Radio is arguably one of the most important, cost-effective sources of information for the majority of rural farmers in Africa. Along with farmer field listening groups and multi-stakeholder groups agri-educational radio programming addresses the training needs of smallholders by establishing a dialogue directly with rural farming populations, delivering live, relevant and real-time updates on issues affecting their crops and livelihoods.
In June 2017, the Lorna Young Foundation conducted radio extension training with CARE and Christian Aid Sahel to launch BRAVE’s radio extension program. The aim of this radio extension program is to improve the resilience of farming communities to weather shocks, lack of access to good quality water and to support conservation of resources.
By providing the most up to date information through local expert interviews played on the program, BRAVE’s LYF radio extension program will generate content to provide farmer field training and promote climatic adaptive measures. Ultimately this aims to impact both farmers and communities’ health and livelihoods through their improved resilience and capability to grow food crops and keep livestock.
This radio extension program provides training and important information to farming communities in drought-affected areas north of Tamale (Ghana) and in the Reo Region (Burkina Faso). The training conducted in June targeted five key areas to improve resilience and adaptation of these communities to improve access to groundwater by promoting rain harvesting techniques, proper storage, and conservation of water resources;
- Improve access to groundwater by promoting rain harvesting techniques, proper storage, and conservation of water resources;
- Improve crop yields, by providing information on drought resistant and early maturing crops in line with agricultural calendars;
- Promote sustainable land management practices which improve soil fertility and water retention on farms, use of organic pesticides and fertilizers as well as raising awareness on the impact of deforestation;
- Improve health and nutrition by promoting high-value crops such as orange-fleshed potatoes (rich in Vitamin A) and ensuring garden crops can be dried and conserved for periods when hunger commonly occurs;
- Ensure prevention and treatment of water-related diseases such as cholera through appropriately informed communities.
LYF’s innovative and proven grassroots approach opens up a two-way dialogue helping to empower farmers. Radio content is steered by farmers through groups and expert consultations. Content includes a broad range of social issues directly relevant to smallholder communities. This technique develops a responsive and impactful service for farmers, answering their training needs and increasing local expertise. Farmer Extension Radio includes:
- Multi-stakeholder Information Platform brings together a platform of actors such as millers, buyers, agricultural extension staff, development specialists in the supply chain to generate information on issues affecting smallholders’ livelihoods.
- Using a Range of Technologies: SMS & Internet allows smallholders to interact and ask live questions through SMS text messaging and access translated programs podcasts online.
- Specialised Content Agricultural extension staff with radio experience will deliver weekly radio programs covering farmer identified needs including: agricultural calendar (cropping, fertilising, harvesting); markets (price, quality, volume, disease); certification requirements (social & environmental standards, agricultural practice); and climate change (food security, droughts, weather, diversification, sustainable agricultural practices).
- Smallholder Voice – Farmer Field Listening Groups Groups of farmers’ feedback directly to radio content via SMS, ensuring their key concerns are addressed. These groups give smallholders an opportunity to engage more effectively with one another, agricultural extension services, development organizations, and the buyers of their products.
Over the next year, LYF will be developing short 15-minute weekly radio programs to address problems of unsustainable land management, extreme weather events, and low agricultural productivity.
In October 2017, LYF will return to Ghana and Burkina Faso to provide further training on setting up farmer listening groups. These groups will help to develop content, communicate best practice and ensure that the programs are aired at times which have the potential for highest impact. The programs have been initially titled as ‘FARMER AND THE WATER’
BRAVE Partner Profile: The Lorna Young Foundation is a UK charity that aims to alleviate poverty around the world by improving smallholders’ crop production and livelihoods. LYF is made up of business and ethical trade professionals, social entrepreneurs, and development experts. LYF has extensive experience in developing and delivering farmer radio and an expansive evidence base has shown when radio is used alongside other interventions it helps to significantly increase yields and quality; improves farming practices; and provides key market information thus guiding farmers’ investment and selling decisions, and improves social concerns of nutrition, and HIV/Aids awareness and prevention.
LYF has developed programs for smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
For more Information see: http://www.lyf.org.uk/
Blog Contribution: Cristina Talens, LYF