FARMERS' VOICE RADIO: STRENGTHENING THE LIVELIHOODS OF ETHIOPIAN COFFEE PRODUCING COMMUNITIES
Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) and Rainforest Alliance (RA)
'Utubaa' (meaning pillar) is broadcast on Jimma University Radio and Fana FM in the local language Afaan Oromoo
Smallholder coffee farming communities on Jimma, Oromia
The aim of this Farmers Voice Radio project is to set-up, produce and broadcast radio programmes that will improve the knowledge and practice of 5,000 coffee farmers in Jimma, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and accounts for a quarter of Ethiopia’s export earnings, however 95% of coffee production is on small family farms with less than 2 hectares. Smallholder coffee producers struggle to access international markets for quality and sustainable coffee, due to outdated agricultural practices, low productivity and unsatisfactory labour conditions, including a high prevalence of child labour and gender inequality. In the Jimma region, most coffee farmers are isolated and do not have the knowledge or the resources they need to improve their farming, sell their produce for a good price, protect their families and preserve their natural environment.
This Farmers' Voice Radio project is connecting coffee farmers in Jimma to the information they need to improve the sustainability of their coffee production, improve labour conditions and access international markets. The specific objectives of the project are:
Increase the number of OCFCU coffee farmer members enrolled in Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable certification scheme (from 3552 to 5000)
Increase the volume of coffee meeting required quality, environmental and social standards sold to OCFCU by member farmers by 15%
Increase the number of farmers who report adoption of a minimum of 3 recognised good agricultural practices by 35%
Increase the number of farmers who report at least 3 actions they can do to mitigate the risks associated with child labour by 35%
In order to achieve this, the project team are bringing together coffee producers, cooperatives, agricultural extension workers and actors in the supply chain to produce weekly radio programmes, that address the issues that farmers face. Produced in the community setting, the weekly programmes are in the farmers’ voices, in local language, broadcast on two community radio stations, Jimma University Radio and Fana FM. Alongside the Listener Group, six communal listening groups have been set up to enable all farmers (particularly women) to listen to the radio programmes and feed in their comments and questions to the project team.
Reshad A Mecha is a coffee farmer in Kenteri and member of one of OCFCU's primary cooperatives. Reshad recently said,
“We are gathering together and listening to the weekly radio program where we learn about best-farming methods and implement them in our daily activities…we called this program ‘Utubaa,’ meaning pillar in the language spoken in the area, because we wanted from the beginning this will be something that will improve our farming practices”
Photo credit- Netsanet Hailu