“Beep Beep” the sound of an SMS (short message service) arriving in your phone’s inbox rings and vibrates from your pocket. You pause for a moment from preparing your compost pit to read what has come:
Dear listener – Heka heka vijijini starts in 30 minutes on 93.3 Sibuka FM. This week’s program talks about marketing local chicken – tell your neighbours!
The above 160 characters compose a typical SMS which a farmer could receive alerting her or him about an upcoming program from the local radio station. The SMS alert service is being tested as part of the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI’s) research strategy to explore how information communication technologies (ICTs) can improve radio for farmers.
Over ten of the 25 radio stations Farm Radio is partnering with in the AFRRI project have learnt how to use software to make the management and sending of sms alerts to their listening communities easier.
Feedback so far has been outstanding – Esther Chambo from Benadi village in Malawi, has been receiving SMS alerts from MBC (Malawi Broadcast Corporation) for eight weeks on their campaign about use of manure as a fertilizer. Esther said
This is the best! I forgot about the program because I was busy working in the field, but with the alerts I was reminded.
The SMS alert experiment is just one of seven ICT packages the AFRRI project is exploring and will continue into 2010.
Post written by Bart Sullivan, AFFRI ICT Officer