In June of this year, Farm Radio International’s Regional Field Manager in Mali – Modibo Coulibaly – entered an idea to the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2012 Innovation Challenges Competition. The idea, called FarmQuest, was developed by the Farm Radio International team. On June 25, we received the exciting news that this idea was one of 15 winners of the Competition! As a winner, we now have an opportunity to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to produce FarmQuest. Over 2,000 ideas were submitted to the Rockefeller Innovation Challenges Competition this year, so we were thrilled that FarmQuest was selected. To see the announcement, click here.
Here are some key elements of this innovative and very interesting proposal:
A reality radio program series featuring an exciting, competitive quest by 6-8 young people to create the “best new farm.” Contestants are coached along the way by a variety of experts and wise people.
This radio-based interactive farming competition will be run through the Farm Radio International regional office in Mali. But the idea will work in any region or country which has a competent radio station, covering the same language area.
FarmQuest will feature 6-8 young people competing for the prize of “best new farm” over a 9-12 month period. An engaging cast of diverse contestants each takes a small plot of land and tries to create a vibrant farming business over this period. They are offered coaching from a range of characters – elderly farmers, young extensionists, researchers, and business people. They face tough decisions, weigh their options, watch the skies, worry about their plants and animals, and negotiate with buyers. The climax: the selection of two “best new farms.” The process will be presented in episodic radio documentaries over 12 weeks. Each episode will be dissected and analyzed through lively follow-up discussions, debates, call-in shows, audience polling.
The purpose of FarmQuest is to prove to young people, the selected farmers and the audience alike, that farming as a business can provide a good – and exciting – livelihood. FarmQuest will reveal that farming, while hard work, can be a viable, rewarding livelihood for a young person. The contestants will act as role models that a youth audience can relate to. Participating farmers will receive expert advice at every step to tackle technical, social or economic barriers, thus showing, rather than telling, what is possible. Key elements to attracting a youth audience are: radio program style and quality, competition, and audience participation. These elements aim to change negative perceptions and show young people that farming need not be dreary.
It is our belief that most of the contestants will continue to run viable farms after the program ends, and can give inspiration and advice to other young farmers in the area who were encouraged to follow their example.
Young farmers will understand what is possible, and will learn new information and farming techniques from the radio programs. They will know the steps they need to take and where to get relevant advice. The potential audience is huge, as one station can reach millions.