Faria Rashid, MSc candidate from the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph (Canada), visited Rangiri Radio Station, Sri Lanka in October 2015 to understand innovation in farm radio in Sri Lanka.
Rangiri Radio staff has been collaborating with the project titled “Mobilizing Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture” where open source software and mobile technologies are tested. The project is led by University of Alberta (Canada) and partners with University of Wayamba (Sri Lanka). Various technologies (Frontline SMS, Freedom Fone, etc.) were tested by Rangiri to support programming such as “Call – in” audience response programs, multiple text messaging and voice recorded messages.
Faria also discussed feedback from the Rangiri Radio technicians and broadcasters about the farm radio program and further opportunities to use mobile technologies and open source software. Radio+ combines radio with new ICTs enabling radio and agricultural communities to create innovations such as rapid relay of information about sustainable farming to listeners. She discovered that open software such as Freedom Fone and Frontline SMS make the radio program more popular to farmer listeners. Rangiri Radio staff mentioned that after using the open source software in their farm program, responses from farmer listeners increased dramatically. The main strength of this experience for understanding ICT-enabled radio or “Radio+” is that it creates a strong communication relation as well as a multi-media connection between agricultural experts and farmers. Radio+ enhances farm radio programs. Farmers can get their problems solved quickly and easily by accessing important information from agricultural experts when they ask questions through the open source software channels.
Faria and the rest of the project team greatly appreciate the work of Rangiri Radio and their support to make this visit successful.