Audio postcard: Agripoll Tanzania — Using radio and mobile phones to listen to farmers

Bart Sullivan here. I’d like to introduce you to the phones and technology we used to pull off Agripoll here in Tanzania.

The ten Android phones in this picture were shared amongst five radio stations and used as the technological backbone of Agripoll.  Using an app called Telerivet, we turned these phones into radio polling stations through which a radio presenter could invite listeners to answer a series of five questions on agriculture  by simply leaving a missed call — also known locally as a “beep” — on the phone corresponding to their choice: beep number A for yes and number B for no.

Nearly 9,000 listeners were able to cast their votes on a series of five questions relating to small-scale farming in Tanzania over the course of two weeks.

On the last day of the polls, we used a different technology, called VOTO Mobile, to conduct a voice poll. With this technique, instead of beeping to register their vote, farmers were actually called by us and a voice message asked them to answer a multiple-choice question.  Let’s take a listen to the Swahili audio. Here is the English translation:

Tell us, what would most like the government to do in order to improve your access to markets?

Listen carefully to the options and make a choice by pressing the digit on your phone.

Press one if you choose improved information/knowledge about markets.

Press two if your choice is improvements in post-harvest facilities.


In our experience with Agripoll, we feel we have developed a low-cost, scalable and exciting way to open dialogue between listeners and their radio stations that makes use of the most powerful communication technologies in rural Africa: the FM radio and the basic mobile phone.

For Farm Radio International and the Hangar Radio & ICT Innovation Lab, this is Captain Sullivan signing out.

Learn more about Agripoll by joining the conversation online with the hashtag #doagric.

About the author
Bartholomew Sullivan is Farm Radio International’s Radio and ICT Manager. Based in Arusha, Tanzania, Bart works with radio stations throughout Africa to train broadcasters and develop innovative new technology solutions that can enhance the power of radio to serve rural listeners. Combining his academic background in computer science and rural extension studies with his passion for radio and disc jockeying, Bart combines three separate domains to help build upon a tried and tested development communication technology in Africa — radio.

Want to learn more?

Get our latest news and stories.

1 Comment

  1. Joseph Sekiku, FADECO RADIO on June 15, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Bart, you are making many strides with farmers around Arusha. I know that Kagera is a thousand plus kilometres away, and difficult to incorporate in day-to-day activities. How can we link up remotely. As ever, I am interested in diffusing best practices. Simple and affordable means of reaching out to rural farmers are welcome. Can you help me try out what has worked for you in Arusha?


Get our latest news and stories.