Communal farming, climate change adaptation and the media in Zimbabwe
Ndhlovu, Mthokozisi P.
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Climate change is destroying Zimbabwean communal farmers’ agricultural activities – a source of living for most people. As communal farmers struggle to adapt, the media is expected to assume a fundamental theoretical role of educating and informing them about the appropriate adaptation techniques. Located in Umguza District in Matabeleland North Province, the study explored how communal farmers created meaning out of climate change media content and its influence on their agricultural practices from October 2014 to April 2015. In doing so, the study used the Two-Step Flow theory and Hall’s Encoding and Decoding Model. Entrenched in pragmatism, the study embedded quantitative techniques at different stages. Multistage sampling combining Simple Random Sampling (SRS), purposive and systematic sampling techniques was used to identify the 263 households for semi structured questionnaires, direct observations and in-depth interviews. The findings were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), thematic analysis and pattern matching. The results show that personal observations; print, broadcast and online media; and opinion leaders were the main sources of climate change information. The radio was the most used medium in communicating climate change adaptation though it was the second most accessed after mobile phones. Conservation Agriculture and planting of drought-resistant crops were some of the adaptation techniques communicated in the media. When interacting with media content, communal farmers create their own meaning influenced by their cultural values, resulting in some adopting, rejecting or modifying certain adaptation techniques. The study concludes that opinion leaders are fundamental in communal farmers’ interaction with media but their influence must not be overestimated.