Using radio and interactive ICTs to improve food security among smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa

• Participatory strategies can enhance radio’s effectiveness for rural development.
• ICTs including mobile phones facilitate participation in radio campaigns.
• Participatory radio can increase knowledge and adoption of agricultural practices.
• Results from African research may be relevant for other developing regions and sectors.

Radio is the most widely used medium for disseminating information to rural audiences across Africa. Even in very poor communities, radio penetration is vast; it is estimated there are over 800 million radios in Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper summarizes evidence on food insecurity in Sub- Saharan Africa and strategies to provide information on innovative agricultural practices to smallholder farmers. The research in this paper is then discussed within the context of research on information and communication technologies (ICTS) for development. Next, the paper presents the ICT-enhanced participatory radio campaign approach and ICT innovations introduced by Farm Radio International, a Canadian nongovernmental organization. The paper analyzes two participatory radio campaigns that use both listening groups and ICTs to engage African farmers. Research on these radio campaigns in six African countries is reported to examine how the participatory approach impacted listenership, knowledge and initial adoption of agricultural techniques and practices presented in the radio campaigns. The authors conclude that the findings of research on these projects could be highly relevant for increasing awareness and adoption of agricultural practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also appear promising for other development sectors and for other developing regions.

Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, H. E., et al., Using radio and interactive ICTs to improve food security among smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, Telecommunications Policy (2017),