- Hannah Clark
Introducing the first Academy Graduates!
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Between March and June this year, 16 individuals representing 13 organisations from seven countries (Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and India) participated in the inaugural Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy. All participants were staff or volunteers of NGOs, community-based organisations, farmer associations or radio stations. Many were also farmers themselves, with a deep personal understanding of the challenges facing the rural communities they work with.
Over the first two months, participants attended four group training sessions via Zoom focused on the Farmers’ Voice Radio principles and methodology, using online collaboration tools to recreate the participatory activities that would have been used in a face-to-face workshop. As one participant said: “The whole course program was participatory and allowed each person [to] air out their views during the sessions. Also, it was lively and full of live examples, which made me relate easily with the environment I am in.” Most then went on to take up the offer of two individual coaching sessions to help them to think through the realities of Farmers’ Voice Radio programming in their own contexts and develop a detailed concept.
Despite the inevitable connectivity challenges and pressures of fitting training around field work, 12 of the 16 participants completed the training programme and 11 graduated with a fully developed and costed Farmers’ Voice Radio programme concept that they plan to implement in their own communities.
Recognising that access to finance can be the biggest barrier to new initiatives, a start-up grant competition was opened to all Academy graduates with the intention of providing seed funding to two or three organisations to help get their Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes underway. Seven applications were received and assessed against pre-agreed criteria by members of the Lorna Young Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Out of a very strong field, two concepts really stood out as embracing the Farmers’ Voice Radio values and approach and demonstrating a clear response to a need evidenced by consultation with their target audience.
The organisations who will receive the grants are:
Kajulu Hills Ecovillages based in Kisumu, Kenya, whose radio programmes will improve the sustainability of farming in the Nyanza region through increasing knowledge and practice in regenerative farming.
Amani Community Center in Tana River, Kenya, who will use Farmers’ Voice Radio on their community station Vox Radio (formerly Amani FM) to enhance peaceful coexistence between crop and pastoralist farmers in the region and to support the economic empowerment of community members.
Fatma Mzee, Operations Director of Vox Radio (featured in the above photo), said: “After going through the Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy, as a journalist I feel capacitated and the need to have the programme run at our radio station to foster change in the way our community does its farming activities. Better practices will in turn lead to better yields and market access...”
Stephen Tolo of Kajulu Hill Ecovillages in Kenya, said: “Since our organization has some experience with radio, this course has boosted our way to start something better to spread our mission of regenerative agriculture around Lake Victoria.”
More details of the successful applications as well as of the other graduates' programme concepts can be found on the Academy pages of our website. All are in need of financial support to get up and running, so please get in touch with the relevant contact directly if you are interested in working with them.
The Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy is open to representatives of NGOs, CBOs, farmers’ organisations and radio stations in the Global South with an annual turnover of under £250k. Eligible organisations must have a mission of empowering rural communities and an idea for a Farmers’ Voice Radio programme informed by consultation with the target audience. The next Academy programme is tentatively scheduled for January 2023 and will be targeted specifically at organisations working with coffee, tea and cocoa farmers. Keep an eye on our website for more details of how to apply.
We are hugely grateful to our supporters who have enabled us to run the Farmers' Voice Radio Academy free of charge to eligible organisations. You believed in our vision, and we couldn’t have got this far without you.
If you are interest in sponsoring a future Academy and enabling us to put the power of participatory radio into the hands of thousands more smallholder farmers, please get in touch or donate through our website.