From farm to fork, food travels far to be transformed from a seed to a plant to a delicious dish. And farmers play a key role in this transformation: They cultivate the plants from seeds until they are harvested, stored and shipped to market. They also raise chickens, goats, and other livestock that provides protein for their families and their communities.
The agricultural value chain is every little step that a crop or animal must travel until it’s finally sold to the consumer. Farmers add value at many of these steps, tending their soil and weeding to ensure more plants thrive; vaccinating their birds so they grow into healthy adults; harvesting at the right time and storing their product so it doesn’t spoil before they finally sell it.
Small-scale African farmers produce 70% or more of their countries’ food supplies, but are among the most vulnerable to hunger. And so our five year “Farmer value chain development” project sought to strengthen the role of farmers in the value chain – with impressive results.
An estimated 4.2 million people heard at least one episode of the project.
We were on air with 13 radio stations in four countries, producing 946 hours of radio programs, addressing different value chains in each country.
And in the end, an estimated 950,000 people tried one of the practices discussed on air.
This project had a particular emphasis on gender, addressing women’s concerns and airing women’s voices in many episodes. As a result, women in Ghana and Mali became more involved in rearing guinea fowl and chickens.
And several women cowpea farmers told us:
“Before the Farm Radio programming, women were not actually allowed to farm. When they introduced us ladies to the programming, it was beneficial. Now I cultivate beans, cowpea, and occasionally some maize. I learned that farming is not only for men, that women can do it too.”
Learn more about our great results in this project, from each of the countries where we were on air.
In Tanzania, we worked with two radio stations to air programming about growing and marketing cassava, a staple crop. One farmer reported that his production increased so much, he wished he had a warehouse. Fortunately, the program helped to connect farmers with buyers so that farmers could earn a good price for their increased production.
In Malawi, we were on air with four radio stations to discuss groundnuts (called peanuts here in Canada), including recommended spacing for planting and good market practices, like sorting the nuts before selling. We spoke to listeners, and 80% said they now sorted their nuts before taking them to market.
Pilirani Chimutu Mazizi was one of the broadcasters working on this project at Mudziwathu Community Radio. She is also one of our George Atkins Communications Award-winning broadcasters. Learn more about her great work.
In Mali, we ran radio series about good practices for keeping chickens. At the start of the project, farmers told us that, on average, 7 of 10 chickens died from disease. The radio programs discussed building chicken houses and the importance of vaccinations. At the end of the project, farmers told us that since adopting changes recommended in the radio series, the ratio reversed, with 7 of 10 chickens now surviving.
Sogodogo Sarata Berthé is a poultry farmer in Bougouni, Mali. She explains the lessons she has learned about raising chickens.
In Ghana, we worked with four radio stations to run radio series on guinea fowl and cowpeas. The cowpea programs discussed better planting practices, including placing two seeds per planting hole. Nearly 80% of listeners told us they started using this practice, compared to just 55% of non-listeners. The program also discussed marketing practices, providing price information and promoting triple-layered bags for better storage.
We have shared many stories of Theodora Kubaje, a guinea fowl farmer who learned a lot through this project. Also meet Veronica Barik, a broadcaster who has become an expert in guinea fowl farming and Elizabeth Webonga, another farmer who has shared her experience with us.
And watch this video to learn more about the project in general in Ghana.
Thank you to Jesse Winter for providing many of the photos.
The “Radio for farmer value chain development” project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC)