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    2014-2015 Annual Report



We support farm radio broadcasters to provide radio services that share knowledge and amplify the voice of small-scale farmers.


This year, we worked with more than 600 radio partners in 38 countries to serve small-scale and family farmers. Radio can provide listeners with access to practical, relevant and timely information to help them improve their food security, health and income. Radio can also amplify the voices of small-scale farmers, sharing their stories, experiences and opinions with other farmers and even policy makers.
Interactive and participatory radio is more engaging, informative and impactful. It allows listeners to shape the radio program to their needs, ensuring it discusses topics important to them, answers their questions and values their livelihoods. This annual report highlights our work amplifying the voices of small-scale farmers over the airwaves.


2014-2015 HIGHLIGHTS

  • African Harvest

    We celebrated our 35th anniversary with a feast, featuring food from Africa cooked by two fabulous local chefs. Check out the celebration.

  • Paza Sauti — Raise your voice

    We polled Tanzanian farmers to gather their opinions on the country’s agricultural policy and presented the results to President Jakaya Kikwete. See the results.

  • Launching the Listening Post

    We launched a new radio project to connect NGOs with the beneficiaries of their work. Learn more about the Listening Post.

  • 300 issues of Farm Radio Weekly

    We published the 300th issue of Farm Radio Weekly, a publication that delivers news articles, script packages and farmer stories to the inboxes of broadcasters.

  • Farmer program e-course

    Our 12-week e-course launched in September, with more than 100 participants from more than 25 radio stations. Learn more.

  • Supporting the fight against Ebola

    We offered our support to the Ebola Situation Report, airing on Radio Gbarnga in Bong County, Liberia.

  • Saying thanks

    Canadians once again thanked the farmers who feed us through the fall Thank a Farmer campaign, which received 118 messages and 675 social media follows.

  • Sharing our work

    We were a panellist at the Food and Agriculture Organization's Forum on Communication for Development & Community Media for Family Farming.

  • A visit from the field

    Tanzania Country Director Japhet Emmanuel visited Canada to share the impact our work is having in the field.

  • Research release

    We released the results of our African Rural Radio Program Analysis, which took stock of the strengths of radio broadcasters in Africa and the challenges they face.

  • Recognized for our work

    Our value chain project was nominated for the 2015 WSIS Project Prize, which we won in May 2015.

  • Extending our reach

    We are now reaching farmers in Niger with the "Scaling up resilience for one million people" project.

  • Launching Barza Wire

    We re-named our weekly news service Barza Wire. Learn more about this great resource.

  • Celebrating radio

    Executive Director Kevin Perkins shared the power of radio to change lives at a World Radio Day event in London, England. Hear what he had to say.

  • 100th script package!

    The first script package was mailed to 34 broadcasters in 1979. This year we mailed the 100th package to 592 broadcasters.

  • Barza Discussions

    Barza Discussions are a great way for broadcasters to learn about a topic from experts and other broadcasters. During the second Barza Discussion, broadcasters learned about nutrition. Learn more.

Welcome to this year’s annual report




A message from the executive director and the chair of the board of directors

Farm Radio International is committed to the principles of sharing knowledge and giving voice.
Sharing knowledge has been the cornerstone of our work since our founding in 1979. We have always been committed to serving small-scale farmers by sharing practical advice through the production and distribution of radio scripts and news stories. For 36 years we have helped partner radio broadcasters put information on the airwaves about agriculture, health and other priorities of rural communities. (And we now have 600 broadcasting partners in 38 African countries!)

Knowledge transforms lives

We know that this knowledge can transform lives by empowering farmers and rural communities to tackle a variety of development challenges, from producing more food and protecting the local environment, to promoting good health and generating more economic opportunities. But we also know that sharing knowledge is not enough. Farming families also need to have a stronger voice in their own development — opportunities to express their views, talk about their challenges and prospects, connect with each other, and make their needs and priorities known. In the past, radio couldn’t do much to enable this dialogue. Now it can, thanks to the cellphone — a device that is now available to the large majority of African rural households.
In 2014-2015, we made significant progress towards supporting our partners to make radio the voice-giving platform that farmers need. The results have been encouraging and quite exciting. Here are a few examples:
· We have worked with radio partners to introduce beep2vote and call-in segments to regularly engage the participation and feedback of listeners in farm radio programs. Beep2vote involves broadcasters announcing a poll question. Farmers respond by leaving a missed call “beep” (free of charge) to one of two numbers, indicating their response. Now virtually every farmer program we are involved in features the views, voices and questions from small-scale farmers.

· In Tanzania, we conducted the first ever nation-wide farmer poll using beep2vote. Over 9,000 farmers from across the country participated in the ‘Paza Sauti’ poll (“raise your voice” in Swahili) and the results were presented to the president and the minister of agriculture at a major event organized together with ONE, an international organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty. In this way, thousands of farmers had their views delivered straight to the top decision makers of their country.
· Through Barza Wire, our weekly electronic news and information service for radio broadcasters, we tell the stories of farmers who have found their own solutions to farming challenges. These stories are distributed to more than 2,800 subscribers across Africa.

Giving voice

Providing voice-giving radio to rural communities requires a new set of broadcasting skills. Through both hands-on and internet-based training, we built the skills of dozens of radio production teams at over 50 partner radio stations, making their programming both entertaining and educational — and therefore engaging to listeners. The trend is clear and accelerating: The more training we do in this area, the more common it is to hear farmers’ voices broadcast over the airwaves in rural Africa.
We thank our staff, board members, funders, partner radio stations and volunteers for contributing to our work over the last year. Together, we are strengthening African farming communities by sharing knowledge and giving voice.

kevin's-signature DOUG-WARD-SIGNATURE
Kevin Perkins
Executive Director

Doug Ward
Chair of the Board of Directors

Amplifying voice

AMPLIFYING THE VOICE of small-scale farmers

Interview Interview Listening group


Our projects serve millions of small-scale farmers by airing participatory radio programs that are engaging and impactful, helping listeners to make informed decisions about adopting more productive and sustainable agricultural practices. Many small-scale farmers tune in for the opportunity to share their own questions, experiences and knowledge and to hear from other farmers, trusting the experience of their peers.
Broadcasters reach out to their audience in a variety of ways. In addition to field visits and call-in programs, broadcasters can gain valuable insight from community listening groups. Many farmers meet regularly to listen to the radio together, sharing their experiences and opinions with each other. Program producers often contact community listening groups for feedback on the program, and to provide these farmers with the opportunity to share their viewpoints with a wider audience.
Wossenie Abebe is the chairwoman of the Odanabe listening group in Dukem, a small town about 40 kilometres east of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her group is helping to shape the weekly radio program called Misso Ma Qonna (Agricultural development), which airs on Ethiopia’s Legedadi Education Radio Station. “We have regular meetings where the group comes together to talk about what we have heard and what we want to hear. We want the program to focus on weeds next, as many of us have weed problems,” she said.
These women grow staple crops such as chickpeas, teff and vegetables. They meet weekly to listen to the program and chat with their neighbours. Wossenie has already benefited from the show. “I grew chickpeas, but didn’t know they were full of protein. Now I use them to make bread,” she said.

Most participatory radio programs feature phone-in or text-in segments, during which farmers can have their questions answered or comments heard. Beep2vote is another simple and effective tool for broadcasters to learn how the audience feels about an issue or what farmers are experiencing in their fields. Broadcasters share the poll question and listeners leave a free missed call (or “beep”) to a dedicated number indicating their response.
Legedadi Education Radio Station is one of eight radio stations in four countries that are part of our “Developing demand-led interactive farm radio services” project, which improved the productivity of climate-smart, nutritious crops identified by local farmers. This project saw 25,000 farmers share their views through beep2vote polls.

Beep2vote question

 The “Developing demand-led interactive farm radio services” project is funded by Irish Aid and implemented in partnership with Farm Radio Trust. Many of our projects aim to support farmers to improve their production of nutritious and climate-smart crops, improving the food security of millions of family farmers. These projects include scaling up: maize and cassava in Uganda; rice and sesame in Tanzania; Irish potato production and staple crops, such as wheat, teff and sorghum, in Ethiopia. Learn more about these projects.

STRENGTHENING THE VOICE of farm radio broadcasters

Broadcasters play a central role in bringing about change for farmers, their families and rural communities. They understand their audience’s information needs and, through research and interviews, air engaging programming that meets these needs.
Ghanaian broadcaster Kwamee Kwame, 52, knows his audience’s information needs well from his work as an agricultural extension agent with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. He has been meeting these information needs as a host of Farmers’ Voice on Garden City Radio in Kumasi, Ashanti Region in Ghana. Kwamee’s program broadcasts to approximately 765,000 adults.
Kwamee was one of the 65 participants who completed our Farmer program e-course, which was delivered online over 12 weeks from September to December 2014. The course asked participants to complete assignments on storytelling, connecting with their audience and program planning.
Ten years ago, it would have been close to impossible to deliver online training in Africa. Today, improved access to the internet, coupled with a better understanding of how to deliver effective virtual training,has created the opportunity to provide dozens of broadcasters from many countries with a low-cost option for gaining new skills.
Broadcaster training can improve the quality of a farmer program, but it also provides broadcasters with the confidence and skills to play a larger role in their workplace and community. “The motivation, encouragement, and focus needed [for the e-course] . . . have made me a different person. It has also given me a professional touch and recognition among my peers,” said Kwamee.
Thanks to the skills Kwamee gained through the e-course, he has been promoted within the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, which owns Garden City Radio. He is now in charge of all media communication with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the Ashanti Region, and is currently identifying other extension agents who could follow his path of reaching more farmers over the radio.
The Farmer program e-course is just one of many training opportunities and resources we provide to ensure broadcasters have the skills and support they need to provide small-scale farmers with the information they need. Other resources include in-station training, custom-made resources packages and a weekly news service.

Listening Group Kwamee Kwame interviews a farmer for his farm radio program on Garden City Radio. Kwamee was a participant in our Farmer program e-course.
Kapchorwa Trinity Radio’s presenter and producer, Rashid Muzungyo, and station manager Martin Mangusho explain how they have benefited from in-station training with Farm Radio International. Learn more.
broadcaster resources


LET’S GET COOKING — with sweet potato!

Farming families eat much of what they grow. This makes farm radio shows a perfect platform to provide families with information about nutrition. Families can increase the amount of key nutrients in their diet by planting protein-rich varieties of traditional crops or eating all parts of the plants they grow, including the vitamin-rich leaves.
Yet sometimes farmers can be reluctant to start planting and eating a new vegetable — unsure of how successful their harvest will be or how to incorporate the vegetable into their meals.
Farm Radio International is part of an international effort to promote orange-fleshed sweet potato in order to address vitamin A deficiency, a serious problem that causes blindness and increased vulnerability to common infections. The kind of sweet potato traditionally grown in Africa is yellow in colour and does not contain much vitamin A. Through traditional plant breeding methods, bright orange varieties have been developed. These are an excellent source of vitamin A. Cooking shows broadcast on radio have proven to be an entertaining way to encourage farming families to grow and eat orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).

Farmers’ groups in Uganda have hosted cooking competitions to allow their neighbours to taste just how delicious OFSP is, and see how simple it is to incorporate OFSP into their diets. These cooking shows have been featured on local farm radio programs, motivating some families to cook OFSP themselves and motivating others to reach out for more information on how to grow OFSP.
How to cook OFSP
Cooking shows have been popular in Ghana as well, where the OFSP project is reaching farmers in the Upper East and Central regions. Learn more in this audio postcard from the field.

Cooking OFSP

“It was after listening to the radio program as a group that we decided to invite a member from Luwawulo village to come and show us how to bake cakes, chapattis and pancakes made from OFSP,” said Namulema Jane of Bakyala Twekembe group in Kitangira village, near the southern border of Uganda.
After seeing the techniques and hearing from other small-scale farmers, the members of Bakyala Twekembe farmers’ group were more willing to cook OFSP for their own families.

Farmers trust other farmers when it comes to which foods are best to grow. It also helps that OFSP is delicious. “Once you start eating it, it’s hard to stop because it’s so good. I grow a quarter acre of OFSP and I would like to continue,” vouched farmer Alice Nyirahabimana, of Kahara village, in the nearby district of Kamwenge, Uganda.
An engaging farm radio broadcast relies on both entertainment and farmers’ voices — and cooking shows are a great way to accomplish both while sharing valuable information promoting good nutrition. These shows have become a popular feature in many radio programs promoting the production and consumption of OFSP.


 Nutrition is a key component in many of our projects, which aim to increase the production and consumption of nutritious vegetables and grains. These include the “Reducing vitamin A deficiency with orange-fleshed sweet potato” project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our “Nutritious Maize in Ethiopia” project, made possible with funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), with support from the following implementing partners: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Sasakawa Global 2000.


BUILDING RESILIENCY in the face of climate change


Yarbout Peter

Yarbout Peter grows a variety of vegetables on her plot in Jilik, a community in Ghana’s Northern region.

A farmer’s success is tied to the weather — especially in Africa. When farmers can’t rely on the timing of the rainy season, or on other weather patterns they have known for decades, their work becomes more challenging. Climate change, deforestation and desertification are affecting the harvests — and food security — of many farmers.
In the northern regions of Ghana, a radio campaign has provided farmers with information to help them adapt. “I heard through Lom FM how to farm in the dry season and I was able to do it myself,” said Yarbout Peter, pointing to her small field of neatly planted rows. During the rainy season, Yarbout planted yams, following the suggestion of agricultural extension agents featured on the broadcasts of Lom FM.
“I used some to eat and I sold some, and through that I was able to get money to pay my boy’s school fees,” said Yarbout. When the dry season comes, she will supplement her family’s diet and income with okra, tomatoes and chili peppers, now that she knows how to grow them.

Kpakora Yoo (Farmers’ Time), Lom FM’s agricultural program, offered advice on seasonal vegetables, as well as practices to conserve water, protect soil, produce crops in drier conditions and quickly adapt to unpredictable weather patterns. By sharing relevant and timely agricultural information from research centres, extension agents and expert farmers, our partner broadcasters helped their farming audience learn about and adopt new agricultural techniques that improved their resiliency in the face of climate change.
Farmers also asked for key information such as weather projections and marketing information, which they can use to ensure a quality harvest and a good price in the marketplace. The widespread adoption of cellphones, even in rural Africa, has allowed broadcasters to share such vital information with their listeners in new ways.
Through Farm Radio International’s beep4weather service, broadcasters delivered weather forecasts and related agricultural advice with the help of SMS text messaging and other information and communication technologies. More than 1,500 Ghanaian farmers subscribed through their radio station to receive updates, tips or reminders to tune in via text message. This connection is enhancing the role of radio broadcasters as an important resource in rural communities.
The “Climate change adaptation” project was broadcast at four radio stations in the Northern and Brong-Ahafo regions of Ghana with funding from Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and support from the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture. In 2014, we also worked with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to promote reforestation in Uganda.

Beep2vote climate poll

With the benefit of regional agricultural advice, such as when to start planting or harvesting based on the weather forecast, farmers can better plan their agricultural season. Learn more about beep4weather.


Linesi Banda produced more groundnuts (peanuts) this year than in previous seasons. She and her husband fill a heavy sack and load it onto a bicycle to take to the Kamwendo trading centre in Michinji district, 100 kilometres west of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. At the market, Linesi scouts vendors to compare prices.
Do farmers have the capacity to negotiate prices with buyers? Not always. However, when farmers in Mchinji district were asked, 75 per cent said they do, pointing to Radio Marketplace as a tool that has greatly supported them. Radio Marketplace is a program that addresses the barriers farmers face to obtaining good prices for their crops and discusses the 4Ps of marketing: price, place, product and profit.
The Radio Marketplace program was developed by Farm Radio International as a prominent feature in our “Radio to improve farmer value chain” project. A value chain is the sequence of activities that takes a product from seed to market, with each step — from nourishing the soil to drying the harvested goods — adding value. Farmers are often at a disadvantage in the value chain system, as they lack information to negotiate both the price of inputs (such as seeds or fertilizer) and the price for which they sell their produce. Our value chain project empowers farmers with information so that they can earn a fair profit. This project, with funding from the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) is addressing value chains specific to Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, and Malawi, with programs airing on 10 radio stations.
For the past two years, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, Mudziwathu Community Radio Station and Nkhotakaota Community Radio Station in Malawi have been broadcasting participatory radio campaigns featuring agricultural tips to improve all stages of the groundnut value chain. They have also aired Radio Marketplace programs to support groundnut farmers when they sell their harvest.
Farmers in Mchinji say Radio Marketplace has helped create an awareness of markets beyond their local market, and helped them to connect with market organizations. “Most of [the listeners] have decided that, to make a profit, they would rather not sell as individuals but join an association of small-scale producers,” said Clement Shema, impact programming coordinator with Farm Radio Trust, our strategic partner in Malawi.
By understanding the effect of supply and demand on prices, farmers have come to understand how to fetch a better price for their goods. “The radio programs have helped to bring about change in knowledge and attitude among farmers on marketing issues,” Clement added.

Radio Marketplace Radio broadcaster Sheila Chimphamba conducts interviews in the marketplace for her program with Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi.

Radio Marketplace graph

WSIS prize winner
This innovative project won the 2015 WSIS Project Prize for its use of information and communication technologies to support farmers with production, post-harvest and marketing practices.
Learn more about the “Radio to improve farmer value chain” project, implemented in partnership with Farm Radio Trust and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada (DFATD).

Putting gender ON AIR

Woman with radio

Women are an important voice in any discussion of small-scale agriculture, but are often missed by traditional extension services. Reaching women farmers via radio poses its own challenges, as women often do not have access to radios and cell phones — tools necessary to hear a broadcast and call in to a station. Thanks to the ingenuity and support of broadcasters, a variety of techniques have been developed to ensure women are heard and valued on air.
Our Her Farm Radio projects make a special effort to amplify the voices of women and meet their information needs by, for example, sharing tips on crops typically grown by women or new agricultural techniques suited for women. Learn more about the Her Farm Radio initiative and our gender policy.

Women phone line Women-only phone lines have helped to ensure women’s voices can be shared on air as frequently as men’s voices. Community listening groups encourage women to gather to listen to a radio program and support each other in their work.

Women make an important contribution to farming in Africa. They grow food for their families or to sell, with their income contributing to household expenses such as school and medical fees. Our projects include women and men at all stages to ensure broadcasters are meeting the information needs of both female and male listeners.
We also encourage on-air discussions of issues important to women. In Burkina Faso, we worked with Radio Palabre to engage men and women on the importance of nutrition to maternal, newborn and child health. This radio program discussed nutrient-rich foods, like orange-fleshed sweet potato and enriched porridge, as well as the value of breastfeeding.
Listening group
This radio program engaged listeners with an entertaining host. Both women and men tuned in and took action. “My husband used to sell local produce to earn money to purchase products that are not grown here. We didn’t know that our own produce contained vitamins. Now we know and we consume our local produce,” said Marceline Nabi, the leader of a community listening group in Saria, located 100 km from Ouagadougou.
Radio programs that discuss issues important to women can engage men in areas typically labelled the ‘woman’s domain,’ challenging gender roles and emphasizing the role of men in the family and women in farming. For the Projet d’Amélioration de la Santé des Mères et des Enfants (PASME) project, six listening groups in two villages were formed to bring together men, women and youth listeners, and nearly all said the radio program had engaged and educated the whole community — males and females, young and old.
Marceline and 60 other women gathered to listen to and discuss the radio program. They said the program transformed their lives, and their role in the household. “Our husbands gave us land so that we can grow vegetables. This helps us a lot,” Marceline said. Now, she and her neighbours can take responsibility for growing nutritious food to feed their families. “The women of Saria, our lives have changed since listening to the program on Radio Palabre.”


In towns and villages across Malawi, students cheer to greet Dick Shumba, a hip hop artist known as The Diktator and the popular host of a local radio show. The Diktator has youth talking about a topic not often discussed in Malawian schools or homes: adolescent mental health.
Nkhawa Njee — Yonse Bo (Depression Free, Life is Cool) aired its second season this year, once again featuring a radio drama and on-air discussion exploring the stresses youth face, including family and school pressure, as well as the realities of substance abuse, sex and suicide. This popular program is helping to break down stigma associated with mental illness, as part of our “Integrated youth mental health” project.
Peer educators, like Tadala Khonje, help classmates struggling with stress and depression. “I play the role of teaching my other fellow students about depression and helping them better understand depression and why it’s being talked about and how to effectively work towards eliminating it in the school,” said Tadala.

Project Reach


The “Integrated youth mental health” project is made possible with funding from Grand Challenges Canada and support from partners Farm Radio Trust, teenmentalhealth.org, and World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Profiles Tadala Khonje (left) is a student and peer educator at Lilongwe Girls Secondary School, where Lucious Zimba (right) is a teacher.
Curriculum resources and training for teachers have also ensured educators like Lucious Zimba have the tools they need to recognize and support students struggling with mental health issues. As the facilitator of Lilongwe Girls Secondary School’s listening club, Lucious has helped many girls discuss their problems.
But the discussion isn’t limited to the airwaves. The “Integrated youth mental health” project has sparked community-wide conversations about youth mental health, including depression and suicide. “[Nkhawa Njee] has helped me talk to older people because some of the problems they have are depression and stress, as stress is not only for the youth — it’s for everyone,”” said Lucious.
Two radio programs — Nkhawa Njee in Malawi and Positive Mood in Tanzania — have helped start this conversation about mental health in communities across Malawi and Tanzania. For those who now recognize the signs of depression in themselves or family members, the “Integrated youth mental health” project has also ensured there is a network of trained teachers, peer leaders and primary care workers for support.

Inspired by Diktator, students took their own turn talking — or rather, rapping — about mental health. Listen to the impact this project has had on de-stigmatizing mental health issues.


Small-scale farmers make an important contribution to the economy of Tanzania. They are responsible for 75 per cent of agricultural production in the country. Yet farmers often feel their voices are not being heard and their needs are not being met by policy-makers.
In an effort to change this, we conducted the first nationwide farmers poll in Tanzania, called ‘Paza Sauti‘ (“raise your voice” in Swahili). The poll gathered the opinions of Tanzanian farmers and shared these with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete at a landmark event in June 2014.
The poll was conducted using an innovative system developed by Farm Radio International called beep2vote. This system connects radio and cell phones to conduct polls that are free of barriers such as geography, literacy, numeracy and income. Radio broadcasters promoted the poll and encouraged listeners to respond to a series of questions. By calling a dedicated number for “yes” or another for “no,” then hanging up, farmers could register a missed call or “beep” indicating their answer. Almost 9,000 farmers shared their views on Tanzania’s agricultural policy using beep2vote.
“The enthusiastic and widespread participation in the poll is in itself an indication that farmers want to be heard,” said Japhet Emmanuel, Farm Radio International Country Director for Tanzania.
Following the success of ‘Paza Sauti,’ we developed the Listening Post, which asks farmers to provide real-time feedback to development NGOs working in the field. Broadcasters at two Tanzanian radio stations ask farmers to share their opinions on topics related to development projects underway in their region. Broadcasters relay this information, via broadcast and real-time reports, to NGO partners. This opens a new channel of communication, and helps to ensure the development work has maximum impact.
By turning radio into a two-way communication tool, we can ensure that information flows both to farmers in the field and from farmers to the ears of decision makers.
  The ‘Paza Sauti‘ poll was conducted in partnership with ANSAF (the Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum), with the support of The ONE Campaign Africa and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Listening Post project, also underway in Tanzania, is conducted with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Listening Post

SharingOurWork (from left) Martin Tembo and George Atkins at Zambian Broadcasting Corporation; a few of the tasty eats at African Harvest; chefs Andrée Riffou and Jeff Crump at African Harvest; Thank a Farmer campaign.



While traveling in Zambia in 1975, CBC farm radio broadcaster George Atkins was struck by the idea of sharing practical farming information in a world-wide exchange. He learned that his colleagues in developing countries were telling their listeners about expensive agricultural techniques such as chemical fertilizers and tractor maintenance — information that was of little use to average small-scale farmers. He became determined to support other broadcasters in serving these farmers.
It was May 1, 1979, when George Atkins mailed the first script package to 34 broadcasters. It contained useful agricultural information broadcasters could adapt to their local audience’s information needs. With that, Farm Radio International was born.
This year we celebrated our 35 years of work — and the positive impact we have had on the lives of millions of farmers — with a feast. African Harvest was a fun, foodie event that showcased ingredients native to Africa in delicious dishes crafted by Chef Jeff Crump, acclaimed author of Earth to Table and executive chef of the Landmark Group, and Chef Andrée Riffou of Ottawa’s C’est Bon Cooking.
This was a great way for some of our supporters to enjoy the food that is central to many of our projects, such as sweet potato and groundnuts (peanuts). It was also an opportunity for us to thank those supporters who have made the past 35 years possible.

We also shared our impact — and the impact of farmers — far and wide. We once again encouraged Canadians to reflect on the invaluable role of farmers — here in Canada and around the world — with the Thank a Farmer campaign. We asked Canadians to share a personal message of thanks to the women and men who grow their food. Several of these messages were aired by our Canadian and African radio stations around Thanksgiving.
This year’s campaign received more than 100 phone messages, as well as 675 social media follows in support. Listen to some of those messages.

New projects

This year we were very busy forming new partnerships with radio stations, farmers and research centres. Our new projects have focused on improving the quality and consistency of farm radio programming, and amplifying the voices of women and men farmers. These projects, like all our initiatives, take advantage of modern technologies to ensure the experiences and opinions of farmers are shared over the airwaves.



  • Listening Post

    Helping NGOs tune in to farmers’ needs   Farmers have experiences, perspectives, opinions, needs, ambitions and questions that are important to policy-makers,

  • ICT innovations in Ghana and Ethiopia

    Using technology to share agricultural innovations   Radio, video, text messaging, mobile apps and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) can

  • Her voice on air

    Radio for women, by women   Women seek consistent access to reliable and relevant information as they work to become more resilient to the challenges faced by all

  • Demand-driven radio

    Building the capacity of farm radio to meet farmers’ needs   Over the past few years, Farm Radio International has worked closely with select radio stations

  • Climate resilience

    Scaling up resilience to climate changes   Frequent droughts, floods, deforestation and other shocks exacerbated by climate change are affecting the harvest of

  • Potatoes & rice

    Improving harvests with participatory radio   Rice and potatoes are staple foods in many households in Africa, and with timely advice and a place for sharing




Farm Radio International is governed by a board of directors elected for three-year terms. On an annual basis we:

  • — Review our strategic direction;
  • — Draft organizational and program policies as required for the consistent application of our vision, mission and values;
  • — Approve the annual operating plan and budget, and review achievements of the last annual operating plan; and
  • — Review the performance of our executive director.

All directors participate in the work of at least one board-level committee. Some directors also volunteer their skills for specific tasks under the direction of our executive director.
During 2014-2015, the board took on the following additional initiatives:

  • — Approved new corporate vision, mission and tagline statements;
  • — Revised our strategic intentions and five-year goals;
  • — Developed guidelines for selection of agricultural improvements for impact projects;
  • — Developed finance-related project ‘limits’ to clarify when new projects require board-level approval;
  • — Developed new terms of reference for board committees and established a Finance, Audit and Risk Committee;
  • — Reviewed and approved a new management structure;
  • — Approved a gender equity policy for ourselves, our work and our partners;
  • — Welcomed new board member Liz Hughes;
  • — Achieved an agreement with Executive Director Kevin Perkins for a new five-year contract.



Doug Ward
Chair, Board of Directors



Doug Ward (Chair)

Retired radio producer, station manager and vice-president, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

Charles Marful (Vice-chair)

Director, Human Resources Assurance Practice, Ernst & Young LLP

Nancy Brown Andison (Treasurer)

Retired executive, IBM Canada Ltd.

Sarah Andrewes

Vice-president, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Beth Haddon

Journalist and former broadcast executive


Heather E. Hudson

Professor of communications policy, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage

Liz Hughes

Retired CBC journalist and broadcaster

John Morriss

Associate publisher and editorial director, Farm Business Communications


David Okidi

Journalist and former station manager of Uganda’s Mega FM, manager of the Business for Peace project with International Alert, and director and proprietor of ABS FM


Bernard Pelletier

Lecturer and research associate, McGill University


Glenn B. Powell

Freelance writer and communications consultant, and retired CBC farm broadcaster


Caitlynn Reesor

Journalist and broadcaster


Bill Stunt

Director, Production Systems Implementation, Media Operations and Technology, CBC


Jacqueline Toupin

Media and communications consultant and former CBC broadcaster


John van Mossel

Expert consultant at ICFI-Canada and independent climate change and development consultant


Kevin Perkins

Secretary and FRI’s Executive Director



I am pleased to report that in the fiscal year 2014-2015 Farm Radio International undertook strong financial stewardship of the funds entrusted to us by our individual donors and funding agencies. Our organization continues to grow, but in a measured and careful manner that ensures we maintain good control of our finances and receive maximum value for every dollar we spend. This past year saw growth in total revenue of nine per cent, and most importantly an increase of 28 per cent in funds provided by our generous individual donors. Our administration costs remained at 10 per cent of our total expenditures and we spend less than five per cent on fundraising.
An important objective in the coming years will be to establish a small reserve or “rainy day” fund to ensure we have the stability to withstand an economic downturn or unexpected operational cost without impacting our ability to support our African radio partners. This year’s small surplus will provide a start to this initiative.
I am most proud of the financial integrity with which I see our staff both in Canada and Africa operate and I assure you, as Treasurer, of my continued oversight in this regard.

Nancy Brown Andison
Director and Treasurer


An audit of our year-end financial statements was conducted by Deloitte LLP in Ottawa, in accordance with Canadian standards. Click here for a full copy of FRI’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.




This year we recognize five dedicated broadcasters with the 2015 George Atkins Communications Award. This award recognizes farm radio broadcasters for their outstanding commitment and contribution to food security and poverty reduction in low-income countries. These five individuals work tirelessly to serve farming communities through radio.


Djeneba Konare

Djeneba Konare from Radio Welena in Nonzombougou, Mali, has been active in her pursuit of training opportunities in order to better serve her listening audience. Djeneba first connected with FRI through a 2009 scriptwriting course, and has since made several trips to FRI’s Mali office, on her own initiative and with her own funding, to enhance her radio editing and production skills. “Her story demonstrates that a woman with modest means but a lot of courage can contribute to the effectiveness of rural radio,” said Mamadou Bangaly, FRI Country Director for Mali. Read more.


Jefferson Massah

Jefferson Massah of Radio Gbarnga in Liberia has been serving Bong County with regular updates on the local and international response to Ebola, as well as information on how to recognize the disease and where to get help. Jefferson used the lessons he learned in FRI’s training courses, including the 2012 e-course, to ensure The Ebola Situation Report addressed its listeners’ information needs, while featuring the voices of concerned Liberians as well as policymakers. Read more.




Pilirani Chimutu Mazizi from Mudziwathu Community Radio in Mchinji District, Malawi, has been serving groundnut (peanut) farmers with important planting, post-harvest and marketing advice. Her work on Tipindule ndi Mtedza (Profiting from groundnuts) has seen great results. More than 50 per cent of farmers who have heard her program are now using ridge spacing when planting peanuts, and 83 per cent are now sorting their peanuts before taking them to market. Read more.


Clara Moita

Clara Moita from Radio 5 in Arusha, Tanzania, has worked hard to ensure her programs feature the voices of men and women farmers, connecting with her listeners via phone calls, SMS text messages and social media. “It is a participatory radio program and has been popular especially for farmers because of its contents and interactivity that help [farmers] learn more about improved agricultural practices and hence change their attitude and practices from traditional farming methods to improved and modern farming methods,” said Clara. Read more.


Norbert Koudougou Yameogo

Norbert Koudougou Yameogo from Radio Palabre in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, is passionate about the power of radio to serve men and women, broadcasting information they need in their own language. Norbert’s conviction that radio is an essential tool for communicating with rural communities was the reason he was selected by station management to host two FRI programs: one on maternal health and another on nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Read more.


2014-2015 DONORS

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the many individuals, groups, corporations and foundations that gave to Farm Radio International this year. Tens of millions of small-scale farmers and their families benefited as a result of the generosity of our friends and supporters.


We would like to make special mention of the following contributors to our work:


McCain Foundation

  • Africa Rice Center
  • Anne Burnett
  • At the request of Beth Haddon by Tides Canada Foundation
  • CARE
  • CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
  • Commonwealth of Learning
  • David Frere
  • FAIDA Market Link
  • Grameen Foundation
  • Harvest Plus
  • IDEO

Unifor Social Justice Fund

  • International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • James and Philippa Kerr Fund at the Strategic Charitable Giving Foundation
  • Janet & Herb Tanzer Charitable Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation
  • Jeanette Bayduza
  • Laura Tiberti Foundation
  • Les Soeurs de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame


  • Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation — Hughraine Fund
  • Marilyn & Wally King
  • Maurice Walsh
  • Mennonite Foundation of Canada
  • NRI
  • Oscroft
  • Praekelt Foundation
  • R. Howard Webster Foundation
  • Robert I. and Margaret J. Clague Memorial Fund endowed with The Winnipeg Foundation
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada


  • S.M. Blair Family Foundation
  • Susan & Stephen Pond
  • Swiss Foundation For Technical Cooperation
  • Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Wellspring Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation
  • World Vision — Tanzania


Sincere and heartfelt thanks also go out to all members of our Circle of Producers, a group of generous supporters who have each cumulatively donated $1,000 or more to Farm Radio International. The dedicated support of these individuals and families has provided a solid base for our work serving farm radio broadcasters and small-scale farmers across Africa over the years. View the list of new Circle of Producers members.

2014-2015 VOLUNTEERS 

We greatly appreciate the students and professionals who contributed their time, energy and innovative ideas to our work in Canada and Africa over the last year. Thank you for extending our impact in 2014-2015!


  • Laura Angela Bagnetto
  • Andreanne Baribeau
  • Emma Bider
  • Emanuela Campanella
  • Olivia Charlebois-Brandvold
  • Jill Dempsey
  • Veronica Desjardins
  • Kelly Dexter

  • Mark Elliot
  • Noreen Fagan
  • Felicity Feinman
  • David Gutnick
  • Marvin Hanke
  • Lauren Hill
  • Melanie Jansen
  • Jocelyn King
  • Franz Kruger
  • Nicola Luksic
  • Dick Miller
  • Andrew Newton
  • Emilie Preston
  • Wendy Robbins
  • Paddy Roberts
  • Doug Rushton
  • Sally Southey
  • Megan Stacey
  • Mira Van Burck
  • Marina Von Stackelberg
  • Ashley Wright
  • Lisa Xing
  • Ruth Zowdu

Connect with us!

Do you have questions or comments about our work or the content of this annual report? Let us know! Fill out the contact form or get in touch with us through one of the ways listed below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Farm Radio International
1404 Scott Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4M8

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