Improved Market Information Services programs increase farmers’ income and knowledge

| October 1, 2018

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This week, we present some of the best of our Farmer stories on marketing. Our Script of the week shows how radio stations can present market information to support farmers’ efforts to market their crops effectively.

Farmers work hard to produce a good crop. After all their work, buyers sometimes come to their farms, or meet them at the market, and pay farmers far less than they need to survive.
What can farmers do about this situation? How can they find out which crops will give them the best price? There are a few responses to that question. One is: listen to Marketing Information Services (MIS) programs on a local radio station. MIS programs tell farmers the current prices in the markets so that they can start the bargaining process equipped with up-to-date knowledge on prices and market conditions. Thus equipped, farmers may decide to take their produce to the local market. Or they may go to a nearby market that offers better prices. But these options are only possible if the local radio station offers an MIS program. Unfortunately, that’s a big “if.”

From 2007 to 2010, Farm Radio International conducted a project called the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI for short. The project was strongly participatory, in part because it asked farmers to identify those issues that were most important to them. As well as farming topics, farmers indicated that they were very interested in MIS. In response, AFRRI worked with five radio stations in four countries to broadcast enhanced MIS. This script reports on those programs.

The script talks about the creative and effective MIS programs that were broadcast as part of AFRRI. These programs go far beyond simply reading out market prices on the air. They educate farmers on how to plan for the coming year, alert farmers to price trends for different crops, and tell farmers which commodities are “hot” and which are not. On some programs, farmers can phone in and talk on-air to broadcasters, and ask questions of extension workers. On other programs, broadcasters help connect buyers and sellers.

This script is divided into two parts. Part one talks about MIS programs in Mali and Ghana. Part two talks about programs in Uganda and Tanzania and makes some observations about the best ways to broadcast MIS programs.