplest language possible and translated to the prevalent languages. The radio programmes should be backed up by other forms of communication/media. Public broadcasters should become independent of government in terms of management and programming so that they can seek other sources of funding for community programmes and be more adaptive to their audiences' requirements. Participatory management systems must be established to ensure both professionalism and continued involvement of the community in production and management of their packages. There is need to create farm broadcasting units at community level i.e. these units work on the messages for a particular region, community or village and the composition should have o Broadcasting expertise o Extension skills o Language expert o policy maker. Conclusion This is a very ideal tool for development communication. Because they enjoy the scope of broadcasting programmes in their local languages, comprehensive and easily-understandable programme contents for the local masses, and concerning itself with only those aspects which have a direct and indirect relevance for the community etc. This medium has been proving to be the most potential and emerging media tool for furthering the cause of development

7 communication in our country. The reality today is that communication technologies exist and are advancing rapidly in terms of availability and lower costs, especially the Radio. We should use the information technologies and communication media effectively for sustainable agriculture and rural development. References 1. CEDA (2001). Impact Evaluation of AICC s Publication, Radio and Television Program, Final report. 2. FAO (2001) Community Radio Handbook, 3. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "Communication for Development, Knowledge and Information for Food Security in Africa: From Traditional Media to the Internet" 4. Jamison, D.T. & McAnany, E.G.(1997). Radio for education and Development, Sage Publication :UK 5. Joseph, D. (2002). e. Dynamics of Mass Communication. USA: McGraw Hill publication. 6. Kumar, K. J. (1999). Mass Communication in India.New Delhi: Jaico Books. 7. Pavarala, Vinod(2007) Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India, New Delhi: Sage Publications. 8. Rai, M. (2009). Handbook of Agriculture, Indian Council of Agricultural Research 9. "Rural Broadcasting" September 1993 by Wolfram Fromlet and Noshir Bathena 10. Vilanilam, J. V. (2009). Development Communication in Practice. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

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