• FRI logo


    2013-14 Annual Report



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.



  • CCIC Innovation and Effectiveness Award

    We were a recipient of the inaugural Innovation and Effectiveness Award from the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. Learn more.

  • File photo of first audio postcardHearing our impact

    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.

  • Barza logoBarza discussion of agricultural value chains

    We hosted a discussion about agricultural value chains on Barza, our online community for African radio broadcasters, to help them understand this important topic. Check out the discussion.

  • G-Everyone Google Hangout screengrabG-Everyone Hangout

    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.

  • My Children recorded in studioRadio drama hits the airwaves

    The My Children radio drama premiered its first of 30 episodes on ten radio stations in Uganda. Listen to the episodes and read more about the project below.

  • Japhet Emmanuel at African First Ladies SummitAfrican First Ladies Summit

    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.

  • Savings Lives at Birth logoSavings Lives at Birth

    Our Husbands as Partners campaign was a finalist in the Savings Lives at Birth competition. Read more about our innovative proposal.

  • Kevin Perkins addresses reportersKevin moves to Tanzania

    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.

  • FarmQuestFarmQuest reality radio premieres

    The first of 12 episodes of the FarmQuest reality radio show hit the airwaves in Mali. This program was designed to show youth that farming can be a rewarding business. Meet the candidates here.

  • Thanks a Farmer bannerThank a Farmer

    Supporters thanked farmers in Africa and at home through our new Thanksgiving campaign. Listen to their messages of thanks.

  • International reporter interviews farmerInternational Reporting Project

    Digital journalists from across the globe visited our Tanzania office to learn about our work. Read The New York Times blog post by one of the visiting journalists here.

  • From Hunger to Hope

    Ethiopia Country Director Freyhiwot Nadew presented our work to donors and supporters in Toronto and Ottawa. Learn more.

  • Gates photoPicture-perfect yearbook

    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.

  • FarmQuest file photoIn the news

    Our work was featured in a Huffington Post blog by Melinda Gates, and a story on FarmQuest, written by Marc Ellison, ran in the Toronto Star.

  • broadcaster500 partners

    We grew our network of radio station partners to 500 this year. Find out more about the resources and training they receive.

  • newsdayBBC Newsday

    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.

  • hangar logoThe Hangar opens its doors

    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.

  • Citizen logoInternational Development Week

    Our work was featured in the Ottawa Citizen during International Development Week. Read the piece by FRI's Mark Leclair.

  • Farm Radio Weekly logoFarm Radio Weekly: Swahili edition

    We expanded our reach by starting regular production of Farm Radio Weekly in Swahili. Learn more.

Welcome to this year’s annual report

Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



Executive Director Kevin Perkins &
Chair of the Board of Directors Doug Ward


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.


Read the full message from Kevin and Doug.

New Initiatives

Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

HER FARM RADIO: Ensuring radio reaches all farmers

Her Farm Radio 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.


When it comes to getting much-needed agricultural support, Africa’s women farmers are often overlooked. Resources and services are directed primarily to male farmers, bypassing the female farmers who do approximately 70 per cent of the work.
“Women are not allowed to have males’ phone numbers, even the number for extension officers [agricultural advisers] and the village leaders. We cannot even invite male extension officers to our farms when we need them. If you do so then expect major problems with your husband,” said a woman farmer from the town of Kiranjeranje, Tanzania.
Women lack control over radios and cell phones, and may not be able to read written support materials, meaning they miss out on valuable advice that can help them improve the productivity of their farms. Without support, their family’s food security and nutrition is at risk.

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.”

While all of our projects are designed to benefit men and women, the Her Farm Radio initiative ensures that projects pay special attention to the needs and interests of women farmers. Special efforts to engage female farmers include women-only listening groups that give them timely access to radio and safe spaces for discussion. Women-only phone-in lines (introduced in the value chain project) have increased participation to the point that half of all calls aired are from women farmers looking to share their experiences and questions.

Efforts are also being made to make sure that radio programs are appealing to women by discussing the crops they grow, the tools they use and the unique challenges they face. Particularly popular with women listeners was My Children, a radio drama with a strong heroine that aired in Uganda to encourage the cultivation of nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Since Her Farm Radio was introduced in July 2013, an estimated two million women have been reached through the projects that make up this initiative.
 During the FarmQuest project, we met Salimata Traore, a young woman who overcame her father-in-law’s resistance to start her own market garden business. Watch her story.
Learn more about our Her Farm Radio projects.


THE HANGAR: Where ICT innovations take flight

The Hangar An old garage became our new radio and ICT innovation lab, known as The Hangar. Listen to Radio and ICT Manager Bartholomew Sullivan explain the inspiration behind the space.

The Hangar was once a simple garage, targeted to become extra office space when the Tanzania office became too crowded. But today it’s more than just an office — it’s our radio and ICT innovation lab, the place where “radio 2.0” and information communication technology (ICT) come to life.
“We decided it looked a little bit like an airplane hangar […] and we also liked the idea of the hangar as the place where you store planes that are going out to flight,” explained ICT and Radio Manager Bartholomew Sullivan, “captain” of The Hangar.

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.”

Learn more about Beep4Weather.

beep for weather Rotlinde Achimpota (right) records a Beep4Weather forecast with FRI ICT and Radio Developer Kassim Sheghembe. Check out the full forecast.

Through The Hangar, we are also measuring our impact with innovative mapping technology. Using statistics on the type and height of a radio station’s transmitter, we can map its radio signal coverage. Combine this with population data, and we can estimate the number of potential listeners in a given area.
This is powerful for our work and for the radio stations, according to David Mowbray, FRI’s manager of training and standards. “It’s a game changer, knowing where the signal can go and where it can’t,” he said. “It’s a revelation to show the radio station where the signal goes.”
Radio reach This map shows the reach of Sauti ya Injili, an FRI partner station whose radio signal is blocked by Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.

By mapping our partner radio stations’ reach, we can also identify communities that cannot access radio programs, such as Engare Njarobi in Tanzania.
With Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in the way, this community could not hear Sauti ya Injili’s program until Radio Boda-boda brought the program straight to the community — by motorcycle rather than over the airwaves.


 Learn more about how Radio Boda-boda is going the extra mile to serve farmers.


THANK A FARMER: A Thanksgiving campaign


Around the world, farmers work tirelessly to grow the food we eat each and every day.
This fall, we partnered with Ontario broadcaster myFM to celebrate farmers through the Thank a Farmer campaign — just in time for Thanksgiving!
We encouraged people to share their personal messages of support for farmers, and collected them using the same interactive voice response technology we use in Africa to gather the voices of farmers. Some of these messages were then shared in Africa through our partner radio stations and in Canada through myFM.
The messages were heartfelt — and they helped raise funds for our work, with a generous anonymous supporter making a donation for each message received by Thanksgiving Day.

Listen to the messages thanking farmers shared through the Thank a Farmer campaign.

Broadcasting Change

Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

PRCs: When farmers choose the topic, they get results

PRCs 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.

Many farmers in the town of Nyabugando, Uganda, grow maize — just like farmers across the country. So when these farmers were asked what they would like as a topic for a Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC), they chose 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 results of this project show that, when given the opportunity to select the focus of PRCs, farmers tend to choose topics that are already familiar to them and are consequently more open to trying new things — such as the improved practices discussed on the air. Through this multi-country, multi-focus project, an estimated 426,000 farmers —  including 160,000 women — have tried a new improvement because they heard about it on the radio.
Farmer Bigirwa Gerald has witnessed a real difference in his community because of the quality protein maize program on Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio.

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.”

The demand-driven Participatory Radio Campaigns were on the air with Oromia Mass Media Agency in Ethiopia, Nkhotakhota Community Radio in Malawi, Radio 5 in Tanzania and Kagadi Kibaale Community Radio in Uganda. This project was funded by Irish Aid and implemented in partnership with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africathe Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research and Farm Radio Trust.

HOUSEHOLD RESILIENCY: Balancing the ups and downs of farming

Vicky Vicky Mwanga is a mother of three who has taken up onion farming. Listen to how radio has helped her improve her crop.

The Tanzania Household Resiliency Project was implemented by World Vision Tanzania and other partners, with funding Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. It aired on Moshi FM.

Vicky Mwanga grows onions, which — with the help of a radio program — have improved the well-being of her family.
The 42-year-old farmer from the village of Ngage, in the Manyara Region of Tanzania, is now able to afford school fees for her three children, and much 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.


CHANGE: Good for farmers and for broadcasters

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.

The CHANGE project was implemented in partnership with Canadian Feed the Children, with funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Broadcasting partners involved in this project are Gurune FM, Might FM, Radford FM and Zaa Radio.


PARTICIPATORY RADIO makes for healthy business

dickson mhoro Dickson Mhoro admires his field of orange-fleshed sweet potato vines, which he began with his business partner Loiruki Mollel.


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.

The OFSP project is on the airwaves in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania and Uganda in partnership with 15 radio stations, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and technical support from Helen Keller International and Sweet Potato Action for Security and Health in Africa.

Listen to researcher Frank Quiquche Aka explain how to convince farmers to grow the nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potato.

A LITTLE DRAMA can be good for you

When the story of Florence, her husband, Rolland, and their neighbour, Nora, began in June 2013, it was a story of sick children, fights over land and Nora’s push to get Florence to grow nutrient-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).


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.

kafune Ida Nakuya (left) plays Florence and Douglas Kasule (right) plays Rolland in the Ugandan version of the My Children radio drama. Listen to five episodes of the drama recorded in English.

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.

The My Children radio drama aired on 10 radio stations in Uganda. It was produced in partnership with Harvest Plus and USAID. Also check out the polling results from TRAC FM.


Focus on the FAMILY in family farming

PASME Dera Vusata (centre) and three other mothers of the village of Bena, Burkina Faso.

The women and men farmers who listen to our radio programs are not just farmers — they are business owners, members of a community and, most importantly, members of a family. This year, we have taken to the airwaves to address an important aspect of family farming — maternal and newborn health.

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.”

This sets the tone for healthier families and family dynamics once the children are born, as well. “It also means that men are more involved in the household, including children’s education decisions and nutrition,” added Caroline.
With men participating in the discussion, the whole family is aware of ways to assist the mother-to-be, such as lightening the workload and accompanying women to health centres for prenatal checkups — as well as setting aside money for such visits. The result is better decision-making in these families, as everyone’s needs are considered.
The PASME project is being implemented in partnership with World University Service Canada, with funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. It airs on Radio Palabre.


TALKING ABOUT mental health

Chippie is a teen like any other in Lilongwe, Malawi — with school, chores, friends and family to occupy his time.
And, like many youth, he battles stress and depression, particularly after the death of his mother.

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.”

mental health 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.

The Integrated Mental Health project will be taking these lessons to Tanzania in the year ahead. The project was implemented in Malawi with support from our strategic partner Farm Radio Trust and mental health training provided by Dr. Stan Kutcher of Dalhousie University. This project is generously funded by Grand Challenges Canada.


A NEW REALITY: From farming the family fields to farming as a business

salimata Salimata Traore (right) was guided in starting her market garden by her mentor Minata Coulibaly (left) during the FarmQuest reality radio series.

W hen we met Salimata Traore, the 32-year-old mother of four was interested in expanding her vegetable garden to sell produce in the market. But she faced opposition from her father-in-law, who preferred that she dedicate her time to the family fields.


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.

kafune Kafune Mariko was another young entrepreneur in the FarmQuest reality radio series. She began raising goats for milk. Check out her story and those of the other contestants on our YouTube channel.


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.

The FarmQuest reality radio series was produced by Radio Fanaka and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.


VALUE CHAINS: Bringing radio to the marketplace

For years we have taken farm radio broadcasters into the field to ensure that farm radio programs feature the voices, opinions and successes of farmers. Now we are taking radio into the marketplace so that listeners can benefit from high-quality, timely information about selling their produce.
Radio Marketplace has become a feature of the farm radio programs that are part of the value chain project in Malawi. (A value chain is the sequence of activities that take place to bring a product or service to market.) The Radio Marketplace segments share suggestions for preventing post-harvest loss, compare prices and provide tips on good business practices, helping farmers to receive higher returns for their hard work.
One tip discussed on the radio is that farmers can receive a better price if they sell in bulk as a collective, explained Clement Shema, radio impact programming specialist with Farm Radio Trust, our strategic partner in Malawi. Farmers have been quick to adopt this suggestion.

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).

Sheila Radio broadcaster Sheila Chimphamba interviews farmers for her program with Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi.


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.”

For the value chain project, we partnered with Mwambao FM and Pride FM in Tanzania and the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Malawi. The value chain project is funded by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.


PURCHASE FOR PROGRESS: Marketing change over the airwaves

Farming is a tough business, relying on good weather, hard work and fair prices at the market. Yet farmers are frequently faced with a shortage of rain, too much work and buyers who shortchange them.
Without a standard bag for selling their produce, many farmers in Ghana are cheated by middlemen who pass a larger, heavier sack off for one of a smaller size. But, with help from FRI, the World Food Programme and two of our partner radio stations, the tables have turned for farmers in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
Obuoba FM and Akyeaa FM have aired farm radio programs that emphasized this bagging and pricing problem, featuring the stories and opinions of chiefs, elders, farmers and farmers’ organizations. These programs resulted in by-law changes throughout seven districts and municipalities, with police now ensuring that the standard bag is used to sell maize.
The programs “help us know the prices of maize and cowpea on other markets and make informed decisions on when and where to sell our produce,” said Abdul Raman Yangah, leader of the Nkwariedee Farmers’ Association in Dromankuma, a village 150 km north of Kumasi in central Ghana.

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.

bagsThe size-four sacks are the new standard at the Ejura Market in the Ashanti Region of central Ghana.

Armed with this information, farmers can reach new buyers, such as the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative. Purchase for Progress buys surplus crops from farmers for use in the World Food Programme’s relief, school feeding and safety net programs. This project is expected to impact 200,000 farmers, including 16 farmers’ organizations.
“We have received a lot of benefits from the radio education. Previously, in this area, we used only mud bricks in building our houses, but currently we use cement blocks. This is because we have seen improvement in our farming and yield has also improved,” said Yakubu.

This [project] has helped us to know that farming is a business and not just a way of life,” added Abdul.

This project, which links farmers to markets in Ghana, is implemented in partnership with the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative.


New Projects

Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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.





Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



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


Anthony Anyia

Executive director, Ag-Food and Forestry Sectors, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures


Beth Haddon

Journalist and former broadcast executive


Caitlynn Reesor

Journalist and broadcaster


Heather E. Hudson

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


Graham McLeod

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



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:

  • Review strategic intentions, and approve a detailed plan and budget for the coming year;
  • Review the achievement of the past year’s plan;
  • Support the executive director and evaluate his performance; and
  • Ensure that we have appropriate board-level policies to focus and expedite FRI’s work.


In addition, all directors serve on either our program committee or our fundraising and public engagement committee.


Specific board initiatives in 2013-14 included:

  • Reviewing and approving recommendations to provide more focused services to farm radio broadcasters, based on the African Rural Radio Program Analysis (ARRPA) report that documented the current state of farm radio programs across the continent;
  • Revising the organizational vision statement as the beginning of an exercise to revise our strategic intentions in 2014-15;
  • Establishing board member term limits;
  • Launching a study to establish policy guidelines for approving agricultural improvements featured in our impact projects; and
  • Commencing a process to revise the terms of reference of an augmented system of board committees.


We thank our donors, Executive Director Kevin Perkins, and our dedicated staff in Africa and Canada for a year of exceptional achievements.




Doug Ward
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.





Photo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


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.



Victoria Dansoa Abankwa, an agricultural officer in Ghana, produces and hosts two radio programs on Radio Central, which can be heard in the Central Region and parts of the Western and Ashanti regions of Ghana. Victoria began as an avid listener and grew to be a regular contributor and then producer of a farmer show called Akuafoa Kyefa (Farmers Bit) and recently started a show to discuss orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Victoria is dedicated to hearing from the farmers she serves. Four years ago, when the Akuafoa Kyefa program ran into financial challenges, Victoria provided the funds so she could continue to visit farmers in the field. She continues to fund the show along with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.




Gebrehiwot Tesfay has worked at Dimtsiwoyane Radio Station in Ethiopia since September 2007, first as a reporter and now as assistant editor. He has participated in several FRI trainings and trains other journalists as well. He is most proud of this work on the weekly farmer radio program, for which he visits farmers in the field, presents successful agricultural practices and discusses the challenges that farmers face. Gebrehiwot produces an exemplary farm radio show, incorporating research, live discussions and call-ins from farmers. Farmers listen each week to get needed information and to hear the voices of their colleagues.



The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato was the founder of a farmer program on Mwambao FM, in the Tanga Region of coastal Tanzania. The popular radio broadcaster, known as “Kikwato Junior” by his avid listeners, became a leading producer and broadcaster of a Participatory Radio Campaign in the value chain project. In just a year, Kikwato Junior took steps to ensure women farmers were engaged in Sauti ya Mkulima (Voice of a farmer) by introducing a special call-in line for women and starting a blog that, among other things, promoted women’s rights. Kikwato Junior passed away in June 2014, but his legacy of promoting the voices of women farmers will always be remembered.


2013-14 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:



  • Anne Burnett
  • McCain Foundation
  • Oscroft Ltd.
  • Anglican Church of the Incarnation
  • Bax Investments Ltd.
  • At the request of Beth Haddon by Tides Canada Foundation
  • Canadian Pork Council
  • CanFund
  • Les Charités des Soeurs du Sauveur Inc.
  • CL Copland Family Foundation
  • Concertmasters Inc.
  • Deemcque Investment Ltd.
  • Emmanuel United Church
  • Felican Sisters
  • Freyvogel
  • Graeme Moffat Memorial Fund — Oakville Community Fund


  • David Frere
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of London
  • Harambee Farms
  • James and Philippa Kerr Fund at the Strategic Charitable Giving Foundation
  • Janet & Herb Tanzer Charitable Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation
  • Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation — Hughraine Fund
  • Laura Tiberti Foundation
  • Marshamite Ltd.
  • McGeachy Charitable Foundation
  • Mennonite Foundation of Canada
  • Nancy’s Very Own Foundation


  • Marilyn & Wally King
  • S.M. Blair Family Foundation
  • NA Taylor Foundation
  • Oegema Turkey Farms Inc
  • Robert I. and Margaret J. Clague Memorial Fund endowed with The Winnipeg Foundation
  • Rosa Flora Ltd.
  • Santa-Barbara Family Foundation
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame
  • Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough


  • Les Soeurs de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame
  • Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception
  • St. Catherine’s Anglican Church
  • Stephan Acres
  • Stephen Ross & Mary O’Riordan Family Foundation
  • St. Luke Anglican Church Women — Palermo Church.
  • Valleybrook Gardens
  • Vamplew Farms
  • Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd.
  • Wellspring Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation
  • White Star Foundation


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!


  • Juanita Bawagan
  • Adam Bemma
  • Archana Bhatt
  • Lisa Marie Borrelli
  • Julia Burpee
  • Kadidia Coulibaly
  • Abena Dansoa Danso
  • Mark Elliott
  • Marc Ellison
  • Korotoumou Fomba

  • Sara Frizzell
  • Sylvie Harrison
  • Lauren Hill
  • Jenna Hobin
  • Elinisafi John
  • Leonard Jonas
  • Katelyn Jones
  • Thad Kerosky
  • Gerald Kinissa
  • Salimata Kone
  • Joachim Laizer
  • Heriel Lazaro
  • Irene Massawe
  • Janelle Meager
  • Graham McLeod
  • Karine Morin
  • Elizabeth Nadurille
  • Stephanie Needham
  • Loïc Nogues
  • James Nusura
  • Elias Oscar
  • Erica Pomerance
  • Maghen Quadrini
  • Wendy Robbins
  • Patrick Roberts
  • Stéphanie Rochon
  • Stephen Sherman
  • Mark Stiles
  • Tomek Sysak
  • Mira van Burck

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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 to the left 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