Team Beans: Strat comm and ag science combine to improve food security in Africa

What do you get by mixing beans, a trait for hot weather and brightly colored fabric? A bold strat comm campaign designed to improve food security among rural farmers in Mozambique.

Agricultural research fields, Mozambique

Agricultural research fields, Mozambique

The campaign, The Mother Bean, was created by a team of AdZou journalism students as part of a collaboration between the Health Communication Research Center (HCRC) at the Missouri School of Journalism and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR). Common beans, also known as everyday pintos, kidney beans and other legumes, are important to many people around the world. But in regions of Mozambique, and in other countries in Africa where soils may be low in phosphorous, and unpredictable weather can wipe out a family’s main source of food and income, improved common beans — or “beans bred for bad soils”– are critical.

Improved beans are bred using local lines and are both drought- and heat-tolerant, but are not genetically-modified. These improved varieties of beans have been a focus of work for Dr. Jill Findeis, director, division of applied social sciences, CAFNR, and her collaborators at Penn State University for almost three decades.

However, despite the advantages, not all farmers in rural Mozambique are aware of them or how improved beans can benefit their households. This is where the AdZou student team, HCRC and CAFNR collaboration focused their efforts to increase education and awareness through science and strategic communication methods.

Mubichi shows beans for sale in market

Mubichi shows off beans for sale in a local market

Leading the strat comm side, HCRC co-director Amy Dunaway hired the student team and provided them with international development insight and social marketing recommendations, while CAFNR’s Dr. Jill Findeis, Nina Furstenau and Fridah Mubichi, provided agricultural, social and economic context and information. From there, the AdZou team developed concepts that were field tested in Mozambique by Dunaway, Furstenau and Mubichi with women farmers.

With original research and feedback in hand, the AdZou team got to work designing “The Mother Bean” campaign and presented their final planbook in May. Featuring a brightly colored pattern and fabric, “The Mother Bean” campaign speaks to female audiences in particular, and markets the advantages of the improved common beans through social marketing strategies as well as mass media.

“Social marketing, in the sense of the 4Ps–product, place, price and promotion, is part of the recipe for success for this campaign, particularly to both market the improved beans, and to increase female farmers’ own social capital in their communities,” said Dunaway. “We were thrilled to receive positive reviews from women we visited with in the spring, and you could see excitement building from village to village.”

Since May, campaign partners’ have voiced extremely positive feedback as well and the team plans to launch pilot materials soon. Stay tuned for more details on the Mother Bean.

Read related coverage from Mizzou’s Illumination magazine>>>

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed