Staying Connected to Farmers with WhatsApp and Farmer Videos
The AMIGO project was just initiating when COVID-19 emerged. To maintain the interest of new farmer partners and organizations while in lockdown, project leaders created a WhatsApp diffusion group. Members include key farmers who have smartphones and are in contact with other farm households in their communities.
A diffusion group differs from a conversational one in that the recipient only interacts with the main sender, not everyone in the group. Farmers lack frequent internet connection to support a lot of communications. Also, because this is a new farmer research network, members don’t yet know each other and have not had the opportunity to develop the trust needed to chat freely.
Biweekly, project leaders send to the WhatsApp group Access Agriculture videos and other farmer-centered materials on topics of interest and pest management matters, such as plants that attract beneficial insects and how to make traps.
Andes CoP Designs Community and Fieldwork Re-entry Protocol
Andes CoP projects were led to make their own preparations after learning on a call how PROSUCO was working with lead farmers to continue collecting and analyzing experimental data via Whatsapp. Working together, the projects formulated guidelines for members and communities restarting work after lockdowns get rescinded in their areas. The guidelines cover determining how to reduce risks for communities and researchers as well as designing research activities using learnings from the pandemic. The latter, in particular, relates to farmer and farmer network involvement throughout the whole research process, along with the use of communication technologies.