Annual Report 2012-13
WHEN RADIO IS MORE THAN RADIO
We support farm radio broadcasters to strengthen small-scale farming and rural communities across Africa.
This year, we worked with more than 430 radio partners in 38 African countries to increase food security and economic prosperity for tens of millions of farmers. Together, we served farmers by giving them access to practical, relevant and timely information, and by engaging them in a conversation to better understand and meet their needs.
Our work has recently been recognized for its innovation, impact and scalability. Themed “Radio 2.0,” this report highlights what we did over the 2012-13 year to be more effective and efficient, and how we used new technology to enhance the already-mighty radio.
We celebrated the 200th issue of FRW!
We received a 2012 Innovation Challenge award from the Rockefeller Foundation for the FarmQuest reality radio project. Learn more.
We celebrated Farmers' Day in Arusha, Tanzania. Learn more.
We had key scripts translated into Swahili and Hausa to improve their accessibility. Learn more.
Four of our staff members climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for our work. Learn more.
Uganda-based board member David Okidi spoke about farming after conflict at a public event in Ottawa. Learn more.
We announced the winners of the 2012 George Atkins Communications Award. Learn more.
Our work with Farm Radio Malawi was featured on CNN. Check out the video and article.
Resources for Broadcasters Manager Blythe McKay spoke at TEDx Mohawk College about how she ended up finding her dream job. Watch her presentation.
In 2012-13, we were inspired by an old idea that makes even more sense now than in the past. … [T]hat ‘radio should step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers.’ In other words, radio is more effective when audience members can go beyond listening to creating — or supplying — content by sharing their stories, solutions, questions and concerns.”
Most women in Kafune Mariko’s village in Mali raise goats or sheep. The 20-year-old mother of two wants a herd of her own in order to support her young family. But Kafune doesn’t have any experience raising livestock, nor does she have the credit needed to buy her first billy goat.
But Kafune’s dream is about to become reality. Radio reality. Through FarmQuest, our innovative new reality radio series (known as Daba Kamalen in Bambara, the local language), Kafune will have access to credit, an experienced mentor and a few goats to start her off. Listeners will follow her story as she competes alongside five other young people to be named Mali’s “Best New Farmer.”
FarmQuest aims to engage young people to show that farming can provide a good livelihood, not just a way to survive. While the majority of the labour force in Mali practices subsistence farming, many young people do not see agriculture as a career choice that can take them out of poverty.
FarmQuest won the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2012 Innovation Challenge and was then selected to receive funding to get the project up and running. The 12-episode series is set to air in the fall of 2013.
Read more about Kafune Mariko (right) and the five other contestants who will be competing to become Mali’s “Best New Farmer” in Farm Radio International’s first reality radio series, FarmQuest. Kafune’s mentor, Alimata Diarra (left), will be advising her as she takes up goat farming for the first time.
Kayondo Abbas, chair and community resource person of the Bugagga Kukola Farmers Group in Central Uganda’s Rakai District, is pictured here with a radio and an orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Storytelling is the essence of radio. This year, we took storytelling to a new level by producing a radio mini-series with a new twist.
During the 30 episodes of the My Children series, listeners will follow Florence, the story’s heroine, as she struggles to grow enough nutritious food to feed her children. They are chronically ill, suffer from diarrhea, and have persistent coughs. But then Florence learns many of these problems can be reduced through diet — by farming and eating orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, an alternative rich in vitamin A compared to the traditional variety.
Florence is fictional, but her story is very real for many families in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why My Children broadcast partners will be employing text messaging technology to engage listeners in interactive polls following each five-minute episode. By sending a free text message in response to questions from broadcasters, listeners will be able to share their ideas and feedback in real time. This makes it easier to identify information gaps, address listeners’ expressed needs, and measure changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour over time.
Blending radio with technologies like mobile phones creates new ways for farmers to discuss issues important to them — without compromising the essence of radio.
M ost farm radio programs aim to provide farmers with the information they need, when they need it. Our award-winning Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC) method goes further, empowering farmers to make an informed decision about a specific agricultural practice.
A PRC is a carefully planned radio series that is broadcast to a specific farming population, over a specific period of time (typically 12 to 16 weeks), designed to help hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers not only understand the improved practice, but also adopt and benefit from it — if they decide it is appropriate for their situation and needs.
Key to all radio campaign programming is listener participation and, by putting farmers at the centre of radio programs, PRCs have a measurable impact throughout the listening areas of the stations that broadcast them. Farmers are consulted to select the topics of the campaigns and the broadcast times, and they actively participate in knowledge-sharing processes as the radio programs are aired. PRCs feature the voices, stories and perspectives of ordinary farmers, providing listeners with the information and support they need to act on the improved practice featured in the broadcast.
This year, Farm Radio International developed 16 PRCs in five countries. Campaigns ranged from new ways to plant teff (a staple grain) in Ethiopia to climate adaptation strategies in Ghana.
A good example of our PRC work this year was in Mali, where radio stations broadcast two PRCs to help farmers deal with one of the greatest obstacles to food security in Africa: striga weed.
Striga attaches itself to the roots of host plants, sapping them of nutrients. When staple crops such as millet and sorghum are attacked by striga, they turn yellow, stop growing and wither. This leads to poor or non-existent harvests and, all too often, hunger. The weed is so hated that it has earned the nickname “witch weed.”
When Noe Diarra’s millet plants suddenly started to yellow, he couldn’t understand why. The plants had been sprouting extraordinarily well just weeks before. Then, he tuned into a PRC episode that changed everything.
The first striga PRC focused on improved striga-resistant sorghum seed and the second on a combination of techniques to rid fields of the pesky weed (collectively referred to as “integrated striga management” or ISM). ISM is a multi-pronged approach of crop rotation, intercropping and fertilization that literally attacks striga from the ground up.
I heard over the airwaves of Radio Moutian that there was a way to get rid of striga. Really, I thought I was dreaming,” he said.
Noe learned techniques to control and prevent the weed, such as intercropping legumes with cereal and penning livestock to provide a ready supply of manure fertilizer.
Vambie Thera also benefited from the PRCs. He had heard about striga, but didn’t think of it immediately when his crops quickly withered one year. Through the radio programs, he learned that striga was worse than he imagined, but that it could be controlled.
Now every night, my family listens to the next part of the story on Radio Moutian. And I’m not the only one – just ask the radio station – [the striga program] has become their flagship show,” he said.
Read more about how a PRC on striga in Mali helped Noe Diarra discover low-tech and affordable ways to protect his millet crops from “witch weed.”
A final evaluation showed that many farmers just like Noe and Vambie also benefited from PRCs. Of those who had access to the full programs, 29 per cent planted improved striga-resistant seeds. Only four per cent of those who had partial access to the program took advantage of the same seeds, while two per cent of those who didn’t hear the program implemented the improvement.
Both Noe and Vambie have already taken steps to prepare for future planting seasons.
I swear that I, Noe Diarra, will sow my field with [good quality seeds] and intercrop legumes. Yes, I will avenge my field with the weapons that Radio Moutian has given us.”
Like a physician for ailing farms, Dr. Adaptation gave Fuseini Alhassan just the prescription he needed: how to store his farm produce to reduce crop losses caused by pests and how to avoid damage from severe weather.
But instead of putting pen to paper, Dr. Adaptation used a microphone to help Ghanaian farmers adapt to climate change. Radio signals carrying the voice of Dr. Adaptation beamed unseen past the drought-resistant baobab and acacia trees to radio sets across the country.
This year, my family will not go hungry,” Fuseini said.
It’s getting harder and harder for African farmers to forecast when the rains will start. Climate change means each growing season could be drastically different from the last. And many small-scale farmers can’t turn to the Internet for information. Unpredictable weather patterns mean farmers have to find creative and innovative ways to feed their families. Broadcasters are helping farmers share those techniques with each other through radio, a widely accessible and affordable medium in Africa.
The radio show had an amazing impact on the lives of our local farmers,” said Benjamin Fiafor, field director at Farm Radio International’s office in Ghana. “Some communities have placed bans on bush burning while others have passed laws to make it compulsory for farmers to replant the trees that they cut.”
Last year’s Dr. Adaptation show on Simli Radio was so successful that plans are in place to expand the program to six additional radio stations in 2013.
Farm Radio International founder George Atkins sent out the first batch of script packages to rural African broadcasters in 1979. His vision was to help broadcasters meet the needs of small-scale farmers by providing them with relevant and practical information that they could use to improve their farms. That was the beginning of the George Atkins Script Service.
[Broadcasters] are able to look at them (scripts), read them, listen to the tape and then interpret it in their local language,” George said in a 2009 interview. “We continue to update the scripts and add new ones, changing the focus to keep in touch with what’s going on. That is such a thrill to me. I pinch myself when I think about what has happened.”
This year, we built on George’s vision by developing Farm Radio Resource Packs (FRRPs). The packages have evolved into much more than just scripts. Broadcasters now receive an assortment of tips and tricks on such things as storytelling techniques, creating interactive programming and reaching both men and women farmers. Our thanks to the Government of Canada for making these improvements possible.
In addition to providing FRRPs online, we have also started printing FRRPs in Tanzania. That means we can keep costs down, support local businesses and ensure broadcasters receive resources more quickly. George would be proud!
Victoria Dansoa cares a lot about small-scale farmers. She is an employee of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture and volunteers to host and produce a regular radio show for farmers on Radio Central, a Ghanaian radio station in Cape Coast. But, until she had training from Farm Radio International, she didn’t know how effective radio could be for reaching farmers and connecting them to one another.
Following her Farm Radio International in-station training, she went into the field with a small audio recorder and interviewed small-scale farmers for the first time. In three years of farm broadcasts, she had never done that before. But, with guidance from Farm Radio International trainer Lydia Ajono, she hit the road to meet — and listen to — her audience.
That experience has really helped me to know that we just don’t know what the farmers want. Always we should get to them and know what they really need before broadcasting anything on the radio.”
Addressing farmers’ real needs and featuring their voices in radio programs intended for them is central to our in-station training. And it pays back handsomely. When Victoria went to visit farmers again after airing programs that included their voices, not only was she famous, but they wanted to tell her more.
You realize that farmers could tell their issues in the form of stories… and you could see that, by speaking on the radio, they could bring in a whole lot of issues you could not get yourself.”
Read more about how our in-station training is transformative for broadcasters like Victoria Dansoa Abankwa of Ghana.
Victoria’s story is one of many we could tell this year. We placed trainers for up to a month in more than 20 radio stations in six countries (Ghana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Uganda). So much of radio in Africa is still in the old, talk-down mode. Our new approaches, shared with radio station partners through our innovative in-station training program, are bringing African farm radio into the future.
I have really learned to make farmer programs that will really catch the attention of farmers,” Victoria said.
Read more about award-winning farm radio broadcaster Jefferson Massah, pictured here interviewing Bandu Kerkulah of the Melekie Rural Women Agriculture Cooperative in its rice field in central Liberia.
Jefferson Massah considers himself to be a member of the Farm Radio International family.
As a rural radio journalist at Radio Gbargna in Liberia, he uses the skills gained from Farm Radio International’s farmer program e-course on a regular basis.
Jefferson was one of 85 African radio practitioners who participated in this 12-week online course from September to December 2012. He and other participants learned how to design a high-quality weekly radio program for farmers. Course modules focused on subjects such as making radio useful for farmers, identifying audience needs, using storytelling to make programs more interesting, gathering audience feedback and securing financial and in-kind support.
While the e-course is over, the skills Jefferson learned continue to pay off. Literally.
The just-ended training is really helping me a lot. I am grateful to inform you that my station has reinforced its agriculture radio program and is now partnering with ACDI-VOCA [a US-based economic development organization] to produce a weekly radio program that promotes value chain [development] in vegetable production,” he said.
Farm Radio International’s Manager of Resources for Broadcasters, Blythe McKay, said she was impressed by participants’ dedication to improving their programming for farmers.
Jefferson has shown amazing initiative to put into practice what he learned through the e-course,” she said after learning that Jefferson successfully secured funding for his program.
Jefferson coordinates the agriculture radio program, which airs on two radio stations in the region. He is not only passionate about broadcasting the information farmers need to know, but also about passing on his knowledge to other broadcasters.
I provided training for my colleagues at Radio Saclepea in agriculture radio programming before the commencement of the radio campaign,” he said.
While Blythe notes that “farmers are the real winners” of the e-course because they get access to better radio programs, broadcasters like Jefferson are winners too.
The Press Union of Liberia recently recognized Jefferson for his efforts after he wrote a story about women in agricultural development in Liberia. He was named Development Journalist of the Year.
I employed all the skills acquired from Farm Radio to produce a very good report from a rice processing centre managed by a group of rural women in central Liberia,” he said. “I am very pleased to imprint my contribution to the ‘achievement column’ of Farm Radio International as one who has immensely benefited [from] its training program.”
You might be wondering: “What’s Barza?” We’re glad you asked.
Barza.fm is our new and improved online community for African rural radio broadcasters. Barza is a French-Congolese word with Swahili roots that means “a place where people in a village meet under a tree and talk.” We launched Barza.fm to create an online village of rural African radio broadcasters who work together to help small-scale farmers improve their food security, farming practices and livelihoods.
With the click of a mouse, Barza lets broadcasters share useful resources like radio scripts, audio clips and advice with others from across the continent. They can create personal profiles, participate in discussion forums, share photos and audio clips and find a wide range of fascinating and useful broadcasting resources.
The platform has increased my understanding of the needs of small-scale farmers,” said Carole Leuwé, editor-in-chief and presenter of Il faut le savoir at radio Nostalgie 96FM in Douala, Cameroon.
Last September, Carole participated in Farm Radio International’s workshop for Barza users in Arusha, Tanzania. She says the training workshop helped her understand better ways of presenting agriculture issues.
Before Barza, I had to rely on networks and coalitions to access information and this was time-consuming and difficult,” she said. “In terms of increased access to relevant information in one place for broadcasters, Barza has done a great job.”
It was an exciting year for Farm Radio International, with many new projects launched. In fact, of the 29 project grants we applied for, we were awarded 18! That’s a success rate of 62 per cent! Here are just some of the many new projects underway. To view all current projects, please see the project page on our website.
Doug Ward (President and 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
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Alberta, and Business Unit Manager, Bioresource Technologies, Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures
Journalist and former broadcast executive
Heather E. Hudson
Professor, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage
Partner, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
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, Director/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 Bill Stunt Director, Production Systems Implementation, Media Operations and Technology, CBC Jacqueline Toupin Media and communications professional John van Mossel Senior Consultant, ICF-Marbek, Ottawa ________________________________________________________________ Kevin Perkins Secretary and Executive Director
Associate Publisher and Editorial Director, Farm Business Communications
Journalist and former Station Manager of Uganda’s Mega FM, Manager of the Business for Peace Project with International Alert, Director/Proprietor of ABS FM
Lecturer and Research Associate, McGill University
Glenn B. Powell
Freelance writer and communications consultant, and retired CBC farm broadcaster
Director, Production Systems Implementation, Media Operations and Technology, CBC
Media and communications professional
John van Mossel
Senior Consultant, ICF-Marbek, Ottawa
Secretary and Executive Director
The board of directors oversees management and operations to ensure that Farm Radio International advances its mission of supporting broadcasters to strengthen small-scale farming as efficiently, economically and effectively as possible.
On a yearly basis, we:
In addition, all directors serve on either our program committee or our fundraising and public engagement committee.
Specific board initiatives in 2012-13 included:
We thank our donors, Executive Director Kevin Perkins, and our dedicated staff in Africa and Canada for a year of exceptional achievements.
Chair of the Board of Directors
Over the 2012-13 fiscal year, Farm Radio International managed the resources entrusted to us by our donors to deliver invaluable services to African broadcasters and small-scale farmers, with impressive, measurable results.
An audit of our year-end financial statements was conducted by Deloitte LLP in Ottawa, in accordance with Canadian standards. These standards require that auditors obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement. The audit involved procedures aimed at obtaining evidence about the amounts and disclosures provided in the financial statements.
Based on these procedures, the auditors offered their unqualified opinion that “the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Farm Radio International as of March 31, 2013, March 31, 2012, and March 31, 2011, and the results of its operations and cash flows for the years ended March 31, 2013, and March 31, 2012, in accordance with the Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations.”
The statements reveal a year of significant growth in revenue and activity for Farm Radio International. The total revenues for the year exceeded $2.9 million, up from $2.16 million in the previous year — growth of 35%. Program expenditures rose from about $1.75 million over 2011-12 to $2.36 million in 2012-13 — growth of 37%. We had unrestricted net assets of $168,270 at the end of March 2013.
Click here for a full copy of Farm Radio International’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.
Congratulations to Kasooha Ismael and Anthony Lwanga of Uganda and Lydia Ajono of Ghana, winners of the 2013 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 three 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 Circle of Producers list.
We greatly appreciate the journalism, communications and international development students, technical volunteers and professional mentors 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 2012-13!
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