The power of radio to give farmers in developing countries the information they need to make their land more productive and raise livestock more effectively could not be more clearly demonstrated than through the work of Farm Radio International.
While African farmers have limited access to landlines and the internet, mobile phones and radio are increasingly common across the continent. Approximately two thirds of farmers have access to a mobile phone and radio reaches between 70 and 90 per cent of people across sub-Saharan Africa, making broadcasting the most effective way of conveying vital information. In time, internet access may increase significantly. But, for the time being, radio remains the primary communication tool, made even stronger through the use of mobile phones.
Established in 1979, Farm Radio International has grown to include more than 560 radio partners across 38 African countries, each serving the interests of small-scale farmers and their communities and ensuring food security.
Freeplay Energy is supporting the work of Farm Radio International by providing solar- and dynamo-powered radios, which provide access to information without relying on mains power supplies or costly and polluting disposable batteries. One project to benefit is run by Kibaale Kagadi Community Radio (KKCR), in Uganda, and involves the development of a Participatory Radio Campaign and listener clubs which focus on the use of quality protein maize.
This strain of maize is also known as Longe 5 and is climate smart and nutrition sensitive. It was chosen by communities, researchers and district extension service providers, who also developed a campaign plan which guides KKCR’s 16-week broadcast. Farm Radio International and the local stakeholders believe that, once the maize has been fully adopted by local farmers, it has the potential to help improve both household income and the nutritional status of families.
The role that Freeplay Energy’s Encore radios play in supporting the project is in enabling members of the Nyabugando Women’s Listener Club to listen to recorded campaigns and provide continuous listenership for women with limited access to radio.
As Harriet Adong, a field officer working at Farm Radio International Uganda in Kampala who recently conducted a monitoring visit to KKCR, says:
“More farmers, especially women, listening to the radio campaign are looking for seed and preparing their fields, waiting for the rain… I confess that radio and ICT combined can make a miracle in fighting poverty.”
And Viv Jenkins, Sales Manager at Freeplay Energy, adds:
“Radio plays an increasingly vital role in the lives of African farming communities and the work of Farm Radio International is having an extremely positive impact. We are proud to be supporting their work by providing self-powered radios that enable farmers to listen to broadcasts and share information without relying on often-unavailable mains power or disposable batteries. In fact, many of our tough, easy-to-use products are designed specifically for use by people living off-grid in remote rural locations and are ideal for use by African agricultural communities.”