Notes to broadcasters
Save and edit this resource as a Word document.
The African Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI, was a research project undertaken by Farm Radio International in partnership with 25 African radio stations in five countries, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was launched in April 2007. AFRRI’s aim was to discover, document and make known best practices for using radio to improve food security in Africa. AFRRI was one of the first attempts to systematically measure the impact of farm radio programs on the knowledge and practices of farmers.
AFRRI created and used an approach to farm radio called “the Participatory Radio Campaign,” or PRC. PRCs focused on single “improvements” that were selected by farmers and chosen because of their proven ability to help farmers improve their food security. The chosen improvement was the main focus of a weekly series of radio programs that lasted for a period of several months.
In each country, a mix of community, public and commercial radio stations broadcast the PRCs. The programs were broadcast regularly, at least once a week, at a time when farmers could hear them in their own language. They featured farmers’ voices throughout and responded to farmers’ feedback.
For each PRC, three communities were chosen as Active Listening Communities, and one community was chosen as a Passive Listening Community. Farmers in Active Listening Communities were given the opportunity to be part of the project. They were interviewed on the radio; they gave feedback on-air, and they helped choose the program themes. Passive Listening Communities were not directly involved, but were able to listen to the broadcasts.
The PRC in the following script focused on promoting NERICA rice. While this script is fictional and does not use real people’s names, it is based on actual interviews and on a real PRC conducted in Ghana. You could use this script 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.
Agricultural Extension Officer, Ho Municipalit
Producer and coordinator of agricultural program, Nkomo FM
market woman, rice dealer
Good evening, listeners, this is (name of radio station
)! My name is (name of presenter
), your regular host of (name of program)
. You are about to listen to a drama involving community members who benefitted from a radio campaign on NERICA rice.
Music interlude for one minute
Agoo, agoo. (Editor’s note: “Agoo, agoo” means “Knock, knock” in the Akan language
.) Who is here? Is anybody at home? (Sound of a door opening)
Is that you, Akua? Where is your mother?
She has just left for a meeting at the school.
When she comes back, tell her I was here . (Sound of footsteps and conversation)
Oh, there she comes. Good morning. How are you, my friend? Long time no see.
Oh, I am fine and around! I just left the house for a parent-teacher meeting at the school. But they say it has been postponed to another day. What brings you here this early morning? Sit down; let’s talk. How are the children and your husband?
Oh, they are all doing well. I passed by just to talk to you about something. I was listening to Nkomo FM last night, to their agricultural program. I heard about a new variety of rice which can be planted on uplands. It can also be interplanted with other crops and grows well far away from water bodies. I phoned the station to get more information about it, and they told me that you and your husband have been planting that variety. So I came to hear more about it.
Oh, it is true. I have been planting that rice for some time now. I heard of it from an agricultural extension officer. He visited our house and gave us a handful of the seedlings to try. We tried it in our new farm and found that it grew among other crops, as he said. Cassava, maize, plantain, cocoyam – they all did well when planted with this rice. It is called NERICA rice. You know, my best friend, our traditional rice could only be planted in marshy areas. But you can plant this variety anywhere. The officer said it is called upland rice because it will do well anywhere in our farms.
Ok then, it’s the variety they were talking about in the program. I heard the extension officer talking on the radio about some of its benefits. But, my best friend, I have to go now. I will come for more information in the evening.
Ok, but don’t you think we have to look for more information from the extension officer? Or we could go to the radio station or the chief farmer. Ok, let me see you off. Please send my greetings to your husband and children.
Ok, that is a good idea. I’ll see you in the evening.
Sounds of opening and closing of door
Music interlude for five seconds
Good evening, my good friend.
Good evening, my friend. How are you?
I am doing well. As we discussed this morning, I have come to see who to contact for more information about that NERICA rice.
Ok, my friend, I think it will be appropriate for us to first see the extension officer who introduced it to me. He lives close to the old market. His name is Alhassan.
Ok, my friend, let’s go.
Sounds of opening and closing doors and people moving out
Music interlude for 10 seconds
Oh, Mama Halimatu, woezor!(Editor’s note: “woezor” means “welcome” in Ewe, the main language in the Volta Region of Ghana
) Hope everything is fine. How is everybody in your house? This is a surprise to me – coming here at this time with a friend. I have just come from the farm. Please sit down and let’s talk. What brings you here this evening? You are welcome again!
Madam Asigri and Halimatu:
Ok, this is my friend Halimatu. She came to me this morning and wanted to know more about NERICA rice. I suggested that we come to see you, since you were the one who gave me those few seeds for planting. She told me she heard about NERICA on Nkomo FM during their last agricultural program. And she wishes to get more information about it.
Oh ok, that’s good. I was with the station when they were doing that program.
Oh, so you were the extension officer there?
Yes, I was the one. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is promoting NERICA as part of its effort to improve the quality of locally-produced rice.
So Nkomo FM is promoting that same variety of rice?
Yes. I am representing the Ministry of Food and Agriculture on their project. The project is called the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI. Nkomo FM broadcasts programs on NERICA rice to small-scale farmers in their listening area. They broadcast the program every Wednesday at 8 p.m. and repeat it at 5 p.m. on Sundays. If you want more information, I suggest you talk to the coordinator of the project, Frank Dzameku. Please come and see me later so that we can visit the radio station together.
Ok, Efo Alhassan, thank you very much. (Editor’s note: “Efo” means “Elder.”)
Music interlude for 10 seconds
Sounds of greetings and radio playing in the background
Alhassan, Madam Halimatu & Asigri:
Good evening, Mr. Dzameku, sir!
Good evening! How are you all?
Alhassan, Madam Halimatu and Madam Asigri: We are doing well.
We came here to get more information about the project on NERICA rice.
Oh Alhassan, but you are the father of NERICA in the region.
Sound of laughter
Please, Mr. Dzameku, my friend wishes more information about NERICA rice. We have been informed that you ran a project on NERICA for local farmers. How did it start?
NERICA was promoted as part of an initiative called The African Farm Radio Research Initiative, which was launched in 2007 by Farm Radio International and some other radio stations in Africa. Fortunately, Nkomo FM was included.
The main focus of our Participatory Radio Campaign was New Rice for Africa, also called NERICA. It was chosen because rice is one of the main crops in the region. NERICA can be grown anywhere around here. It gives better yields and has a shorter growing period. NERICA is drought-and disease-resistant. It is called upland rice because it can be grown anywhere in the farm. It can also be interplanted with other crops.
It’s good to be growing NERICA in this region because there are perfect conditions to grow it. There is available land, support from extension officers, and good weather for drying after harvest. There is also a strong market.
Yes, I have overheard many people talking about NERICA as a delicious kind of rice. How did farmers get involved in the project?
The AFRRI Participatory Radio Campaigns focused on what we called “improvements.” In other words, they focused on good practices that farmers can adopt. For example, they might focus on new crops and varieties, ways to better manage soils, ways to reduce post-harvest losses, or ways to find markets for produce.
After we chose NERICA as our improvement, AFRRI helped us conduct research. We gathered information on the knowledge, attitudes and practices of farmers with respect to NERICA.
We took a very participatory approach with the programs. We worked with three communities called “Active Listening Communities” where we directly engaged the community members, extension staff and project workers in the planning process of the program. These communities were Yamfo, Susuanso, and Afrispa.
We engaged these communities so that we could find out whether there were any changes after the communities had listened to the radio programs. The Active Listening Communities provided feedback throughout the program period. Their voices were featured on the programs, and they sometimes provided signature tunes for the program.
If you did all this, it sounds like the program was an elaborate one.
Yes, it was. I personally learned more about the importance of planning your programs in close collaboration with listeners, and especially farmers. If farmers see themselves as important on a broadcast and actively participate in planning the program, they will listen to it and respond to its messages.
I have grown NERICA, but I got the seeds from Efo Alhassan, who is here with us. And I have been listening to the program for some time now. How long was the radio campaign?
The program was broadcast for five months. The station broadcast the program in the farmers’ language at a convenient time for them to listen. We focused solely on NERICA.
The program was hosted by a broadcaster who understands farmers’ situations and is liked by the farmers. We did studio and field interviews, and we also did phone-outs to farmers and extension workers. They shared their experiences with NERICA with the listeners. There was also a phone-in segment when farmers could share important events in their adoption of NERICA rice. Loyal listeners were sometimes rewarded with free music requests for their loved ones.
If farmers were rewarded, then you really gave them an opportunity to make their voices heard! Did any of them tell you of their experiences and challenges with the project?
Yes, they told us later that their yields had improved.They were very interested in the program. But introducing NERICA presented some challenges. First, farmers’ initial attitude about introducing any new variety of rice – and NERICA in particular – was suspicious. This was because, when the Ministry of Agriculture promoted NERICA, extension officers did not visit farmers on time to address their concerns. Secondly, farmers were used to growing rice in swampy areas, which they have done for many years. So it was hard for them to switch to the new upland variety. They were very reluctant to embrace a new variety without continuous and regular support from extension agents. There were other challenges, too – like getting the fertilizer application right, controlling weeds and harvesting.
Sounds of opening door and people entering room
Adane and Efo Osei:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!
Alhassan, Frank, Asigri, Halimatu:
Ah Kofi, how are you? You have brought an important person here this evening. Efo Osei, long time no see. How are you?
Kofi Adane and Efo Osei:
We are fine. Hope everything is good.
I brought Efo Osei here to tell us what farmers have to say about growing NERICA and about the radio campaign.
Ok. Asigri and Halimatu, please meet Adane, the regular host of the agricultural program on Nkomo FM. Efo Osei was also on the program. He is a farmer from Susuanso, a community that was involved in the project. Efo Osei was growing other varieties of rice before NERICA was introduced to him. Please can you tell my visitors your experience with NERICA?
Yes. Before I heard of this project on Nkomo FM, very few farmers in the region, including myself, had any knowledge of NERICA.
Before the radio campaign, farmers didn’t want to consider adopting NERICA because of negative experiences with government projects and initiatives. The government brings projects, but when farmers adopt them and later want information and inputs like seeds and chemicals, we are normally abandoned. So, before the radio project, no farmer was growing NERICA here.
Why do you think farmers responded positively after hearing the NERICA campaign?
Because the Nkomo FM project raised awareness of the new variety by using the voices of farmers, extension officers like my friend Alhassan, market women, and local rice consumers. The station also broadcast information on how to grow NERICA, including production practices, post-harvest information, and marketing.
NERICA is now one of the most sought-after varieties of rice here. As a chief farmer in my community, I can say that about 50% of households now grow NERICA. Earlier, that figure was higher, up to 90%. But now, many farmers are growing perfumed rice.
Yes. And, unlike other government projects, the NERICA project provided seeds for farmers.
Before the project broadcast, no households in the Active Listening Communities had registered for, received, or planted NERICA. But after the broadcast, about 75% of households in these communities registered to purchase seeds and grew NERICA. About 50% in the Passive Listening Communities purchased and cultivated NERICA. People from other areas also came to get information or NERICA seeds. So the impact of the broadcasts was great in Nkomo FM’s listening area.
I am impressed. I think we can continue to use radio to change attitudes and improve the lives of farmers.
Yes, this program was one of the most successful projects Nkomo FM has ever done. By the way, I made a recording in the market, where I spoke to some market women about NERICA rice. You can listen to my interview with Madam Banka, a market woman and a rice dealer. I have the recording right here. I asked her whether NERICA sells well in the market. Let’s listen.
Short pause before sound of recorded voice
Clip of Madam Banka:
Yes, NERICA is selling well. Many people buy NERICA, either for the first time or as regular buyers. NERICA sales have definitely increased. I sell about 30 bags per month as compared to an average of three bags in the past. Generally, the interest in national rice varieties has increased. People usually ask for local rice and we always suggest NERICA. There have been special demands for NERICA and more and more people are eating it. (End of clip
I have received similar positive comments from farmers, from market women, and the general public through phone-ins, letters, and phone-outs to our Active Listening Communities and other communities. I have a recording here of Madam Agyeiwaa, a female farmer from Yamfo. She talked about the program and her experiences.
Short pause before sound of recorded voice
Clip of Madam Agyeiwaa:
I heard of the broadcast one day and I became associated with it from then onward. My voice was recorded many times and played on the air. It made me feel part of the project. Many other women farmers were also given the same opportunity.
The radio campaign helped us develop a great interest in growing NERICA. But many communities had difficulties finding seeds. Many farmers simply could not get the seeds they were hearing so much about on the radio. This was a setback for us. (End of clip)
Ladies and gentlemen, that was the voice of Madam Agyeiwaa. I personally understand some of the challenges she faced. Many farmers came to our station to buy seeds and other inputs. We saw that failing to provide an adequate supply caused farmers to feel disappointed or lack trust in both the project and the local radio station. But most of these minor challenges were solved through our station’s collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. The project taught us lessons we will apply in similar projects in the future.
Fade out conversation between Frank Dzameku and the other characters, and fade in signature tune, then hold under presenter.
Listeners, we have been talking about a radio campaign on NERICA, or New Rice for Africa. Nkomo FM broadcast a Participatory Radio Campaign on NERICA that involved farmers in the planning and broadcasts. By the end of the campaign, many farmers had decided to grow NERICA rice. OK, that’s all for today. Until we meet another time, it is bye for now. My name is (name of presenter).
Contributed by: Kwabena Agyei, Manager, Spectacle Media Consult, Techiman, Ghana
This script is dedicated to Mr. Koku Asuo Dzigbordi, who was the Extension Officer attached to the project and who passed away in 2011.
Reviewed by: Benjamin Kudjoe Fiafor, Regional Field Manager, Farm Radio International
- Anane Gbadago, Coordinator of AFFRI, producer/host of agricultural program on Volta Star Radio, Ho, October 20, 2011
- Kofi Nkrabea, host of agricultural program on Volta Star, October 20, 2011
- Jonny Dumahasi Wodui, agricultural extension officer, Ho Municipality, November 21, 2011
- Efo Dovlo Asabi, male farmer, Pampawie, November 21, 2011
- Mary Djanmah, female farmer, November 21, 2011
- Dina Boateng, market woman, rice dealer, October 20, 2011
- Lande Dake, female farmer, Hlefi, November 21, 2011