Group Strengthens Farmers’ ICT Skills

 By Taiwo Olawale, 07.07.2010

 Determined to help farmers access critical information on farming and climate change, a rural farmers’ advocacy group, Women Farmers’ Advancement Network (WOFAN)

 has intensified efforts to strengthen information and communication management skills of women and youth farmers.

Considering the fact that rural communities in Nigeria don’t have access to sophisticated information gadgets like computers however, the group says it is using radio broadcasts to help women and youth groups access critical information on agriculture and climate change.

According to the Executive Director of WOFAN, Dr. Salamatu Garba, who disclosed the group’s latest efforts in an interview with THISDAY, the information and communication management initiative is part of the group’s extension services to women who constitute “60 to 80 per cent of the national agricultural labour force, depending on the region - and produce two-thirds of the food crops.”

She explained that the rural farmers are not just encouraged to listen to radio programmes; they are also given opportunities to “express their views and problems on phone-in radio programmes in order to proffer solutions to their needs.”
The ED further explained that WOFAN has so far produced several radio programmes on Radio Kano to help rural women farmers and groups improve productivity. She however noted that information dissemination was not limited to talk shows or phone-in programmes, saying that the group has concluded baseline studies for a radio drama series on climate change titled “In Kidi ya Chanza” (When the drum beat changes, the dance steps must also change).

She explained that WOFAN’s focus on radio as information and communication management tool has been very successful because radio listener base is very high in many parts of Nigeria, noting that access is easy because radios are not very expensive.

“Literacy levels of the beneficiaries in the project areas are extremely low with less than 10 per cent having attained a basic level of education. But the results achieved through the radio are encouraging because community members confirmed that the weekly radio programmes have empowered them socially, culturally and even economically.

“On weekly basis, women groups that have formed listeners’ groups sit around their radio at the time of the agricultural programmes to listen, comment and exchange their views on the programmes. WOFAN team members and representatives of the group members then record their feedback or issues arising to make new radio programmes”, she said.

Dr. Garba noted that some of the radio programmes were facilitated by an international organisation, CTA Netherlands. She also disclosed that WOFAN intends to continue to work with all other organisations committed to helping rural women farmers optimise information and communication management for better productivity and profit.