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Abstract, International Journal of Sustainable Development Research, 2019

A challenge for researchers and other developers of new technologies in agriculture is to find ways of communicating their results and recommendations. This challenge is particularly acute in regions in which farmers have limited access to education and where illiteracy is widespread, such as in the rural areas of Mali. One approach that shows potential, yet remains largely unused by extension services, is the dissemination of educational videos on mobile phones with video and Bluetooth technology (3G mobile phones). It has been shown that the conditions are suitable for this approach to be used in Mali, with 3G mobile phones widely available in the region but there is little empirical evidence of its acceptance and potential impact. This article aims to explore the potential of video on mobile phones as a tool to facilitate the diffusion of new agricultural technologies in Western Africa. Three videos showing agricultural innovations for sustainable production were shown and shared with 200 farmers in twelve villages in Mali. The villages were revisited 10 months later and farmers were asked about their experiences with the videos that had been shared and their previous knowledge of the innovations shown in them. Of the farmers who had watched one of the videos (N=148), 60.1% had adopted at least one of the videos’ innovations. Mobile-phone videos could be accessed by people who had previously received limited access to information sources, such as younger women, and video based information was found to be understandable for illiterate farmers. These results show that mobile-phone videos could enhance information transfer and thereby expand outreach. The use of video on mobile phones is a novel approach to farmer-to-farmer exchange and has tremendous potential for enhancing dissemination programs or specific research and development projects to enable more resilient, inclusive and democratic systems.

Keywords: Information and Communication Technology, Mobile Phone, Video, Agriculture Development, Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange