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World Radio Day: Using Radio to Improve Farming

Agriculture, Aid Effectiveness, News/feature, Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, 2014
Ansiira Nyirabagenzi inspects her new crop of Quality Protein Maize in Nyabugando, Western Uganda. Photo: Harriet Adong / Farm Radio International

Ansiira Nyirabagenzi inspects her new crop of Quality Protein Maize in Nyabugando, Western Uganda, which she planted following a farm radio campaign on this topic.

Smallholder farmers produce most of Africa’s food, and boosting their productivity is a key part of solving the hunger crisis on the continent. However, small farmers face many challenges, such as poor seed, infertile soil, limited access to markets and the devastating effects of climate change. While agricultural research has provided many solutions to these problems, there is a critical gap between the agricultural scientists who develop these solutions, and the smallholder farmers that need to use them.  Farm radio programmes are a very effective way of bridging this gap.

Irish Aid is supporting Farm Radio International in four African countries to deliver radio programmes for smallholder farmers. The radio programmes are produced and broadcast by local radio stations, and each campaign focuses on a new farming practice that smallholder farmers may try.  The new practices respond to problems that the farmers themselves have identified, and are based on cutting-edge agricultural research that has been developed in national and international agricultural research centres. Small farmers then use this information to make an informed decision on whether they want to plant new crops or try different farming practices.

Farmers have been learning about growing legumes, which are high in protein and which add nitrogen to their soil.

In Tanzania, farmers are learning about growing vegetables so they can improve their nutrition and sell to new markets. In Malawi, the campaign focuses on using compost manure to make the soil more fertile. In Uganda, farmers have been listening to programmes on growing a new variety of maize that is high in protein. In Ethiopia, farmers have been learning about growing legumes, which are high in protein and which add nitrogen to their soil. Farmers also have the opportunity to phone in during these radio programmes to ask researchers specific questions, and to inform researchers of any issues they may face.  

In 2014, Farm Radio International is hoping to expand these radio services to include market and weather information for farmers!

Learn More about Farm Radio International

To learn more about Farm Radio International, check out their interactive 2013 annual report or this video about the work of Farm Radio Malawi.

Learn more about Ansiira’s experience of growing Quality Protein Maize.