The PICS Media/ICT Program
The PICS Media Program activities include print, audio and audio-visual messages. Radio and TV messages, print posters and flyers, cellphone videos and short message service (sms) are used to increase awareness and train farmers on the proper use of the PICS technology.
Radio: Radio messages and live talk shows are very important in (i) informing farmers about upcoming village activities;(ii) reinforcing the understanding of the proper way to use of PICS bags; (iii) providing information about the availability of PICS bags, and (iv) responding to questions raised by farmers. The PICS Program has worked with more than 200 radio stations in West and East Africa.
Television: PICS has used television to build awareness in urban areas among government officials, NGOs, project communities and the private sector.
PICS posters/flyers: Posters consisting of drawings with a minimum amount of text were developed in English and then translated into French as well as several local languages (http://www.entm.purdue.edu/PICS2/poster_download.php). They are used to train farmers on the proper use of the PICS bags. Technical pamphlets using similar drawings are developed for field technicians as a guide during implementation of village activities.
Cellphone video: To take advantage of the increase in cellphone use in rural Africa, the PICS Program has developed cellphone videos in several local languages. Many farmers use cellphones as a communication/media tool for sharing videos and music clips in addition to making and receiving calls. Given the expansion of mobile communication networks beyond the reach of the electrical grid, services for cellphone charging using small generators are sprouting in rural Africa. Cellphone videos were developed to raise the awareness of farmers and train those who did not attend demonstration activities on the use of PICS bags. Cellphone videos were instrumental in teaching farmers critical steps in using PICS bags (e.g., checking air tightness of liners) that are difficult to describe in words but easily understood when farmers see how it’s done (Baributsa et al., 2010a).
Mobile Short message Service (sms), apps, and other ICT tools: The PICS program is looking at innovative and cost-effective ways of building awareness, improving access to PICS bags, and data collection using ICT tools such as cellphone sms and mobile applications. Sms, and other ICT tools are being explored to inform farmers about the availability and benefits of PICS bags. Purdue University is partnering with several ICT companies in West and East Africa to test some of these concepts including Image-Ad in Ghana and Farm Radio International in Tanzania.