In the life of an organization, some years stand out, and invite the use of words like “watershed”. For Farm Radio International, 2007-08 was one of those years.
Consider the new programs. We launched the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, a 3.5 year pro- gram that will allow us to answer questions like: what measurable impact does farm radio have on the day to day life and success of small- scale farmers in Africa? What are the most effective ways of using radio to help farmers meet their goals? Next, we developed and delivered a brand new service for our African radio partners: Farm Radio Weekly, an electronic news and information service sent out every Monday night to hundreds of subscribers. We also joined with others to provide innovative responses to the growing impact of climate change.
This has also been a year when the world faced or revisited some important truths, questions, and possibilities. For example, we were reminded that farmers’ ability to grow all the food we need at ever-lower prices cannot be taken for granted. Second, the rising cost of energy and transport is giving new urgency to the need for local food production. And third, in an age of remarkable innovation in communication technology, the humble “old fashioned” radio is more important than ever. What it adds up to is that helping smallholder African farmers to produce more food for themselves and their communities by supporting the radio broadcasters that serve them is as sensible and meaningful a strategy as it has always been. And while new programs are added, a new name is adopted, and new strategies put in place, at the core, this remains the mission and priority of Farm Radio International.
I thank the dedicated Board, hard- working and talented staff and advisors, our hundreds of radio partners in Africa, and the thousands of supporters that have made it all possible. I also thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for investing in the future of farm radio by funding the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, and the Government of Canada for supporting us through CIDA’s Voluntary Sector Program.