Radio+ increased mobilization of agricultural knowledge in Sri Lanka

Radio+ increased mobilization of agricultural knowledge in Sri Lanka

Media use in agriculture is an area of interest among sector members. In Sri Lanka, a group composed of staff from Rangiri Radio, Department of Export Agriculture, Wayamba University and LIRNEAsia, and researchers from the University of Alberta and the University of Guelph in Canada aimed to know the affordances of adopting radio+ (broadcast radio combined with information and communication technologies). Specifically, the group wanted to explore radio+ as a means to mobilize knowledge for sustainable agriculture among Sri Lankan farmers and agriculture experts.

The group explored the case of Rangiri Radio in the town of Dambulla. The radio station combined AM and FM radio with free open-source software (FOSS). The latter allowed farmers to communicate their problems and ask questions via SMS that the radio station would answer with the help of experts. In addition to the FOSS, social media platforms were used to announce program schedules, generate questions and comments, and connect farmers and  experts. The network of farmers and experts also adopted a mechanism of sharing agricultural knowledge from “one to many,” “many to one,” and “many to many.”

Discussions with farmers and interviews with Rangiri Radio staff found that the use of radio+ paved the way for sharing and receiving timely information, particularly about crops, weather patterns, and markets. It also brought farmers’ local knowledge to a broader audience. Moreover, it made radio programs popular among farmers who enlisted the help of the youth in using ICTs to communicate their problems, ask questions, and give feedback to Rangiri Radio.

The case of Rangiri Radio showed that radio+ could mobilize knowledge for sustainable agriculture. At the same time, it was also low cost, flexible, and easy for the local community to manage and maintain. Furthermore, the case presented the importance of technology stewardship in ensuring that technology adoption would be useful to the community.

Source: Rashid, F., Hambly Odame, H., Gow, G., Waidyanatha, N., Jayasinghe, U., & HACK, J. (2016). Converging Frontline SMS, Freedom Fone and Radio for Mobilizing Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture in Sri Lanka. Paper presented at the 4th Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), Columbia University, New York.

Photo Credit: Dennis Keller CC-BY 2.0

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