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  • Hannah Clark

World Radio Day 2022: launching new Farmers' Voice Radio project for women shea producers in Ghana

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

Tungteiya member, Afishetu, explaining the steps to process shea butter for radio presenters in Mbanayilli, Ghana.
Tungteiya member, Afishetu, explaining the steps to process shea butter for radio presenters in Mbanayilli, Ghana.

The 13th February is World Radio Day and the theme for 2022 is ‘Radio and Trust’. As we celebrate radio today, we are proud to announce Farmers’ Voice Radio’s partnership with Solidaridad, The Body Shop, Cargill Zor, Tungteiya Women’s Association and the Global Shea Alliance in a new project that is empowering women shea producers in Ghana.

Women shea butter producers in Ghana face huge social and economic pressures, and the global supply of shea butter is at risk. Unsustainable agricultural and land management practices are affecting yields and quality. COVID-19 has disrupted markets and the delivery of essential services. Poor infrastructure, low education levels and gender inequality hinder access to essential information, particularly for women.

Radio overcomes these barriers: it is accessible, affordable and quickly reaches thousands! And radio is trusted; recent research reveals that citizens ascribe greater confidence in radio than in any other media[1].

According to UNESCO, ‘radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard’.

And so today we are celebrating our partnership with the The Body Shop, Cargill Zor, Tungteiya Women’s Association, Global Shea Alliance and our joint project to strengthen the sustainability of the shea supply chain in northern Ghana. Through the innovative use of participatory radio, Farmers’ Voice Radio empowers women shea producers’ – enabling them to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise through weekly programmes broadcast on community radio stations in local language.

The project aims to contribute to increased incomes and improved livelihoods for 10,000 women in shea producing communities in the Northern Region of Ghana. We will combine Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes with face-to-face training on health and safety, diversified livelihoods and shea cooperative development, as well as advocacy on shea parkland protection.

Radio is hugely popular in Ghana: our data shows that more people in the Northern Region have access to radio than a TV or a mobile telephone, and many people listen to the radio as a group in their household or compound. Over recent years, trust in many forms of media has eroded, but listeners have confidence in the information they are given over the radio. In Ghana’s Northern Region, multiple surveys show that women access vital health information via radio[2]. Part of people’s trust in radio is due to its low cost and ubiquitous nature. Despite digitalization being a global tendency, digital access to information is far from equal, with huge differences remaining between regions, communities and groups of people. Radio is accessible to everyone, including women and people with disabilities, and is used by an overwhelming majority of people.

The Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes, called Kpihi Saha (Shea Time) are produced in monthly meetings of local women shea producers, facilitated by the team at Solidaridad, Tungteiya and local experts. Broadcast in Dagbani language on community radio stations, the radio programmes raise the voices of the shea butter makers to address the key issues they face in the shea nut collecting, butter making and marketing.

Last year, The Body Shop supported a pilot nine-month Farmers’ Voice Radio project in the region reaching around 3,500 women in 3 target communities (many more people were also reached across the region). The radio programmes centred on quality processing of shea nuts and butter and shea parkland protection and regeneration, but also adapted to newly emerging challenges (such as broadcasting COVID 19 advice) and feedback from stakeholders. The evaluation showed clear evidence of positive changes in practices related to quality shea nut processing, health and safety measures, storage practices, shea tree protection and shea parkland restoration, such as a notable reduction in the cutting of shea trees and an increase in shea tree planting. Farmers’ Voice Radio also helped empower women shea nut workers in the region; their voices were raised to address the issues that they were facing in their shea production, and women listeners commented that hearing their peers on the radio programmes gave them the confidence to try new practices.

Farmers’ Voice Radio listener, Zeinab, said “I didn’t know they collect shea butter and filter it, I heard it from Kpihi Saha, then got to know they filter shea butter into a pan to make it clean, I didn’t know if you process butter you will store it in a clean room, or put it in clean containers, for dirt not to fall into the butter, I learned all that from Kpihi Saha”.

We look forward to build upon the learning from this pilot project, to reach even more shea producers in the Northern Region, with vital, timely and appropriate information presented by women to women, using the power of radio.

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