FARMERS' VOICE RADIO FOR SUSTAINABLE COFFEE LIVELIHOODS ON MOUNT ELGON
Mount Elgon Agroforestry Communities Cooperative Enterprise (MEACCE), Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), Rainforest Alliance
Guernsey Overseas Aid and Development Commission, Rainforest Alliance
08/2020 to 08/2021
Smallholder coffee farming communities living on the slopes of Mount Elgon
Smallholders produce 90% of Uganda’s coffee; a major cash crop accounting for 20–30% of foreign
exchange earnings. The Mount Elgon region in eastern Uganda is home to approximately 90,000 smallholder coffee farmers and known for its quality Arabica beans. The livelihoods of these farmers are highly vulnerable to climate change, with coffee yields around a third of their potential due to unpredictable weather, a rise in pests and disease (attributed to increased temperatures) and inappropriate farming practices. Landslides are common, caused by flash flooding and exacerbated by deforestation. Sustainability schemes such as Rainforest Alliance can reduce this vulnerability by providing training on climate-smart agriculture that increases productivity and improves soil retention. However, many farmers cannot access this information due to remoteness, low literacy or gender bias. This situation has been exacerbated by the current coronavirus crisis, with face-to-face training interventions largely paused due to social distancing requirements, restrictions on gatherings and public transport bans.
This Farmers’ Voice Radio project aims to improve the knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to sustainable coffee production of the 3,033 farmer members of MEACCE, around 20% of whom are women. Agricultural extension staff at MEACCE will be trained to use LYF’s participatory radio methodology and work with local radio stations to produce and broadcast nine months of weekly radio programmes, reaching an potential listenership of 90,000 coffee farmers. The programme content will be recorded in farmers’ own voices in local languages Lumasaba and Kupsabiny, focusing on the topics that matter most to farmers. In a recent survey of farmers in Mount Elgon, 81% of respondents reported having access to radio and 78% stated that radio was a “very important” influence. This makes radio a powerful tool for disseminating knowledge and changing behaviours at scale, whilst overcoming barriers created by a lack of education, restrictions on movement and time poverty.