With its multimedia transmission of information via magazines, radio, Internet and personal consultation, the Farmer Communication Programme (FCP) ensures a continual exchange of knowledge and experience between scientific research and small-scale farmers, tailored to the needs of the latter. The FCP is based on 16 years of experience in the transmission of practical information on ecological farming.. The FCP underpins the grassroots projects of Biovision in East Africa.
Facilitate sustainable improvements in food security and living conditions for small-scale farmers in East Africa by disseminating user-oriented knowledge on ecological agriculture, disease prevention, environmental protection and income generation.
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. Pests alone are responsible for up to 80% of harvest losses. In developing countries, the demand for food is set to increase strongly until 2025 because of population growth. Using organic farming methods, small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa can increase their yields by simple, cost-effective means. To achieve this, farmers need access to locally relevant, basic agricultural information as well as training. In many African regions, this specific knowledge is very difficult to access or is not available at all. Transmitting practical advice enables African farmers to increase their yields without having recourse to expensive artificial fertilizers or chemical pesticides. Moreover, ecological methods sustainably improve soil fertility and help to decrease the negative effects of climate change. The FCP is the only programme of this type in East Africa.
As many as 3.7 million small-scale farmers can receive the farmer radio programmes in Kenya. The farmer magazine, "The Organic Farmer" is published monthly in English and Swahili. The English version has an annual readership of 282,400 in Kenya and the Swahili version has 82,038 readers in Tanzania. A total of 87,424 people in Kenya also benefit from 11 local information centres that offer training and personal advice. The Infonet website attracts a global audience with 700,000 visitors per year, of which 107,413 are from Africa.
With its broad, multi-media approach to the dissemination of knowledge (print, radio, Internet and personal advice) the benefits of FCP extend far beyond the region and it provides information to a significantly higher number of recipients.
"The Organic Farmer" (TOF) is a 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, locally adapted and tried-and-tested information on topics such as ecological farming, health, animal husbandry, environmental issues and income generation.