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Final Report


The Workshop organizers would like to express their thanks to all those persons who generously gave of their time, their energy and their resources in order to contribute to its success:

Special gratitude goes to Mr. Jacques-Paul Eckebil, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Sustainable Development Department, and Ms. Carleen Gardner, Assistant Director-General of the FAO General Affairs and Information Department, who kindly accepted to chair respectively the opening and closing ceremonies.

A special thank you also to Ambassador George McGovern, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Missions in Rome, who was kind enough to provide a reception at his residence. His address to the Workshop participants on food security and the role of communication, in particular radio, was very relevant and inspiring.



Information and Communication Technologies


African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development


Intergovernmental Agency of French-Speaking Countries


World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters


African Radio Drama Association


Centre of Communication for Development


Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research


Inter-African Centre for Rural Radio Studies of Ouagadougou


Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development


Developing Countries Farm Radio Network


Federation of African Media Women


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


International Development Research Centre


International Fund for Agricultural Development


Institute for Media and Society


Panos Institute for West Africa


Inter Press Service


International Service for National Agricultural Research


African Journalists for Development Network


National Community Radio Forum


South African Community Radio Information Network


Southern African Development Community- Centre of Communication for Development


Union of Radio and Television Broadcasting of Mali


Union of Radio and Television Broadcasting of Africa


U.S. Department of Agriculture


World Agricultural Information Centre (FAO)


The International Workshop on Farm Radio Broadcasting1, titled "Information and Communication Technologies Servicing Rural Radio: New Contents, New Partnerships", was held from 19 to 22 February, 2001, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The Workshop, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), was attended by more than fifty North-American, African and European participants, all of whom are experts in the area of farm or rural radio broadcasting. The sharing of experiences that resulted helped to reinforce North-South and South-South collaboration.

The Context

More than two billion men and women live in the rural areas of the developing countries. For all of these people, radio is still the most popular, the most economic and the most accessible means of communication. Radio's mission and the services it offers are many and varied: communicating on vital subjects such as agriculture and public health, educating people about new practices, allowing the actors in rural development to express themselves in their local languages, building social consciousness and mobilizing and accelerating change.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a very active partner of rural community and association radio networks for more than thirty years, chose through the Workshop to dedicate a special meeting to this extraordinary communication tool, while at the same time opening new perspectives on its use for development.

The initiative for the Workshop was originally the idea of Mr. Gus Schumacher, former U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture, and of Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of the FAO. The two leaders conceived of a meeting between "two worlds" that are apparently different - American farm radio specialists on the one hand, and African rural radio professionals on the other - but who share a common passion and expertise. The idea was that by sharing their ideas and experiences, these professionals would be able to work together in favor of agricultural production and rural development.

As regards perspectives and new approaches, communication for development cannot ignore the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Most people are aware of the success that has been achieved by rural radio in Africa. However, we cannot remain silent with regard to the seriousness of the "digital divide", namely, the huge disparity that exists between the rich and poor countries in the area of information and new technologies. Ninety- five percent (95%) of the persons who use the Internet live in North-America, Europe or Asia, while only 0.75% live in Africa.

But technology is not the only issue. There is another threat facing the world. Can we accept the fact that only a small minority of the people in the world have access to knowledge, to the vast field of research favoring agricultural production, public health, economic development, political freedom and the continuing improvement in living conditions, while the majority are excluded from the new knowledge revolution? What is at stake here is far more than mere technology. It involves the appropriation of knowledge and the access to vital content itself, for in communication content, knowledge and information are inseparable.

Radio can be a superb intermediary, one that easily reaches rural communities, sending out knowledge, and is also able to profit from new technologies.

Do information and communication technologies constitute a threat or an opportunity to the world? Can they serve rural radio? And if so, how can they do it? Finally, what solutions do we have to the problem of the digital divide?

All of these questions were addressed during the course of the International Workshop on "Information and Communication Technologies Servicing Rural Radio: New Contents, New Partnerships".


The main objective of the Workshop was to organize an encounter between rural radio experts from developing countries on one hand and North-American farm radio specialists on the other.

African rural radio professionals met with American agricultural broadcasters in order to share their experiences, both in terms of the approaches to be taken as well as the lessons to be learned in disseminating knowledge and information that would help in promoting rural and agricultural development.

The Workshop was also intended to be a venue for developing North-South collaboration, and for encouraging eventual partnerships.


The Workshop was fortunate in having the participation of more than fifty persons coming from Africa, Europe and the United States. These participants represented a variety of networks, unions and federations of rural radio stations as well as institutions which support the development of rural radio. In addition, staff from FAO technical divisions attended the Workshop.

The following countries were represented in the Workshop:

Canada, United States, France, Italy, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

And the following institutions, networks and organizations also participated:

USAID, the USDA, AMARC, ACMAD, UNESCO, the FORD FOUNDATION, FAMW/SADC, IMS (Nigeria), PANOS (IPAO), CTA, AIF, CIERRO/URTNA, DCFN, ISNAR, the BBC, the SADC-CCD, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, SYFIA/JADE, ARDA, URTEL Mali, the Madagascar Rural Radio Network, the Benin Local Radio Network, UNALFA (Burkina), SIDAMA Educational Radio (Ethiopia), Learfield Communications, the Southeast AgNet Radio Network and the AgRadio Network.


During the Workshop, three Working Groups were created on the following subjects:

  1. Working Group I: Creation of a Network Linking the African Rural Radio Broadcasters with the American Farm Radio Broadcasters via the Internet.
  2. Working Group II: The Challenges of New Technologies and New Contents.
  3. Working Group III: Activities in terms of North-South and South-South Cooperation.

The participants at these Working Groups made recommendations in the following fields:

4.1. Network

The Workshop, on the subject of networking, recommended to:

It was also recommended by the North-American delegation to create a network linking the African rural radio broadcasters with their American farm radio counterparts. This idea of a network refers to an association that already exists in the United States2. This network will begin its operations by establishing an electronic list of its members, and then will distribute information to each member regarding training courses available, exchange programmes, study grants, etc.

4.2. Contents

With regard to contents, the Workshop made the following recommendations:

4.3. Training

With regard to training, the Workshop recommended to:

4.4. North-South and South-South Cooperation

In terms of North-South cooperation, the Workshop recommended to develop exchanges and training courses in order to reinforce the technical abilities of African journalists in radio broadcasting in general and in the rural radio domain in particular. The BBC, for example, might accept English-speaking trainees, and Radio France might open its doors to French-speaking Africans. Moreover, the American government may offer and finance training modules in the field of farm and rural radio.

Regarding, South-South cooperation, the Workshop recommended to strengthen sharing of experience on the continent, so that English-speaking Africa profits from the wider experience that the French-speaking countries have with regard to rural radio training. Therefore, CIERRO (French-speaking institute) will share methods, personnel and teaching material with SADC-CCD (English-speaking counterpart).

4.5. National Structures

The Workshop recommended to build teams, at a national level, to make the link between local communities on one hand and international networks/organizations on the other hand.

These country-level teams of technical and communication specialists will:

4.6. Partnerships

The Workshop strongly recommends to develop technical and financial partnerships and to obtain the support of international bodies which already exist, rather than creating new structures.

Potential partners have been identified:

4.7. Mobilization of Funds

The Workshop recommended a mobilisation of funds, not managed by government, to provide projects that have been brought about through collaboration between organizations such as CIERRO, SADC-CCD, AMARC and NAFB.

These projects could include training, equipment, scholarships and exchanges. Proposals should be precise, with clearly defined objectives.

4.8. Others: Recommendations Aimed at FAO

The Workshop strongly recommended that FAO:

The Workshop suggests the creation of a "Global Help Desk for Rural Radio" within FAO to:

FAO would utilise the inputs from all the other partners, including radio stations, donor agencies and international agencies, to create this Global "Help Desk".

Finally, the Workshop recommended that FAO, in association with its partners, create a follow-up committee to transform Workshop recommendations into actions, and that FAO take the leadership of this Committee.


The Workshop gave the opportunity to develop a number of collaboration proposals with the following institutions:

Various collaboration projects were identified and agreed upon as part of the follow-up to the Workshop.


1 Organized with the financial support of the Ford Foundation (Nigeria), International Development Research Center (IDRC, Senegal) and Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA, Netherlands).

2 The National Association of Farm Radio Broadcasters (NAFB)

3 Distribution could be made through the Internet, systems like World Space, e-mail between scientists and communicators, or simply by bus, or even mule or donkey.


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