On Thursday 13th February 2020, the Lorna Young Foundation (LYF) will launch its FARMERS’ VOICE RADIO initiative. In solidarity with World Radio Day, the LYF will unveil both its new Farmers’ Voice Radio brand and its website. The website has been designed to give away, for FREE, the LYF’s Farmers’ Voice Radio methodology and resources, so that the world’s poorest smallholder farmers—who are in desperate need of information, learning and support—have access to the knowledge they need.
Ian Agnew, Chairperson of the Lorna Young Foundation says:
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved through our participatory local radio initiatives across Africa. But the enormous impact of our Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes and increasing demand for projects meant that we needed to address our approach to delivery. Rather than becoming a bigger NGO, with more staff and overheads, we decided to ‘open source’ our learning, making our toolkit of resources available online and free of charge to disadvantaged farmers and the organisations who work with them. These are people who are all too often voiceless or at the mercy of climate change and unethical supply chains.”
Over the last 10 years, the LYF has delivered Farmers’ Voice Radio projects across Africa, enabling hundreds of thousands of farmers (particularly women) to strengthen agricultural production and participate more effectively in supply chains – contributing to more secure livelihoods:
- In Nyeri, Kenya, Farmers’ Voice Radio reached 500,000 listeners, leading to the planting of 70,000 disease-resistant coffee trees and 705 coffee farmers joining a coffee cooperative (50% women);
- In North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Farmers’ Voice Radio resulted in a 685% increase in cocoa sold by women growers and a 300% increase in production of single-origin chocolate bars;
- In northern Ghana, Farmers’ Voice Radio is reaching 10,000 farmers, with a >50% increase in maize yields following application of climate-smart agricultural practices in this drought-prone area.
Radio is the most affordable and accessible communications medium in the world’s poorest and most remote communities. In DRC’s Virunga National Park, LYF partnered with eco-chocolate company, Original Beans. Through radio and text messaging, women cocoa smallholders were trained on issues such as cocoa production, deforestation and gender rights – improving the livelihoods of at least 10,000 female smallholders. Jasmin was trained by the LYF as a radio presenter; she says that Farmers’ Voice Radio; “gives women the opportunity to contribute to the family income and also develop themselves through cocoa as a cash crop […] This project helps them find themselves […] to participate in the protection of the environment, to sensitise them and their children about the forest, to help them send their children to school.”
The Farmers’ Voice Radio launch week coincides with World Radio Day 2020, which this year is advocating that radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content; something which the Farmers’ Voice Radio can undoubtedly lay claim to!
The LYF is an award-winning charity and ‘small but mighty’ leader in the field of ethical trading. Since it was set up in 2003, the charity has amassed a vast amount of experience through working alongside businesses, NGOs and grassroots community groups. It aims to support smallholder farmers in developing countries; people who play an essential role in ensuring global food security, and yet who are disproportionately affected by poverty and malnutrition as a result of climate change and insecure economic markets.
The LYF invites any business or organisation interested in partnering with them, whether through sponsorship, donation or project delivery, to approach them directly via www.farmersvoiceradio.org
About the Lorna Young Foundation
The LYF was set up in 2003 in memory of Lorna Young, one of the UK’s original fair trade pioneers. Since 2010, its flagship Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in developing countries through the power of participatory local radio – enabling rural communities to access and share the knowledge they need to succeed. Over the last two years, Farmers’ Voice Radio has attracted funding from UK Aid, The Walker Institute, the Marr Munning Trust and The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Trust, who have all contributed to this launch. The LYF won the Small Charity Big Impact award from the Foundation for Social Improvement in 2019 and has been longlisted for the Bond International Development Awards 2020.
Photo: Farmers’ Voice Radio listener group in Tamale, Ghana. May 2019. Credit Hannah Clark