Technology and Engineering
  • ISSN: 2375-9402
  • Modern Agricultural Science and Technology

Positioning Communication in Agricultural Development Projects: 

Lessons from Timor-Leste

Chris McGillion
Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University

Abstract: Despite a wealth of increasingly sophisticated research into the best ways of communicating new agricultural technologies

in developing countries, too little of this actually informs what is undertaken at the practical level. The technical preoccupations of
program planners and researchers often divert critical attention from what both groups can regard as the “soft” challenge of
communicating innovations. When communication professionals are employed, their skills and insights can be overlooked and their
role restricted to producing output-driven (rather than impact-led) communication initiatives. This can result in lower than expected
adoption rates for new technologies particularly in farming communities where traditional notions about agriculture are strongly held,
rates of adult illiteracy are high, and the reach of mass media is limited. In devising effective communication strategies to engage
such communities, openness to new ideas is crucial to produce fit-for-purpose techniques that are culturally sensitive and appropriate
to local drivers of behaviour change. But this requires the effective positioning of communication within a development project. How

can that be done?

Key words: agricultural communication, communication for development, project planning, Timor-Leste

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