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Radios Help Businesses Reach Smallholder Farmers

By Feed the Future

Radios Help Businesses Reach Smallholder Farmers

Feed the Future is leveraging radio stations in Mozambique to reach smallholder farmers and strengthen agricultural markets.

In Mozambique, the adult literacy rate is 56 percent and internet usage hovers around 18 percent. Community radio stations are therefore an important source of information for much of the population, including smallholder farmers. That’s why a Feed the Future Mozambique project in the country is focusing on radio stations as strategic private sector entities to reach smallholder farmers and stimulate agricultural transformation.

The Feed the Future Mozambique Agricultural Innovations Activity developed community radio forums to help local radio stations become a new and unbiased source of information for smallholder farmers. Through these forums, community radio stations convene a group of local farmers to discuss questions and concerns, seek responses and technical information from agricultural companies and government officials, and then consolidate these discussions into a monthly radio broadcast. As a result, radio stations are becoming effective platforms for agricultural companies to engage with and receive invaluable feedback from farmers to better deliver customer-oriented products and services. The radio stations provide smallholder farmers a “voice” in the marketplace, while giving agricultural companies a platform to build confidence among their customer base — driving demand and adoption of agricultural inputs. “We believe our program allows local farmers to have a voice,” said Trevor Gravata, a broadcaster, editor and journalist at Radio Sussundenga in Manica Province. “Our mission is to amplify local concerns and find answers to problems that no one listens to.”

Feed the Future partnered with Gravata and Radio Sussundenga to test the Community Radio Forum model.

Photo by Radio Sussundenga

During the pilot, Gravata met with farmers and recorded several questions, including one about why seeds sold by Klein Karoo (K2), a seed production company, were not sprouting. Investigating the issue, Gravata interviewed Charles Mbaie, a sales and marketing manager at K2, who said that the farmers were mistakenly sold expired seeds. To further restore confidence in the brand, K2 provided training to local farming communities on how to achieve better yields.

Farmers in the area were encouraged by the company’s responsiveness and transparency, and the company learned firsthand the value of farmers’ voices and the importance of media in building confidence with their customer base. By tuning into the radio and engaging in the conversation, smallholder farmers, in return, can easily learn more about the best agricultural products available to them as well as the latest farming techniques and technologies, weather forecasts, and the demands from the market.

Since Radio Sussundenga’s initial pilot, the Community Radio Forum program has expanded to 15 radio stations in Manica and Nampula Provinces. The Forum has also caught the attention of multiple companies, including Bayer, which is now sponsoring the radio station to reach its own smallholder farmer audience, and Phoenix Seeds, which is broadcasting technical and promotional content for smallholder farmers.

The Feed the Future Mozambique Agricultural Innovations Activity is facilitating behavioral change within the inputs distribution network. Its main objective is to support firms to expand their market scope while servicing smallholder farmers.

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