The Biovision Farmer Communication Programme (FCP) is a multi-media package of measures that disseminates information in print format, on the radio and the Internet as well as providing personal advice to local farmers. It ensures a continual exchange of targeted knowledge and experience between farmers and scientists. The FCP underpins the basic projects of Biovision in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"The Organic Farmer" (TOF) is the English version of the magazine for small-scale Kenyan farmers who previously had only very limited access to information on ecological farming. It is the only magazine for ecological farming in East Africa. Similarly unique is "Mkulima Mbunifu" (The Smart Farmer), the edition of TOF in Swahili. It is an independent farming magazine and is published monthly in Swahili.
TOF radio is a radio programme for small-scale farmers in East Africa. Every week, two seven-minute editions of the programme are broadcast on organic farming issues.
In its Advice in the Field project, Biovision gives farmers in rural areas of Kenya access to expert advice and training in ecological farming through the local information centres set up by the project. Experts also visit farmers in their remote home villages to answer questions and support the networking of farmer groups.
Infonet-Biovision is a website for small-scale African farmers (www.infonet-biovision.org). It provides relevant, publicly-available and locally adapted information free of charge on topics such as ecological farming, animal husbandry and health and the environment. All TOF-magazines are available on the Infonet website, listed according to search criterions. The Infonet website can be downloaded for offline use.
In Africa, agriculture remains the main source of income for 80% of the rural population. However, agricultural production, and thus also food security, is compromised by a variety of factors, like for example climate change. Others include crop failures and post-harvest losses caused by plant pests, animal diseases as well as sickness amongst the farmers themselves. A further challenge is population growth and the associated increase in the demand for food. Ecological farming methods offer small-scale farmers simple, inexpensive ways to increase yields. However, in many regions of Africa the knowledge required to implement such measures is not easy to access and in some cases it is non-existent. The FCP provides support in the form of practical know-how on ecological agriculture far removed from the world of expensive artificial fertilisers and chemical pesticides. The FCP also includes as standard valuable information on disease prevention in humans and animals, environmental protection and income generation. The Biovision programme of knowledge dissemination is designed to bring about sustainable improvements in the food security and living conditions of small-scale farmers in East Africa.
The radio programmes for farmers have a potential audience of 3.7 million small-scale farmers in Kenya. The magazine “The Organic Farmer” (TOF) is published monthly in both English and Swahili. The English version has a print-run of 35,000 and the Swahili version 15,000; their combined readership is some 250,000. Increasingly, the magazine is being read online or downloaded. Farmers also benefit from 17 local Information Centres that provide training and personal advice. The 25 agricultural advisers also visit local farms and each year offer advice to some 55,000 small-scale farmers. The Infonet website is used in both Africa and worldwide and on average attracts some 550,000 visitors each year.
- Increases of more than 20% in yields and product diversity for farmers in Kenya with access to FCP
- More than 30% of Kenyan households have enough food and are eating a balanced diet
- Increases of more than 20% in the incomes of all householders in Kenya with access to FCP
In 2016, a total of 12 editions of TOF and 12 of MkM were again produced with additional partners and experts contributing to the content. In order to ensure and improve the quality of the magazine articles, a two-day workshop was held in Nairobi (Kenya) and training for journalists was provided in Arusha (Tanzania). Improvements to the online version of the TOF magazine were rewarded with an increase in the number of downloads from the website and Likes on its Facebook page.
TOF Radio broadcast 35 programmes nationally and 45 programmes locally. The Information Centres (Outreach) produced 4 films on ecological agriculture for use in education and training. In addition to the personal advice provided in local villages, the project provided numerous training sessions at schools, demonstration fields and agricultural shows.
A total of 12 new data sheets on animal health and disease prevention were produced for the Infonet website with existing content updated. The new Content Management System displays the website in Responsive Design and these changes increased mobile access from smartphones and tablets.