Monina Escalada, University Professor, Visayas State University, Leyte, Philippines
Ho Van Chien , Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Vietnam
Le Quoc Cuong, Deputy Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Vietnam
K.L. Heong, Principal Scientist, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
To popularize and enhance the viewership of the Ecological Engineering TV series, “Cong Nghe Sinh Thai”, TV Vinh Long, Y Tuong Viet (Idea Vietnam), and the Southern Regional Plant Protection Center organized a “Meet the Actors “ Day in Hieu Nhon village, Vung Liem district in Vinh Long province. Held on 31 July 2012, the event was attended by the village People’s Committee Chair, farmers, TV Vinh Long staff and SRPCC officers. The “Meet the Actors “ Day is one of the elements in the entertainment-education approach initiated by Miguel Sabido (Heong et al 2008).
At the program, Dr K.L. Heong of IRRI pointed out that television can be an excellent platform to transfer scientific information to farmers. Mr Pham Thanh Xuan, Deputy Director of Vinh Long TV announced that Vinh Long TV is committed to help farmers because in addition to “Cong Ngee Sinh Thai”, it has several other programs meant for farmers.
The highlight of the event was a skit performed by the popular TV comedians in the series – Ba Cai, Chi Bay and Chu Chin. The skit was a humorous exchange among three rice farmers about insecticide resistance. Chi Bay, a woman farmer, was scolding Ba Cai for having bought her a useless insecticide which could not control brown planthoppers in her rice field. Chu Chin, another farmer, told her that insecticides, when frequently used, lose their effectiveness because of insecticide resistance. Ba Cai remarked, “How can planthoppers be resistant to insecticides? Do they wear masks?” This entertainment part of the series serves as a segue to the educational part where a local scientist provides the explanation.
The actors portrayed their characters extremely well that farmers were so engaged in the TV series and they could not distinguish acting from reality. Farmers expressed that they found Ba Cai’s character as slow to learn the concept of insecticide resistance when they believed that it was easy to understand.
To track viewership and audience reactions to the TV series, we conducted a focus group discussion (FGD) with rice farmers in Trung Hoa village, Cha Gao district in Tien Giang province. In an arranged exposure, farmers first watched two episodes of the TV series and then assessed the program’s measures of effectiveness – attraction, comprehensibility, relevance and persuasion. The FGD participants assessed the TV series as easy to understand and the scientist’s explanation simple and easy to follow. However, farmers suggested that the educational part of the series need not focus on interviews with scientists alone but it should also feature a video, some pictures or interviews with farmers.
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