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Annals of Sri Lanka Department of Agriculture. 2007.9:01-08.

‘KAMATHA’ AS A STRATEGIC MEDIA APPROACH FOR AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATION N. DE SILVA Television and Farm Broadcasting Service, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box-636, Colombo-5

ABSTRACT ‘Kamatha’, a television agricultural programme was telecast via ‘Sirasa’ channel during the period November 2002 to October 2004 every Tuesday between 9.30 and 11.30pm. in order to facilitate the dissemination of agricultural information. It was a popular program and won the ‘Sumathi tele award’ for the ‘best development oriented variety programme in 2003’. This study was conducted to evaluate the performance and to understand the salient features of ‘Kamatha’ programme. Data were gathered from 1382 households in 18 districts, using questionnaires, during December 2003 and February 2004. Results suggest that 50% of the sample viewed ‘Kamatha’ programme and it had contributed to upgrade their knowledge. Further, results show that needs and characteristics of farming audience of television agricultural programme vary to a great extent. Full-time and young farmers preferred information related to agrarian issues while part-time and elderly farmers preferred information related to crop management practices. Relatively young farmers preferred officers as resource persons whereas elderly farmers preferred colleagues. Farm women, irrespective of age and area, preferred information related to crop management practices. According to results, entertainment is a requirement of rural as well as urban and semi-urban areas. However, full-time and young farmers preferred entertainment items while part-time and elderly farmers showed less preference for entertainment. KEYWORDS: Agrarian issues, Crop management, Entertainment, Strategic media.

INTRODUCTION ‘Kamatha’ was an agricultural television programme produced and telecast by the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, through ‘Sirasa’ channel. In Sri Lanka, various agricultural programmes have been telecast by the Department of Agriculture with the objective of changing knowledge and attitudes of farmers towards more productive agricultural practices. In addition, various other governmental and non-governmental organizations have also undertaken similar efforts not only in agriculture but also in other development related fields. Even though the impact of those programmes were not systematically evaluated and discussed, observations have shown that those programmes have been effective to some extent. Positive as well as negative features of such television programmes were taken into consideration, when ‘Kamatha’ programme was designed. Instead of one way monologue approach, two way interactive approach was adopted in ‘Kamatha’.


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‘Kamatha’ had been a focal point in many discussions. Further, ‘Kamatha’ was recognized and awarded the best development oriented television variety programme in 2003 at the ‘Sumathi tele award’. This study was conducted to evaluate the performance of ‘Kamatha’ and to understand salient features that may have contributed to programme success and would be useful in developing similar programmes in future. ‘Kamatha’ programme format Agriculturally, ‘Kamatha’ was required to be as informative as possible with relevant and accurate information. ‘Sirasa’ wanted ‘Kamatha’ to be a family oriented programme and capture as many viewers as possible. As entertainment is a popular attraction and it has proved to be complementary in education and development (Manoncourt, 2004), significant proportion of total time was allocated for entertainment. Further, personal experience of programme producers of ‘Sirasa’ was instrumental in designing the ‘Kamatha’ format. There were two main components in the design of ‘Kamatha’, (1) instructional component and (2) entertainment component. Instructional component Instructional component was mainly of two types, information related to technology based agricultural practices (agricultural practices) and information related to agrarian issues (input supply, selling of farm products, subsidy schemes etc.). In order to accommodate as much agricultural information as possible and maintain adequate variation, the instructional component was presented through different segments, namely ‘bisokotuwa’, ‘kevita’, ‘arowa’, home gardening, successful farmers, etc. Entertainment component To entertain the audience, a variety of activities such as songs, segments of popular drama, dancing events, cultural events, and discussions with popular artists were also included in ‘Kamatha’ programme. The programme started with ‘bisokotuwa’ and ‘kevita’, and other instructional and entertainment segments were in the middle of the programme and ‘arowa’ at the end. Total time duration was about 120 minutes (from 9.30 to 11.30pm). However, when there were live discussions the programme continued over the scheduled time. METHODOLOGY Purposive and random sampling methodologies were adopted as the study investigated individuals who were partly chosen and partly had a


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chance to be chosen (Sarantokos, 1994). Eighteen districts (Colombo, Gampaha, Kaluthara, Galle, Matara, Hambanthota, Monaragala, Badulla, Rathnapura, Kegalle, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalama, Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Ampara) where ‘Sirasa’ transmission could be received were selected. From each district, 4 Agrarian Service Centres (ASC) were chosen considering the extent under cultivation and number of farmers actively involved in farming. The, ASCs selected included a relatively urban and a rural area. Personal experience of district staff, farmer registries and district maps were made use of in the selection process. From each ASC region, an Agriculture Research and Production Assistant (ARPA) was selected on the extent of farming, number of farmers actively involved in farming and availability of household television sets. From each ARPA area 25 families were selected randomly making use of the cultivation registry. Only those with television facilities were interviewed. If there was no television set available at the selected household, the nearest household within the same ARPA area where a television set was available was considered for the study and interviewed. If it was not possible within the same ARPA area, adjacent ARPA area was considered and households with similar background were chosen for the study. Factors considered in deciding the extent of farming were number of farmers, extent under cultivation, number of people involved in other forms of agricultural activities and number of households possessing home gardens. The ARPAs in the area conducted the interviews on individual household basis and questionnaires were filled accordingly. Total of 1800 households were targeted in the study. However, only 1382 responses were gathered in the form of completed questionnaires. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Out of 1382 responses, only 1128 households which is 82% of the sample population were involved in farming or farming related activities. Total of 254 households had no involvement in farming. Out of 1128 households those involved in farming or farming related activities, 695 (62%) had viewed ‘Kamatha’ program. As the main objective of the study was to evaluate the ‘Kamatha’ within the context of contribution to agriculture development, these 695 households were considered for analysis. The farming audience of ‘Kamatha’ comprised 481 viewers in relatively rural areas and 214 viewers in relatively urban and semi-urban areas. Total of 294 in rural areas and 61 in urban and semi-urban areas were full-time farmers. In the discussions, full-time farming audience and part-time farming audience are respectively referred to as ‘full-time farmers’ and ‘part-time farmers’.


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Audience of ‘Kamatha’ and its usefulness Total of 695 respondents have been viewing ‘Kamatha’. However, only 125 (18%) respondents were regular viewers, 167 (24%) respondents were less regular, 250 (36%) were occasional viewers, and 153 (22%) respondents have been viewing ‘Kamatha’ sheldom. As far as the usefulness of ‘Kamatha’ for agriculture related activities is concerned, it has been very useful for 407 (58%) respondents while 288 (42%) respondents said that it had limited use. There is no significant influence of farming scale and age of farmers for their own choice upon the contribution of ‘Kamatha’ (Tables 1 and 2). Similarly, there was no great influence of gender on the choice of usefulness, however the proportion of women who believed ‘Kamatha’ was very useful was higher than that of men (Table 3). Table 1. Influence of scale of farming upon the choice of usefulness of ‘Kamatha’. Usefulness of ‘Kamatha’ Full-time farming Part-time farming Very useful Limited use Total

216(60%) 139(40%) 355

191(56%) 149(44%) 340

Table 2. Influence of age upon the choice of usefulness of ‘Kamatha’. Usefulness of ‘Kamatha’ Elderly (> 35yrs) Young (< 35 yrs) Very useful Limited use Total

302(59%) 205(41%) 507

105(56%) 83(44%) 188

Table 3. Influence of gender upon the choice usefulness of ‘Kamatha’. Usefulness of ‘Kamatha’ Men Women Very useful Limited use Total

299(56%) 229(44%) 528

108(64%) 59(36%) 167

Type of information Being an agricultural instruction program, ‘Kamatha’ had to facilitate the dissemination of information through various types of presentations. Basically there were two kinds of information accommodated in the ‘Kamatha’ program and they were information based on crop management practices (crop management information) and information based on farming related issues (agrarian information). Results showed that majority (72%) of full-time farmers preferred information related to agrarian issues while majority (66%) of part-time farmers preferred information related to crop management practices (Table 4). This may be due to the fact that full-


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time farmers may have acquired more knowledge through constant work. Further, many full-time farmers have disclosed the fact that they were more affected by agrarian issues than crop management practices. Table 4. Influence of scale of farming on preference of information. Type of Information preferred Full-time farmers Part-time farmers Crop management practices Agrarian issues Total

98(28%) 257(72%) 355

223(66%) 117(34%) 340

Age of farmers also appeared to influence the type of information they preferred in ‘Kamatha’. Majority (64%) of relatively elderly (>35 years) farmers preferred information related to crop management practices. However, relatively young farmers (<35 years) had less preference for such crop management practices related information and majority (77%) preferred agrarian issues related information (Fig. 1). Farm e rs (%) 90 77

80 70

64

60 50 36

40 30

23

20 10 0 <35 years

Age

Agricultural Practices

>35 years

Agararian Issues

Figure 1. Influence of age on the preference of information.

Choice of resource persons Information was mainly disseminated through discussion with research and extension officers. Farmer participation in these discussions was limited. However, farmers participated in some of the pre-recorded video presentations and video clips presented in ‘arowa’ and ‘kevita’ segments. As far as the source of information was concerned, majority (71%) of relatively young farmers preferred extension and research officers to fellow farmers as source of information. However, relatively elderly farmers (63%) preferred fellow farmers as source of information in ‘Kamatha’ program (Table 5).


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Irrespective of the age group, majority of the sample preferred the involvement of fellow farmers in ‘Kamatha’ programme. Table 5. Influence of age on the preference of information source. Source of information Relatively young Relatively elderly preferred (< 35 years) (> 35 years) Officers Fellow farmers Total

134(71%) 54(29%) 188

188(37% ) 319(63%) 507

Entertainment Entertainment is thought to be an important constituent of instructional media programs in the recent past. Further, entertainment retains the audience (Manoncourt, 2004). Hence, entertainment was made an essential component of ‘Kamatha’ and make it more attractive and effective. However, entertainment items were chosen carefully in such a way that they were appropriate to the program. There were a variety of entertainment items in ‘Kamatha’. Majority of respondents (irrespective of being rural or urban), preferred entertainment components but the preference was higher among farmers in rural areas (76%) than in urban and semi-urban areas (58%) (Table 6). Further, choice of entertainment was different among the audience. Table 6. Preference for Entertainment. Preference for entertainment Prefer Do not prefer Total

Rural

Urban and Semi-urban

364 (76%) 117 (24%) 481

124 (58%) 90 (42%) 214

Influence of scale of farming on preference for entertainment Education associated with entertainment contribute to the process of directed social change as it can influence audience awareness, attitude, and behavior with regard to specific practices (UNICEF, 2005). According to the findings of the present study, there is a variation among audience in preference for entertainment depending on the scale of farming. Majority (63%) of full-time farmers preferred entertainment items included in the ‘Kamatha’ where as majority (58%) of part-time farmers felt entertainment was not an important constituent of ‘Kamatha’. At the discussion, some of the full-time farmers mentioned, since they were fully involved in farming, they hardly had time to spend on leisure activities. Further, they disclosed that ‘Kamatha’ attracted them as it was very relevant for their activities. However, if ‘Kamatha’ provided entertainment, it was an added advantage. Similarly, the age of audience appeared to influence preference for entertainment in ‘Kamatha’. Results show that majority (79%) of


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relatively young farmers preferred entertainment items included in ‘Kamatha’, but majority (71%) of young farmers preferred ‘Kamatha’ to be free of entertainment items (Fig. 2). Farm e rs (%)

90 80

79 71

70 60 50 40 30

29 21

20 10 0 Age

<35 years

Prefer

>35 years

Did not prefer

Figure 2. Influence of age on preference for entertainment items in ‘Kamatha’.

Preference for different segments There were different segments in ‘Kamatha’ programme and they accommodated different kinds of information even within the context of agriculture development related information. ‘Bisokotuwa’ was to incorporate information related to day-to-day agricultural practices. Results show that majority of women, in rural (72%) as well as urban and semi-urban (84%) sectors preferred ‘bisokotuwa’ to other segments. ‘Kevita’ and ‘arowa’ segments appeared to be more attractive for relatively young audience. With respect to ‘kevita’, majority (80%) of relatively young audience preferred ‘kevita’ segment while almost 61% of relatively elderly audience did not prefer this segment. Similar preference was evidenced for ‘arowa’ segment. Majority (62%) of relatively young audience preferred ‘arowa’ segment while majority (68%) of relatively elderly audience did not prefer the segment. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Basically, expectations, problems faced, and existing knowledge influence the need for information in agriculture. Further, information requirement is prioritized by the gravity of the problems encountered (McGuire, 1989). Scale of farming is closely related to all these factors. There is a difference in the type of information needed. This study clearly disclosed that full-time farmers are more interested in information


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related to agrarian issues while part-time farmers needed information related to agricultural practices. It is certain that information related to technology as well as agrarian issues are equally important in agriculture. However, there is a difference in the type of information needed and this could be attributed to disparities in expectations, problems and existing knowledge among individuals. Similarly, age of farmers influences the information need. While elderly farmers are looking for information related to agricultural practices, young farmers are more interested in information related to other issues. The other important finding of this study is that relatively elderly farmers depend more on colleagues than officers but relatively young farmers rely more on officers. Further, the study suggests that entertainment is an important component in instructional television programmes. However, the scale of farming is related to the preference for entertainment. Full-time farmers were more interested in entertainment than part-time farmers, while relatively young farmers are more interested in entertainment than relatively elderly farmers. Another important finding of this study is that women engaged in agriculture are more interested in information related to agricultural practices than other issues. Television agricultural programmes should accommodate information related to agricultural practices as well as agrarian issues if they are to be viewed by a wider farming community. Similarly, choice of the resource person is very important and has to be decided according to the nature of the target group. Further, entertainment is an important component to increase the effectiveness of the program. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author, is grateful to all Agricultural Research and Production Assistants who helped in numerous ways, to gather information, prepare farmer lists and complete the questionnaire in this study. In addition, the support extended by former Agrarian Service Commissioner General, towards this study is also much appreciated. REFERENCES Manoncourt, E. 2004, September. Strategic communication in the context of shifting development paradigm. Presentation made at the Expertsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Consultation on Strategic Communication for Behavior and Social Change in South Asia, New Delhi, India. McGuire, W.J. 1989. Theoretical Foundation of Campaigns. In R. R. Rice and C. K. Atkins. (eds.). Public Communication Campaigns. 2nd ed. Newbury Park, CA. Sage. Sarantakos, S. 1994. Social Research. Charles Stuart University, Australia. UNICEF, 2005. Strategic Communication: For Behavior and Social Change in South Asia.


‘KAMATHA’ AS A STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT MEDIA APPROACH 9 UNICEF ROSA, Kathmand, Nepal.


Kamatha’ as a strategic media approach for agricultural communication