“In the last three years, our knowledge of agricultural innovation has been transformed through training sessions by Sasakawa Radio,” said a farmer in rural Ethiopia. He was referring to what is otherwise known an Amplio Talking Book.
In Ethiopia, Amplio is partnering with Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) to support their agriculture extension initiative. SAA is piloting the Amplio Talking Book as digital solution for sharing technical information with farmers. To support the project, Amplio provided a custom monitoring and evaluation plan and analytics dashboard. SAA is working on an endline assessment of the pilot, which will include an analysis of their Talking Book usage data, and we look forward to sharing updates soon. The following story was originally published in SAA's May 2023 newsletter and is cross-posted here with permission.
“In the last three years, our knowledge of agricultural innovation has been transformed through training sessions by Sasakawa Radio,” said a farmer in rural Ethiopia. Sasakawa Radio, is how farmers refer to the Amplio Talking Book (ATB), which is an on-demand audio device with integrated analytic dashboard platforms to provide extension and advisory services to low-literacy farmers in remote areas.
SAA in partnership with Amplio, introduced the ATB, which serves as a standalone "radio," provides a two-way link that supports the collection of user feedback from the community, and tracks usage statistics, enabling SAA to modify its programming in near real-time. To fit to the rural context, the device does not require internet for users to access the information, and is battery-operated.
The pilot started in 2020, when 1,260 (20-30% women) farmers from the Angacha District of the SNNP region and the Ana Sora District of the Oromia region were organized into 42 groups that received ATBs with 16 pre-recorded messages on regenerative agriculture, nutrition-sensitive agriculture and market-oriented agriculture.
Field monitoring and ATB usage data revealed that messages on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) were the most listened to, followed by Harvesting Operation and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). Under IPM, lessons on disease, insect pest and weed control and management were the most popular. The Harvesting Operation program refreshes farmers’ skills on ways to increase agricultural production without compromising on quality. Under ISFM, farmers gain knowledge on green manuring, composting, liming, intercropping, vertisol management, soil analysis, and more.
As of August 2022, 2,498 farmers (728 women) had listened to ATB messages.
“With Sasakawa Radio, we might need less frequency of extension agents visiting us,” said another farmer. SAA’s promotion of ATBs has shown the potential of self-learning digital technology in reaching distant rural farmers at scale and delivering information about improved agricultural technologies and practices.