Farm Radio launches Free Online Course for Farmers and Radio Broadcasters
By Tukeni Obasi
Three weeks ago, I explored the possibility and benefits of having a reality TV show for farmers/agriculturists. But, perhaps before that dream is realised, we can look to radio broadcasting and promote radio shows that are tailored to farmers or the practice of agriculture.
In a society where radios are still very common, especially in rural areas, radio shows are an excellent way to bridge information gaps in agriculture and improve farming techniques. Moreover, given that radios can be powered with batteries and are relatively cheap to acquire, radio shows will be able to reach a wider audience.
Today, I will be sharing information about an existing opportunity in broadcasting for farmers and other agricultural enthusiasts. This opportunity is for hosts of existing shows as well as aspiring broadcasters interested in setting up their own show. This programme, which will bring together radio broadcasters and farmers from across sub-Saharan Africa in an online community, is a free 11-week online course organised by Farm Radio International and the Commonwealth of Learning. Although no start date has been announced, the course is scheduled to commence in September 2012 and will be offered in English.
Current or aspiring broadcasters or radio show hosts enrolled in the course are eligible to apply for a one-time seed funding of $1000 (CAD) – to launch or upgrade their show – upon the completion of the course and the submission of their programme design. Interested applicants should have the support of a station manager to apply the knowledge and skills gained from the course. However, the course is also open to broadcasters who might find this an important opportunity but might not have the time, resources or opportunity to improve on an existing programme or launch their own programme in the short term. These people will thus be opting out of the award competition but stand to gain a lot from the programme nonetheless, and will be better equipped to launch their own programme when conditions are more favourable.
Stated learning outcomes include: understanding how to make a farmer programme effective; creating a purpose statement for a farmer programme; designing the programme structure; identifying a target audience; identifying the needs of farmers and meeting those needs effectively through the delivery of relevant and digestible information; understanding how to tell stories; choosing and using appropriate radio formats; targeting both women and men farmers (gender mainstreaming and sensitivity); animating and sustaining the programme; and expanding followership and obtaining feedback from audience for programme evaluation and improvement.
I encourage interested broadcasters and farmers to apply for this course. Better still, farmers and broadcasters can collaborate and register as a team. This will enable them to develop a robust programme design and launch a solid programme with each party bringing important technical and practical skills to bear. There is a huge demand for information among small-scale farmers – concerning farming techniques, agricultural policy and how it affects them, business opportunities, market prices and trends, and citizenship participation in governance – which programmes of this nature will be able to meet. An added benefit of enrolling is the chance to learn from other farmers/broadcasters across the subcontinent and to unearth avenues of collaboration.
Within the course, there will also be individual and group assignments to encourage participants to work together. All successful participants will receive a certificate upon the completion of the course.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, given the internet constraints many farmers/broadcasters face in Nigeria and many parts of the continent, participants may also request a CD-ROM version of the course. Thus, participants will not need to spend hours in a cybercafé and waste valuable resources on internet fees as they can do a large chunk of their work offline. Interested applicants should firstname.lastname@example.org to register or to learn more about the programme. Kudos to Farm Radio International and the Commonwealth of Learning for providing this opportunity.
This article was originally published on Business Day Nigeria