Farm Radio International | April 11, 2021
In Banikoara, in Northern Benin, women work with men in the field, doing much of the sowing, weeding, and harvesting crops. Women are traditionally responsible for marketing agricultural products and supplement their household food supply and their own incomes by cultivating their own plots of land.
But these same women often face difficulty accessing good land to grow their crops.
A local radio station, Radio Rurale Locale de Banikoara. decided they wanted to tackle that issue as part of their weekly radio program: Agriculture et Développement.
Serge Fanou is the editor-in-chief of the station. He says that, because Radio Rurale Locale de Banikoara is located in a rural area, it’s important to rural communities, particularly women.
Referring to women’s difficulty accessing good land, he says, “In that context, women are really marginalized.”
Agriculture et Développement addresses how women can locate good farmland, supports women in accessing the cotton industry, and tries to convince men in the area of the benefits of allowing women access to land.
Mr. Fanou notes, “Men and women can support each other. [With] agriculture, we can prosper.”
As the show points out, around 70% of women in Benin live in rural areas. Yet these women are often denied the same rights to land ownership as men. Even when they can access land, it’s infertile, or not ideal for growing crops.
Farm Radio International has named Agriculture et Developpement a runner-up for the 2021 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. This award recognizes radio programs that address gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women.
Agriculture et Developpement uses vox pops and in-studio interviews to highlight the voices of women as experts. As well as talking about agriculture, the program highlights women leaders and their contribution to the health, nutrition, and education of children. It also speaks with women heads of households who share their experiences of how to better impact society. The program also includes interactive elements that allow farmers to call in and share their views.
The program showcases how men and women can work together to improve agriculture and improve their profits, particularly in the cotton sector which is an important industry in Benin, although one dominated by men.
Mr. Fanou explains: “Thanks to these broadcasts, we make our listeners understand that we don’t have to be rich or have a high capacity to do agriculture. We try to help them understand how, with the little they have, they can develop, how they can feed their families.”
The program spoke with a mother of five, who discussed how she had accessed the land she now uses to grow lucrative cotton. It also highlighted a local official who gave advice on the methods the region had put in place to allow women to flourish—despite pushback from men.
Mr. Fanou says he plans to continue his work at the station with the Agriculture et Développement team (made up of two women and two men) to act as ambassadors for rural women, and for rural Banikoara in general. The team plans to find more ways of supporting women.
It’s an important topic and one the station will continue to address.