It has been 3 years since we launched the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in which we set out to assess the effectiveness of farm radio on meeting the food security objectives of rural farming households in Africa. Radio stations from Tanzania, Uganda, Mali, Ghana and Malawi took part in the initiative that involved the production of several radio campaigns to improve farming.
Through AFFRI, we developed the Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC), an effective approach to helping smallholder farmers learn about, discuss, evaluate, and practice a range of agricultural improvements – from disease resistant cassava and drought resistant rice to composting and growing vetiver grass to improve soil health. It’s a holistic model developed through broadcasters, farming communities, aid agencies and agricultural experts. Farmers’ input and feedback are the essence of all the radio campaigns.
A Participatory Radio Campaign is defined as a planned, radio-based activity, conducted over a specific period of time, in which a broad population of farmers is encouraged to make an informed decision about adopting a specific improvement selected by their peers, based upon the best available information, to improve the food security of their families. It then provides the adopting farmers with the information and other support they require to implement the improvement.
Recently, we were awarded the ALINe 2010 Farmers Voice Award because of this innovative approach to tackling poverty and food insecurity.
Here are some of the testimonials as a result of the PRCs:
As a chief, I knew the importance of Vetiver grass but there has been no time I have seen when my neighbours come together and work so hard to do such a thing (like establishing nurseries for Vetiver grass), this shows how the radio campaigns have shown us how to protect our land.
-Village headwoman Lovimbi, Malawi in May 2009
The programs have played a significant role in this change. They have aroused the interest of local chicken keepers to apply improved husbandry methods and convinced them to make decisions to start implementation.
-Prof. Muhairwa an Associate Professor at the Sokoine University and a good listener of the heka heka vijijini (Busy busy in the village)
Farmers were educated, through experts interviewed in the programs. They felt free to express their concerns and used the programs to exchange ideas and experiences, an important factor especially in adult learning.
-Mr. Susuma Susuma, communications officer with MVIWATA a farmer organization, Tanzania
” We have effectively put farmers’ voices into their own development”
–Kevin Perkins, Executive Director, Farm Radio International