New information takes farmers ‘Together to Market’

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Market Information Tools: Combining Radio and Training to Facilitate Successful Farmer Group Marketing
Validated RNRRS Output. Home List by Audience List by Topic

Over one million farmers in Uganda alone have benefited from the radio programme ‘Together to Market’. This series of 10 spots brings to life the main points and issues faced by farmers who seek to form groups to market their crops. It is designed to assist service-providers in advising them on marketing strategies and use of market information. It is estimated that one million more people have heard the program in Zambia, and an additional one to five thousand people through community telecentres in Africa, India and Latin America. CDs have also been widely distributed worldwide in response to requests.

Project Ref: CPH26:
Topic: 5. Rural Development Boosters: Improved Marketing, Processing & Storage
Lead Organisation: Natural Resources Institute (NRI), UK 
Source: Crop Post Harvest Programme


Current Situation
Environmental Impact


Research Programmes:

Crop Post-Harvest Research Programme

Relevant Research Projects:

R8250 (Decentralised Market Information Service in Lira District, Uganda)

Partner institutions and contact persons:

  • Mr Ulrich Kleih and Dr Monica Janowski, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK.  Contact  Mr Ulrich Kleih, Natural Resource Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK.  Tel 00 44 1634 883065, Fax 00 44 1634 880077;
  • Dr Shaun Ferris (now CIAT) and Geofrey Okoboi, Foodnet / IITA, Kampala, Uganda;
  • Dr Willie Odwongo (now World Bank) and Mr Tom Mugisa, PMA Secretariat, Kampala, Uganda;
  • Mr Fred Bikande, Community Enterprise Development Organisation, Rakai,Uganda;
  • Farmer groups and trader associations in Lira, Apac, Soroti, Kasese, and Rakai Districts;
  • Radio Lira (Mr Gordon Bell), and Voice of Teso;
  • Mr Peter Robbins, Commodity Market Information System, London
  • Mr Kaz Janowski, BBC, London, UK;
  • Dr Jabob Oweta; Agricultural Production Coordinator, Lira District, Uganda
  • Dr Bernard Otim-Ogong, NAADS Coordinator, Lira District, Uganda;
  • Dr Rita Laker-Ojok, AT (Uganda);
  • Local research organisations (e.g. DETREC in Lira).

Research Outputs, Problems and Solutions:

The project’s main purpose was to develop and promote strategies that improve poor rural communities’ access to markets. Focusing on farmers’ market information needs and their ability to make use of information, the project produced a mix of policy, technical and product outputs, which fed into an information delivery model (e.g. combination of training and broadcast of radio spots). In this context, the following outputs were produced:

(a) Different versions of an “Advice Manual for the Organisation of Collective Marketing Activities by Small-scale Farmers” were published and disseminated by both the Natural Resources Institute and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture.  The manual was tested in various districts of Uganda and designed to assist the staff of service-providers (SPs) to advise farmers on using group marketing strategies. In particular, the latter are seen as crucial in enabling farmers to make better use of market information.

(b) The radio series “Together to Market” is a series of 10 radio ‘spots’ to promote group marketing by farmers, which was produced by BBC, NRI, IITA / Foodnet, Radio Lira, PMA Secretariat. (Available as CDs). It ‘brings to life’ the main points and issues which are highlighted as important in forming farmers’ groups and in marketing as a group in the manual, using case studies from other parts of Uganda.

As part of the making of the programme, on-the-job training was provided for a group of 12 producers from different radio stations, some of whom were subsequently involved in the translation into other languages (i.e. Ateso, Luo, Lunyoro, Lusoga).

(c) Improved knowledge in the form of studies / surveys that were also used for dissemination purposes, mainly in Uganda, including:

  • Baseline Study carried out in Lira District on Farmers’ Livelihoods, and Needs and Sources of Information
  • Together to Market – A series of short radio packages or ‘spots’ for use in promoting group formation and group marketing; scripts of the English version.
  • Comparative Case Study in Kasese District on Farmers Use & Access to Market Information.
  • Appropriate ICT and the Farming Community in Developing Countries: Wider implications drawn from the Ugandan experience.
  • Monitoring of the Radio Lira Foodnet Market News and Radio Spots / Announcements.
  • Evaluation Survey in Lira, Apac, and Soroti Districts.

An article entitled “Farmers’ and Traders’ Sources of Market Information in Lira District” was published in the Uganda Journal of Agricultural Sciences in 2004.

Types of Research Output:

Product Technology Service Process or Methodology Policy Other

Major Commodities Involved:

The outputs of this project are not commodity specific. Although the emphasis of the project was on crop marketing, this reflects to a significant extent its funding source. In addition to agricultural crops, the information delivery model tested and validated can equally been applied to other commodities such as fisheries, forestry, and livestock products.

Production Systems:

Semi-Arid High potential Hillsides Forest-Agriculture Peri-urban Land water Tropical moist forest Cross-cutting

Farming Systems: 

Smallholder rainfed humid Irrigated Wetland rice based Smallholder rainfed highland Smallholder rainfed dry/cold Dualistic Coastal artisanal fishing

Potential for Added Value:

The following RNRRS projects and outputs appear to be suited to form a cluster with R8250.

a.      Linking demand with supply of agricultural information. R8429/R8281 (B Pound, NRI)

b.      Making informed choices: facilitating farmers’ enterprise selection processes in Uganda, R8421 (B Pound, NRI)

c.      Market information tools. R7494. (John Orchard, NRI)

d.      Participatory Market Appraisal Tool. R8084. (Robert Brook, SAFA, University of Wales and partners in India)

e.      Farmers Access to Markets. R8275. (Dr Andrew Dorward, Wye)

f.        Market Information Tools. R7151 (Dr Nigel Poole, Wye)

g.      Farmers Access to Markets. R8274/R8498 (Dr A Agona, KARI, Uganda)

h.      Market Information Tools. R8422. (Mr LTH Nsemwa, UARI, Tanzania)

In addition, many projects with technical contents related to post-harvest issues (e.g. related to produce quality, storage technology, pest control measures, etc) may be relevant for this cluster as media persons often ask for practical contents when preparing post-harvest information material for farmers in the form of radio programmes, flyers, and training manuals.

It should be noted that as part of the CPHP project R8433, ‘Maximising impact of food safety knowledge of street vended and informally vended foods’, a series of radio spots was made for local radio in Zambia, called ‘Eating out Safely’.  This built on the lessons learned as part of R8250.

Projects with technical content which is not related to post-harvest issues, including from other research programmes within the RNRRS, could also be clustered with this project in relation to the possibility of promoting the use of radio, either on its own, in conjunction with training and/or in conjunction with other media, for disseminating and prompting uptake of research findings.


How the outputs were validated:

Monitoring and final evaluation surveys were carried out in order to validate the project outputs.A questionnaire / checklist was designed by project partners involving the PMA Secretariat, NAADS Lira, NRI, Foodnet, and Radio Lira with the intention of carrying out weekly monitoring of the radio programme ‘Together to Market’ and the Market News which were both broadcast by Radio Lira. At the request of farmer groups the monitoring forms were subsequently reformulated by the monitoring team [1] into the local language Luo and a less time-consuming format.

Selected findings of the monitoring:  Many of the respondents had heard both the Market News programme and the radio ‘spots’ on collective marketing, Together to Market.  The main benefits of the radio ‘spots’ were indicated during the monitoring survey as being the following: 

  • The programme helped them to market their produce together.
  • It improved the relationship between men and women in the groups.
  • Trust and transparency among group members has improved.

The in-the-field training component of the project came after the broadcast of the series of radio ‘spots’ “Together to Market”.  This training was designed as a follow-up to the radio series in order to reinforce the messages provided via the radio.  The farmer groups chosen were predominantly members of the groups in Lira and Apac Districts that were involved in the monitoring exercise that accompanied the radio series. 

In addition to the aforementioned monitoring of the radio spots, an evaluation survey was carried out between September and November 2004, with the following objectives: 

  • To study the livelihoods context in the sub-counties selected;
  • To evaluate the use of radio to encourage farmer group formation and marketing;
  • To evaluate the Market News programme by Radio Lira and Voice of Teso;
  • To evaluate the use of SMS and phones in the villages;
  • To evaluate the Foodnet in-the-field training;
  • To assess the combination of radio ‘spots’ and training.

AT Uganda and Voice of Teso joined the project partnership once it had already started.  In particular, they were interested in testing and using project outputs in Soroti District (i.e. training manual, and radio series ‘Together to Market’). Five survey teams comprising local researchers operated in Lira and Apac under the guidance of Dr J Oweta, Production Coordinator Lira District, with back-up from Dr Otim Bernard, NAADS Coordinator Lira District, and Mr Taiwo Benson Moses, Foodnet Market Information Officer. Mr Godfrey Omony of AT Uganda Ltd and local NAADS extension staff undertook the survey in two Sub-counties of Soroti.

The methods employed by the evaluation teams included both qualitative and quantitative techniques. In particular, the survey attempted to obtain the views of both women and men in poor farming communities.

[1] Dr Bernard Otim-Ogong, Benson Taiwo, and Cecilia Agang

Where the Outputs were Validated:            

Validation of the project outputs took place in 2003/2004 in three districts of North-Eastern Uganda. The Lango and the Teso farming systems are the dominant farming systems in the project area. Both are based on smallholder rainfed production. Although traditionally not an arid zone, dry spells have been experienced more frequently in recent years.

Current Situation

Who are the Users?

The radio series ‘Together to Market ‘ was originally produced in English and was later translated into the four local languages of Ateso, Lunyoro, Luo, and Lusoga. These versions were disseminated as follows:

District  Language Radio Station Contact person
Soroti/Kumi Ateso Voice of Teso Benjamin Ogunia
Lira/Apac Luo Radio Lira Gordon Bell
Lira/Apac Luo Radio Rhino Taiwo Benson
Masindi/Hoima Lunyoro Radio Kitara Fred Kasozi
Jinja/Iganga Lusoga Nile broadcasting Muganza James

As a result of audience demand, some of the radio stations above have continued to broadcast the series up to now.

300 CDs of the series ‘Together to Market’ were produced.  150 copies of the CD were distributed at the final workshop held in Kampala.  They continue to be sent out in response to requests, and about 30 CDs are left. 

Since 2004, the project outputs (i.e. CD and the advice manual) have been used extensively in training in Uganda by NGOs/CBOs such as Masindi District Farmers Association (MADFA) International Care and Relief (ICR), ACTIONAID and Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO). The audio of the radio series continues to be used as a home educative sensitization/training material for farmer groups in peer teaching sessions, also involving small-scale traders.

Students and researchers have also used the material.

The audio of the series has been placed on community telecentres.

The CIAT Agro-enterprise Development project and their partners are using the manual on farmer group marketing for training purposes (20 partners in 30 countries).

Where the outputs have been used:

In addition to the aforementioned districts in Uganda, the manual and the CDs of the radio series have been disseminated widely through the following channels:

  • NR International / Crop Post-Harvest Programme has disseminated about 200 copies of the manual and 50 copies of the CD to their partner organisations in developing countries.
  • The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have printed a version of the manual and disseminated about 1000 copies mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Staff of the NRI have disseminated the manual and the CDs in developing and developed countries (e.g. 30 copies of the manual have recently been disseminated in Tanzania at the request of local stakeholders).

In early 2006, information about the radio series was placed on the Communication Initiative (CI) website ( and the audio of the series on the IDS Livelihoods Connect website (  This has led to many requests from all over the world for information about the radio series and CDs in response to the posting on the CI website, including by organisations working in India, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia and the Sudan.  Recipients of the CDs report that it is being used in training purposes and is being placed on community telecentres, which, in India, have also broadcast it locally.

The English version of the radio series was rebroadcast by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) in 2005 and ZNBC reported a positive response from listeners.

Scale of Current Use:

The scale of current use is very high. This was quickly established when radio broadcasters  started running the CD with the radio programme ‘Together to Market’ on FM stations in different parts of Uganda.

In view of the coverage of the radio stations using the project outputs and given that radio broadcasts are listened to by the majority of the rural population it can be assumed that over one million peoplehave listened to the radio series ‘Together to market’ in Uganda alone. In Zambia the number of people who have heard the series is likely to be another million at least.  Through its use in training and at community telecentres in Africa, India and Latin America it is likely that a further one thousand to five thousand people have heard the series.

The manual on collective marketing by farmers is used predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa but also in other parts of the world.  The learning alliance between the CIAT Agro-enterprise development project and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have distributed the manual to 20 partners in 30 countries.  In addition, French and Chinese versions of the manual have been produced and disseminated in some parts of Africa and Asia.

In Uganda, the manual is being used by partners of Foodnet (e.g. aforementioned NGOs), NAADS (e.g. Lira) and PMA Secretariat.

The use of the radio series is still spreading, as CDs continue to be requested for use in training, in telecentres, and possibly in broadcasting.

Policy and Institutional Structures, and Key Components for Success:

“Windows of opportunity” are important for project outputs to be adopted. This may include government initiatives such as the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) and its Marketing and Agro-processing Strategy (MAPS) in Uganda as well as donor and NGO programmes favouring uptake. 

In relation to agricultural marketing it has undoubtedly helped that the topic has come to the forefront of development policy during the last decade.

There are several key facts to success including:

  • Strong demand for project outputs. In particular, stakeholders such as intermediaries working in farming communities are interested in practical project outputs rather than academic outputs that may be difficult to “digest” by extension staff and farmers alike. The radio series ‘Together to Market’ succeeded because of its lively and relevant contents which are based on “real-life” stories (e.g. women groups engaged in crop marketing).
  • Strong partnership between project coalition members such as farmer groups, NGOs, government agencies, and international research organisations. This requires attributes such as transparency, stakeholder engagement on equal footing, etc.
  • Existence of windows of opportunity as described above.

Environmental Impact

Direct and Indirect Environmental Benefits:

There are little direct and indirect environmental benefits and disbenefits from the aforementioned project outputs. A more market orientated farming system may lead to more intensive production methods, however this does not automatically result in environmental degradation as farmers have a stronger interest in preserving their assets. On the other hand it has also been shown that subsistence agriculture can also lead to environmental damage through production methods such as slash-and-burn.

As a consequence, it can be assumed that the environmental effects of the project outputs are more or less neutral.

Adverse Environmental Impacts:

There are no negative impacts on the environment resulting from the project outputs. Improved dissemination of market information does not necessarily lead to more monoculture. On the contrary, increased diversification away from underperforming cash crops into other crops can be envisaged.

Coping with the Effects of Climate Change, or Risk from Natural Disasters:

Rural radio can also be used to broadcast environmental programmes in countries suffering from climate change and natural disasters, which includes many parts of Africa. The development of the capacity on the part of local radio professionals to make more effective programmes is likely to allow messages relating to use of the environment to be made.

Relevant Research Projects, with links to the
Research for Development (R4D) web site
and Technical Reports:

R4D Project Title Technical Report
R7151 Overcoming information constraints: improving horticultural marketing and technical information flows to smallholders
R7494 Optimisation of horticulture research and uptake in India through the development of technical and management systems with public and private sector partners
R8084 Enhancing livelihoods and NR management in peri-urban villages near Hubli-Dharwad
R8250 Decentralised market information service in Lira District, Uganda
R8274 Improvement of maize marketing through adoption of improved post-harvest technologies and farmer group storage: a case study of Kiboga and Apac districts
R8275 Farmer Organisations for market access
R8281 Linking the demand for, and supply of, agricultural production and post-harvest information in Uganda. Main Report. Annex.
R8421 Making informed choices: facilitating farmers’ enterprise selection process in Uganda
R8422 Improving farmer and other stakeholders’ access to quality information and products for pre- and post- harvest maize systems management in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania.
R8429 Linking supply and demand in Uganda phase 2. Main Report. Annex.
R8498 Analysis of promotion and uptake pathways for CPH research