URDT with development partners launched a project to improve nutrition awareness and household incomes in the Bunyoro region.

On 29th July 2014 the project started, entitled “Effective or Interactive Farm Radio Service” (EFRAS). It is a set of linked radio broadcasts. It provides small-scale farmers with regular, reliable, relevant and accurate information service so that they can improve on their feeding habits and consequently their incomes.

The picture below shows the project team and partners.

a)     What is an EFRAS?

An Effective or Interactive Farm Radio Service is set of linked radio broadcasts that: provides small-scale farmers with regular, reliable, relevant and accurate information services; and amplifies the voices of farmers, putting their needs, interests, ideas and opinions on the airwaves.  

An EFRAS normally includes both a weekly magazine show and shorter “daily necessities” broadcasts issued at least once each day.  The former includes in-depth and interactive exploration of deep-rooted issues, weather advisory services, and market advisory services. The daily necessities show provides short weather, market and news updates for farmers, as well as alerts and reminders.

b)     Why is an interactive radio service important to farmers?

Farmers get access to:
•    a regular, reliable, relevant and respectful source of information about a wide range of farming issues
•    information about techniques they can adopt, sources of inputs, markets, weather, and news of current events that effect their farm business
•    voice – it provides an opportunity to have their aspirations, opinions, and interests expressed and heard by decision makers, policy makers, service providers, agro-businesses, extension agents, and agricultural researchers.

c)     Why is it important to agricultural development?

Agricultural development initiatives often have difficulty taking their interventions to scale and ensure their extension messages are relevant.  An EFRAS can mitigate both. It can send information out over the airwaves to, potentially, millions of farmers. And it can capture the true feelings and experiences of farmers about a range of issues.

For example. Whether it is a CGIAR with an improved seed, a public agricultural extension service, the projects of an NGO, or a company with good products to offer farmers, getting effective information out to farmers can be costly and difficult.  These same organizations also have trouble hearing farmers' perspectives – getting honest feedback and advice.

In project site visits, assembled farmers are often very polite and agreeable. They often tell their visitors that the projects they are implementing are wonderful and have let them send their children to school and could they please have some more.  They could be a bit more candid when they speak to a radio reporter, send in a message or participate in a “beep vote”. This honest feedback is very valuable to designer and implementators of agricultural development initiatives.