Community listening groups: strength in unity

In the community of Garizegu in northern Ghana, a group of farmers gathers every Saturday to listen to the radio — in the dark. Night comes early there, but the men and women of the FRI community listening group prefer to listen to farming programs together. And they don’t need light to listen.

The men and women of the Yem Bela Bobgu Ni community listening group in Ghana gather in the dark to listen to a radio broadcast on improved seed varieties.

The members of Yem Bela Bobgu Ni listen to a radio broadcast on improved seed varieties.

Meeting on Saturday evening for Pukpariba Saha (Farmers’ Hour) on Northstar FM has been part of their routine for the past four years.The name of their group is Yem Bela Bobgu Ni, Dagbani for “when we come together, we can think.” They prefer to listen together so that they not only learn from the radio program but each other.

“We realized that there’s strength in unity,” says Paul Issah Fuseini, the chairman of the Garizegu farmers’ association. “So when Northstar’s program started educating us on the need to create listener groups, we came together and created the group.”

Another benefit of listening as a group is that it enables more farmers to tune in. Not all farmers can afford their own radio. Without access to shared radio, many farmers would miss out on radio programs designed to help them succeed.

So, although their only source of light brightens only the radio set, they listen. And they discuss.

Before the radio program starts, they talk about recent challenges on their farms and what they’re learning about through the radio program. But the conversation doesn’t stop there.

Farmers with a mobile phone can communicate with the station on behalf of the whole group to contribute to the discussion, ask questions to be explored on the air, and provide feedback on a particular episode. The farmers of the community have a relationship with their local radio station.

Beneficial to farmers and radio stations alike, community listening groups are a key component of many of FRI’s impact projects. And they often live beyond the projects that they grow out of.

We work with community listening groups to get feedback on the radio programs and how they can be improved to better serve farmers, and to better understand their impact. We also consult listening group members for input on agricultural issues.

In Ghana, we have worked with our radio partners to create more than 300 community listening groups across the country.

Feed the Future‘s Ghana Agriculture Technology Transfer project is introducing new technologies to improve the seed sector in northern Ghana. The project is also exploring ways to identify sustainable solutions that will increase competitiveness in the rice, soybean, and maize value chains.

Halima bio
About the author  
Halima Olajumoke Sogbesan is a Master of Journalism candidate at Carleton University.  She completed an internship with Farm Radio International in Tamale, Ghana, in the summer of 2016. Halima intends to work as a multimedia journalist to raise awareness about the rights and needs of poor and vulnerable groups in her home country of Nigeria.

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