Communicating science for impact: radio for reaching farmers with research results

The challenge
All too often, agricultural research results are published in journals and discussed at conferences, but fail to influence policy or reach farmers’ fields and consumers in a meaningful way. There are many steps involved for farmers, from accessing the information to making use of it in their own lives. Supporting farmers during these processes, and helping them to understand, requires a carefully planned communication strategy that involves more than distributing pre-packaged messages. It must be interactive, responsive to farmers’ needs and questions, technically accurate, honest, timely (e.g. according to seasons), wide-reaching, and cost-effective.

The Farm Radio International (FRI) project aimed to promote large-scale adoption of agricultural innovations and research results from two Cultivate Africa’s Future projects – integrating insects into poultry and fish feed (INSFEED), and quick-cooking bean products – through the use of interactive radio programs.

Key results
• 40 radio community listener groups (CLGs) were formed with over 670 individual members (50% women).
• Before the radio programs were broadcast, all CLGs were trained to record their voices and send the messages to radio stations, using their mobile phones. They were also trained to use radio sets and participate in weekly polls.
• Field monitoring visits were carried out every two months and reports showed that 98% of women and youth respondents valued the programs.
• Looking at data from Uliza, 50,732 listeners participated in radio interactions from December 2015 to June 2017.
• It is estimated that the six project radio stations – Radio Simba, Mega FM, Radio Buddu, Sky FM, Akaboozi FM and Ramogi FM – reached a total of 9 million listeners throughout the project period.