Annual Report 2012-2013: Radio 2.0, When Radio is More than Radio
For the audited financial statements for 2012-2013 please go here.
We also created an online interactive version of this annual report here.
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.
Recognizing that audience interaction is also an important feedback mechanism, we worked on exciting new ways to gather real-time input that gives listeners the opportunity to add their perspectives on important issues. To a large degree, this was made possible by the widespread adoption of mobile phones and apps. African farmers have been quick to embrace the mobile phone, creating opportunities for interactive programs that enable listeners to become suppliers, as envisioned by Brecht so many years ago.
In the 2012-13 year, we were entrusted with 18 new project grants from 13 funders, totalling about $11.5 million over their duration. The Rockefeller Foundation, Irish Aid, the World Food Program, HarvestPlus and Grand Challenges Canada came on board as new funders. We signed a new five-year contribution agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (now part of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada), and were selected as an implementing partner in three other CIDA-funded initiatives. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered support for two new projects, bringing the total number they have funded to four. We also developed exciting new partnerships with other Canadian and international NGOs, including Canadian Feed the Children, World Vision Tanzania, the Guidance, Counselling and Youth Development Centre for Africa, Faida Market Link and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. And our partnership with World University Service of Canada remains a vitally important source of support that is allowing us to build on our success and provide full transparency and accountability to our partners.
It is an exciting time to be part of Farm Radio International. Our unique focus on serving small-scale farmers through radio-based communication services continues to create results and attract attention. The achievements of the last year would not have been possible without the remarkable support of our donors, partners, volunteers, staff and board. It is a privilege to work with all of you. We celebrate our shared results and look forward to next year. With thanks,
Chair of the Board of Directors