Maxine Betteridge-Moes | March 3, 2019
Inside the studio at Royals FM in Wenchi, in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, radio presenters Regina Gyabea and Mary Ajyapong are in full control. Their producer, Owoahene Acheampong, sits across the table with his headphones on, calmly turning the dials and offering occasional directions. Mr. Acheampong has been hosting a special farmer radio program for the past several weeks, but this time has decided to put the show in the capable hands of his female counterparts.
It’s a Saturday evening and the team has been working all week to put together “Green Leaf”—a twice-weekly series about post-harvest management and market linkages for maize. The program is sponsored by Farm Radio International and the World Food Programme as part of the Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chain (ENVAC) project.
Earlier in the week, the Royals FM production team visited the local market to interview farmers and inquire about market prices—which they announce on the program. The team strives for gender-balanced and unbiased coverage, and Ms. Ajyapong says gender inequality remains an important issue in the media and in farming today.
She says, “The core work of agriculture is done by women. But women are not given a chance to speak and it is not fair. We give them an opportunity to speak.”
Royals FM is one of six radio stations across the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions of Ghana that is implementing this new Green Leaf farmer program. Other stations include: ADARS FM in Kintampo, Asta FM in Techiman, Akyeaa FM in Nkoranza, GBC Radio in Mampong, and Today’s Radio in Ejura.
The Green Leaf program is an innovative series in which each episode incorporates seven segments tailored to meet local farmers’ needs. It covers everything from local news and events to weather and market information, and includes details about best farming practices and new technologies. Of course, the programs incorporate a high level of entertainment and interactivity, while maintaining a gender balance that encourages women to speak out on air.
Matilda Amoah co-hosts the program at Today’s Radio. She says it can be difficult to encourage women farmers to speak out.
She says, “At first when they saw us holding the phones and recorders, they would back away.”
The ENVAC production teams attended an intensive in-station training, during which they were presented with gender resources, including a how-to guide on serving women farmers and a guide on incorporating gender in farm radio programs. Key resource persons from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture are often part of the production teams and also attended trainings for this program. Ms. Amoah says interacting with women farmers in communities and in the marketplace has become her favourite part of producing the program, particularly the segment dubbed “Your Weather, Your Markets.”
She says, “I tell them they are my mothers and I am here for them. We have built a good relationship.” She encourages the farmers she meets in person to call in to the program and participate in the discussion. She says, “We have a whole lot of people calling. It is really beautiful.”
Farmers can participate in the Green Leaf program in a number of ways. First, they can voice parts in a mini-drama for the “Let’s Get Farming” segment, which teaches farmers about fundamentals and best practices. Broadcaster Gideon Sarkodie at ADARS FM visited a community recently where he worked with local farmers to act out a scene from a Farm Radio drama script that raises awareness about aflatoxin contamination and post-harvest management strategies.
In the “Have Your Say” segment, farmers can call Uliza—FRI’s innovative ICT platform—to respond to poll questions and record messages about their challenges and successes on the farm and in the marketplace. Broadcasters listen to these recordings and play back their favourites in subsequent episodes.
At ADARS FM, one caller left a message asking about storage practices for harvested maize. Another was curious about measuring moisture content in dried maize. Agriculture extension officers and other resource persons are then invited to discuss these and other issues as part of the “Digging Deep” segment, which educates farmers about a subject in depth and encourages them to take up a recommended practice.
Throughout the week, the production teams are busy preparing news segments, gathering market and weather information, recording vox pops, and collaborating with their colleagues across the region. The program airs twice a week—once live and one repeat—on different days at each station.
Back at Royals FM, Ms. Gyabea and Ms. Ajyapong are getting ready to host another gender-balanced episode. Mr. Acheampong is proud of his team and says he hopes the radio program will set a standard both in terms of content and practice.
He says, “We hope that other stations will learn from us and the women’s voices we are putting on air.”
Learn more about the new Green Leaf format in this blog post from Farm Radio International: https://farmradio.org/green-leaf-new-sustainable-radio-approach/