Green Farmers Rural Radio by Michael Iyanro
Green Farmers Rural Radio is a major initiative that will benefit the rural poor farmers living in rural and isolated communities
In the absence of community and rural radio stations, the Green Farmers Rural Radio is a major initiative that will benefit the rural poor farmers living in rural and isolated communities that have no access to the media, and in communities that daily newspapers do not reach. Since there are no agricultural extension services, the Green Farmers Rural Radio aims at building the agricultural and environmental management capacity and know-how of rural farmers in the disadvantaged communities of Ogun State. The community radio has proven to be an effective tool to massively communicate with the underprivileged population living in isolated areas that are excluded from the mainstream of the mass media facilities. The Green Farmers Rural Radio is specifically designed for farmers. It shall elaborate and present programmes in the local Yoruba language; this will enable the farmers acquire sustainable and modern agricultural and farming techniques to save the environment. The radio shall give them access and linkage to national and international markets, to finance and micro credit facilities for their agricultural production and sustainability, and access to a Question and Answer service which will deal with pertinent questions concerning climate change. By building the skills capacity of the rural farmers, the radio shall serve as a medium for agricultural extension services, and provide farmers living in isolated communities with the know-how and information they need to ensure food security and work their way out of poverty and malnourishment. We have undertaken a qualitative and quantitative baseline survey showing community radio as an effective tool in educating people on GHGs & boosting rural agricultural productivity. This is based on the request expressed by the rural farmers for whom we work.
What actions do you propose?
The biggest obstacle in achieving the MDGs in Nigeria is the poor access to information by rural dwellers. With no electricity in their villages, no access to televisions, no effective mobile telephony system and the collapse of agricultural extension services, the rural poor have been cut off by the information reception system. In our immediate community, we want to create The Green Farmers Rural Radio; to inform, educate and improve the capacity of 350,000 small farmer listeners.
The Green Farmers Rural Radio will tackle climate change, green house gas emission, rural poverty and hunger by designing and broadcasting daily programs in the local Yoruba language. The radio will enable farmers to acquire contemporary agricultural and environmental management techniques, to receive daily market information, to advertise their farm products and to learn business skills. Smallholders will utilize daily broadcast information to decide what, when, how and for whom to produce in the long term sustaining the environment, and boosting their agricultural yields and household income. The radio will be interactive and will invite feedback from listeners through the deployment of interactive radio (AIR) mobile devices. This is a simple communications system intended to link those off the cellular and electrical grid with the rural radio. AIR are small, rugged, solar-powered mobile devices that record user voice input, and then asynchronously forward voice feedback to the radio station via an ad-hoc delay-tolerant network. Due to the low power footprint, ease of use, and use of wireless connectivity between devices, AIR does not incur any cost to the user. The project will increase knowledge sharing and the rate of development through community involvement.
This idea is unique because for the first time it seeks to transform smallholders from mere receivers to participants and managers of the environment and an information system. Information breaks all forms of barrier, climate change inclusive; it opens the mind and motivates the quest for results. With information poor farmers will help to sustain the environment and break the yoke of poverty and free themselves from the shackles of dependency. But information must be unlimited. It must reach the targeted audience promptly and effectively. Green Farmers Rural Radio will be a farmer driven, it is step further in producing and distributing to an established radio station that is smallholders owned , for them and by them .This is because information is only appreciated by the rural dwellers, when it originates from them. While the radio technologies has been severally been deployed for commercial interests, it has not been utilized for environmental sustainability and livelihood purposes which we seek to do. Despite the technological advances in the communication field, radio is still the most pervasive, accessible, affordable, and flexible mass medium available. In rural areas, it is often the only medium that can rapidly disseminate to large and remote audiences, critical information. Radio listening enjoys enormous popularity among the rural poor. Furthermore; we choose this innovative approach because Radio implies a two-way process, which calls for the active participation of the communities in the planning and production activities of the radio broadcasts.
Who will take these actions?
Rainbow Gate Foundation Nigeria and the local communities will be responsible for taking this action and has undertaken a qualitative and quantitative baseline survey showing community radio as an effective tool in boosting environmental sustainability and rural agricultural productivity and income. This is based on the request expressed by the rural farmers for whom the Foundation works. The Foundation has spearheaded efforts and designed programmes that promote environmentally sustainable pro-poor agricultural practices among rural farmers. However, for this project we will recruit and train 5 smallholders as radio presenters, 8 smallholders as the radio management committee volunteers drawn from local host community and 2 technicians to run routine checks on equipments. We will design and present programs, maintain equipments and manage the radio station.
Where will these actions be taken?
The project launch will begin from Abeokuta Nigeria. Abeokuta is a remote farming community in the south-western corner of Nigeria, at a geographic position of two degrees south latitude. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood of over 90 million people inhabiting the rural areas of Nigeria. But agricultural extension services has collapsed and the outcome is the unavailability of input materials needed for agricultural extension services such as 4WD vehicles , demonstration kits, farmer field schools and skills acquisition centers, qualified manpower is no longer existent the result smallholders living in remote areas are cut off from the information system. Secondly, smallholders lacks adequate and appropriate information that will boost their agricultural productivity and income as a result of the production of all valuable information in national or international languages.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
We anticipate a good reduction in the emission level in this region once we are able to introduce various environmental education program in local language that the people can understand. Through these actions we will reach over 100 million small farmer listeners in the 36 states of Nigeria with relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and well adapted information on agricultural development and natural resources management for secure livelihood. 85% of beneficiaries livelihood will be changed and food security will be strengthened. Agricultural productivity per acre of land will increase by an envisaged more than 77% and household income will increase by more than 50%. The long term expected result being reduced GHG and poverty indices in rural communities and accelerated economic empowerment at household level as a result of the liberalization of access to information. These actions will contribute to the deepening of local democracy and further citizens advocacy.
What are other key benefits?
These actions will contribute to the deepening of local democracy and further citizens’ advocacy. The views of minority groups especially women will be heard and their fears brought to public debate.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Mr. Michael has already invested $3,000 in administrative, travel, and research expenses to write a business plan. In the near future, we will require an additional $2,000 to $5,000 for incorporation and legal expenses, plus $100,000 in seed venture financing to launch the project in Abeokuta.
Our step is to purchase and install studio broadcasting, field broadcasting, broadcast center equipments, broadband internet connectivity equipments and solar powered wireless mobile voice user input together with their delay tolerant equipments. This is followed with the establishment of reliable environmental & agricultural development and market information linkage networks to access daily, weekly and monthly information from a wide variety of local, national and international sources such as local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Foreign Embassies and Ministry of Agriculture, Natural resources, Commerce and Industry. We will recruit and train 5 smallholders as radio presenters, 8 smallholders as the radio management committee volunteers drawn from local host community and 2 technicians to run routine checks on equipments. We will design and present programs, maintain equipments and manage the radio station.
Project Abeokuta will be launched in five major phases, during the following estimated dates:
Phase 1 Incorporation: Finalize business plan, incorporate, file with the SEC, build project website: January—March, 2014
Phase 2 Venture Financing: $100,000 for construction of radio station & community center, and to jump-start operations: February—September, 2014
Phase 3 Construction of radio station & community center: October—December, 2014
Phase 4 Optimize stattion: November, 2014
Phase 5 open for operations: December, 2014