Integrating Radio and ICTs in Value Chains (IRIVAC)

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The Challenge

Revenue generated from groundnut, potato, soya bean and dairy value chains comprise a large portion of smallholder farmer income in Malawi. There are, however, many common issues in these four value chains that hinder production and productivity. For farmers, these issues include poor agricultural practices, lack of marketing information services and inadequate extension services. 

Our Solution

We aim to address these issues through the use of participatory radio-based extension and ICTs. The IRIVAC project targets all four of the value chains simultaneously in an effort to increase both production and value chain productivity. Due to the low cost of radio based agricultural extension, IRIVAC is able to reach a much wider audience than traditional face-to-face extension services. Sustainability of this programming is ensured by efforts to increase the capacity of participating radio stations and broadcasters to research, plan, design and produce quality, farmer-centered programming.


IRIVAC provides organization, tools and overarching strategy for radio stations to tailor broadcasts to the particularities of each value chain. The strategy employed through IRIVAC is as follows:

  • Radio station capacity is increased through skills-building workshops for broadcasters and ongoing training throughout the life of the project.
  • Interactive, weekly radio programming provides holistic information for farmers in magazine style broadcasts over the course of two continuous agricultural seasons.
  • Radio programming is constructed around three phases in the agricultural calendar: production, post-harvest and marketing.
  • ICTs are employed to provide easy and inexpensive methods for farmers to ask questions, propose program topics or respond to program content.
  • The interactive voice response (IVR) system is used to store all key messages from the broadcasts so listeners can phone and listen to a selected tip at their convenience.


  • Successfully conducted an audience formative research in soybean, potato and dairy value chain
  • Conducted the Message Design workshop, which resulted into Message Matrix plans for the value chain programs
  • Trained 12 broadcasters to enhance their knowledge in groundnuts, soybean, potato and dairy value chains.
  • Conducted the first quarterly content review of the groundnuts, soybeans, dairy and potato value chain radio programs
  • Establishment of 84 Community Information Hubs
  • Orientation of the Community ICT Information Hubs in IRIVAC’s impact areas
  • Distribution of 18 radios to  Mpemba and Matapwata EPA


The IRIVAC project marks the second time that Farm Radio Trust has partnered with the Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme, an initiative established by the Malawian Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Previously RLEEP had provided funding for the implementation of our Participatory Radio Campaign for Improved Groundnut Production and Marketing (PRC-IPGM) project. The IRIVAC project will build on the success of PRC-IGPM by employing an improved broadcasting model.

IRIVAC will use the effective farm radio services (EFRaS) approach, an enhanced version of the participatory radio campaign (PRC) approach employed during the PRC-IGPM project. The advantage of EFRaS is that, unlike the PRC approach, it does not have a limitation on period. Whereas a PRC typically ends following the production period, EFRaS will continue into the post-harvest and marketing phases of the value chain.

The flexibility of EFRaS also makes it ideal to address the diverse commodities being targeted through IRIVAC. EFRaS allows for different radio programming schedules to be constructed for the different growing seasons of the commodities and for messages to be tailored to each value chain based on ICT participation from value chain actors. IRIVAC is an ambitious project in scope, but through out partnership with RLEEP and employment of the EFRaS approach we believe we will have a significant impact on production and productivity in all four targeted value chains.

IRIVAC Project Profile

Focus: Groundnut, Potato, Soya Bean and Dairy Value Chains

Location: Dedza, Mchinji, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Blantyre and Thyolo districts, Malawi

Implementation Period: June 2014-June 2016

Status: Ongoing

Project Lead: Pauline Mbukwa, Program Officer

Partners: Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Program

Radio Station Partners: Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, Mudziwathu Community Radio, Nkhotakota Community Radio.