Many African radio stations struggle to raise money to support their agriculture programs. Recording equipment and taxi fares for reporters to interview farmers in distant villages can be costly. In addition, broadcasters schedule their farmer programs when farmers are available to listen—but that’s not always the timeslot that advertisers prefer.
One private radio station in Ghana’s Ashanti region found a solution. Otec 102.9 FM broadcasts farmer programs as well as news, music, and shows on health and religion to a region with about 3.5 million people.
Otec FM’s agricultural program is a ten-minute segment called Nyansapo Initiative, broadcast during its flagship morning show from Wednesday to Friday. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day in the Twi language from Kumasi, the regional capital.
To raise money for programs, the station runs workshops on rearing rabbits and growing mushrooms. These workshops supplement the station’s other revenue sources, including advertising and program sponsorship.
Ebenezer Amankwah is a reporter, producer, and marketing executive at Otec FM. He participated in Farm Radio International’s recent online discussion for radio broadcasters about generating revenue. During the discussion, he explained that his station used to air a weekend farming program but the timeslot made it hard to attract sponsors. He says: “One thing that is frustrating potential advertisers or sponsors of farmer programs is the frequency of the program. Most of these programs are weekly and normally [broadcast] on a weekend, so most advertisers or sponsors complain of being given little or no mileage during the weekdays.”
Mr. Amankwah and his colleagues decided to try something different. They know their audience includes many young people looking for entrepreneurial opportunities.
Mr. Amankwah explains: “We arrived at the decision of doing something in relation to agriculture, and specifically rabbit raising and mushroom growing, due to the makeup of our audience and their interest in having a part-time business which would fetch them some additional income.”
Every two weeks, the station begins a new round of workshops. Participants pay 110 Ghana cedis (US$24) to take one of the workshops, or 160 cedis (US$34) for both. The station hires trainers from the government or private companies to lead the workshops.
Mr. Amankwah says participants enjoy the workshops and learn enough to start their own project. He says that thorough research into market demand and potential buyers for mushrooms and rabbits helped make the workshops a success. Otec FM sells the mushrooms to a local bakery, and sells the rabbit meat to a nearby farm.
He adds, “My advice to other stations is that they should focus on having a ready market for the produce before starting the training, or else their toil may be in vain and [they] might also suffer [from a] bad image.”
Most of the workshop revenue comes from participant fees. Including income from selling the mushrooms and rabbits, the station earns about 20,000 cedis (US$4,290) per year from the workshops.
This extra revenue helps pay for the station’s day-to-day operations, including equipment, utilities, and transportation costs for reporters.
Otec 102.9 FM is a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner. You can listen online here: otecfmghana.com. We have more than 700 broadcasting partners in 40 countries.
This story originally appeared in Barza Wire and was written by our Barza Wire Advisor, Jaime Little. Barza Wire is our online agricultural news service that shares Farmer stories and resources for us by radio broadcasters.