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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio International Action

How can you listen to the radio when there’s no signal? Via motorbikes!

Radio boda boda is an innovative Information and Communication Technology, or ICT, project developed and supported by Farm Radio International’s Radio and ICT innovation lab.

Many farmers live in remote rural areas. Those living in the village of Ngarenairobi, west of Mount Kilimanjaro, cannot receive radio signals from FRI’s broadcasting partners Moshi FM and Sauti ya Injili. Radio boda-boda supplies pre-recorded farming programs on SD memory cards. The cards are delivered by motorcycle taxis, or boda bodas, to the remote community listening groups.

With this innovative delivery system, Farm Radio International has supported projects run by World Vision Tanzania and Irish Aid.

The memory cards operate on FreePlay wind-up or solar-powered radios. This makes it possible for community listening groups that are unable to tune in to live farmer programs to reap the benefits from the programming.

The radio sets can also to record listeners’ comments on the memory cards. Thus, when the cards are returned to the stations, the program makers and project staff can hear feedback on their programming from these remote communities. To find out more about the projects in question, visit the FRI website: http://www.farmradio.org/projects/

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Farm Radio International helps radio stations inform Ethiopians about nutritious maize

Mrs. Atsede is a farmer in the district of Lalay Adyabo, in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. The mother of three enjoys listening to the radio. While listening to her local radio station, Dimitse Woyane, she heard a radio program about quality protein maize.

The program is produced with help from Farm Radio International as part of a five-year project. Quality protein maize, or QPM, is a nutritious, non-genetically modified variety of maize which has been proven to reduce the frequency of stunted growth and malnutrition in children.

Mrs. Atsede grows maize on a little less than half of her one and a quarter hectares of land. While she knew that some varieties of maize produce greater yields, the radio program informed her that QPM is also more nutritious than other varieties.

She says: “I used to consider food to be all the same. When I listen [to] the radio programs, I realized that different food types, especially maize, have different advantages to health and our body.”

Mrs. Atsede intends to plant QPM next season.

Mr. Birhane Kahsay also listens to Dimitse Woyane. The radio is the main source of information for this father of one and his wife, who live in the village of Medebay Zana. They often tune in for agricultural programming and entertainment.

The family grows its own food on a tiny parcel of land, and Mr. Birhane takes small jobs off the farm to supplement the family income. He grows maize and teff, and they consume much of their harvest.

While listening to the radio, Mr. Birhane heard about QPM. Since he was already growing maize, his interest was piqued, particularly about the nutritional content of QPM. Farmers like Mr. Birhane had considered teff the only available source of cereal protein.

When he heard that QPM varieties could boost his family’s protein intake, he decided to grow it the following season. His wife, who takes care of their child at home, listens to the program and uses its nutritional information to help her manage their child’s diet.

For more information on this project, go to the FRI website: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/nutritious-maize-for-ethiopian-children-2/

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Free course on Google Analytics open for subscription

Journalists who wish to improve their knowledge of Web metrics and Google Analytics can take this online course.

MulinBlog, an online journalism school, will offer a three-week course to teach students how to navigate the Google Analytics interface, how to understand key reports and how to action strategies for various job roles.

The course will consist of three weekly modules. Each weekly module will have readings, quizzes, assignments and class discussions. Students will have access to the Google Analytics account of MulinBlog and use real data to experiment with topics discussed in class.

The course will run from June 16 to July 7. Registration is free and on-going.

For more information, go to:  http://www.mulinblog.com/mulinblog-online-j-school-course-schedule/

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Tanzania: ‘Do Agric – It Pays’

Farm Radio International teamed up with the NGOs Agricultural Non State Actors Forum, ONE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct an innovative country-wide poll of farmers’ opinions in Tanzania. The results of the Do Agric – It Pays farmer radio poll and petition were announced in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Tuesday, June 10.

This first-of-its-kind radio poll asked small-scale farmers for their opinions on subjects ranging from the services they receive to what they think the Tanzanian government should do to help improve livelihoods. Nine thousand Tanzanian farmers participated in the poll, known in Tanzania as Paza Sauti (Swahili for “raise your voice”).

This model for conducting polls combines two of the most powerful technologies in rural Africa – radio and mobile phones. Voting was simple, and absolutely free of charge to the farmer. All farmers had to do was flash (or call a number and then hang up) one of two numbers to register their vote.

Flashing the first number indicated a “yes” vote, and flashing the second indicated a “no” vote.  The number of flashed calls received by each number was tallied by computer.

The poll indicated that nearly half of famers think that farmers’ yields have grown as a result of agricultural strategies, but that better access to markets is a key to further improving livelihoods.

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete attended a launch where the results of the poll were released. Mr. Kikwete will be attending the African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from June 20-27. He said: “I’ve heard the message from the radio. I will dutifully and faithfully deliver the message to my fellow African leaders.”

Find out more about Paza Sauti through the Farm Radio International website: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/06/10/paza-sauti-the-results-are-in/

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Farm Radio International surveys farmers through radio, gets responses through mobile phone

The year 2014 has been dubbed the Year of Family Farming. In association with the Gates Foundation, FRI teamed up with five of its Tanzanian radio partners to collect the opinions of small-scale farmers, particularly on their access to markets and the reliability of those markets.

The overall goal of the poll, named Paza sauti [Raise your voices] in Swahili, is to give government policymakers access to up-to-date information about what is happening on the ground before they attend this year’s African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

FRI’s radio partners gathered information from across Tanzania. The partners included national stations (Radio Maria; Radio Five) and regional stations (Sauti ya Injili – Northern region; Abood FM – Morogoro; Pride FM – Mtwara).

Over a two-week period from the end of April to mid-May, each station ran its own half-hour programs during which the question of the day was discussed by farmers, broadcasters and agricultural experts. Then, small-scale farmers were given two days to respond to the question via beep-to-vote and SMS. Each station met its target of one thousand replies to each of the five questions asked during the survey.

In all, almost 9,000 people participated in the survey, contributing over 25,000 votes.

The responses are being analyzed and the results will be announced by the Gates Foundation in Dar es Salaam in a few weeks. You can keep up to date with the process via the FRI website: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/

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Zimbabwean FRW writer found not guilty of ‘illegal radio smuggling’

Zenzele Ndebele is a freelance writer for FRW and the production manager of Radio Dialogue, a community radio station in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. On March 1, 2013, police raided the station offices and confiscated 120 shortwave radios. We reported on the raid and Mr. Ndebele’s subsequent arrest last year: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/11/zimbabwean-farm-radio-weekly-freelance-writer-charged-with-%E2%80%98illegal-radio-smuggling%E2%80%99/

In March 2014, a Bulawayo court found Mr. Ndebele and Radio Dialogue not guilty of any misconduct and ordered the police to return the confiscated radios to Radio Dialogue.

Mr. Ndebele says police returned the radios, but not before altering them. On May 19, Mr. Ndebele tweeted: “It turns out the authorities opened most of the 120 shortwave radios they confiscated last year and [tampered with them].”

Mr. Ndebele posted a picture on Twitter of a radio that had been tampered with: https://twitter.com/zenzele/status/468285792327327744

He explains: “Most of the radios are no longer working. When the police took the radios, they were boxed and sealed. When we collected them, most of the seals were broken.” Only about 15 of the radios are still working. Mr. Ndebele says the station has no choice but to dump the remaining sets.

Zimbabwean police did not only target Radio Dialogue in its raids last year. The BBC reported that police went door-to-door, seizing radio sets from villagers. You can read the BBC report here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-21829815.

Since a coalition government came to power in Zimbabwe five years ago, many community and private radio stations have applied for broadcasting licenses. These applicants, including Radio Dialogue, are still waiting for their licences to be approved. ZBC is the state broadcaster and widely considered a government mouthpiece.

Radio Dialogue is trying to provide an alternative source of news. In April 2014, the station was fined $100 US for not having a radio licence.

Undeterred, Mr. Ndebele posted the following message to Facebook: “No amount of dirty tactics will scare us. One day, we will wake up in a free Zimbabwe where possessing a shortwave radio is not a crime.”

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Farm Radio International’s audio postcards

FRI’s catalogue of audio postcards is growing!

The idea behind an audio postcard is simple: a sound clip of a farmer, radio partner or Farm Radio International employee describing how they have been affected by the work that we do together is illustrated by a photograph of them “in action.”

One recent audio postcard features an interview with Tanzanian Bernadetha Mmaravi about her life as a farmer. With her radio at her side, she told our correspondent, “I like listening to the radio, especially Pride FM. It’s my favourite station.” See and hear more at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/03/14/voices-from-the-field-benedetha-tanzania/

Audio postcard: Announcing 500 radio partners! was released to coincide with the milestone of FRI signing an agreement with its 500th radio broadcasting partner. You can hear Blythe McKay’s report here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/02/03/audio-postcard-announcing-500-radio-partners/

Check out our entire catalogue at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/category/audio-postcard/

Can you do better? Why not record a soundtrack of your work with farmers, or extract a minute or two from one of your agricultural programs and email it along with a photograph which describes the scene to proberts@farmradiotz.org. We will edit the best and post them on our blog site, sharing it with the wider FRI community!

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Farm Radio International’s How to… guide to intros and promos

You work hard to produce a weekly farmer program that serves your farmer/listeners well. But do you work hard enough to increase the number of farmers who listen?

You can grow your audience by creating promos and broadcasting them throughout your station’s weekly schedule. This will catch listeners who don’t yet listen to your program. And it will also remind your regular listeners to tune in to the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will help keep them there.

Doug Ward, former Director of CBC Radio Ottawa and current Chair of Farm Radio International’s Board of Directors recently contributed a how-to guide as part of Farm Radio Resource Pack #98, Groundnuts: the post-harvest value chain (http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-98-groundnuts-the-post-harvest-value-chain/).

Titled Broadcaster how-to guide: How to create ear-catching promos, intros and extros, this guide covers this guide covers subjects including the purpose of promos, intros and extros, the audience at which they are targeted, the three elements of a promo, when to air a promo, and the difference between episode and item intros.

Find this online resource through this link:http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-98-groundnuts-the-post-harvest-value-chain/broadcaster-how-to-guide-how-to-create-ear-catching-promos-intros-and-extros/

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Farm Radio Resource Pack #98 is now available for download!

The Pack is entitled: Groundnuts: The post-harvest value chain. Four of the six items offer information about post-harvest activities in groundnut production, including drying, storage, processing and marketing. Two items are entertaining dramas, offering a side of humour along with tasty information! We hope your audience will “eat them up”!

We have sent a hard copy of the Pack via mail to many of FRI’s partner radio stations, but anyone is welcome to read the scripts online, and to use or adapt them for their local audience.

You can access the Pack here: http://bit.ly/FRIpack98

You are also welcome to download the latest issue of FRI’s Voices newsletter, which accompanies the Resource Pack, though this link: http://farmradio.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Voices-98.pdf

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Research: African Rural Radio Program Analysis

In 2011, Farm Radio International (FRI) launched a project called the African Rural Radio Program Analysis (ARRPA). The ARRPA study provides a comprehensive picture of the often challenging conditions in which farmer radio programs are produced in Africa, the strengths of radio stations, and the desires and preferences of farmer-listeners. The ARRPA findings are an invaluable tool to inform future partnerships between rural broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa and organizations who wish to collaborate with them.

One of ARRPA’s key findings is the apparent mismatch between stations’ sense that they have strategies in place to include farmers in programming and many listeners’ feelings that they are not sufficiently included. Almost all stations indicated that they offer program formats and other mechanisms to include farmers in programming – phone-ins and text-ins, field interviews, and in-studio interviews. But analysis of programs and program transcripts showed that few stations offered these kinds of interactive programming.

Some other interesting findings:

  • About two-thirds of stations have Internet access, though connectivity is sometimes slow and/or unreliable.
  • Most stations have some form of access to transportation for field work, though this access is often less than ideal, for example relying on staff vehicles or rented motorcycles.
  • Almost all stations say that access to equipment is inadequate: there are, for example, too few computers; no funds for cell phone airtime or transport to the field; a lack of office space; and inadequate recording studios.

The ARRPA report concluded that, regardless of these challenges, with the right support, all stations can provide farmers with entertaining, informative and effective programs.

The ARRPA data also provide a treasure trove of recommended practices for effective radio, some of which have been captured and shared through a document called 75 ways to fix your farmer program.

To read a summary document of the report, click here: http://bit.ly/FRIARRPA

While this study looked at Anglophone radio stations only, an investigation of Francophone African radio stations is currently underway. Results from that research will be available later this year.

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Farm Radio International trainers learn how to create ear-catching intros and promos

FRI’s in-station trainers were recently trained how to produce good intros and promos for farm radio programs.

A course called Producing ear-catching intros and promos and designing an effective farm radio program, was held March 17-21 at the Farm Radio International offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The training was designed to build the skills of FRI’s trainers and Ethiopian radio station partners. In-station trainers from Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and Ethiopia had the opportunity to share their experiences in this training session.

According to FRI’s Senior Consultant, Strategic Opportunities, Communications, Training and Standards, David Mowbray, such trainings encourage African partner radio stations to do things differently so that “the audience will go out of their way to listen.”

As one way of ensuring that programs are effective and relevant for farmers, FRI has developed the VOICE standards tool (V=Values farmers, O=Opportunity to participate, I=Information that is useful and accurate, C=Convenient and Consistent, E=Entertaining), which evaluates a radio program from a listener’s perspective.

According to Mr. Mowbray, if you do not enjoy making a radio program, then the listeners will probably not enjoy listening to it, and you can’t sell bad product! Radio broadcasters and producers need to produce entertaining programs. Otherwise, farmers will spin that dial to another station!

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Now available in French and English: Use the VOICE tool to make effective farmer programming

Farm broadcasters must listen to farmers – if only because, without them, there would be no audience! As a farm broadcaster, have you ever wondered how to improve your program? Do you broadcast at a time that is suitable for farmers? Do farmers’ voices really shine through in your programming?

These are the kinds of questions radio broadcasters must ask themselves when it is time to evaluate their programs. Sometimes, it is good to take a step back and analyze broadcasts carefully to identify what needs tweaking.

Farm Radio International has developed a tool to help you evaluate whether your farmer radio program is effective. That tool is called VOICE, and includes:

V: values small-scale farmers, both women and men

O: opportunity to speak and be heard

I: information

C: consistent and convenient

E: entertaining and memorable

The VOICE tool has been used in FRI’s online training courses. But now, FRI is offering a stand-alone training module on VOICE. The self-taught course is now available on Barza, in both French and English.

Broadcasters will be able to make their own way through these modules, without the guidance of facilitators and mentors, in their own time. They are able to refer back to it whenever they want.

In the VOICE module, you will find:

●            lessons learned by broadcasters;

●            why farmers turn off a farmer program;

●            why your station should have a regular farmer program; and

●            how to use VOICE standards to improve a farmer radio program.

Using VOICE to make good farmer programming is available on Barza at this address: http://barza.fm/fr/barza-event/servez-vous-de-voice-pour-elaborer-de-bons-programmes-a-lintention-des-agricultrices-et-des-agriculteurs/ (French); and

http://barza.fm/barza-event/use-voice-to-make-good-farmer-programming/ (English).

You may have questions as you work your way through the course. Since Barza is an online community for broadcasters, we have created a peer learning group. Broadcasters can join the VOICE module group at http://barza.fm/groups/voice-module-1825047206/, and ask questions, exchange information and tips, and help each other out.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about the module, please email: nbassily@farmradio.org

This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, as well as the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.

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Farm Radio International scripts now available in Swahili and Hausa on Barza!

Farm Radio International is pleased to announce that Farm Radio International scripts translated into Swahili and Hausa are now available on Barza.

To access the scripts, simply go to the Barza site (www.barza.fm). Anyone can browse the scripts on Barza (no need to sign-up).

But, if you are not currently registered for FRI’s social networking site, we encourage you to complete the free and easy sign-up form: http://barza.fm/welcome/ .

For scripts in Swahili, go to: http://barza.fm/sw/radio-resource-packs/?rrp=&submit=Search&post_type=radio-resource-packs&searchbar=something&post_parent=0&tax%5Bscript-categories%5D=&date=0&tax%5Bscript-format%5D=&lang=en

For scripts in Hausa, go to: http://barza.fm/ha/radio-resource-packs/?rrp=&submit=Search&post_type=radio-resource-packs&searchbar=something&post_parent=0&tax%5Bscript-categories%5D=&date=0&tax%5Bscript-format%5D=&lang=sw

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Farm Radio Resource Packs now available on Barza!

For 35 years, Farm Radio International has distributed radio scripts to our broadcasting partners in the form of Farm Radio Resource Packs (originally called Script packages). These Packs are filled with radio scripts, dramas, issue packs and broadcaster how-to docs.

Now, for your convenience, they are all available on Barza! You can search for items in a variety of ways: by keyword, by category, by date, by type, and by language.

To access the Packs, go to: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/

If you have not registered for Barza yet, and want to connect with other African radio broadcasting partners, it’s easy − and free! − to create a Barza account. Go to: http://barza.fm/welcome/

If you have any questions or if you need assistance, please contact nbassily@farmradio.org

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Celebrate International Women’s Day on Barza

March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD)! The day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women, while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.

UN Women is the United Nations’ organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The organization’s theme for IWD is “Equality for women is progress for all.”

To mark this special occasion, Farm Radio International is asking Barza members to share stories about why rural women (farmers and broadcasters) love radio and how it has positively affected their lives.

Farm Radio International is asking you to join us in celebrating women’s achievements by doing the following:

  1. Log on to Barza.fm (If you are not registered yet, go to: http://barza.fm/welcome/)
  2. Join the Barza group “International Women’s Day”: http://barza.fm/groups/international-womens-day-journee-mondiale-de-la-femme/
  3. Submit stories from rural women whose lives have been affected by radio by uploading photos, audio and text. FRI will showcase some of the stories submitted on Barza. See the following example of a rural woman’s story that combines photo, audio and text : http://cowbird.com/story/88201/Samata_Yussif_And_Why_She_Loves_Radio/
  4. Help us spread the word by sharing the links to the showcased stories via Facebook, and on Twitter with the hashtag #ruralwomenloveradio

Join Barza’s International Women’s Day group today, and tell us what your radio station will be doing to mark International Women’s Day.

If you have any questions, you can email nbassily@farmradio.org

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Using the VOICE tool to make good farmer programming

Farm broadcasters must listen to farmers – if only because, without them, there would be no audience! As a farm broadcaster, have you ever wondered how to improve your program? Do you broadcast at a time that is suitable for farmers? Do farmers’ voices really shine through in your programming?

These are the kinds of questions radio broadcasters ask themselves when it’s time to evaluate their programs. Sometimes, it is good to take a step back and carefully analyze a broadcast to figure out what needs to be tweaked.

Farm Radio International has developed a tool to help you evaluate whether your farmer radio program is effective. That tool is called VOICE.

VOICE is an acronym, in which the letters stand for the following:

V: values small-scale farmers, both women and men

O: opportunity to speak and be heard

I: information

C: consistent and convenient

E: entertaining and memorable

The VOICE tool has been included in Farm Radio International online training courses in the past. But now, FRI is offering a training module on VOICE as a stand-alone, self-taught course on Barza. “Self-taught” means that broadcasters will make their own way through the module without the guidance of facilitators and mentors. It also means that broadcasters can take the time they need to complete the module, and can refer back to it whenever they want.

In the VOICE module, you will find:

●       some lessons learned by broadcasters;

●       why farmers turn off a farmer program;

●       why your station should have a regular farmer program; and

●       how to use VOICE standards to improve a farmer radio program.

The module, called Using VOICE to make good farmer programming, is available on Barza at this address: http://barza.fm/barza-event/use-voice-to-make-good-farmer-programming/

You may have questions as you work your way through the course. Since Barza is an online community for broadcasters, we have created a peer learning group. Broadcasters can join the VOICE module group at http://barza.fm/groups/voice-module-1825047206/, and ask questions, exchange information and tips, and generally help each other out.

We hope that making this self-taught VOICE module available on Barza will help broadcasters improve their craft.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about the module, please email: nbassily@farmradio.org

This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, as well as the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.

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World Radio Day: Celebrating farmers and radio on Barza

On February 13th 2014, join us on Barza to celebrate the role radio plays in the lives of farmers and their communities!

February 13 is World Radio Day. This special day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of radio, celebrate the fact that radio facilitates access to information, and enhance networking among broadcasters.

Radio is one of the most accessible tools for communication. It is a low-cost medium particularly suited to reaching remote communities and vulnerable people. Radio offers a platform for people to participate in public debates, regardless of their level of education.  Radio reaches farmers and can enhance their livelihoods.

Since 2014 is also the International Year of Family Farming, Farm Radio International (FRI) is using World Radio Day as a launch pad to begin collecting farmers’ testimonies on how radio affects their lives. FRI is asking broadcasters to submit farmer testimonies on Barza.fm, our social networking site for African radio broadcasters. We hope to keep these stories pouring in beyond World Radio Day.

On February 13th, we are asking broadcasters to:

  • Log on to Barza.fm (If you don’t have an account yet, go to http://barza.fm/welcome to create your Barza account)
  • Join the Barza group “World Radio Day”
  • Submit testimonies from farmers whose lives have been affected by radio by uploading photos, audio and text. (FRI will showcase some of the farmer testimonies submitted on Barza. (See the following example of a showcased farmer testimony that combines photo, audio and text :  http://barza.fm/when-radio-proves-more-powerful-than-money-farmer-masiye-mwales-story/)
  • Help us spread the farmer testimonies by sharing the links to the showcased testimonies via Facebook, and on Twitter with the hashtag #farmersloveradio
  • Change your photo on Barza to one of these farmers love radio logos http://barza.fm/farmers-heart-radio/ (click on the image to download it to your desktop.)

Tell your friends and colleagues to join Barza today!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact nbassily@farmradio.org

Will your farmer testimony be showcased? Save the date. See you on Barza on February 13, 2014!

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Meet … Kassim ‘Flash’ Sheghembe

Kassim Sheghembe, otherwise known as “Flash,” is Farm Radio International’s ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Officer based in Arusha, Tanzania. For the last year, Mr. Sheghembe has been working with Farm Radio International’s Tanzanian team. Flash has helped to develop FRI’s innovative mobile phone technologies, and has trained broadcasters how to use them effectively in their farmer radio programs.

From December 7-10, 2013, Mr. Sheghembe attended the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development in Cape Town, South Africa (http://www.ictd2013.info/). The conference explores the role of computers and communications in social, economic and political development. The trip to Cape Town was the first time Flash had travelled outside of East Africa.

Mr. Sheghembe says: “It felt great because I had the chance to see how ICTs can impact development across Africa. I used a beep-to-vote poll to ask people which device is best for development, the radio or mobile phone. Then I showed them the results on a computer. They liked to see the interactivity.”

Beep-to-vote polling is a system used by radio broadcasters to ask audience members a question on air. The broadcasters give listeners different phone numbers they can call. Each number represents a different response to the question. Listeners cast their votes by calling the number that corresponds to their response and quickly hanging up.

One of Flash’s great heroes is Nelson Mandela. As he arrived in South Africa, he heard the news of Mr. Mandela’s death. Mr. Sheghembe says: “I admire Mandela and it was sad to hear he passed away. But seeing others celebrating his life, it made me realize I shouldn’t feel sad anymore.”

Mr. Sheghembe is currently developing a new ICT to connect farmers with vital weather and market information. Working alongside a local broadcaster, he’s already received positive feedback from radio experts.

He says: “Using this ICT, we can bridge the gap between farmers and buyers. It will change the way farmers do business.”

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Farm Radio International gets interactive

Farm Radio International’s ICT and Radio Manager Bart Sullivan attended the Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7), called “Open Learning for Development: Towards Empowerment and Transformation”  in Abuja, Nigeria from December 2-6, 2013.

Mr. Sullivan’s objective at PCF7 was to demonstrate the ICT tools Farm Radio uses to engage radio audiences, including Beep 2 Vote, an SMS platform which allowed conference attendees to respond to questions throughout sessions.

For more information on the conference go to: http://pcf7.net/#

Farm Radio has developed e-courses for broadcasters over the last four years, providing online education on a range of subjects, including scriptwriting and how to design farmer programs. Farm Radio e-courses are offered in both French and English. For more information, visit FRI’s website: www.farmradio.org

Back in his base in Arusha, Tanzania, Mr. Sullivan has been joined by Thad Kerosky, from Boston, USA, and Loïc Nogues, from Annecy, France. They will be helping to develop voice and SMS technologies to improve interactivity between radio stations and their listeners, and redesigning the FRI and Barza websites. They will shortly be joined by Muniu Kariuki from Kenya, who will be assisting with the development of FRI’s Android applications. More information about these and other developments will follow soon: watch this space!

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Farm Radio International launches in Ethiopia

Farm Radio International is proud to announce the official launch of its work in Ethiopia!

In late November 2013, Farm Radio International Executive Director Kevin Perkins travelled to Addis Ababa to attend the launch event of Farm Radio International Ethiopia. The event was organized after FRI signed a bilateral agreement with the Ethiopian Government Communications Affairs Office.

Ethiopia Country Director Freyhiwot Nadew and her team are now looking forward to developing project work and offering Ethiopian radio stations access to the various resources for broadcasters which FRI provides.

The launch event was attended by partners, supporters and a variety of local and international NGOs. Speeches were kept to a minimum to allow plenty of opportunity for mingling and discussions. Kevin Perkins said, “The event was a wonderful way to celebrate with our colleagues and partners the official launch of our work in Ethiopia.

“Signing a bilateral agreement with the Ministry of Communication was a major achievement, and we are honoured and excited to be embarking on a new chapter in our work with radio broadcasters and farmers in Ethiopia.”

FRI Ethiopia has a small, dedicated team in place, and is currently working on three projects − with Irish Aid; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and the Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as partners. Read more about these projects here: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/innovations-to-practice-through-demand-driven-participatory-farm-radio-campaigns/; http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/nutritious-maize-for-ethiopian-children-2/; and http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/improving-productivity-and-market-access-in-ethiopia/

FRI Ethiopia would like to thank the representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Addis Ababa and the Agricultural Transformation Agency for their support during the registration process.

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