Implementing techniques that reduce post-harvest loss are critical to ensuring abundant and safe food supplies. Techniques can range from simple and easy to adopt to rather complex and intricate, but oftentimes it is the mechanism of how to share and teach these concepts that keep them from reaching farmers and families.
Scientific Animations Without Borders, or SAWBO, has demonstrated success using animated videos to educate global audiences on agricultural issues such as techniques that reduce post-harvest loss. SAWBO, a Michigan State University program has over 90 animations in over 145language variants in their video library focused on the topic of post-harvest loss reduction.
One SAWBO animation, Post-harvest Loss: Jerrycan Bean Storage explains how to avoid insect damage when storing beans after harvest using the jerrycan method. Beans can be stored in an airtight jerrycan for long periods of time safely as long as the jerrycan being used is completely clean and free of any contaminants and has never been used for any hazardous materials such as fuel or pesticides. The SAWBO video, which is just over five minutes demonstrates the steps necessary to ensure the quality of the beans. The videos have been shown to have high impact.
A recent study, published in the journal Information Technology for Development, demonstrated that two years after being shown the animation on jerrycan bean storage, farmers in Mozambique had a 97 percent retention rate and 89 percent adoption of the storage solution.
According to Julia Bello-Bravo, the study’s lead author, these results are crucial since developing and deploying scalable educational solutions for farmers in developing countries remains an elusive goal.
“We have shown these animated intervention strategies are viable for scaling since they can be produced in the local languages of the farmers and distributed through readily-available resources such as smartphones,” said Bello-Bravo, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University and co-founder of SAWBO. “This means we can more cost-effectively reach isolated communities who might not otherwise have access to these important agricultural solutions.”
This study followed up on farmers in the Gurue District in Mozambique who in 2015 were shown, via either animated video or traditional lectures, how to use jerrycans to secure stored beans for future planting seasons. In 2017, the researchers analyzed the farmers’ ability to recall the eight steps in the process, if they had used the new storage technique, and if they had shared the technique with other farmers.
“Our videos can be adapted to a diversity of cultural scenarios, allowing women, men and a wide range of age groups to view them and learn proper techniques,” Bello-Bravo said. “In this study we observed women taking a very active role in learning and sharing the information they gained from the animations. Besides the high retention rate (97 percent), 92 percent of survey participants reported telling an average of 8.4 other farmers about the technique and 55 percent personally demonstrated the technique to an average of 6.35 others.”
Poverty, low literacy rates, lingering effects of war and environmental threats hinder providing farmers in developing countries with the proper education to improve and store their crop yield.
“We are dealing with what we call the ‘Last Mile Problem’ – how to get information to people in hard to reach places so they are aware of techniques they can use to help them improve their lives,” said Barry Pittendrigh, an MSU Foundation professor in the Department of Entomology and SAWBO co-founder. “SAWBO has been particularly effective in educating this population.”
During times of crisis, it is particularly important to note that the SAWBO platform works 100% in virtual space. No face-to-face interaction is necessary anywhere along the product development and distribution chain and the content can be accessed anytime anywhere.
SAWBO animations are free to download and share for educational purposes. YouTube links can also be embedded into websites for greater distribution. Animations in the SAWBO library on the reduction of post-harvest loss include the following:
Portions of this article are reprinted from the MSU University Communication article “Animated Videos Advance Adoption of Agriculture Techniques” by Jessi Adler, Michigan State University first appearing December 5, 2019.
Read the original version of that article here.