Bringing radio into the marketplace

For years we have taken farm radio broadcasters into the field to ensure that farm radio programs feature the voices, opinions and successes of farmers. Now we are taking radio into the marketplace so that listeners can benefit from high-quality, timely information about selling their produce.

Radio Marketplace has become a feature of the farm radio programs that are part of the value chain project in Malawi. (A value chain is the sequence of activities that take place to bring a product or service to market.) The Radio Marketplace segments share suggestions for preventing post-harvest loss, compare prices and provide tips on good business practices, helping farmers to receive higher returns for their hard work.

One tip discussed on the radio is that farmers can receive a better price if they sell in bulk as a collective, explained Clement Shema, radio impact programming specialist with Farm Radio Trust, our strategic partner in Malawi. Farmers have been quick to adopt this suggestion.

“Most of [the listeners] have decided that, to make a profit, they would rather not sell as individuals but join the association,” said Clement.

The introduction of Radio Marketplace has meant broadcasters are more aware of the marketing challenges facing farmers because they now visit the markets, talk with farmers and analyze market operations.

The value chain project has reached an estimated 2.5 million farmers in Malawi and Tanzania and will be expanding to Ghana and Mali as the five-year project moves into its third year.

“We’re making a very huge impact,” said Sheila Chimphamba, a broadcaster with Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi.

She sees and hears the difference the project is making each time she visits the field. Lately Sheila has been bombarded with questions about a drying technique for groundnuts (also known as peanuts).

By discussing improved post-harvest drying practices for groundnuts, Sheila is helping her listeners avoid aflatoxin, a by-product of a mould that commonly affects the groundnut plant. It is known to contribute to cancer, and is especially dangerous for children. Aflatoxin keeps many groundnut farmers from getting a good price for their crop.

This information is so valued that farmers share it from village to village, and Sheila faces questions from farmers even when she travels beyond the reach of the radio station’s transmission.

“You see this program has reached people who are not in our [broadcasting] area — people who are not even targeted.”

This is just one of the great stories featured in our 2013-2014 annual report.

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