FCP - Farmer Communication Programme

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

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.

Objectives

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.

Veronica Wamiti, an agricultural adviser provides advice locally using the offline version of Infonet Biovision (2014)

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. 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.

Beneficiaries

The farmer radio programmes have a potential audience of 3.7 million small-scale farmers in Kenya. The farmer 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. The TOF Facebook page has almost 12,000 Likes. In Kenya, the farmers also benefit from 17 local Information Centres that provide training and personal advice. In addition, 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 both in Africa and worldwide and on average attracts some 550,000 visitors each year.

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 four FCP pillars

"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.