Audio learning, adapted: Spotlight on the Talking Book
In Ghana, farmers can receive agricultural information over the airwaves from their local radio station. But an organization called Literacy Bridge is also bringing farmers information on-demand in another format: the Talking Book.
The Talking Book is a piece of equipment much like a radio, which shares recorded audio messages in many formats, including songs, dramas, and interviews. Listeners learn about the same important topics as they do on the radio: land preparation, seeds, sowing practices, weeding, fertilizer and compost manure, preventing post-harvest losses, crop storage, land management, marketing, and more.
Messages from Talking Book are shared with more than 250,000 people in Ghana’s Upper West Region, and in parts of Upper East and Northern regions.
Fidelis Dauri has been working with Literacy Bridge for more than five years. He says, “I enjoy working for an organization that helps people who can’t read or write, [and] increasing their production, income, and health.” He started as a field coordinator and now works as a senior content officer, recording and producing agricultural and health content.
He adds: “I enjoy broadcasting sustainable agriculture practices as well as child and maternal health messages. For the past four years, farmers across our program areas have won best farmer’s awards, and they attribute it to what they are learning from the Talking Book.”
In 2015, Cecilia Belintaa won a best district farmer award. She says: “The agricultural extension agents are not many and so reaching out to farmers has been difficult for them, but this farmers’ radio [Talking Book] has come to help carry their lessons to every household in the community.”
The Talking Book develops many of the messages it shares with farmers by using information from Barza Wire and Farm Radio Resource Packs. Mr. Dauri says: “Our program targets some specific crops like millet, guinea corn, soya beans, cowpea, groundnuts, and livestock health. I use Barza Wire, Farm Radio resources, and other resources to develop messages that are relevant to farmers in our program communities in Ghana.”
Just like a radio broadcaster, Mr. Dauri works to ensure that farmers can share their voices through Talking Book. He says, “They want their voices heard through the feedback they offer about our program and messages. They want interactive and participatory programs.”
The Talking Book allows listeners to record a message in any language, which the staff at Literacy Bridge work hard to respond to. Talking Book also captures information about the messages being shared, so that the organization knows which messages are the most popular. Mr. Dauri adds, “Their questions, concerns, and suggestions are always taken into account in order to improve our program and share with organizations developing similar agricultural content.”
Mr. Dauri says one of his proudest moments came in 2015, when he covered the story of Kogliyiri Sinkari, the best district farmer. Mr. Sinkari’s messages about good agricultural practices and adapting to climate change were recorded and played for other farmers, which in turn motivated Nanglatuo Kaategri to adopt these practices. Mr. Kaategri won best district farmer in 2016.
Mr. Dauri says, “I am most proud of the positive impact one farmer’s bountiful agricultural results had on another farmer, inspiring him to adopt the new agriculture practices as well.”