Nelly Bassily | February 21, 2011
Accessing markets is vital for farmers who sell crops to maintain or increase their income. This story explains that, for some farmers in this forested region of Congo-Brazzaville, getting goods to market was the main barrier to increasing their incomes. When an unusual form of transport called the “motorcycle-wheelbarrow” was introduced, this problem was overcome, and farmers and traders are both reaping the benefits.
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 an in-depth report entitled “African Agriculture Partners Focus on Mitigating Rise in Food Prices, Supporting Farmers,” go to: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/0,,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 and crop production, many of which are relevant to this subject. You can browse these scripts here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/market.asp
Farm Radio Weekly has previously published news stories about farm-to-market roads, for example:
DRC: Marketing by motorcycle (Issue 140, January 2011). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/10/dr-congo-marketing-by-motorcycle-syfia-grands-lacs/
DRC: Where roads go, farmers will follow (Issue 133, November 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/01/drc-where-roads-go-farmers-will-follow-syfia-grands-lacs/
Republic of Congo: Farmers solve rural road problem with their own hands (Issue 94, January 2010). 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 (Issue 98, February 2010). 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 transportation access to markets? 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?
-What kind of transport is common in your broadcast area? Do many farmers use bicycles? Are scooters or motorcycles common? What difference does the form of transport make to a farmer’s livelihood?
-Is public transport available to farmers in isolated communities? Is it convenient and affordable?