Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Farmer Voice Radio to Improve Farming Practices in Africa

15 October 2009. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has created Farmer Voice Radio, a network of radio broadcasters, agricultural experts, and farmers to provide millions of small farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa a broad variety of agriculture-related radio programming.

Supported by a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Farmer Voice Radio will give small farmers access to current information, useful resources, and new farming techniques to help them improve their productivity, livelihoods and well-being over the long-term.
“We are honored to work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on this project, which will benefit so many in Africa by providing farmers with the help they need to improve the productivity of their farms so that those in their communities benefit,” said Sol H. Pelavin, president and CEO of AIR.
To accomplish this Farmer Voice Radio will implement multiple activities, including:
  • Deploy public extension officers in ministries of agriculture to radio stations to help develop programming and content
  • Appoint radio field representatives in communities to deliver onsite reporting and share feedback from farmers
  • Produce local and syndicated content designed to effectively share agricultural knowledge
  • Create a research desk at each station to serve as an information hub for farmer feedback, and station and programming development
  • Engage university radio interns to support Farmer Voice Radio at the station and community levels as an accredited part of their studies
  • Use its network of agricultural experts, including universities, research institutes, ministries of agriculture, and NGOs, to ensure relevant programming content
Through these activities, Farmer Voice Radio aims to build the capacity of radio stations across Africa to serve as an informational resource for small farmers. It also seeks to encourage the participation of farmers through the use of other technologies, such as mobile phones, SMS, and MP3 recorders, so they can obtain the information they need while sharing their concerns and experiences.