In today’s high-tech world, it can be easy to overlook the importance of radio. Radio may be old, but it’s still going strong. It continues to serve as the primary source of information for most people in the world.
And it is especially important for rural communities in Africa, where it is the communication tool of choice of some of the world’s most vulnerable people: Africa’s small-scale farmers.
Radio can reach communities at the very end of the development road — people who live in areas with no phones and no electricity. Radio reaches people who can’t read or write. Even in very poor communities, radio penetration is vast.
Most farmers in developing countries won’t have internet access in their lifetime. About four fifths of the world’s people don’t even have access to a telephone. But, with more than 800 million radios in developing countries, an average of one in ten people has a radio.
That’s why, at Farm Radio International, our medium of choice is radio — increasingly, in combination with mobile phones and other information and communication technologies.
Radio scripts can be adapted to suit local conditions. Production is cheap, especially compared to other mass media. Radio encourages farming communities to help themselves, and useful information continues to spread long after the broadcast. And, with the rise of mobile phones, broadcasters can actively involve listeners in their programs. Far from being obsolete, radio is more powerful and interactive than ever before.
Done well, radio can help to transform whole communities for the better.