Every month, an audio CD of interviews and a booklet of accompanying transcripts arrive in the post for broadcasters at 80 radio stations in Africa. AGFAX is now in its 15th year, broadcasting to millions of listeners across Africa.
In a recent survey, broadcasters indicated that they value the material on many grounds. For their farmer listeners, the packs bring fresh ideas and information about new technologies. The interviews and features keep them and their listeners up-to-date with developments in other countries and also offer inspiration and guidance for local journalists in their coverage of agricultural issues.
“We have had many occasions of getting information from AGFAX that is not found anywhere. Advice on the dangers of using chemicals, especially wrong usage, poor skin protection, effects of chemical poisoning etc. We cannot forget recent interviews about jatropha, mushrooms and medicinal gardens.” Gilbert Njodzeka, Green Care, Cameroon.
“The President of Malawi is emphasising the importance of transforming Malawi into a full basket of food. As a result we are finding it useful to use your material to educate our small-scale farmers in acquiring the skills. You are partners in our endeavours.” Cassius Lamwa, Radio 2 FM, Malawi.
A valued resource
The AGFAX service is used by national, local, FM and community radio stations in 16 African countries. The interviews and transcripts are provided in English, together with suggested studio introductions and contact details for additional information. Some regularly translate and re-voice AGFAX material in local languages, or edit it to suit their needs, for example extracting short soundbites for use in news bulletins.
“I believe in the power of radio if you want to get your voice heard. I regularly hear AGFAX interviews on SABC in South Africa. They are always very good, very interesting and I am sure people take notice of what is said.” Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, food and nutrition security advisor, NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa’s Development).
AGFAX material is commissioned from journalists in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. An expanding network, all are mentored in how to approach interview topics and produce reports in different styles, building their skills and confidence in agricultural science reporting.
Many contributors to AGFAX have also attended DFID-funded regional training workshops during 2008/9 on better science reporting, helping them to build partnerships with African researchers and improve their reporting skills in different settings, from conference halls to farmers’ fields.
“The training was a turning point in my life as far as reporting science is concerned. My interviews have improved and since Arusha I am an award winner; in May 2008 I won the CTA radio script writing competition.” Pius Sawa, radio journalist, Uganda - trainee in Arusha and co-trainer in Mombasa.
User-friendly and free-of-charge, all AGFAX material, including broadcast-quality audio, is also available for free download by anyone, whether radio station, listening group or individual listener, from the AGFAX website - www.agfax.net. The recipients shape future content by suggesting themes and topics for coverage to help keep farming and agricultural development - in all its dimensions - on air and in the public domain.