AS director of the Applied Communications Division of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy has to travel to different parts of the country to determine what are the best development communication tools and strategies to educate and convince farmers to adopt mechanization and other readily available agricultural technologies.
“I orchestrate and supervise the implementation of Science and Technology information packaging and dissemination programs employing a variety of media and channels in reaching various audience in the agriculture sector,” he told The Manila Times.
Estigoy is one of the development communication (DevCom) experts in the agriculture sector who play a vital role in helping farmers and rural poor alleviate themselves from poverty.
“There is a widespread low level of technical literacy among farmers in the country. The need to simplify and popularize technical information cannot be overemphasized,” Estigoy, who has more than 30 years in DevCom, said.
He said DevCom specialists make technical language understandable for farmers and rural folk, which prove that science and technology (S&T) is one of the keys to make the agriculture sector more productive.
This means that DevCom specialists should also have a level of expertise in S&T with a good number of them even having two degrees.
“I was determined to pursue this [development communications]as my career so I decided to take Development Communication for my MS [masteral]instead of agricultural engineering. The tandem of both technical and social sciences becomes a niche and advantage for my work because I can be a technical person and communicator at the same time,” he said.
Under the wider scope of DevCom is applied communication.
Estigoy explained that DevCom is the planned and systematic use of communication for the improvement of the lives of targeted audiences, while applied communication is the communication of research-based information.
Although there are many mediums DevCom experts can use, including social media, the most popular remains to be radio because of its ability to reach more people, especially those who are part of the marginalized sectors.
“Radio is still the most effective and economical media for development communication as it is the fastest and far reaching channels specially for farmers who live in far flung and remote areas. It is the only media accessible to them,” Estigoy said.
DevCom is also becoming a choice of students in college, not only from its growing popularity in poverty alleviation but also from the wide scope of subjects it covers.
“There is an increasing enrollment for development communication in colleges and universities that offer the course. Rather than taking hard core agriculture courses, this discipline is more flexible because of the tandem of technical and social sciences,” Estigoy said.