Agriculture Technology Transfer

The Ghana Agriculture Technology Transfer (ATT) project is developing and promoting new agricultural technologies in the three regions of northern Ghana (the Upper West Region, the Upper East Region, and the Northern Region). These technologies include:

  • improved seed (particularly for staple crops);
  • improved soil fertility management (cover crops, inter-cropping, conservation agriculture, appropriate use of fertilizer);
  • and labour-saving machines (human powered) like planters, harvesters, threshers and grinders.

The ATT project has a target of reaching 100,000 farmers with information that helps them assess and adopt these technologies. Achieving this ambitious result will require the use of evidence-backed, cost-effective communication strategies that are highly accessible to small-scale farmers – strategies that enable them to learn about, evaluate, and adopt new practices. FRI’s interactive radio strategies, including Participatory Radio Campaigns, have been proven effective in scaling up the adoption of new technologies that are beneficial to small-scale farmers.

With the aim of helping small-scale farmers boost their yields and farm productivity by taking advantage of appropriate farming technologies related to the crops they grow, we are working with radio stations to develop, broadcast, monitor and evaluate interactive radio programs that help farmers gain access to information about appropriate and relevant agricultural technology.

Agricultural extension officers are an invaluable resource for farmers looking to increase their yields. Extension officers can provide tips on combating a new disease, or advice on planting and post-harvest practices. Unfortunately, farmers living in remote areas infrequently interact with agricultural extension officers.
 
However, information communication technologies (ICTs) can bridge the distance between farmers and extension officers. Radio, combined with mobile phones to create ICTs such as beep-to-vote, as well as participatory community video, can engage farmers and provide them with information they need.
 
This innovative approach will combine radio and video to reach listening groups in select regions of Ethiopia. Participatory programs, led by local radio broadcasters, will promote quality seed and the production of wheat and maize, aiming to reach 900,000 farmers with the information they need to increase their yield.

Though more than half the labour force is involved in agriculture, the World Food Programme classifies Ghana as a food-deficit country. Yet there is strong potential for improved productivity in crops key to food security, including maize, rice, sorghum, cassava, yam and cowpea. Agricultural extension officers are an invaluable resource for farmers looking to increase yields. Extension officers demonstrate the benefits of different methods to manage disease or pests and advise farmers of the benefits of improved seed varieties or fertilizer. But agricultural extension officers cannot be everywhere. Many farmers living in remote areas are infrequently visited by extension officers.

Radio, video, text messaging, mobile apps and other information communication technologies (ICTs) can reach more farmers more frequently with quality agricultural advice, and can complement traditional extension services. Using ICTs, this project aims to extend the reach of agricultural information, improve the efficacy of local extension services and promote lasting behaviour change among small-scale farmers, so they can increase yields and improve food security.

This project brings together Grameen Foundation and Digital Green with Farm Radio International to reach 200,000 farming households in five regions of Ghana, with FRI’s participatory radio programs airing in Brong Ahafo and Volta regions. This project will combine radio and ICTs for participatory radio services that allow farmers to learn about agricultural improvements and provide feedback so extension officers understand their information needs. Participatory video will complement radio in helping to explain more complicated agricultural improvements. The technologies used are scalable and reliable, allowing for important agricultural information to reach more farmers, more frequently.

The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund is a component of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to address constraints that prevent small-scale farmers, especially women, from increasing their output. The challenge fund is supported by several donors, including the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative through USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Aid from the UK government. This project is also working closely with the New Alliance Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership (SSTP) implemented by AGRA.

Increasingly, frequent droughts, floods and other shocks exacerbated by climate change are affecting the food security and incomes of communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Agro-pastoralists are particularly vulnerable to these climate extremes due to their reliance on rain-fed agriculture. Recurring prolonged dry spells and severe floods in recent years have drastically affected cereal production in Niger and Mali, contributing to widespread and chronic food shortages.

The Scaling Up Resilience for One Million People (SUR1M) project aims to build resilience by increasing preparedness in the face of these climate extremes, deepening gender-responsive mitigation practices, and building critical assets by reinforcing the disaster risk management capacity of 19 communities in Niger and Mali. Radio can support these efforts by providing an information, education and communications (IEC) strategy that stimulates demand for, and provides access to, information on improved practices or technologies, promotes good governance and women’s empowerment while fostering behavior change for resilience.

This project will see selected radio partners in the Gao region of Mali and the Tillabery region of Niger air Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs), mini-dramas and interactive radio programming. A PRC is a carefully designed radio program that allows farmers to learn about, discuss and evaluate an agricultural practice or improvement before providing information for implementation. The participatory and interactive radio programming will discuss nutrition as well as enhanced soil, water, land, livestock and agro-forestry management to promote best-practices and improve climate resilience. Radio programming will also aim at improving knowledge and engaging citizens and officials on women’s rights.

National and international research centres are constantly developing and improving an array of climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive farming practices. Yet too often these practices are not adopted by the small-scale farmers who could benefit from them most. Farmers may not be able to access the information they need in a way to help them understand, evaluate, make a decision about and adopt these new practices. Or these innovations may not match the needs and priorities of farmers, particularly female farmers.
 
Farm Radio International has been using radio to close this gap, bringing effective agricultural advisory services and radio programs to women and men farmers, and amplifying their voices through interactive radio programming. With the support of Irish Aid, this project will ensure one million farmers across four countries are provided with the information they need via sustainable and scalable participatory radio programming.
 
The focus is on long-term engagement to develop the quality of programming at eight stations, with support provided to four additional long-term partners of FRI. These stations will be supported to develop their programming from Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs), short radio campaigns that helps farmers to make an informed decision about implementing a new agricultural practice, to regular farmer programming, with a focus on business planning and sustainability.
 
This project is a continuation of the “Developing ongoing demand-led interactive farm radio services” project, underway with the generous support of Irish Aid.

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 2013, Farm Radio International partnered with Harvest Plus and Trac FM in Uganda to air a radio drama about Florence, her family and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP). The radio program succeeded in educating family farmers on the benefits of the vitamin A-rich tuber, with demand for OFSP vines outstripping supply in three planting seasons following the airing of the My Children drama. Working with 10 partner radio stations, in six languages, and reaching 13 districts of Uganda, this project demonstrated that a radio mini-drama series, coupled with the interactive element of SMS polling (provided by Trac FM), is an entertaining and cost-effective method for scaling up awareness and knowledge of nutritious vegetables. Listen to a few episodes of the first season of My Children, in English.

Following upon the successful first season of My Children, Farm Radio International will again partner with Harvest Plus and Trac FM in Uganda to produce a second season of this entertaining and informative drama. Each episode will be 10-15 minutes long and will form part of a carefully-designed 30-minute interactive radio program, aired for 25-30 weeks. Interactivity tools will include SMS polling (facilitated by Trac FM) and beep-to-vote (facilitated by Farm Radio International).

My Children 2 began to air in January 2016 and can be heard on 13 radio stations across Uganda in seven languages.

The goal is to enable 1.5 million farmers in 19 districts of Uganda (of whom at least 40 per cent are women) to learn about improved agricultural practices relating to OFSP. Additionally, we aim to provide 200,000 farmers (of whom 50 per cent are women) with the information they need to try at least one improved production practice or access vines for the first time.

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 more accessible to male farmers, despite the fact that women are often more involved in food production than men. Women need consistent access to reliable and relevant information if they are to become more resilient to the challenges faced by all small-scale farmers. Moreover, they need the opportunity to add their voices, questions and comments to the conversation around agriculture and food security.
 
Local radio programs, designed with women in mind, can provide women with the information they need to help them increase harvests and incomes. They can also share the voices of women with thousands of listeners. With the support of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Farm Radio International will provide hundreds of women with the skills and confidence to tell their own story on the radio, their way. It’s radio for women, by women.
 
A training event will bring together women from community listening groups across Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda to learn the mobile technologies and radio skills to record their own comments, questions and stories and to share them with radio broadcasters. Twelve radio stations will also receive training to build their capacity around gender equality in farmer programming. They will be encouraged to air the comments, questions and stories of women, and to ensure women’s issues are discussed on air during regular programming.

Beans are commonly grown and eaten in Northern Tanzania, but their productivity could be enhanced if farmers had access to the latest research results on the use of blended fertilizers or new varieties.

As part of a consortium of organisations known as the Legume Alliance, Farm Radio International will implement a 12-16 week participatory agricultural radio series to promote a bundle of proven technologies for improved legume production ahead of the October 2015 legume planting season in northern Tanzania. This includes promoting new legume varieties, purification of seeds, using legumes to intercrop, the value of blended fertilizer and many others.

The Legume Alliance has come together to pilot a new approach to sharing information in jointly delivered campaigns – with multiple media approaches being rolled out simultaneously.

FRI will work closely with one farmer-selected regional radio station and key partners (Legume Alliance, government extension, agro-dealers and radio stations) to design, produce and broadcast the radio series. The radio series will include a range of ICT tools such as the mobile and SMS polling, which will be evaluated for their effectiveness at the end of the project.

Rice is a staple food for many households in Africa. The rise in the price of rice in the last two decades has meant less food for many small-scale farmers. High demand and low production is a significant factor to the rising price. New varieties of rice and improved post-harvest production methods can help farmers grow more and store more of their harvest. AfricaRice is promoting these methods in Mali alongside a view to environmental protection.
 
This pilot project aims to support AfricaRice’s work by providing training to radio stations so they can broadcast information that will help farmers improve their rice production, promote crop diversification and consider environmentally-sensitive technologies.
 
Broadcasters at two radio stations will be trained and supported in producing four episodes each for a total of 8, focused on rice production and post-harvest management.

In 2012, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) began the Knowledge for Forests project, to mobilize support and pledges for the Bonn Challenge target to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

Farm Radio International is helping IUCN to meet the goals of this and related Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) projects in Uganda by using participatory radio strategies to raise farmers’ awareness of the opportunities and benefits of restoring degraded land. Techniques which are used in FLR include: tree planting, use of soil trenches, kitchen gardens and mulching.

Working closely with IUCN, the Uganda team has conducted formative research, selected Kapchorwa Trinity Radio as its partner radio station, and trained the broadcasters in participatory radio and use of ICTs. Broadcasts will begin in early 2015.