Extension campaigns require a range of social, communication, and organisational skills. Always consider sources of expertise outside agriculture. Radio presenters, journalists, and well known public figures (such as religious leaders) have useful contributions to make to campaigns. Technical experts are important, but those who develop technologies are not always best suited to promoting them. Good interpersonal skills are essential, as is the ability to work and negotiate with diverse groups of people. Get good advice on data needed to assess campaign outcomes and impacts.
Training can also be given as part of the campaign. Plant health rally teams are taught basic communication skills: keep messages short, listen more than you talk, and respond to what you are told. Other skills are more difficult to acquire. SCALE requires experienced facilitators in its early planning stages and a core team of communications specialists to give advice once activities begin.
BOX 2: Plant health rallies
Each campaign involves around eight people, enough for two separate teams. Each team usually holds rallies of 45–60 minutes in up to eight public places over two days, or longer if teams can be reassigned from everyday extension duties. The teams first identify locations where people congregate, such as market places, shopping centres, and busy road junctions, and then map a route. In larger markets, teams move around for as long as they can attract new audiences (usually one or two hours).
The rally begins with a short introduction to the topic, broadcast by megaphone to a gathered crowd. A raised position increases visibility and a banner helps to attract audiences. Afterwards, team members create small discussion groups where people can ask questions and receive fact sheets and other information (e.g. who to contact for more advice). One rally member records the location details, number of people attending, topic presented and duration. A small number of people are interviewed at each rally to assess their current knowledge of the topic. These interviewees are contacted later to find out how they have benefited from information received at the rally.
Ad hoc or spontaneous rallies are not suited to all countries. In Rwanda, for example, where civic networks are strong, rally teams pre-invite (mobilise) people. Mobilisation guarantees an audience, but there are drawbacks: it is time-consuming, invited audiences may expect something in return for attending, and it is difficult to guarantee starting times.