FCP - Farmer Communication Programme

Dissemination of knowledge on ecological agricultural methods in Africa through various channels

Project

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 four FCP pillars

"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.

Relevance

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.

Beneficiaries

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.

Objectives of current project phase

  • 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

Achievements

In 2017, 12 issues of TOF magazine were published in Kenya and 12 issues of MKM magazine in Tanzania. Monthly readership in Kenya and Tanzania reached 233,736 people. The monthly circulation is 49,000 magazines.

TOF Radio reached a total audience of around 4.1 million people (1.6 million of them are women) in 2017 through two radio programmes broadcasted by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and Mbaitu FM. The listeners benefit from the advice given in the radio programmes, which they can use on their farms to improve production and thereby achieve an improved nutrition and income situation. The topics of the programmes are based on the needs and experiences of farmers. They deal with gender issues, participation, income promotion and trends in the agricultural sector.

In 2017, 61,800 farmers and schoolchildren also received training in organic farming methods to improve their harvest yields in an environmentally friendly way. The Infonet website has been visited 249,511 times worldwide in 2017, and the indirect beneficiaries of Infonet are all farmers reached through the Information Centres and TOF Magazine. Infonet is their information platform.