Farmer Voice Radio (FVR) brings a new concept of agricultural extension to serve the smallholder farmers of Africa. A small group of Star Farmers will receive near ideal on-site extension support that will be documented and broadcast for the benefit of all farmers. FVR provides full-featured, multi-media extension services based on radio, with active involvement of farmers and near-real-time program revision based on their feedback. Traditional extension models are based almost entirely on face-to-face farmer support. Systematic impact programming, with focus, depth, and repetition will allow farmers to make confident changes in their agricultural practices.
The FVR extension system offers farmers extension support that is:
- Accurate, timely, focused, and frequent
- With feedback and follow up
Recommended practices will be reported in FVR programming in great detail, and with sufficient repetition to make widespread adoption, straightforward, easy, and attractive.
Key features of FVR
Radio Extension Officers
Radio Extension Officers (REOs) serve the dual purpose of expanding the reach of traditional extension officers by providing them with a radio “megaphone” to reach more farmers with national and local extension information while simultaneously providing radio stations with the means to serve their listening communities with relevant, impactful, and feedback-driven agricultural programming. They will make regular visits to Star Farmers, collect and analyze feedback from these men and women farmers which can be presented in on-air reports and case studies, identify and supervise the development of Star Innovations, and provide radio stations with “in-house” agricultural expertise.
University Radio Interns
University Radio Interns (URIs) – University students undertake on-site internships in support of REOs and FVR broadcast partners.
Four Star FVR Programming
Radio Farmer reports A small group of ordinary farmers, male and female, will receive on-site extension support that will be documented with detailed reports on their successes and challenges as they seek to improve their practices. Their experiences will be broadcast to provide systematic information for the benefit of all the farmers of the nation.
- Star Practices – Exemplary practices of farmers, largely accomplished on their own and reported to the nation via FVR.
- Star Initiatives – Groups of farmers working together on innovative practices which are reported on FVR programs as they are implemented.
- Star Innovations – FVR programs reporting new practices recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Universities, and Agricultural Research Institutions for consideration and adoption of farmers.
FVR Impact programming differs from traditional informational programming in that success is defined not by listenership but by impact, the actions taken by farmers as a result of listening to and learning from FVR programming. FVR impact programming has three core principles: a systematic agenda, sufficient repetition for mastery of concepts and action, and rapid revision based on feedback from listeners
Feedback is at the heart of the FVR Extension System. Each FVR broadcast partner will establish a research desk to receive, analyze, and recommend alternative approaches to incorporate farmer voice into FVR programming. Farmers will have reduced rate or free access to SMS communications with the research desk. Programming will include “flash polls” asking farmers to register their opinions on issues being discussed, SMS alerts to farmers for upcoming programming, voice mail and live farmer inputs to FVR programs, analysis of farmer reactions to programming, adoption rates of recommended practices, and issues raised by farmers for which they seek information
FVR will rely heavily on farmer-organized Listener Groups to provide farmers throughout the nation with mutual support for innovative practices and problem-solving.
Radio Field Representatives (RFRs)
RFRs will take initiative for leadership of listener groups. They will get support through training manuals and SMS feedback from FVR Research Desks.
- FVR will develop the capacity to receive and respond to farmer voices through electronic feedback
- Farmer voices will help shape FVR extension agendas and broadcasts
- Farmer voices will be shared with policy makers
The National Agricultural Radio Agenda (NARA) and the Local Agricultural Radio Agenda (LARA)
The NARA and LARA will provide farmers with information for their common needs (the NARA), and their own local and their neighbors’ needs so that all may feel themselves a part of a larger community (the LARA).
Well-defined NARA and LARAs allow FVR radio station partners to have very focused agricultural messages to broadcast in multiple ways.
The NARA and LARAs will change quarterly, with repetition of earlier messages as appropriate.
Automated Program Support
Automated FVR programming can be offered in multiple languages as desired. Examples include automated weather reports, or focused agricultural information, repeated many times, in many forms, and in many contexts to give all farmers a chance to hear, review, learn, and adopt these new practices.
Farmer Voice Radio is built on eight core principles:
- Team Work
- Individual Initiative
- Tolerance for Ambiguity
- Discarding What Doesn’t Work
- Seizing Unexpected Opportunities