Written by the Web Team
In the recently concluded Communication Policy Research (CPR)south7 and CPRafrica Conference in Mauritius, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) researcher Jaime A. Manalo IV called for training infomediaries in the uplands.
Infomediaries are people who facilitate access to information. In Manalo’s research, he stressed the importance of mobilizing high school students to perform infomediary roles.
Looking at the activity patterns and time allocations of the youth in Aurora and Albay, Manalo devised a strategy that would mobilize the more than 21 million young Filipinos ranging from 15 to 24 years old.
A development communication specialist at PhilRice, Manalo said scholars had recognized that the poorest of the poor farmers live in upland areas and their economic situations are confounded by inadequate access to rice farming information owing to the difficulty in reaching these areas.
“The school should serve as the nucleus of agricultural extension as this is a point of convergence for the farmers’ children. Trying out this strategy would help ease the burden of Agricultural Technicians to individually visit the upland rice farmers and help reduce cost in extension work,” Manalo explained.
Manalo further contended that the unmatched texting behaviour of young Filipinos gives a “positive push for tapping the youth as infomediaries” as some of his research participants send more than 200 text messages.
Manalo explained that the youth-as-infomediaries strategy sits well with the PhilRice Farmers’ Text Center (PFTC), a texting facility that answers all queries on rice farming and has 30,000 registered users.
“What if 10% or 20 of those text messages sent daily could go to PFTC? What if they could start asking about which varieties are good to plant for the next season? When to apply fertilizers and how much? This may imply more information to be accessed for the farmer-parents of the youth”, Manalo said.
In addition to the unparalleled texting behavior he described, Manalo also noticed that his participants from Albay spent more than one hour daily in computer shops watching videos in YouTube, uploading and liking photos on Facebook, and maintaining blogs. However, he said that his participants in Aurora were afraid of using a computer.
“My research participants differ in their level of computer proficiency. The point, however, is they will eventually learn it. What should be done is to provide a conducive environment for it,” Manalo said.
Manalo said the strategy is now being tested in Aurora and in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat through the Sagot ko ang magulang ko!: A campaign to mobilize the youth to serve as infomediaries campaign. The campaign trains high school students to search rice farming information for their parents.
While still at the early stage of the campaign, several text messages from the students asking about rice management practices are being received by the PFTC.
CPRSouth7 and CPRafrica envision to train intellectuals on communication policy research in the two regions.