Notes to broadcasters
The African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) was a participatory action research and radio-based project. Its goal was to discover and document best practices in using radio to meet small-scale farmers’ needs for agricultural information in Ghana and four other African countries (Malawi, Mali, Uganda and Tanzania). It was implemented from April 2007 to September 2010. In essence, AFRRI was trying to answer the following key questions:
- How can radio most effectively help small-scale farmers in Africa to meet their food security challenges?
- How can new technologies such as cell phones, satellite radio and MP3 players increase the effectiveness of radio as a sustainable, interactive development communication tool?
By investigating these questions, Farm Radio International and other stakeholders were able to identify some effective ways to use radio to have maximum impact in promoting food security in Ghana and in Africa in general.
In Ghana, a mix of commercial, public and community radio stations were selected for the AFRRI project. One of the stations was Radio Ada, a rural community radio station in the eastern part of the country. Working with AFRRI, the station implemented a PRC to help area farmers adopt the use of compost, known locally as icofertilizer, to fertilize their crops.
Three communities in the station’s listening area were chosen as “active” communities” for the project: Adedetsekope, Ayisah, and Ceasarkope. Farmers in these communities interacted extensively with the project. They were interviewed on the radio; they gave feedback on-air; and they helped choose the PRC theme. They were also given the opportunity to compare the cost of using chemical fertilizers to the cost of using compost.
This script tells the story of this successful PRC. It shows how farmers and radio stations can collaborate to produce and present programs for the benefit of both. The end result was good yields and increased soil conservation.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use it as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the people involved in the original interviews.
Presenter: Field reporter/producer
- Emmanuel Narteh Wudah – male farmer
- Eunice Dornyo Osabutey – female farmer
- Tetteh Tottemeh – community leader, male farmer
- Mary Mensah – female farmer
I hope you want to hear about this success story and its benefits. If you do, I beg you to listen to this program to the end.Musical interlude for one minute
Three communities were involved in the project: Adedetsekope, Ceasarkope, and Ayisah, all in Dangme East, close to Radio Ada.
Farmers in these areas used onlyicoas fertilizer during the project. They compared their yields usingicofertilizer with yields from chemical fertilizers. The cost oficowas also measured against that of chemical fertilizers bought from agrochemical distributors. We shall hear later in the program from farmers in these communities.
Over the years, we as extension officers have rolled out projects to help farmers maintain or increase yields because of the poor soils. It was already known that animal manure and compost were good sources of soil fertility. But they were not widely used, because compost was not available in large quantities.
At the same time, there was the problem of animals like goats and pigs roaming freely and destroying crops. The first radio campaign by Radio Ada encouraged farmers to keep these animals in pens so they didn’t destroy crops. So when farmers enclosed their animals in pens, their manure became widely available for use in farms.Musical interlude for 30 seconds
The broadcasters at Radio Ada and the AFRRI staff documented the opinions of farmers who listened to the programs in a variety of ways. There were focus group discussions and individual interviews. Listeners provided feedback via letters, SMS messages, call-ins, listening group feedback forms, and farmer diaries. Also, the project conducted evaluations which revealed farmers’ overall assessment of the campaign.
Farmer Emmanuel Narteh Wudah lives in one of the active listening communities. His opinion is based on what he sees and hears in both active and passive communities. Let’s listen to him.
Some groups – especially men – took their small radios wherever they went so that they could listen to the programs in the fields, markets and other socializing places.
Most of the farmers who listened to the programs were satisfied with the frequency and broadcasting schedules of the radio campaigns, with a few variations in the timing of repeat broadcasts.
It was a good thing that the programs were aired when most farmers were in the house to listen. Farmers like me could relax and listen to the radio with great concentration. This was the only time when families were together and could listen to the radio together.
Farmers also like to hear from people who have expert knowledge. We like hearing them interviewed in the studio or in the field talking to farmers. It is also good if a program uses local music and recordings of women’s dance, poetry, humour, theatre and songs. These draw and hold the audience and provide a change of pace from all the information; they allow the listener to pause and reflect. I thought that the broadcast of the programs during the project was perfect.
I was happy to get another alternative for the costly chemical fertilizers. I was also happy to hear farmers like myself on radio programs, especially women and youth farmers.
Composting is not new in our communities. In the past, people used to grow vegetables on abandoned refuse dumps. Plants cultivated at these places grew well and gave good yields. Schools and backyard gardens used animal dung as fertilizer. And compost doesn’t just provide nutrients to plants, like a good fertilizer. It also helps the soil retain moisture, helps prevent soil erosion, and can improve resistance to disease and pests.
In fact, the radio programs on compost were very good. We wish to thank Radio Ada and AFRRI for the project. It has given us low-cost and lifelong alternatives to costly chemical fertilizers which sometimes brought many pests and diseases. I now use onlyicofor my onion farm and I have been getting good yields.
Mobile telephones gave us an opportunity to be part of the program at any time. Radio used to be a one-way medium. But the campaign changed that. It allowed farmers to phone in and participate in discussions. Hosts could also phone out to experts, to hold them accountable for their advice on specific implementation issues.
Of course, broadcasters could not get to every village to record our voices. But they could phone out to ensure that voices from all areas were heard. We could also use our mobile phones to exchange SMS messages with the radio station. Letters, suggestions, field interviews and discussions also gave us the opportunity to discuss matters with the stations.
A campaign like this is not a good time for a radio station to “go it alone.” Instead, it is a time to reach out to all organizations that can help the campaign be as thorough and effective as possible. Extension services are a prime example. Some NGOs can play important support roles, too. Schools and private businesses that sell farming inputs can also play crucial roles.
It is on this note that I wish to end this report on a project that was undertaken to promote and measure the impact of adoptingicoor compost among farmers in the listening area of Radio Ada. Until we meet again next time, it is bye for now.
- Contributed by: Kwabena Agyei, Production Manager, Classic FM, Techiman, Ghana, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
- Reviewed by: Ben Fiafor, Regional Field Manager for English Speaking West African Countries, Farm Radio International; and former National Research Coordinator, AFRRI Ghana.
- Richard Wusah, Producer and Presenter of farmer program on Radio Ada and an Extension Officer of Dangme West District, May 25, 2011.
- Samuel Tetteh, Extension Officer at Dangme East District, May 26, 2011.
- Emmanuel Narteh Wudah, male farmer, May 25, 2011.
- Eunice Dornyo Osabutey, female farmer, May 27, 2011.
- Tetteh Tottemeh, community leader and male farmer, May 26, 2011.
- Mary Mensah, female farmer, May 25, 2011.