FRT looks back at year 2020-2021 with a smile, and looks to year 2021-2022 with hope for growth and maximization of its impact..

gEORGE VILILI

ceo , farm radio trust malawi

HIGHILIGHTS OF FRT ACHIEVEMENTS IN YEAR 2020-2021

During the just ended year of 2020-2021, Farm Radio Trust has registered a number of achievements in our quest to serve farmers in making sure that no farmer fails to make an informed decision on their farming enterprises due to lack of information. The following are some of the highlights of what FRT has achieved in the year 2020-2021:

With the challenges posed by COVID-19, which limited provision of face-to-face extension service delivery, FRT services have been more pronounced than ever before.  We have continued serving farmers without a break. We have used our digital platforms such as radio, mobile phones-based platforms such as SMS pull and push, Interactive Voice Response, Beep4Info services and the Mlimi hotline call center to serve farmers who need agriculture information on daily basis, without exposing them to COVID-19. We expanded our radio partnership to 35 radio stations across the county with impact interactive radio programs.

After 11 years of existence Farm Radio Trust has finally bought an office building in Area 47.  The Mlimi House is an office complex that is designed to house FRT and FHL offices and all FRT platforms such as the Mlimi FM Radio Station and the Mlimi Hotline call centre under one roof. 

As pace setters, Farm Radio Trust has broken new frontiers by successfully applying for and being granted a license to operate a first ever Agriculture focused radio station called “Mlimi Radio” radio station.  This is a radio station that is geared at contributing towards development of the sector that is the backbone of the country’s economy and the main employer of the majority of the country’s workforce. Mlimi Radio stands to provide farmers with information on agri-business and other related community development initiatives.  Furthermore,  Mlimi Radio stands to seize the opportunity to provide relevant, timely, accurate, farmer-friendly, detailed and implementable information through impact driven interactive radio programming across agriculture enterprises. 

During the year 202-2021, FRT introduced and tested its own Interactive Voice Response services linked to its call centre services.  The service enables farmers to opt for audio advisories on various agricultural topics suiting their information needs. Although the centralized IVR service has just been established, an average of 1000 farmers have been accessing and interacting with the system on weekly basis. The IVR system helps to overcome illiteracy barrier as the information is presented in an audio format.

Farm Radio has managed to continued in partnership many of its donors and partners.   

Farm Radio Trust secured funds from the Government of Flanders to implement a 5-year second phase of Scaling up Radio and ICTs Enhanced Extension Delivery project (SRIEED 2), whose overall goal is to contribute to improved food security, nutrition, income and resilience by smallholders.  The project will scale up digital tools such as radio by facilitating establishment of the Mlimi radio, increasing partnerships with other radio stations, create a content portal for extension messages, serve farmers using SMS and Interactive Voice Response, decentralization of the Call Centre services to district level, utilization of farmer mediated videos and expansion of social media usage for extension.

 

“Those that go ahead rule”

In the year 2021/2022, Farm Radio Trust will be rolling out and launching the Malawi Agriculture Content Portal, satellite imaging to monitor agriculture activities and other emerging issue. Furthermore, under the Farm Radio Holdings Limited (FHL), the Mlimi Radio will be going on air within the first half of the year. 

Farm Radio Trust intends to intensify youth engagement at all levels and across the development sectors including agriculture. FRT is therefore, in the process of developing youth engagement strategy in the agriculture and other development sectors to promote active youth engagement ownership of agriculture development initiatives and other related development issues. 

For organization growth, Farm Radio Trust will be looking at enhancing its operations on policy engagement and coming up with policy engagement strategy.

In year 2021/2022, FRT is repositioning itself to effectively engage with district governance structures.  Thus, FRT will be pronouncing its presence at district level as part of decentralization process to ensure effective collaboration with other district structures and players.