Marketing change over the airwaves

Farming is a tough business, relying on good weather, hard work and fair prices at the market. Yet farmers are frequently faced with a shortage of rain, too much work and buyers who shortchange them.

Without a standard bag for selling their produce, many farmers in Ghana are cheated by middlemen who pass a larger, heavier sack off for one of a smaller size. But, with help from FRI, the World Food Programme and two of our partner radio stations, the tables have turned for farmers in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

Obuoba FM and Akyeaa FM have aired farm radio programs that emphasized this bagging and pricing problem, featuring the stories and opinions of chiefs, elders, farmers and farmers’ organizations. These programs resulted in by-law changes throughout seven districts and municipalities, with police now ensuring that the standard bag is used to sell maize.

The programs “help us know the prices of maize and cowpea on other markets and make informed decisions on when and where to sell our produce,” said Abdul Raman Yangah, leader of the Nkwariedee Farmers’ Association in Dromankuma, a village 150 km north of Kumasi in central Ghana.

“But the best part [is that], through the radio program, laws have been established on the type of sacks that farmers should use in selling their produce. Farmers no longer use the size five (150 kg) but rather the size four (80-90 kg) in selling their maize,” reported Abdul.

The farm radio programs also featured tips on planting, fertilizing, harvesting and post-harvest practices for maize and cowpeas, which are staple crops in the region. Farmers learned to plant in rows and fertilize efficiently, rather than broadcasting (or tossing) seeds and fertilizer.

“Previously, when we practiced broadcasting [the seed], we didn’t get a lot of yield, but now through the radio education we have seen improvement,” said Yakubu Ibrahim, a member of the Hiawoanwu Maize and Cowpea Farmers’ Association, a farming community 120 km north of Kumasi.

Armed with this information, farmers can reach new buyers, such as the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative. Purchase for Progress buys surplus crops from farmers for use in the World Food Programme’s relief, school feeding and safety net programs. This project is expected to impact 200,000 farmers, including 16 farmers’ organizations.

“We have received a lot of benefits from the radio education. Previously, in this area, we used only mud bricks in building our houses, but currently we use cement blocks. This is because we have seen improvement in our farming and yield has also improved,” said Yakubu.

“This [project] has helped us to know that farming is a business and not just a way of life,” added Abdul.

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

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