Notes to broadcasters on market roads

    | November 1, 2010

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    When farmers want to sell their produce, they usually need to take it to a market. Most often, this requires transport and a good road. But farmers often live in areas with few transport options or poorly maintained roads. This is often the main factor limiting their ability to make a living by selling produce.

    This news story shows that it is not only farmers who benefit when roads are improved. With better roads, communities grow and other business opportunities flourish.

    Farm-to-market roads are quoted by some as being a major bottleneck which, if removed, could boost agricultural development in Africa. For example, here is a recent commentary on investing in infrastructure: “The greatest potential for Africa’s transformation” http://www.afronline.org/?p=9432.

    Farm Radio International has produced scripts on processing and storage, market information, and crop production, many of which are relevant to this subject. You can browse these scripts here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp.

    Farm Radio Weekly has previously published news stories about farm-to-market roads, for example:

    Republic of Congo: Farmers solve rural road problem with their own hands: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/01/11/1-republic-of-congo-farmers-solve-rural-road-problem-with-their-own-hands-ips/

    Côte d’Ivoire: Banana farmers and traders seek regional markets: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/02/08/1-cote-d%E2%80%99ivoire-banana-farmers-and-traders-seek-regional-markets-ips/

    You might want to explore this topic further, especially if you broadcast to a remote area. Here are some questions to inspire your programming:

    -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 deteriorated or been damaged in recent years?
    -Do poor roads prevent 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 to access external funding?