Radio, when coupled with other information Communication technology (ICT) like mobile phones, is noted as an effective tool helping farmers to make informed decisions that support the adoption of innovative agricultural technologies as the users get opportunities to voice out their views through participatory radio programs. Recognizing its role, the AKILIMO team partners with Newala FM, a community radio station managed by the Newala district to disseminate AKILIMO content to a wider audience.
The team provided the AKILIMO content to be broadcasted on ‘Shamba na mkulima’ (a Swahili word that means the farm with a farmer) an educational and informative program about agricultural information to farmers. The aim was to increase awareness about AKILIMO content to the Newala district farmers.
The team together with the extension officers also organized seven radio listening groups for cassava growers to be able to listen to the program in a more interactive and collective way. “The groups were supervised by the extension officers who also provided the AKILIMO printable guides to the farmers and get the opportunity to ask questions and give suggestions,” said Ally Ngádoa, Research Assistant and AKILIMO Scaling Promoter at IITA.
An hour participatory program broadcasted on the six easy steps to cassava weed management and best planting practices; where listeners got the opportunity to call in and asked clarifications and give their suggestions on matters related to cassava growing and farming in general. Some of the questions were on types of fertilizers to apply during planting and growing time of cassava crop.
“We recommend farmers to use NPK 17:17:17 as planting fertilizer, and MOP and Urea as growing fertilizer.” Responded Ng’adoa during the live session.
Hamis Tambwe, a beneficiary of AKILIMO training was among the listeners who followed the whole radio program and called in to appreciate the training he received. “I am grateful for the training I received as it led to an increase in my cassava yields” explained Hamis.
Moreover, the farmers listening groups gave their feedback to the extension agents that the content from the program helped them to understand the steps to take to increase cassava value, efficiency in production that would help to improve their incomes
The program coverage reached five districts including Newala, Tandahimba, Masasi, Nanyihamba, and Mtwara rural.The team has agreed to collaborate with the Newala radio station in providing the contents on farming practices to support the sustainability of the program which had stopped before due to lack of agricultural content to be broadcasted. The session is part of the initiative from the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) to promote the use of AKILIMO tools in cassava cultivation.
ACAI is a 5-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project in 5 countries in Africa (Nigeria, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, and Kenya) aiming to increase the availability of appropriate and affordable technologies to sustainably improve short and long-term agricultural productivity in cassava in the target countries.