Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Using "ASK ME" to Reach Marginalized Farmers: Five Elements to Improve Your Extension Work

A version of this post was originally published on the Horticulture Innovation Lab blog. The Horticulture Innovation Lab is led by a team at UC Davis, with funding from USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

"ASK ME": Five steps to help you help farmers.

The “ASK ME framework uses five elements to help researchers, extension agents, development workers and educators better work with farmers and meet their needs in a variety of situations.

A = Audience and needs. Assess the relevant needs and wants of the audience. Talk with partners, target groups and stakeholders using methods such as: focus groups, participant observation, field visits, surveys, interviews, key informants and intuition based on field experience.

S = Solutions. Identify solutions that are appropriate for the farmers’ socio-economic and market circumstances. Test and validate solutions under farmer conditions.

K = Key message. Identify the key message related to each solution. What are the elements absolutely needed for successful implementation of a change (solution). Distinguish between “need to know” and “nice to know.” Drafting the key message requires a clear understanding of what is appropriate for the target audience.

M = Message form and delivery. Package and deliver your message. Identify existing communication channels used by farmers and how you can best use those to reach and convince farmers of the opportunity and benefits of a change. The key message is the basis for delivery. You should consider a blend of communication options using both traditional methods such as field demonstrations and training events as well as newer options, such as cell phones, video and radio.

E = Evaluation. This framework requires interaction and dialogue with evaluation throughout the entire process. Continually evaluate to learn and to improve each element—to evaluate the efficacy of the delivery (communication) process, to evaluate the efficacy of the solution and to identify emerging needs.

More information:

Mark Bell is the leader for communications and information transfer at the Horticulture Innovation Lab and is also the director of the UC Davis International Ag Extension Academy and the International Learning Center.