Tag Archives: #farmradio

Radio for Climate Change

Reading about Farm Radio International for class, I was very impressed by the organization and became increasingly more impressed by the the effectivity of radio as an ICT4D. This led me to explore their websiteImageo to learn more specifics about their mission and projects. FRI incorporates into its mission eight core values: equitable development, community self-reliance, sharing knowledge, use of media, partnership, integrity and solidarity, environmental sustainability, and international solidarity.

Of these, environmental sustainability stuck out to me as an area of particular interest. FRI says that “We support practices, policies and technologies that promote sustainable and equitable development. We promote the conservation of natural resources and bio-diversity for the benefit of all.” I never really thought of radio as a way to support environmental sustainability but from reading about FRI, it makes perfect sense. Even in the US, there are so many misconceptions about climate change and how to live sustainably so it makes senses that rural communities in developing countries would have the same information gap, even more so in areas that don’t have access to electricity or internet. Many development agencies spend a lot of time and money bringing more sustainable agriculture techniques to rural areas but delivering up to date environmental and agricultural information to these communities through radio could possibly be a much more cost effective and sustainable since it doesn’t require the constant presence of a development agency.

FRI recognizes that climate change is a huge threat to farmers and food security because of erratic rainfall patterns, flooding, drought, extreme weather events, deforestation, and desertification. FRI seeks to help farmers mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change by providing by providing them with information on agricultural techniques that conserve water, protect soil, produce crops in drier conditions, and quickly adapt to rapidly changing and quite unpredictable weather patterns. In Ghana, for example, FRI is working with a radio station to produce programing on climate change in two local languages. This program also uses SMS reminders and interactive voice response to improve listenership.

In general, mitigating climate change requires international solidarity, equitable development, and the spread of accurate knowledge. This is all part of FRI’s core values and it seems that their radio shows could have a big impact on how farmers adapt to climate change. Unfortunately, climate change is going to disproportionately affect small farmers, who emit little, so providing these farmers with up to date information is incredibly important to reduce the level that they will suffer.


The Links Between Agriculture, Advice, Radio, and SMS

An installment from the National Geographic series Digital Diversity that shows how “mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives” greatly coincides with the report by Farm Radio International, “The new age of radio: how ICTs are changing rural radio in Africa”. Both the report and the article state that radio is extremely important for agriculture and increases awareness  productivity  and knowledge. The article stated an interesting point that having other farmers speak on the radio creates a sense of community as well a larger impact. Rural farmers are more apt to take advice from people they can relate to and trust (like a fellow farmer) than a radio producer or radio host. The FRI report stated that there were some concerns about the availability of the shows since they are not always accesible, but the article states there is a higher chance of the farmers listening if they air them at night when they are relaxing in their homes.

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The “two way” versus “one way” communication was also mentioned in the FRI report, letters being the only option for farmers to contact the hosts or programs, though the article shows that many are utilizing their mobile phones and texting in questions and comments (around 20 texts a week per program). The FRI report states that there are more listeners when the program sends out text alerts around 30 minutes before hand. Both these usages of SMS are beneficial, quick, and painless. The benefits of radio are not only seen in agriculture, many could be seen seen in other sectors such as health. For instance, how farmers find out how to prevent or treat poultry disease can be transferred for human diseases and treatments. Overal the widespread penetration, accessibility, and affordability of radios’ make them great for less developed nations and should be utilized more often.

Farm Radio: Rural/Agriculture Sector

For our sector presentation, I researched an interesting ongoing project called Farm Radio. Farm Radio is great because the majority of people in Africa, especially rural farmers, do not have access or means to TV/Internet. However, a great number possess a radio. By means of communication via radio, Farm Radio aims “to provide and exchange practical, relevant and timely information for use by our broadcasting partners (community, public and private radio stations, farmers associations, productions houses)” and also to “enhance the ability of our broadcasting partners to serve the interests of small-scale farmers and their communities and to ensure food security.” I think that this is a great example because all solutions to problems/improving situations with technology don’t always have to be expensive. . .by utilizing something that everyone already has, a great initiative could be started.  Access to radio is significantly easier, and radio has low production costs.76% of farmers in Africa have access to a radio.

For informative YouTube videos on how the process actually works (sharing of farming techniques for example…) see the follow