Video by Jesse Winter
In many discussions about farming practices — both on air and off — women are often overlooked. But women make important contributions in farming families across Africa, comprising more than 40% of the agricultural labour force.
Thanks to FRI programming, women farmers in Yilikpani, Ghana, now outnumber men. But this wasn’t always the case.
“Most of the men in our community did the farming; they did all the farming in the fields,” explains Sahadatu Alhassan. “Before the Farm Radio programming women were not actually allowed to farm. When they introduced us ladies to the programming it was beneficial. Now I cultivate beans, cowpea and occasionally some maize.”
“I learned that farming is not only for men, that women can do it, too,” says Sahadatu.
She listens to a farmer program on Might FM about cultivating cowpeas and maize. The program is part of the “Radio for a farmer value chain development” project, which is one of the projects that are part of our Her Farm Radio initiative. This project integrates gender into the in-station training for broadcasters and program design. It also aims to include women, and their concerns, in many of its episodes.
The value chain project provides small-scale farmers with the knowledge needed to benefit from agricultural value chains. A value chain is each step a product takes before it reaches market — from the use of inputs like fertilizer and seed to post-harvest practices and marketing. This project is reaching farmers in four countries — Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana and Mali — and addressing value chains chosen by local farmers in each. This project won the 2015 WSIS project prize.
Women face many challenges when it comes to farming. Women often grow different crops and use different farming techniques. Due to the triple burden of responsibility of childcare, farming, and household duties, women may have less time to attend meetings, meet with extension agents, or be interviewed by farm radio broadcasters.
Too often the voices and concerns of women farmers go unheard, but our Her Farm Radio initiative aims to change this using a variety of techniques. By putting her voice on air, we can support women and men farmers.
The “Radio for farmer value chain development” project is funded by Global Affairs Canada.