A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Farm Radio International began as an idea. Like most great ideas, it was deceptively simple, prompting the question, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
The idea came about in 1975 when George Atkins, Canada’s leading farm broadcaster, learned that radio programs in developing countries often served the interests of large-scale plantation farms instead of small-scale family farmers struggling to make ends meet. George’s simple yet powerful idea was to generate and share radio scripts designed specifically for subsistence farmers, featuring issues and solutions identified by these farmers themselves, as well as by agricultural research organizations in the Global South.
Ideas continue to be at the core of Farm Radio International. We harvest ideas from African farmers, farming communities and agricultural researchers and share them in far-reaching radio scripts and news stories. Thanks to more than 430 radio partners across Africa, this information reaches tens of millions of farmers over the airwaves — at a cost of pennies per listener.
In 2012-13, we were inspired by an old idea that makes even more sense now than in the past. In 1927, German author Bertolt Brecht recognized the great potential of radio as a tool for dialogue and change. He argued that “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.
In the past year, we brought this powerful idea more centrally into our work through the innovations highlighted in this report. We made important changes to the kind of information we provide to broadcasters and how we share it. We developed new priorities for and approaches to broadcaster training, and worked with select radio stations to produce new, highly interactive programs.