His name is Asio Koku, an agricultural research officer working for Ho Municipality in Ghana. His duties include sending information about new technologies to farmers and assisting with data collection. His encounter with Farm Radio International’s African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) was a simple one. But now he can’t forget how it transformed his life.
In the fall of 2008, Mr. Koku was sent a letter from one of Farm Radio International’s broadcast partners, Volta Star Radio in Ghana, inviting him to attend training. His assumption was that it was to assist them in helping out farmers, but it turned out to be an opportunity for him to receive life-changing education. He was trained as a radio presenter (broadcaster) and was also trained to collect data for the ongoing research in the African Farm Radio Research Initiative. This led to the task of assisting the station in promoting NERICA rice (one of the chosen Participatory Radio Campaigns in Ghana). For the most part during the NERICA rice campaign he worked as a radio presenter and his expertise as an agricultural research officer helped him easily communicate to the farmers.
When given the chance to be trained in radio scriptwriting through Farm Radio International’s online scriptwriting competition, Mr. Kuko took it. However, due to his illiteracy in computer use, he was not able to complete the course. But that did not hold him back – he was given a Sansa (a small MP3 recorder) to record programs and download them to a computer.
“One of my accomplishments due to my involvement with AFRRI is that I am now computer literate and can now do a lot of things with a computer…. I remember the challenge came when we had the face-to-face training of broadcasters. Being a novice to computer use, I was literally sweating under the air conditioner. But today it is history”, said Mr. Koku.
He continues while still laughing about his experience “…. I was thinking broadcasting is beyond my scope. But the training I had with Farm Radio International helped me to effectively communicate with the communities I am serving. Prior to this I was only talking to them, now I communicate with them because I do know what to say, when to say it and how.”
Asio also remarked. “One more advantage of the training was learning to research information on the internet including the ability to access Farm Radio’s scripts which were of great help”.
“In the future, I wish the Minstry of Agriculture takes up the challenge to do radio programming to farmers. Particularly using human (story based) types of programming. Those types of programs are more attractive to the audience. Actual mass communication is a tool for extension purposes however it is not utilised very well. Due to the programs we are producing in the AFRRI project, instead of the extension officer looking for farmers it is the farmer now looking for extension service. Moreover, these days farmers have mobile phones and often call the station after the broadcast. This means they are getting the message and have great interest. I hope this will be taken up by the ministry and we will be able to provide the service even more…”
Girma Hailu, AFRRI Program Officer at Farm Radio International, believes Participatory Radio Campaigns will be successful and sustainable if the capacity of service providers such as extension staff and radio broadcasters continues to improve. “There are several similar stories from many of the 25 radio stations that the AFRRI collaborated with in the past three years. We wish Asio Koku all the best in his future endeavours.”