Three projects based on radio, mobile technology and social networking give an insight into what works best for farmers
For smallholders in developing countries, information on weather, markets and agricultural techniques is key to improving productivity. But what is the best way of delivering that information? Here, three projects based on radio, mobile technology and social networking give an insight into what can work.
Radio has been used to provide agricultural extension services to smallholders in Africa for decades. Until recently, however, there was no substantial evidence of the actual impact of radio on improving agricultural practices, and how to maximise it.
The African Farm Radio Research Initiative (Afrri) started looking into this from 2007 in a 42-month research project, implemented by Farm Radio International (FRI) in partnership with World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Afrri specifically researched the effectiveness of a new type of radio campaign developed by FRI: the participatory radio campaign (PRC), where farmers were actively involved in selecting and developing topics ranging from disease-resistant varieties of cassava to methods of animal enclosure, composting, mulching, and intercropping.
The project worked with 25 radio stations in five countries to research, design, broadcast, monitor and evaluate 49 PRCs, reaching approximately 40 million smallholder farmers. What it found was that farmer involvement in creating radio broadcasts translated directly into greater adoption of the practices.
(Source : The Guardian, UK)