Case Holder:

Radio Azad

Radio Azad “Farmer’s Voice”

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

Constant conflict in Afghanistan has rendered the security situation precarious and with an obvious negative impact on the economic and investment climate. Despite reforms to the legal and regulatory framework, there are still serious shortcomings in terms of developing the private sector, which is not yet sufficiently competitive. Years of warfare have meant that successive regimes have struggles to govern centrally and are often impotent, largely due to the lack of a tax base or a legitimate indigenous source of revenue.

The constant situation of conflict has also inflicted great damage on the agricultural sector as new advances in agricultural technology, good agricultural practices and extension services have not been available to farmers wishing to improve their yields and productivity. Lack of information on good agricultural practices is a systematic constraint on the growth of the sector.

The object of this intervention was to transmit good agricultural practices to farmers in the Balkh and Samangan provinces. The Road to Jobs project designed and implemented a radio programme, Farmer’s Voice, in partnership with Radio Azad. This is transmitted in Balkh and Samangan provinces and has covered 44 topics so far, including 14 grape related topics. Radio Azad hired one agricultural expert to run the programme and has invited other specialists into the studio. It has also sent text messages to farmers on good agricultural practices. This intervention has created 3 jobs for women at Radio Azad.

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The Problem

One of the systemic constraints identified during the MSA was that farmers do not have the knowledge of good agricultural practices and therefore do not get optimum yield out of their grape fields. The quality is also affected as farmers use traditional practices rather than more modern trellising methods. This is because of poor extension services by both public and private service providers. Farmers need updated information on GAP so they may increase the yield and quality of their grapes.

Objective

Radio Azad and ILO/R2J have the shared objective of providing free information to farmers in order to improve their awareness of good agricultural practices. The target area for this intervention is Balkh (Balkh and Dawlatabad district) and Samangan (Firoz Nakchir and Hazrat Sultan districts). To broadcast the programme in Samangan province, Radio Azad signed a MoU with Radio Shahrwand in Samangan province to broadcast the programme live.

Value Proposition & Activities

A total of 44 topics have been covered on Farmer’s Voice so far, including 14 grape related topics, as follows:

  • Grape Cultivation : the grape and types of cultivation
  • What is Quria? Information about Quria
  • Grape growing: How farmers can ensure healthy vines
  • Plant pruning and its benefits: pruning and opportune timing
  • Systematic grape production: How can grapes be produced systematically
  • Using chemicals in grape growing
  • Cutting grapevines and other trees
  • Grape disease and control methods
  • Khakistarak disease and its control
  • Modern systems for cutting grapevines
  • Standard systems for grape production in Balkh and Samangan
  • Protecting grapevines in Winter
  • Assessing market demand for grape production
  • Creating Quria for grapes

Learning & Results

An assessment was carried out to measure the results and better understand the impacts of using radio to facilitate grape extension services. Sixty farmers were interviewed, from a total of 16 villages from the four districts; Balkh, Hazrat Sultan, Dawlatabad and Firoz Nakchir. The assessment team travelled to several villages to assess Radio Azad signal/availability as well as to find farmers who had listened to the radio. Four focus groups were held ( one per district) and 3 input suppliers were also interviewed.

Out of the sixty interviewed only 25 of them said they are listening to Radio Azad/Shahrwand programmes and 20 knew about Farmer’s Voice. The main concern here is the availability of the signal. It is weak in rural villages and only clear in the late evening/night. Radio Shahrwand is not available at all during the day in the Firoz Nakchir district and the radio is rarely listened to. Only four from the sixty had participated in calling up the programme (3 farmers from Dawlatabad and 1 from Hazrat Sultan).The majority of the listeners (20 from 25)  were from Dawlatabad and Balkh provinces. Awareness, as well as problems with the signal, is also an issue. The text messages were largely ineffective. Only 6 farmers said they had received them, the others said they cannot read so were unable to say whether they had received one from Radio Azad. For the same reasons of illiteracy the banners and brochures produced by Radio Arzad did not help to spread awareness regarding the programme.

Overall, the Radio Azad extension service is a positive initiative. It is the first ever radio programme in Afghanistan designed, developed and broadcasted specifically for farmers. The text messages were largely ineffective. Only 6 farmers said they had received them , the others said they cannot read so were unable to say whether they had received one from Radio Azad. For the same reasons of illiteracy the banners and brochures produced by Radio Arzad did not help to spread awareness regarding the programme.

Conclusion & any future variation

As a first agricultural program experience for the Radio Azad team, “Farmer’s Voice” was a lesson learnt, and has resulted in the design and broadcast of another agricultural program: “New Agriculture” in partnership with RADP-N.

Farmers who have a signal, know about and listen to “Farmer’s Voice” are very happy about the program and getting free information. They believe the program will result in improving their yields and increasing production.

Clearly there has been some positive impact from the programme – 44 topics have been designed and broadcast and the information provided via radio is applicable to farmers, with those who have listened enjoying getting information through the programs and participating.

Radio programmes can assist Grape farmers in understanding better farming methods.

The assessment indicates that grape farmers have learnt about diseases, use of chemicals and other general information. Overall the intervention has benefited farmers and could further benefit them.