As part of its mass extension activities for 2016, Plantwise Ghana rolled out a four-week radio campaign to educate farmers about the detection and management of crop pests and diseases prevalent in the project’s five intervention regions in Ghana. The campaign, which took place between September and October 2016, involved five radio stations noted for their experience in running agriculture-oriented programs targeted at farmers in those regions.
The program was done in collaboration with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services (PPRS) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and focused on current pest and disease problems affecting farmers and reducing crop yields substantially in the target regions. These problems included the fall armyworm in the Northern Region), the White Fly and Fruit Fly in the Brong Ahafo Region, the Angular Leaf Spot and Fruit Fly in both the Ashanti and Eastern Regions and the Stem Borer that attacks maize farms in the Volta Region.
In order to make the needed impact, the dominant local languages of the respective regions were used as the medium of discussion to ensure farmers, the majority of whom have little or no formal education, could understand the discussions and be able to grasp the knowledge being shared. Experts from the PPRS were engaged by the radio host in lively discussions on how the farmers could detect these problems on their farm and what the recommended practices are in handling and solving or managing the situation. Towards the tail end of the program, listening farmers also had the opportunity participate in the program through a phone-in segment where they could ask questions and share their experiences about the topics being discussed
Based on the estimations of the radio stations in terms of their geographical reach, audience share and popularity of their agricultural programs, it is estimated that the campaign reached over three million listeners over the four-week period.
A post-campaign assessment of listeners’ view about the program indicated that farmers were generally very happy with the program and called for more of it in the coming seasons. Views sampled from over 60 farmers in about 15 communities across the five regions pointed to the fact that the vast majority of the farmers were not only impressed and enlightened by the program but were ready to apply what they had learned through the program.
When asked how useful they found the program to their farming activities, 91% of the respondents said they found it very useful while another 6% found it somehow useful. Also, 98% of the farmers spoken to admitted that their capacity to manage these pest and disease problems has gained a major boost through the program while all respondents indicated that they are happy to apply the knowledge they have acquired on their farms to improve their yields.
Contributed by Solomon Duah, CABI