Africa: Joint Deal between Agra and Gates Foundation to Give Farmers' Voice in Radio Broadcasts


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) to launch radio programmes to ensure access to timely and relevant information for farmers. Farmers Voice Radio to be launched this year and set to run for 36 months, targets Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Mali, Ghana and Zambia.

The programme will be implemented with a $9 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with Canada's World University Service working with both commercial and community broadcasters in the target countries to disseminate information.

According to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation senior programme officer for global development Mercy Karanja, the project is meant to complement the government's existing farmer extension services but differs in that it allows for interaction and participation of farmers.

The project will use the model of information dissemination via traditional media like radio broadcasts in vernacular languages - participatory radio campaign - which does not just relay agricultural messages to farmers but also seeks their feedback and views to issues, ensuring that the solutions later proposed have the farmers' input.

"Extension has been driven one-way - from ministries of agriculture by governments - without factoring in the farmers feedback and involvement. This has caused farmers to feel they are not part of the process," said Ms Karanja.

Ms Karanja said there was a vacuum between where farm inputs - seeds, equipment and knowledge - were and where the farmers were found over the past two decades due to limited farmer extension services in the continent. Among institutions to participate in the project are the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenyatta University and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

The Farmer Voice Radio will be an expansion of the earlier progamme which targeted Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi. The former campaign ran from 2007 with a lifespan of 42 months and was implemented through a $4 million grant from the Gates Foundation and ends this year

Source: The East African