Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Communication in the agricultural development process: A Cameroonian example
by Koons, Adam Surla, Ph.D., American University, 1987, 387; 8805459
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is a case study of the implementation of a development project designed to increase food crop and cash crop production by providing improved farming techniques and inputs. The goal of this study was to improve the planning of strategies to transfer technical information, and the ability to pinpoint the causes and solutions of problems which are observed during project implementation.

The research covered 18 months in the Northwest Province of Cameroon, and used the methodology and perspectives of cultural and applied anthropology, including surveys, interviews, and participant observation. Focusing on the interaction between newly trained male and female agricultural agents and their farmer clients, the study identified the factors which influenced the flow of information between project personnel and beneficiaries. Communication was shown to include activities and circumstances far beyond face-to-face interaction. A sequential model for identifying and diagnosing problems in communication was proposed and proven useful. Separate steps in the sequence include receptivity, contact, information transfer, information use, and feedback. Within each, cultural and structural factors were identified which affected how well farmers were able to learn and use project recommendations. Forums of contact, styles of information presentation, attitudes, perceptions, stereotypes, and expectations, affected the effectiveness of communication.

The model was used to determine whether all farmers were benefitting from the communication strategies. The investigation found that there were different groups of farmers which required different approaches to communication. In particular, women and men did not benefit equally because of women's relatively low social status, different agricultural roles and activities, and gender stereotypes and perceptions which project planners did not recognize and for which they did not compensate.

This dissertation illustrates that a good message is not always communicated, even if the messengers are good and the intended recipients are receptive. Recommendations are offered for alleviating problems in communication which hindered full achievement of project goals. The recommendations have broad applicability for development and are particularly relevant to agricultural extension.

Indexing (document details)
School: American University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 49/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Keywords: Women
Publication Number: 8805459
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