Digital Storytelling as an Agricultural Extension Communication Tool in Smallholder Farming and Fishing Communities in Malawi

  • Neil Gordon DaveyEmail author
  • Michael Kirby Moulton


Digital storytelling can overcome many of the challenges faced when communicating agricultural extension messages. It can represent a focused farmer-to-farmer communication, document the impacts of projects, and offer data for analysis. Our method focuses on beneficiaries’ perspectives and how new agricultural technologies impact their lives. Through workshops, 11 final-year agricultural extension communication students attending Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources were trained on how to collaboratively gather images with beneficiaries and how to use these images to drive a personal narrative. Flexibility allowed for data to be gathered efficiently. An image/discussion dynamic led to information that would hopefully reflect beneficiaries’ perspectives on specific projects. Images were first captioned to create photo-stories. Subsequently, recorded narratives were added to create what became known as “image-based digital stories.” Fourteen image-based digital stories were produced between November 2017 and March 2018 covering two agricultural projects: “Reducing carbon footprint through breeding and feeding based technologies for improved productivity” in Dedza district and “Sustainable environment and enterprise development for climate change adaptation in fisheries” in Nkhotakota district. The stories reflect what beneficiaries perceive as the most significant drivers and impacts of the respective projects, for example, the financial and health benefits of improved productivity in dairy farming; school fees can be paid and children’s health improves through consuming milk. Participants became empowered as part of the research and dissemination process; the methodology enabled us to reach and interact with the farmers and fishers of Dedza and Nkhotakota in a meaningful way. Moreover, students and faculty became motivated to further use and develop the methodology. The resulting data in the form of (a) photo-stories and (b) image-based digital stories can be used to validate extension messages and assist with future policymaking. The methodology could also aid future project design as a useful tool within monitoring and evaluation and project management.


Digital storytelling Agricultural extension Agricultural communication Visual methodologies Monitoring and evaluation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Environment & Development StudiesNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  2. 2.Learning Centre Norwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway

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