Notes to broadcasters on farm-to-market roads

    | May 30, 2011

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    In rural areas throughout Africa, poor roads can prevent farmers from getting to markets to sell their goods. Many communities are isolated by a lack of roads. Farmers have little motivation to improve farming methods if they must struggle to access markets. As in this story, external financing is often needed for large-scale road-building to improve market access.

    Jacques Diouf is the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He recently stated that higher investments in Africa are needed, mentioning irrigation, storage, and farm-to-market roads as key improvements to help Africa guard against rising food prices and famine. For a report entitled “African Agriculture Partners Focus on Mitigating Rise in Food Prices, Supporting Farmers,” go to:,,contentMDK:22823303~menuPK:2246551~pagePK:2865106~piPK:2865128~theSitePK:258644,00.html?cid=ISG_E_WBWeeklyUpdate_NL.

    Farm Radio International has produced scripts on market information, many of which are relevant to this subject. You can browse these scripts here:

    Farm Radio Weekly has previously published news stories about farm-to-market roads, for example:
    DRC: Marketing by motorcycle (Issue 140, January 2011).

    DRC: Where roads go, farmers will follow (Issue 133, November 2010).

    Republic of Congo: Farmers solve rural road problem with their own hands (Issue 94, January 2010).

    Côte d’Ivoire: Banana farmers and traders seek regional markets (Issue 98, February 2010).

    You may wish to produce one or more programs on rural roads in your area, and explore how the quality of roads affects the ability of farmers to access markets. Some questions to consider include:

    -Are there rural communities in your listening area that have good access to markets via roads or other modes of transportation? Have the roads always been good? If not, who improved the roads? How are the roads maintained?
    -Are there rural communities in your listening area that are isolated due to poor road conditions or a lack of roads? Have the roads always been in poor condition, or have they been damaged or deteriorated in recent years?
    -Are poor roads preventing farmers in your area from accessing markets? How do farmers cope with this situation?
    -Do these isolated communities face other problems as a result of poor road conditions (for example, problems accessing health care or essential goods)? How do they cope with these problems?
    -What are communities affected by poor road conditions doing to improve their roads or gain access to good transportation? Do they have plans to correct the problem as a community or make efforts to access external funding?