Communication in Rural Society: Meaning, Types, Principles of Communication Pertinent to Agriculture in Rural Areas, Communication and Technological Transfer


Communication in Rural Society: Meaning, Types, Principles of Communication Pertinent to Agriculture in Rural Areas, Communication and Technological Transfer

We discussed community concepts and the community life process as well as the characteristics of a community. In this article we are going to study communication in rural society. By the end of this article you should be able to explain the meaning of communication, identify and explain types of communication state the basic principles of communication relevant to agriculture and explain the concept of communication and technological transfer.

Meaning of Communication

Means several individuals accept communication as a process by which information is passed from a source to a receiver, through a channel.

However, over the years, scholars have come to appreciate the fact that communication is more than;

                                         Through a

Sender X sends information ————— Receiver Y.

                                          Channel to


Communication thus, is conceptualized as a process of information flow by which ideas are transferred from a source to a receiver with the intent to change his/her knowledge, attitude and/or skill. Communication is a process by which messages are transferred from a source to a receiver with a view to modifying the behaviour of the receiver.

It is essentially the inter-change of meanings among people. Little (1990) defines communication as a process by which information is passed between individuals or organizations by means of previously agreed symbols.

Communication process is considered another essential element in the extension education process which all the extension agents or communicators should be aware of and knowledgeable in. This is because successful communication is the process by which ideas, facts, feelings or impressions are exchanged so that each gains common understanding of the meaning, and intent of message. Communication is a conscious attempt to share information and ideas with others.

To a large extent, therefore, the success of a communicator is determined by his ability to communicate good ideas to others.


Types of Communication

Communication can be broadly categorized into two, namely:

1. Vertical Communication

2.  Horizontal communications.

1. Vertical communication: Is the flow of information between a hierarchically perceived source and a receiver. That is, between a source and receiver that is considered to belong to different tiers in a top bottom or bottom-top communication situation. For example, between a researcher and an extensioner; extensioner and farmer; researcher and farmer; a trainer and learner etc.

However, it is generally conceived to be low in effectiveness. It usually attains a more important level of change in the knowledge, attitude and skill of the pairs, given that the gap in the differentiating variables between the pair is wide and there is much to learn by both parties.

2. Horizontal communication: This refers to information flow between a source and receiver pair perceived to belong to the same tier in a hierarchy. In this case, a pair shares the same characteristics such as farmers, researchers, extensioners, learners, trainers, housewives among others.

Horizontal communication is generally more effective, but results in less significant change in the knowledge, skill and attitude of the pair. This is true, because they speak the same language, have the same meaning, work in the same context and have the same standard for encoding and also decoding messages. It is noteworthy that where large-scale farmers interact with small scale ones, experienced researchers with younger ones, elderly housewives with newly married ones, the distinction between vertical or horizontal communication becomes less distinct and can only depend on the individuals concerned.

Communication can also be classified in another way based on the number of people involved. Therefore, such classifications are: intrapersonal communication, mass communication and interpersonal communication.

Intrapersonal communication exists when only one person is involved, feeding himself/herself information and responding within himself/herself (Soliloquising). This is done especially when an important decision is to be made such as to adopt or not to adopt an innovation (technology), to expand or limit the scope of one’s business or to progress with or discontinue a course of action. This is a very significant form of communication which may lead to decision stage.

Interpersonal communication refers to the flow of information between two or more people usually in a face-to-face manner, or by telephone, letter, telex, telegram etc.

The interaction between an extension agent and a group of farmers, or at a training session or at a conference/seminar may also fall into this category. This is the most useful and must common form of communication.

Mass communication is conceptualized as the flow of information between a source (a person, a group of person) and a very large number of receivers, usually referred to as the mass audience. This may be in a village to village campaign, on radio, television or via the print media.

Finally, there is extra-personal communication which refers to communication between a person and others who may not be physically seen or present. It occurs usually by dreams, telepathy, or by inspiration. When properly connected, this source of natural knowledge system may awaken more minds to the requirements of agricultural and rural development with little effort from governmental and non-governmental agencies.


Principles of Communication Pertinent to Agriculture in Rural Areas

The principles of communication relevant to agriculture in rural areas include:

1. People need to be informed. Information is a necessary input for the proper development of agriculture. Practitioners of agriculture need to know what is taking place within their own systems as well as other systems. Besides, no person is an island of knowledge, thus every individual requires some forms of information to perform his/her functions better.

2. Communication should start with the target audience expressing their needs and wishes: The main aim of communication is to achieve a desire change in the target audience. Unless the needs and wishes of the audience are known, it becomes very difficult to achieve any desire change. It is the responsibility of the initiator of communication (Source) thus, to find out the felt needs, actual needs and the aspirations of the target audience before starting the process of communication.

3. The content of the message should be suited to the needs of the target audience and not the initiator or source: There is usually a temptation to design message content to satisfy the initiator or source of the communication process.

However, in order to achieve effective communication and make significant contribution to agricultural development, the message content of communication must be suitable to farmers, farm situation and socio-cultural environment as well as meeting their aspiration and needs.

4. Target audiences are usually homogenous; hence their required message contents or information and motivation requirements should be expected to vary.

5. A combination of channels should be utilized to import ideas, knowledge and information. Different channels appeal to different senses. Human senses often reinforce each other in the acquisition, ideas, knowledge and information.

Therefore, when two or more channels are used to impart knowledge, idea or information, the target audience has a greater opportunity to understand the message; hence the source has a greater chance of achieving the stated objectives.


Communication and Technological Transfer

The technology transfer system is conventionally conceived of as containing three main sub systems. These are: technology generation (research), technology dissemination (extension) and technology utilisation (farmers). The process of information flow in this system.

Adoption and transfer of technology will hardly take place unless the farmer (receiver) attaches the correct and intended meaning to the technology (message) and also depend favorably as intended by the extension agent (source).

Even a situation where the correct meaning is decoded by the receiver, adoption is not guaranteed unless all the other complementary elements i.e. inputs, infrastructure, support services, storage/marketing facilities for agricultural and rural development are provided.

Extension communication does not only tell us how the extension agent can assist the farmer to decode the intended meaning for those extension messages given or offered but also to create situations (scenario) conducive to the adoption and actual utilization of science-based agricultural knowledge, information and skill.


Conclusion on Communication in Rural Society: Meaning, Types, Principles of Communication Pertinent to Agriculture in Rural Areas, Communication and Technological Transfer

This unit has exposed you to some issues in communication in rural society. You must have learnt how these issues are operating in the society. You should have learnt the concept of communication and its types, the principles of communication as well as communication and technology transfer. You are expected to understand these issues.

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