2013-14 Annual Report
CELEBRATING AND SERVING FAMILY FARMS
We support farm radio broadcasters to strengthen small-scale farming and rural communities across Africa.
This year, we worked with more than 530 radio partners in 38 countries to increase food security and economic prosperity for tens of millions of small-scale and family farmers. Together, we served farmers by giving them access to practical, relevant and timely information to help them produce more and better food for their families and communities. We also gave farmers the opportunity to learn with and from each other by sharing their stories, views and experiences on the air.
In 2014, the UN recognized the important work of small-scale and family farmers by making it the International Year of Family Farming. Small-scale farmers produce more than 70 per cent of the world’s food needs. These farmers work where they live, and have a vested interest in the health of their local communities and environments. It’s a special year for family farmers, and our annual report highlights the impact that our work has had on the men, women, and children who rely on farming — from improving food security, health and nutrition, to growing farming businesses, to strengthening resilience to climate change.
We were a recipient of the inaugural Innovation and Effectiveness Award from the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. Learn more.
We launched our first audio postcard — a blog post accompanied by an audio recording and a striking photo that showcase experiences in the field. Listen to these great stories.
Executive Director Kevin Perkins and Radio and ICT Manager Bart Sullivan were featured in this online discussion of how technology is revolutionizing radio for farmers in Africa ahead of the G8 Summit. Learn more.
Farm Radio International was one of a select few organizations invited to share their work at the African First Ladies Summit, where we announced the launch of the Her Farm Radio initiative. Learn more.
Executive Director Kevin Perkins moved his office to Tanzania to be closer to the record number of new projects underway this year. Listen to him talk about life in Tanzania.
Supporters thanked farmers in Africa and at home through our new Thanksgiving campaign. Listen to their messages of thanks.
Ethiopia Country Director Freyhiwot Nadew presented our work to donors and supporters in Toronto and Ottawa. Learn more.
Our work was featured in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "2013 in Review" photo album. Take a look at the pictures of Kesia Kaaya at her farm in Valeska, Tanzania.
We grew our network of radio station partners to 500 this year. Find out more about the resources and training they receive.
Our work was featured in a BBC Newsday interview with Mercy Karanja of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Listen to Mercy discuss the importance of radio for women farmers.
The Hangar Radio & ICT Innovation Lab opened its doors on World Radio Day this year. Read more about The Hangar team and their groundbreaking work.
Our work was featured in the Ottawa Citizen during International Development Week. Read the piece by FRI's Mark Leclair.
We expanded our reach by starting regular production of Farm Radio Weekly in Swahili. Learn more.
Welcome to the 2013-14 annual report.
2014 is the International Year of Family Farming, and we at Farm Radio International are as committed as ever to serving small-scale farmers and their families.
Family farming dates back thousands of years, but it is not stuck in the past. In fact, small-scale family farmers have been developing in incredible ways — finding new approaches to produce more and better food in a changing climate, organizing to access new markets and bring home a better paycheque, and adopting new ways to manage produce after harvest time so that less food is lost to disease, pests and damage.
Farm radio has also been around for a while (albeit not quite as long as farming). But it is not a relic of the past either. It has also been innovating in delightful and creative ways. We are proud to say that Farm Radio International is at the fore in this “new age of radio,” always looking to apply new ideas and technologies to better serve broadcasters and family farmers.
2013-14 was a busy year for our team, which ran 21 projects in eight countries supported by 12 different funders. The impact and cost-effectiveness of our work is drawing more and more organizations to us that want to share knowledge and give voice to farmers.
A big year like this deserves a big thank you — to our staff, board members, partners, volunteers and donors. Every penny of support and every hour of time has been of great significance to the work of Farm Radio International in 2013-14. We hope that you enjoy reading about all that we have achieved together.
A women’s listening group in the Lake Zone region of Tanzania learn to use the radio they received as part of the orange-fleshed sweet potato project.
To serve women farmers, we need to listen to and respond to their unique needs,” said Karen Hampson, senior program officer at the FRI office in Tanzania. “This means featuring topics that interest them, broadcasting at times that are convenient for them and including their voices in our programs.”
We have ICT innovations like mobile phones and online technologies that can help make good old radio more interactive. So The Hangar is the place where these ideas will be born and brought out into play,” said Bart.
The Hangar has been busy in its first year, with several ideas taking off to enhance our impact across projects. One of the latest innovations is Beep4Weather, an idea that builds off of our beep-to-vote polling technology. A “beep” is a missed call, meaning it’s free to the farmers who call the radio station. By calling a specific number announced on the air, farmers can vote in polls conducted by the radio station, whether the goal is to get ideas for the next show or gather feedback on the program that was just broadcast.
By adding an automated system that calls farmers back after they beep the station, we can provide them with weekly weather reports and related agricultural tips on demand. Journalist Rotlinde Achimpota understands the importance of weather for farmers.
[Beep4Weather] increases [farmers’] ability to make informed decisions in regards to changing weather patterns,” said Rotlinde. “I hope to see it continue because farmers need this service. It will help them have a good harvest.”
A women’s listening group in Uganda puts the lessons they have learned on the radio into practice by planting quality protein maize. Learn more about how Participatory Radio Campaigns help farmers decide whether to implement a new farming innovation, such as planting quality protein maize.
For 24 weeks, the local radio station, Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio, discussed quality protein maize — a variety that is more nutritious, quick to mature and drought resistant.
In Nyabugando, Ansiira Nyirabagenzi chairs a women’s listening group to listen to the radio program. She had this to say about its impact:
I used to grow things to eat. I had no idea what they did nutritionally. I now understand that protein and vitamins are really important for my children. This maize will make us stronger.”
Climate change and nutrition are challenges facing farmers across sub-Saharan Africa, and our PRCs provide farmers with ideas on how to address them. But one solution does not necessarily work for all farmers. So we asked farmers to choose the topic of PRCs airing in their communities.
In Uganda it was maize. In Ethiopia, farmers were interested in managing pests in their lentil and chickpea fields. In Tanzania, farmers wanted to learn about growing vegetable gardens. In Malawi, farmers were interested in organic composting.
The PRC has indeed enabled farmers to change attitudes,” said Bigirwa. “We are now free to associate with the field extension workers, but initially we used to fear them. We now know when to plant, how to space seeds and apply fertilizer, and more.”
“I built two houses, which can act as collateral for credit and loan services. This onion enterprise has changed my life,” said Vicky.
Vicky listens to Moshi FM’s farm radio program Heka Heka Vijijini (Rural Ups and Downs). Her story is one about the upsides of farming — making enough money to pay for children’s education or to buy more land.
Yet for many farmers, the downsides are growing steeper in the face of climate change — with droughts, flooding, poor soil, pests and crop diseases making profits smaller each year.
The Tanzania Household Resiliency Project was implemented by World Vision Tanzania and partners with funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Farm Radio International contributed to this initiative through radio programs that educated farmers about improved seed varieties with increased resistance to disease and pests. The programs also helped farmers improve post-harvest techniques and access to markets.
Over the past year, Moshi FM interacted with 8,893 farmers through text messages and 7,504 farmers through phone calls.
I t’s not much of a rainy season if it doesn’t rain. This is one of the climate change challenges facing farmers in Ghana, and one that radio trainer Sylvie Harrison saw firsthand. “Farmers were having a hard time,” she said.
Sylvie spent the past year in the northern region of Ghana to train broadcasters at four radio stations as part of the CHANGE project. This project, implemented in partnership with Canadian Feed the Children, addressed climate change issues by discussing ways farmers can manage soil health, pests and post-harvest practices.
Training farm radio broadcasters is key to getting quality programs that farmers enjoy — and that include their voices — on the air.
“[The broadcasters] were very attuned to the issues and adapted the discussions to the immediate concerns of farmers,” said Sylvie. “Phone-ins are helpful for that since farmers can talk about their concerns.”
Involving farmers in the radio programs that serve them ensures that they benefit from the advice shared over the airwaves by getting their questions answered and participating in the radio community. Farmers are the life of a farm radio program in many ways.
They [farmers] are passionate about their land and their work, and that gave me energy,” Sylvie said.
As part of the training, Sylvie took broadcasters like Akoose Atubila Daniel into the field to hear from the farmers on the challenges they are facing and how they are addressing them.
“It is a very educational program that focuses on helping farmers and everybody at large,” said Akoose, the editor and occasional host of Time with Farmers, a program on Gurune FM in Bolgatanga, the capital of the Upper East Region.
Trainings organized on this farm radio program […] [are] good for presenters and have built my capacity in various aspects,” Akoose added.
Listeners are also benefiting from higher-quality programs that empower farmers to make informed decisions. Samata Yussif, a groundnut farmer in Kpatchulo, in the Northern Region, listens to the Time with Farmers program on Might FM.
[The radio program I listen to] has helped me to discuss more with my husband to make decisions about the farm and what practices we will use,” she said.
“We enjoy discussing and set aside time to listen; then […] we begin to talk. I am excited and happy because if we come to a consensus and can discuss, it makes us get money and we can take care of our children.”
Read more about how our in-station training is helping broadcasters improve and enjoy their work. And listen to Sylvie describe her work training farm radio broadcasters in Ghana.
Farming is a tough business and a failed harvest can mean food insecurity for farmers. But when farmers hear an engaging and informative show that answers their questions, it can convince them to take the risk and try a new farming practice.
The CHANGE project saw an estimated 93,100 farmers take just such a risk by trying a new farming practice discussed on the radio.
S itting in traffic can be a time for daydreaming or singing along to the latest hit tune, but, for Loiruki Mollel, it’s a chance to learn more about orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) as he tunes in to Radio Maria. In fact, the Kilimo Chetu (Our Farming) radio show was the inspiration for his agribusiness venture.
I was listening to [Radio Maria] and heard a program with farmers talking about the lack of OFSP vines around Dar [es Salaam]. I decided to get into agribusiness and produce OFSP myself,” said Loiruki.
Radio Maria is one of the 15 radio partners throughout Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso helping to promote the benefits of growing and eating vitamin-rich OFSP.
OFSP contains vitamin A — a nutrient vital to keeping children, pregnant mothers and the whole family healthy. The health benefits are what convinced Loiruki that growing and eating OFSP would help small-scale farming families — and make the vines a good business venture.
I became very interested in […] improving children’s nutrition. This, I believe, will be good for the economy and the country at large,” Loiruki said.
The OFSP project has been popular with farmers as well, who enjoy asking questions on the air and hearing answers from extension workers and expert farmers. In Uganda, Radio WA broadcaster Acan Monia Ruth fields many of these calls.
Farmers mobilize other farmers in their communities to listen to their voices over the radio during the PRC [participatory radio campaign] broadcast — which is amazing,” she said.
Maria Mchele prepares orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to cook for her family’s dinner in Mwasonge village, in the Mwanza Region of northern Tanzania.
After 30 episodes of the My Children radio drama, Florence now owns her own plot of land, paid for by selling part of her OFSP crop. Her children are sick less frequently and won’t eat any potato that is not orange. Florence’s relationship with Rolland has even improved, as he has been impressed by her business skills.
Rolland wasn’t the only one impressed. Listeners could not get enough of the radio drama — asking for a second season as soon as the first was done.
The drama needs to continue airing. It shouldn’t stop. It should be aired every day,” said Isac Akanwasa, a 32-year-old father of four from Mabaale One village in Kamwenge District, in western Uganda.
Farmers were also motivated to take up growing OFSP when they heard about the health benefits.
Florence and Nora gave me so much information on [OFSP],” said Maria Tyamisa, a 20-year-old mother of three children from Bukokoba village in Buyende District in eastern Uganda. “We all learned not to just sell it all but to save some for our kids in the village to improve everyone’s health.”
My Children has shown that an entertaining and innovative format best engages farmers — keeping them listening, learning and in contact with the radio station. More than 40,000 listeners sent more than 100,000 text messages to the radio stations to answer poll questions that aired after each episode.
One question was, “What is your plan for planting sweet potatoes in the next season?” Respondents answered by texting a short code and letter to identify their response. More than 55 per cent said they would look for OFSP vines and another 16 per cent said they would plant both orange-fleshed and regular sweet potatoes.
Following its success in Uganda, where My Children aired in six languages, the story has been translated and adapted for broadcast in Tanzania, where Florence, Rolland and Nora will captivate and educate a whole new audience.
Dera Vusata (centre) and three other mothers of the village of Bena, Burkina Faso.
In Burkina Faso, women have an average of six children, but 81 in 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday. Maternal mortality is also high. So we partnered with Radio Palabre to talk about nutrients, vitamins and enriched porridge to help women and children stay strong.
The show has been a huge success, reaching around 400,000 listeners, with more than 2,400 sending text messages to the radio station to answer beep-to-vote polls.
But the success is not just with women — men are actively contributing to the conversation as well. “This was surprising after such a short period of time on air,” said the project’s coordinator, Caroline Montpetit.
Several people we spoke to said men listened to the show with women, together. It has made them aware of things they can do to help their family.”
When I lost my mom, I was heartbroken and I thought it was the end of the world, but I did not know about depression at that time. I was 100 per cent disgruntled, but friends would come and console me and give me words of encouragement and, by and by, I had to accept that these types of things happen,” Chippie said.
There is no word for depression in Chichewa, one of the main languages spoken in Malawi. This made it difficult to talk about depression, a disease that keeps five to seven per cent of youth from participating in school, home life and work.
After discussions with health and government officials, the term “matenda okhumudwa” (disease of disappointment) has been adopted to refer to depression. Equipped with this new term, broadcasters at the three Malawian partner stations in the Integrated Mental Health project can now talk about depression on their youth program Nkhawa Njee — Yonse Bo (Depression Free, Life is Cool).
The program’s radio drama started the conversation, and broadcasters keep it going by connecting with youth on social media channels such as Facebook and including the stories they share online, over the phone and by text messages on the air.
Teachers and health workers are receiving training to discuss matenda okhumudwa in the classroom and help youth who are showing signs of it get the support they need, without stigma.
Armed with support and information, Chippie better understands the feelings he was battling after his mother died.
“After listening to the program I thought, ‘Wow, this is the very way I was. It was depression that I was dealing with.’ So, with this knowledge, I tried to see things differently — to be active and optimistic and see things the right way.”
Youth at a school in Lilongwe, Malawi, discuss mental health to help generate ideas for the Nkhawa Njee — Yonse Bo (Depression Free, Life is Cool) radio drama. Learn more about the mini drama that aired in Malawi on MBC’s Radio 2, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station.
Before the [radio] program I did not know what I could have done to battle the depression, but now I know what things I can do — stay calm and stay focused. If I don’t, I know I am going in troubled waters,” he added.
Salimata Traore (right) was guided in starting her market garden by her mentor Minata Coulibaly (left) during the FarmQuest reality radio series.
Salimata was an applicant for the innovative reality radio series FarmQuest, known as Daba Kamalen in Bambara, the local language of Fana, Mali. The goal of the program was to demonstrate to young listeners that farming can be a viable career option, and not merely a means of subsistence.
Thankfully, Salimata’s mother-in-law was able to convince her husband to not only support the garden, but also provide a plot of land. With the advice of a mentor and further support from the village’s women’s association, Salimata had the tools to start her market garden.
Thanks to the project, I now have my own land to do my gardening,” said Salimata.
Salimata’s garden is now flourishing, but she faced a lot of challenges on her road to success. Some bad seed and long periods without rain made for a difficult season. These are the realities of farming that were featured in each episode of FarmQuest, demonstrating to listeners both the challenges and rewards of farming.
The audience learned alongside the contestants, with farmers’ questions and tips from agricultural experts airing at the end of each episode. The reality radio series was a hit with listeners, proving that innovative storytelling is a great way to engage youth — and teach them along the way.
The experience also made the contestants leaders in their communities. Salimata was the first farmer in Fana to introduce potatoes, and many others are now following her lead.
The introduction of the potato in my gardening was very much appreciated by me and many other women in the village. Some even try to buy planting materials at their own expense now,” Salimata said.
Most of [the listeners] have decided that, to make a profit, they would rather not sell as individuals but join the association,” said Clement.
The introduction of Radio Marketplace has meant broadcasters are more aware of the marketing challenges facing farmers because they now visit the markets, talk with farmers and analyze market operations.
The value chain project has reached an estimated 2.5 million farmers in Malawi and Tanzania and will be expanding to Ghana and Mali as the five-year project moves into its third year.
“We’re making a very huge impact,” said Sheila Chimphamba, a broadcaster with Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi. She sees and hears the difference the project is making each time she visits the field. Lately Sheila has been bombarded with questions about a drying technique for groundnuts (also known as peanuts).
By discussing improved post-harvest drying practices for groundnuts, Sheila is helping her listeners avoid aflatoxin, a by-product of a mould that commonly affects the groundnut plant. It is known to contribute to cancer, and is especially dangerous for children. Aflatoxin keeps many groundnut farmers from getting a good price for their crop.
This information is so valued that farmers share it from village to village, and Sheila faces questions from farmers even when she travels beyond the reach of the radio station’s transmission.
You see this program has reached people who are not in our [broadcasting] area — people who are not even targeted.”
But the best part [is that], through the radio program, laws have been established on the type of sacks that farmers should use in selling their produce. Farmers no longer use the size five (150 kg) but rather the size four (80-90 kg) in selling their maize,” reported Abdul.
The farm radio programs also featured tips on planting, fertilizing, harvesting and post-harvest practices for maize and cowpeas, which are staple crops in the region. Farmers learned to plant in rows and fertilize efficiently, rather than broadcasting (or tossing) seeds and fertilizer.
“Previously, when we practiced broadcasting [the seed], we didn’t get a lot of yield, but now through the radio education we have seen improvement,” said Yakubu Ibrahim, a member of the Hiawoanwu Maize and Cowpea Farmers’ Association, a farming community 120 km north of Kumasi.
The size-four sacks are the new standard at the Ejura Market in the Ashanti Region of central Ghana.
This [project] has helped us to know that farming is a business and not just a way of life,” added Abdul.
We were busy implementing more than 20 projects in eight countries this year. Many of these projects involved introducing new formats, such as radio dramas and reality radio, and integrating new mobile phone applications, such as Beep4Weather.
Proposals for eight new projects were approved during the year, taking our work into new areas such as food standards and education. The six projects below are already underway.
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
Executive director, Ag-Food and Forestry Sectors, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures
Journalist and former broadcast executive
Journalist and broadcaster
Heather E. Hudson
Professor of communications policy, 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, 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 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
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, 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
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
The board of directors oversees management and operations to ensure that FRI 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 2013-14 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 2013-14 fiscal year, FRI 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 comply with ethical requirements and 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 at March 31, 2014, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations.”
The statements reveal a year of unparalleled growth in revenue and activity. The total revenues for the year exceeded $4.96 million, up from $2.91 million in the previous year — growth of 70 per cent. Program expenditures rose from about $2.36 million over 2012-13 to $4.25 million in 2013-14 — growth of 80 per cent. We had unrestricted net assets of $188,030 at the end of March 2014.
Click here for a full copy of FRI’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2014.
Congratulations to Victoria Dansoa Abankwa of Ghana, Gebrehiwot Tesfay of Ethiopia and Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato of Tanzania, winners of the 2014 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 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 2013-14!
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