Printed information access, preferences and use by farmers with potential for small-scale organic production, KwaZulu-Natal.
Printed information access, preferences and use by small-scale farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, who are experimenting with or converting to organic farming, were investigated to establish the need for information on organic production, certification, and marketing. Forty-six resource-poor farmers from four groups at Umbumbulu, Tugela Ferry, KwaMashu and Muden participated in semi-structured group interviews. Guiding questions, information tabulation, ranking and sorting, and voting were used to gather data. Five printed agricultural information materials were evaluated. The findings indicated that the participants trusted and relied on intermediaries for access to innovative, research-based information, and preferred interpersonal communication over other information channels. Printed materials were valued for their permanence, while participants preferred materials in isiZulu as 75% of participants were able to read and write isiZulu or were able to ask family members to read materials in isiZulu. At least one functionally literate farmer was a member of each of the participating farmer groups. Appropriate printed information on organic production, certification and marketing had not reached the participants. Characteristics of printed information materials preferred by participating farmers included: large typeface, photographs, drawings, step-by-step instructions, stories about people and events, context-specific content, the use of plain language in English or preferably isiZulu.
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