What are the possibilities of using new digital technologies alongside radio to help ensure that agricultural development projects are farmer-centred, and meet the needs of the rural citizens they intend to serve? This research assesses Farm Radio International’s Listening Post – a model that combines radio and digital technologies with the aim of collecting and aggregating farmer feedback to aid decision-making and adaptive project implementation.
The Listening Post model is used by different partners who are engaged in agricultural development, research and extension projects – including nitrogen fixation from grain legumes, post-harvest storage, and promotion of disease and drought-resistant cassava. At the heart of the Listening Post is an interactive radio series focused on the theme of the project. The radio broadcasts are combined with Uliza, an interactive voice response tool for gathering and analysing feedback and questions from audience members. Farmers can vote on poll questions, leave messages for development partners and policy-makers, and request the delivery of specific information.
The research shows that linking a mobile-based crowd-sourcing tool with radio is effective at ensuring engagement from a large number of farmers, who felt it was a useful way of raising their questions and concerns to NGOs, policy-makers and experts. The model has clear potential to strengthen the chain of relationships between citizens, extension services suppliers, projects and policy-makers. It has also demonstrated its potential to collect real-time feedback from farmers that could be used to aid decision-making and improve accountability in agricultural development initiatives, helping to ensure they are more responsive to farmers.