Enhancing staple crop production in Ethiopia

Staple crops are the foundation of family meals and a key to food security in rural Africa. Small-scale producers in Ethiopia have grown staple foods such as teff, sorghum, beans, maize and wheat for their families and their wider communities for centuries. Though admired for their deep knowledge of indigenous seed varieties and agricultural practices, these farmers have faced severe challenges over the last century, such as chronic food shortages and famine.

Small-scale farmers in Ethiopia are committed to making their country and communities self-reliant in staple food production. Achieving this goal will mean sharing knowledge, accessing information and having opportunities to communicate needs and priorities. As elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, interactive radio programs provide an excellent way for small-scale farmers to share knowledge and amplify their voices. Through a four-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Farm Radio International is working with Ethiopian radio stations to develop interactive and highly effective radio programs about teff, sorghum, wheat, beans and maize cultivation.

Potatoes are a popular vegetable in rural Ethiopia, but several factors prevent farmers from maximizing their harvest, including poor soil, poor seeds and lack of rain. Improved seed quality, information on preventing bacteria growth and the promotion of vitamin-rich orange-fleshed sweet potatoes could give farmers a better and more nutritious harvest.
This project aims to use radio to provide farmers in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region with the information and advice they need to better tackle these challenges in order to achieve food security for their families and communities.
Farm Radio International is working on a participatory agricultural radio series to follow the potato-growing season, providing technical information and support. This program will provide potato farmers with information on the benefits of changing their practices, while giving them the opportunity to share their questions and experiences.
This project is conducted in partnership with the International Potato Centre.

Knowledge is power, but policy-makers often focus on what they should tell  farmers instead of what they need to hear from farmers.  Farmers in their fields, communities and markets have experiences, perspectives, opinions, needs, ambitions and questions that are important to policy-makers, as well as program managers with NGOs, extension officers and agricultural researchers.

The goal of this project is to connect these farmers with those who need to hear them — including Farm Radio International and our partners.  This project will take advantage of mobile phones, multimedia and FM radio to build a two-way communication relationship with farmers. The Listening Post Service in Tanzania will gather stories and information from farmers using SMS and beep-to-vote polls and field trips by radio producers and broadcasters.

This project is made possible with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the Mtwara and Lindi regions of Tanzania, 87 per cent of farmers are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Without rain, their food security is at risk. The area has good potential for growth, but has been experiencing low rainfall in recent years. The Lindi region also has one of the highest percentages of households without access to extension advice. Agricultural extension services can provide farmers with the technical advice they need to overcome these challenges.

This project uses radio to extend the reach of agricultural extension services in a low-cost, long-term way. Radio will be used to provide technical information, guidance and support around agricultural practices for farming rice and sesame. Radio will also be used to provide farmers with market information, such as access to inputs, prices and buyer information. The airwaves be used as a way for farmers to discuss, share experiences and raise issues of importance to them.

The project aims to reach over 160,000 farmers in Mtwara and Lindi regions, supporting the uptake of improved farming practices and supporting the partner radio station in continuing to produce and broadcast regular effective farm radio programs after project end. This project supports the work of our partner, the Aga Khan Foundation Tanzania’s Coastal Rural Support Programme (CRSP(T)), which aims to scale up improved rice and sesame production in two regions of southern Tanzania.

Climate change is an immediate and unprecedented threat to the food security of hundreds of millions of people who depend on small‐scale agriculture for their livelihoods. Climate change is contributing to erratic rainfall patterns, flooding, drought and other extreme weather events, deforestation and desertification.

Farmers in Ghana must learn about climate change and be supported in adopting new practices that help mitigate its impacts on agriculture. Adaptation can include practices that conserve water, protect soil, produce crops in drier conditions and quickly adapt to erratic weather. Yet farmers are often unaware of these methods or their advantages.

The goal of this project is to provide farmers with the information they need to make informed decisions about adapting their farming practices in the face of climate change. In partnership with Ghana’s Department of Agricultural Extension Services and the German International Cooperation (GIZ), four radio stations will broadcast 40 weeks of programming to eight communities in northern Ghana. Topics will include adaptation measures such as row planting, stone bounding and avoiding unnecessary tree felling and bush fires. The programs are expected to reach 250,000 farming families.

Cassava is a great staple crop, growing well despite long dry periods. It is also highly nutritious,  its starchy root full of vitamin C and its leafy greens rich in vitamin A. Yet cassava has a bad reputation as a food to eat only when other foods have run out.

For those farmers who grow cassava, mosaic disease and brown streak disease threaten their crop, putting their nutrition and food security at risk.

Farm Radio International, with funding from Catholic Relief Services, is working to change cassava’s reputation in Tanzania and Uganda. Two Participatory Radio Campaigns will share with farmers the benefits of growing and eating cassava, as well as details on how to recognize and combat diseases that affect cassava.

Photo credit: ©WUSC/EUMC

Voice of women farmers
This project is part of the Her Farm Radio initiative
While all FRI projects are designed to be accessible and relevant to both men and women, Her Farm Radio projects place particular focus on the voice and knowledge needs of women farmers across Africa. Learn more.


In many places around the world it is difficult to be a girl. Girls may have more chores and less time for school. Poverty, societal attitudes and poor performance often push girls to drop out of school in much higher rates than boys. But education can be the ticket to a brighter future, leading to healthier, more productive and food-secure households. This is why Farm Radio International is supporting the promotion of girls’ education in some of the places where it is most difficult to be a girl.

The Kenya Equity in Education Project (KEEP) aims to improve the  life chances of some of the most disadvantaged girls by keeping them in school. Led by our strategic partner World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Windle Trust Kenya, this project is supporting education for girls and boys in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps as well as the nearby communities of Turkana West and Fafi-Lagdera.

This support includes teacher training,  establishing boys and girls clubs and providing textbooks, study lamps and latrines to boys and girls. Promoting girls’ education also needs community support. So Farm Radio International has partnered with Dadaab FM on a radio campaign to generate parent and community support for girls’ education in these four communities.

This project is funded by the UK Government through the Girls Education Challenge, a program of the Department for International Development.

Voice of women farmers
This project is part of the Her Farm Radio initiative
While all FRI projects are designed to be accessible and relevant to both men and women, Her Farm Radio projects place particular focus on the voice and knowledge needs of women farmers across Africa. Learn more.


Extension services in many African countries are poor at best, non-existent at worst and routinely target male farmers. Both male and female farmers need better access to agricultural information that helps them plan for and cope with climate change, and ensure a sufficient supply of nutritious food for their families and communities. This is particularly true for female farmers, who carry primary responsibility for feeding and nourishing their families. While an increasing number of female farmers in rural areas have access to mobile phones and radio, they continue to face challenges in accessing and implementing the knowledge they need to adapt to changing circumstances and ensure food security and nutritional health. Radio provides a space where men and women, farmers and researchers can interact to discuss and address these challenges together.

In 2013, four radio station partners in four countries – Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia – ran Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs) that discussed nutrition- and/or gender- sensitive and climate-smart agricultural techniques. The programs reached over two million listeners. In response to the requests of farmers, and with the ongoing support of Irish Aid,  these radio stations will receive additional training to develop long-term broadcasts that continue the discussions already begun on air. The reach of this project will also be extended with the addition of four new radio station partners, which will develop four new demand-drive PRCs.

This project is expected to reach 750,000  farmers in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia, with  an estimated 100,000 farmers, including 50,000 women, trying a nutrition-sensitive and/or climate-smart technology on their farm.

Agriculture is the cornerstone of poverty reduction. But climate change, with unpredictable rainfall and increasing temperatures, stands in the way of growth in the fields. In order to maintain and boost production, small-scale farmers need to be resilient in the face of changes in their environment.

Resilience can come in the form of improved seed varieties, the use of compost to increase soil fertility and effective pest management techniques. It can also come in the form of improved post-harvest techniques and access to new markets so that farmers can achieve better value for their hard work.

In partnership with World Vision Tanzania, Farm Radio International has developed a Participatory Radio Campaign to equip onion and rice farmers with just this type of information. The radio program covers all aspects of production, processing and marketing crops. The project expects to reach over 100,000 small-scale farmers, with at least 6,000 of them making changes to their farming practices.

Voice of women farmers
This project is part of the Her Farm Radio initiative
While all FRI projects are designed to be accessible and relevant to both men and women, Her Farm Radio projects place particular focus on the voice and knowledge needs of women farmers across Africa. Learn more.


Climate change and climate variability are major obstacles to food security in northern Ghana. The three northern regions of Ghana are particularly vulnerable and the ability of the local population to adapt is very low due to deep-rooted poverty.

The CHANGE project worked with women and men small-scale farmers in 17 communities in the districts of Savelugu-Nanton in the Northern Region (NR), Sissala East in the Upper West Region (UWR) and Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region (UER). The goal was for these farmers to improve their adaptive capacity and resilience to the impacts of climate change on agriculture, food security, and livelihoods. While the goal was to engage 84,000 women and men farmers, the project reached several hundred thousand in northern Ghana.

The project provided farmers with quality and accessible locally-relevant information about climate, weather and innovative agricultural practices. It also strengthened community- and radio-based agricultural extension services. Survey results indicate that half of all listeners made informed changes to their agricultural practices based on the radio programming.

Women were also supported to develop and scale up non-agricultural, income-generating activities to help reduce poverty and decrease their dependency on male-dominated farming income.

Canadian Feed the Children logo

This project was delivered with coalition partner Canadian Feed The Children and its three local non-governmental organization implementing partners in northern Ghana: TradeAID Integrated, Regional Advisory Information & Network Systems and Tumu Deanery Rural Integrated Development Program.

Canada FlagThis project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.