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.
We celebrated our 35th anniversary with a feast, featuring food from Africa cooked by two fabulous local chefs. Check out the celebration.
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.
We launched a new radio project to connect NGOs with the beneficiaries of their work. Learn more about the Listening Post.
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.
Our 12-week e-course launched in September, with more than 100 participants from more than 25 radio stations. Learn more.
We offered our support to the Ebola Situation Report, airing on Radio Gbarnga in Bong County, Liberia.
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.
We were a panellist at the Food and Agriculture Organization's Forum on Communication for Development & Community Media for Family Farming.
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.
We are now reaching farmers in Niger with the "Scaling up resilience for one million people" project.
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.
The first script package was mailed to 34 broadcasters in 1979. This year we mailed the 100th package to 592 broadcasters.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
Farm Radio International is governed by a board of directors elected for three-year terms. On an annual basis we:
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:
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.
Vice-president, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Journalist and former broadcast executive
Heather E. Hudson
Professor of communications policy, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage
Retired CBC journalist and broadcaster
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
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
Lecturer and research associate, McGill University
Glenn B. Powell
Freelance writer and communications consultant, and retired CBC farm broadcaster
Journalist and broadcaster
Director, Production Systems Implementation, Media Operations and Technology, CBC
Media and communications consultant and former CBC broadcaster
John van Mossel
Expert consultant at ICFI-Canada and independent climate change and development consultant
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
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.
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:
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.
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!
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