April 11, 2017
The Soul Beat

Soul Beat Africa

The Soul Beat 267 - Communicating for Food Security and Agriculture in Africa
April 11 2017
From SOUL BEAT AFRICA - where communication and media are central to AFRICA's social and economic development
In this issue:

This issue of The Soul Beat looks at how communication can be used to help farmers increase agricultural production. The newsletter includes a selection of content - programme experiences, research reports, and resources - posted onto the Soul Beat Africa website that highlight how communication strategies involving, for example, participatory methodologies, radio, video, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and social media - can be used to engage farmers, encourage farmer-to-farmer learning, ensure women farmer participation, and generally build capacity for sustainable rural development.


If you find some content particularly insightful or useful, please share the page through Twitter and Facebook.

  • 1. Women's Empowerment Mainstreaming And Networking (WEMAN) - Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia
    WEMAN is an initiative which focuses on gender mainstreaming in rural development with the objective to contribute to food and income security, sustainable livelihoods, and gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Implemented by Oxfam Novib, the project works with local civil society, governments, businesses as well as United Nations agencies and other donors to support them to put gender frameworks into practice in their programmes. This is mainly achieved by integrating the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) - a community-led empowerment methodology - into financial services, farmer training, business development services, and market linkages.
  • 2. WeFarm - Global
    WeFarm is a free peer-to-peer service that enables farmers to share information via SMS, without the internet and without having to leave their farm. Farmers can ask questions on farming and receive crowd-sourced answers from other farmers around the world in minutes. An example of a typical interaction would be a farmer in Kenya asking a question about starting a micro-business on rearing rabbits, then not only receiving answers back from other farmers in Kenya, but also from farmers in Peru.

  • 3. Lessons for Sustainability: Failing to Scale ICT4Ag-Enabled Services [2016]
    By Andrew Shepherd
    The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU), launched a call for papers on failed information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agriculture (ICT4Ag) projects/initiatives - projects that showed early promise and received third-party support (from governments, donor agencies, or private sector investors) but did not reach fruition. The stories in this booklet are the result. They stress the importance of understanding the intended users, ensuring economic viability, fully promoting the service, and making sure the technology offered is the right solution to the problem.
  • 4. The Power of Maps - Bringing the Third Dimension to the Negotiation Table [2016]
    Produced by the CTA, this report documents some of the success stories that have emerged as a result of CTA's initiatives in participatory geographic information systems (PGIS) in recent years. As explained in the report, PGIS combine a range of geo-spatial information management tools and methods such as sketch maps, participatory 3D models (P3DM), aerial photographs, satellite images, global positioning systems (GPS), and geographic information systems (GIS). CTA has been using and promoting PGIS to ensure that the communities they are working with have a voice in the development of policies affecting agricultural development and the sustainable management of natural resources.
  • 5. Using Mobile Voice Technology to Improve the Collection of Food Security Data: WFP's Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping [2016]
    By Alice Robinson and Alice Obrecht
    This case study looks at the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP)'s innovation into Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM), a programme that integrates mobile technology, including SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and live calls, into WFP's established food security monitoring systems. The case study is based on a review of project literature and 13 interviews with project staff, partner staff, advisors, and wider stakeholders across the humanitarian sector over a period of two months in 2015.
  • 6. Exploring the Potential for Interactive Radio to Improve Accountability and Responsiveness to Small-scale Farmers in Tanzania [2016]
    By Heather Gilberds, Calum Handforth, and Mark Leclair
    This report presents the findings of a 12-month-long research project in Tanzania, which examined the possibilities of new digital technologies along with radio to ensure that agricultural development projects are farmer-centred and meet the needs of those they intend to serve. Specifically, it assesses Farm Radio International's Listening Post - a model that combines radio and digital technologies to collect and aggregate farmer feedback to aid decision-making and adaptive project implementation. The research highlights barriers to success and shares lessons learned during the process of designing and implementing the model.
  • 7. Embracing Web 2.0 and Social Media: A Life-Changing Pathway for Agricultural Development Actors [2015]
    This book, published by CTA, looks at how Web 2.0 and social media have contributed to improving agriculture and rural development across the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) region. Based on testimonies from projects CTA has supported over the years, the book looks specifically at how Web 2.0 and social media have contributed to: improved policy dialogue and advocacy, value chain development, and the provision of information services. The technologies referred to in the testimonies include Twitter, Facebook, Wikis, RSS feeds, blogs, Google Drive, and Skype, which in some examples are also complemented by more traditional media such as radio.
  • 8. A Gender-Responsive Approach to Climate-Smart Agriculture: Evidence and Guidance for Practitioners [2016]
    By Sibyl Nelson and Sophia Huyer
    This brief from the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) focuses on taking a gender-responsive approach to Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) by recognising the specific needs and capabilities of women and men. The premise is that site-specific CSA practices that are also gender-responsive can lead to improvements in the lives of smallholder farmers, fishers and foresters, as well as more sustainable results.
  • 9. A Passion for Video - 25 Stories About Making, Translating, Sharing and Using Videos on Farmer Innovation [2016]
    Edited by Jeffery Bentley, Eric Boa, and Mundie Salm
    This publication shares stories about the production and distribution of farmer-to-farmer videos. These are videos that have been produced for farmers to inform them about the agricultural practices and innovations used by other farmers in an effort to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries. Many of the videos are produced by young professionals from agricultural organisations who have been trained by Access Agriculture, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which showcases agricultural training videos in local languages, to make farmer-to-farmer videos.
  • 10. Impact of FAO-Dimitra Clubs: Empowering Rural People - Video Series [2016]
    This video series about Dimitra Clubs was produced to highlight the strengths and uniqueness of this gender-sensitive participatory communication approach. The approach has been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Dimitra project, a gender sensitive information and participatory communication project that contributes to the empowerment of rural populations in Africa, women and youth in particular.
  • 11. Communication for Development, Community Media and ICTs for Family Farming and Rural Development [January 2015]
    This policy brief resulted from a global online forum hosted in 2014, in which participants from different countries discussed policies to support improvements in rural communication services (RCS) by responding to actual needs and by fostering better linkages between the different sectors involved. Hosted as part of the e-Agriculture Community of Practice and organised by FAO and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), the overall feedback from this forum was that "the starting point for improved rural communication services as part of agricultural policies should be to address the real needs of farmers and involve them in the different stages of the development process."

  • 12. Designing for Behavior Change: A Practical Field Guide [2017]
    This manual is a condensed reference guide on the Designing for Behavior Change (DBC) approach used by The Technical and Operational Performance Support (TOPS) Program, a programme seeking to build the capacity of Food For Peace (FFP) grantees and other food security and nutrition implementers.
  • 13. Planning Communication for Agricultural Disaster Risk Management: A Field Guide [2015]
    Published by FAO, this field guide provides an overview on how to assess rural people's communication needs and how to plan and implement communication for development (ComDev) activities in the context of disaster risk management, crisis preparedness, and emergency response in agriculture, food security, and nutrition. It also provides guidance on how to apply ComDev to enhance the overall participatory planning and results monitoring processes within Agricultural Disaster Risk Management (ADRM), ensuring multi-stakeholder dialogue and participation.
  • 14. Communication for Rural Development - E-learning Course [July 2016]
    Developed by FAO, this course aims to guide users in designing and implementing communication strategies for agricultural and rural development initiatives, combining participatory methods with communication processes, media, and tools such as community media and ICTs. The ComDev approach promoted in the course is designed to address the knowledge and information needs of rural stakeholders and to facilitate their active involvement in development initiatives.
  • 15. Women in Agriculture: A Toolkit for Mobile Services Practitioners [2014]
    By Megan O'Donnell
    Created by GSMA mWomen in partnership with GSMA mAgri, this is a resource for mobile network operators and members of the wider mobile ecosystem who are thinking about developing mobile-enabled agricultural services (mAgri services) for rural women. The toolkit provides a step-by-step guide across each stage of the product development process, along with successful examples and recommendations. It covers a full range of mobile services, including value-added (information, advisory, or other), financial, and basic services (voice, short messaging service (SMS), and data).
  • 16. Social Media Handbook for Agricultural Development Practitioners [September 2013]
    By Dustin Andres and Josh Woodard
    This interactive handbook is designed to help practitioners working in agricultural development to plan and use social media for agricultural communications efforts. As explained in the handbook, "for agricultural development practitioners, social media tools can expand the reach of your community, strengthen partner relationships, support programmatic initiatives, and provide a vital means to increase the visibility of your public profile and engagement."


Follow us on Twitter @SoulBeatAfrica
Visit us on Facebook
Subscribe to our e-newsletters here
Subscribe to our RSS feed


Click here to view a past edition of The Soul Beat e-newsletter related to communication and agriculture.

Click here to view ALL past editions of The Soul Beat e-newsletter.

If you would like your organisation's communication work or research and resource documents to be featured on the Soul Beat Africa website and in The Soul Beat newsletters, please contact

We would love to hear from you: Click here to send us your comments or email

Click here to subscribe

To unsubscribe, reply to this message with "unsubscribe" as the subject.