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This case study, like others in the series produced by the Communication for Development Service of FAO's Research, Extension and Training Division, is intended to shed light on noteworthy examples concerning the use of communication to support rural development.

In this instance the setting is the Philippines, a country composed of 7 107 islands in South East Asia.

The case study derives from a "pure" development support communication project carried out over a period of three years, involving five of the country's 13 agricultural regions.

The project was implemented by the Applied Communication Division (ACD) of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) and five of its Regional Applied Communication Offices (RACOs).

Once staff were trained, and equipment inventories upgraded, the over-riding goal was to take the ACD and the participating RACOs through prototype exercises in community-based technology transfer. This involved bottom-up needs assessment through rapid rural appraisals, key informant panels, and knowledge / attitude / practice surveys, as diagnostic tools for the setting of key priorities for technology transfer in five, carefully selected pilot-sites.

A variety of multi-channel communication approaches were then implemented in working toward each community's development objectives. To accelerate this process, a new lead-medium in the form of community audio-tower systems was pioneered by the project. How effective they were, the lessons learned along the way and challenges for the road ahead form the basis for this monograph.

The author, Dr Gary Coldevin of Concordia University, Montreal, wishes to acknowledge and commend all those who formed part of the team in the breaking of new ground as the project unfolded.

These included the special DSC section in ACD formed to guide and monitor the national coordination of the project, and the RAC O coordinators and staff in the five participating regions.
Special acknowledgments are extended to:



Applied Communication Division


Awareness, knowledge, attitudes, practices


Association of South East Asia Nations


Community audio tower system


Community Broadcast Association


Department of Agriculture


Development Support Communication


Institute for Development Communication


Integrated pest management


Key informant panels


Local Government Unit


National Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Development Network


Newly-industrialized country


New People's Army


Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development


Regional Applied Communication Office


Participatory rural appraisals

R & D

Research and development


Rapid rural appraisals


School on the Air


University of the Philippines at Los Banos


United States Agency for International Development


A village which is recognised as the lowest administrative unit of the local government


A sub-division of a village


A neighbourhood group in a village or town


A jeep converted into a vehicle for public transport




Agriculture continues to be the dominant sector in the Philippine economy, accounting for 23 percent of gross national product, generating more than 25 percent of export revenues and employing about 50 percent of the labour force. Two thirds of the country's estimated 69 million people in 1994 were rural based and directly or indirectly dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood.

Notwithstanding its potential, agricultural output per capita declined in the 1980's and remained relatively stagnant during the early 1990's.

A series of natural disasters including typhoons (average of 21 per year with a high of 37 during 1993), earthquakes, and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, have contributed to weakening productivity.

So too has political instability in the form of Muslim secessionist groups in the south and communist guerrilla armies still operating in pockets throughout the country.

A population growth rate of about 2.4 percent per annum, resulting in a relatively short "doubling" time of 29 years, has also been a major obstacle to increasing supply over demand.

When Corazon Aquino was democratically elected President in 1987, her emphasis was directed toward promoting the lot of the small farmer, who, taken as a group, constituted almost two-thirds of the 60 percent of the population falling under the poverty line. During her administration, the rallying cry became "pro-poor" with a number of initiatives taken to support rural improvement (for example, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme, or CARP, to redistribute land and allow small farmers to become land owners).

Currently, under President Ramos who came to power in 1992, the emphasis has shifted considerably with the initiation of an ambitious programme to bring the nation up to newly industrialized country (NIC) status by the year 2000.

As part of the "Philippines 2000" vision is a Medium-Term Agricultural Development Plan which calls for intensified production of rice, corn, vegetables and other commercial viable export crops in designated key production areas. It is estimated that 1.3 million hectares, or about 10 percent of the total area under cultivation, will be affected by the plan. The vast majority of farmers, who on average operate farms of less than 1.5 hectares, are largely unaffected by the plan and remain the most difficult to serve.

During the latter part of Aquino's regime, a congressional act was passed in which extension services were devolved from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Under the banner of the new Local Government Code, the full implementation of this act came into effect during April 1993. In practice this has meant that extension is now directed out of Local Government Units (LGUs) offices at the Provincial and Municipal levels.

Research, however, has remained within the Department of Agriculture at national and regional offices. This has tended to further exacerbate an already weak linkage between research and extension - and to virtually leave the farmer out of the continuum. The common result has been "a very poor fit between the technology that farmers need and the technology that is generated and hoped to be transferred" (FAO, 1994, p.20).

The timing for a farmer-first communication project designed to enhance the farmers' participation in the diagnosing of critical problems requiring technology solutions on the one hand, and as a major component in bringing back research-based training packages to rural communities on the other, was thus opportune.


The Philippines has been a particularly active player in the development support communication (DSC) scene over the past three decades, from both academic and field project perspectives.

DSC as a discipline, for example, has been taught at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB) since 1954. Currently, the Institute for Development Communication (IDC) at UPLB has a twenty member faculty corps with more than 300 students spread throughout its undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. programmes. IDC also serves as a DSC training centre for the Southeast Asian region.

And since 1967, through its collaboration with Radio DZLB, the rural educational radio station of UPLB, IDC has accumulated a variety of field experience with projects ranging from support for rural youth and 4H clubs to schools on-the-air covering topics spanning improved farming techniques to maternal and child care (Librero, 1990).

Communication campaigns have been widely used in the Philippines to promote a variety of development themes including health, nutrition, population issues and agriculture. Perhaps the best known of these, the "Masagana 99" campaign during 1973, catapulted the country's farmers toward adopting high yielding rice cultivation and in effect, over the space of three years, moved the nation from a net rice importer to meet domestic requirements to becoming an exporter of its excess harvest (FAO, 1985).

Another major boost to the applied use of the discipline has been the gradual building up of, and reliance on, DSC within the National Agricultural and Resources Research and Development Network (NARRDN) which comprises research centres, government agencies, and state colleges and universities.
NARRDN was created in 1975 by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), one of five councils under the Department of Science and Technology. PCARRD's specific mandate is to develop, coordinate and monitor the national research and development programme in agriculture and natural resources.
It also serves as a national repository of research information through its Scientific Literature Service. And through PCARRD's central Applied Communication Division (ACD) outreach programme, a variety of publications are generated on its concentrated commodity areas, which currently number 32.
The bottom line of PCARRD's national mandate thus is the generation of information and technologies and their effective communication to the farmer level to ultimately improve farm productivity, income and general welfare (Stuart, 1993).

To better fulfil its role, PCARRD, from its base in Los Banos, has organised the over one hundred active research and development nodes in the NARRDN into 13 research and development (R & D) consortia and two research centres spanning the country's 13 geopolitical regions.

Within each consortium informal networks of regional government and NGO agencies are bound together through memoranda of agreement directed toward collaboration in managing an integrated research and development programme and in the sharing of resources.

A further innovative approach introduced by PCARRD within each consortium has been the organising of a sub-network of Regional Applied Communication Offices (RACOs), consisting of inter-agency communication specialists whose function is to provide communication support for field agents of the participating government departments and NGOs. The map above shows the distribution of RACOs in the country and the lead agency in each.

Network of regional applied communication offices in the Philippines

At the outset, in practice, the RACOs were to act as the development outposts of PCARRD through repackaging of ACD print materials, which presently consist of 13 publication series, into more user-friendly and localized communication formats for field workers and farmers.

Over time, photography and audio production capacities were added at both ACD and the regional consortia. As well, RACOs led by the Department of Agriculture were equipped with "agri-vans" for film and video showings at the village level.

Prior to the late 1980's, however, most operations were badly in need of equipment upgrading, particularly in video production capability, and concomitant staff training.


The roster of audio-visual production equipment was increased in Regions 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 through a USAID project during 1988-90. Following the USAID initiative, PCARRD began to actively seek further technical assistance for an additional five regions, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 11.

FAO, through UNDP funding support, was approached and the three year project "DSC for Selected Agricultural Technology Transfer Projects" was formally approved during late 1990.

The implementation framework for the project was built around four basic objectives:

1. To better coordinate communication activities among, and provide more effective linkages between, member agencies of NARRDN;

2. To strengthen the multimedia production capacity of PCARRD's Applied Communication Division outreach programme in preparing DSC materials and packaging recommended technologies for direct use as field agent support or for local adaptation by RACOs;

3. To improve the ability of RACOs to plan, produce, monitor and evaluate communication materials and strategies in support of government extension and NGO field activities;

4. To build up an operational capacity within the five participating RACOs to effectively assist agricultural extension and NGO field agents in conducting pilot technology transfer projects intended to serve as prototypes for expansion into longer term programmes.

As originally conceived, the four objectives constituted logical building blocks wherein the successful completion of one allowed for the development of the next.

In line with this thinking, the first 18 months of the project were primarily taken up with objectives one through three and the preparation of the RACOs, with ACD support, to undertake the pilot technology transfer projects.

Highlights of this period included the conducting of 11 in-country training workshops, ranging from a kick-off "Planning, Management, Monitoring and Evaluation of DSC Technology Transfer" workshop coordinated by the UNDP's DTCP (Development Training and Communication Planning) staff in Manila, through audio-visual, video, community broadcasting, and desk-top production skills refinement to courses in community organising, processing documentation, training methods, information system development, and development journalism.

Following the completion of preparatory training, three additional workshops were conducted as the project progressed:
an on-site message design and channel strategy exercise to set the framework for the pilot-site campaigns, and midterm and summative evaluation workshops.

As well, RACO coordinators from the five principal consortia and senior staff from ACD undertook a three week ASEAN Region study tour for on-site observation and discussions with colleagues in development communication and extension media operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Two fellowships were provided, one to the Director of ACD to attend a workshop on agricultural knowledge information systems (AKIS) at Wageningen Agricultural University in Holland, and the other to the ACD Area Coordinator for a summer workshop in DSC Planning at Cornell University in the USA.

Upon their return to PCARRD, "echo" workshops, or a summary of information acquired and skills learned, were provided to ACD staff.

Primary equipment purchases concentrated on upgrading photography, audio and desk-top publishing capability for both ACD and the five project RACOs; as well, professional video production and editing equipment (Super VHS) was installed within ACD with video production capability only being provided at the RACO level.

The rationale for this decision was that ACD would provide editing support to regional field productions. Other activities of note included the setting up of a national steering committee to provide policy guidelines to the project, quarterly meetings among ACD senior staff and RACO coordinators, an annual review wherein project activities were reported to representatives of all RACOs in the country, and a quarterly newsletter featuring project activities and accomplishments which was distributed to all members of NARRDN.

DSC Newslink quarterly publication provided regional updates throughout the project.


The on-site workshop to set the communication objectives and delivery strategies for technology transfer support in the five pilot areas kicked-off the second year of the project.

At this juncture the DSC Process Model developed by the author for FAO was introduced and explained in detail. The chart on page 10 shows the major features of the model which was originally developed by FAO in Sierra Leone during 1984 (Coldevin, 1986) and subsequently refined in preparation for a series of agricultural communication campaigns in Lesotho during 1987 and 1988 (FAO, 1990).

While the process illustrated consists of a checklist of 11 principle operational steps or stages, detailed DSC action plans for field implementation can easily run into 40 to 50 specific activities.

As originally envisaged, the model can apply equally to top down or "push" strategies for technology transfer as well as to participatory, "demand" or "pull" approaches initiated at the farmer level.

It is also flexible enough to apply to intense, short-term communication campaigns and as a vehicle for systematic planning of sustained, longer term DSC programmes.

In the current example, the process model was essentially applied to information, motivation and training materials conforming to the bottom-up, farmer first approach, consistent with FAO's emphasis on audience involvement from the outset.




Key Points:


l. Needs assessment

Establish major need-based technologies for potential transfer through a variety of methods beginning with rapid rural appraisal and proceeding to participatory community problem identification through key informant panels and elaboration of "problem trees". Consultation with field specialists and analysis of reports.

2. Development /
Project objectives

Select key development or project objectives to be addressed and prioritize technologies for transfer. Determine if communication support is needed. Analyse whether gap between existing and desired situation is resource-based (supplies and materials), or communication based (information, motivation, training) or both.

3. Situation analysis


Assess existing communication resources available, media access and preferred channels of target groups. Determine if technology transfer inputs are readily accessible.


4. Target audience analysis


Refer to existing documentation and secondary data. Conduct KAP (knowledge, attitudes, practices) survey and assess current level of income derived from technology(ies) to be transferred. Focus-group interviews may also be useful for providing qualitative data.

5. Setting DSC objectives

Select only tasks that are amenable to solution through communication. Specify objectives in terms of type of change expected from target audience(s), under what conditions the activities will take place, and what criteria will be used to measure success.

6. Message design & channel strategy

Break down content into modules or units to address gaps identified in baseline survey. Develop message design approaches and delivery mix in terms of lead and support channels (multimedia materials and interpersonal communication; individual, group or mass audience - or all three).

7. Preparation & pre- testing of prototype materials

Pre-test portions of materials under development with samples of target audience(s) for attention-getting power, comprehensibility, credibility and persuasiveness. Revise materials where warranted and re-test.

8. Final production of multimedia materials

Produce materials targeted to seasonal variation in farmers' needs. Ensure that channel strategy is systematically orchestrated to promote repetition of key messages.

9. Delivery & monitoring

Check for delivery-system constraints such as viewing and listening conditions and dependability of equipment used. Monitor how well content of materials is received and where practical, "mid-course" changes might be made to improve the system. Check appropriateness of channels selected and whether they are mutually reinforcing. Monitor feedback systems between target audience(s), field agents and media producers.

10. Summative or impact evaluation

Measure impact of DSC strategy through KAP summative evaluation procedures as well as increased productivity and incomes. Use results as input for future production decisions and channel strategies.

11. Review & replanning

Plan for continuity, adjustment and adaptation to changing audiences, project needs and opportunities.