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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Entrepreneur Uses Radio, Mobile Phones to Boost Smallholders’ Income

September 11, 2011 |

A young Nigerian entrepreneur is leveraging a radio station and a mobile phone network to provide rural farmers a vital, interactive agricultural news and information service focused on disseminating and promoting sustainable agricultural knowledge and practices.

A Rolex Laureate and Ashoka Fellow, 29-year-old Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is the founder of the Smallholders Foundation, “a multi-technology platform that promotes environmentally sustainable agricultural activity” in rural parts of Nigeria’s Imo province, according to this report from All Africa.

Small-scale farming is vital to the survival of millions of Nigerians. Land in Nigeria and other African countries is some of the most intensively farmed in the world, with inherited holdings of small farming plots divided into smaller and smaller pieces as population grows.

The foundation’s main communications conduit is a radio station that broadcasts daily programs on agricultural and environmental management, market information, financial planning and business skills to more than 250,000 small farmers 10 hours a day. It’s also using a mobile phone network to allow listeners to engage in dialogs and participate in its programs.

In building and launching the service, Ikegwuonu made use of the knowledge he gained while working with researchers and developers at the University of Colorado, Boulder on the ‘Advancement Through Interactive Radio’ system.

Members of the Smallfarmers’ listening club have increased their farm yields by an average of 50% and increased household income by 45%, according to a survey the foundation conducted.

“Where the four-wheel vehicle stops, that’s where the radio wave starts,” Ikegwuonu told All Africa’s Mahmud Johnson.

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