VOICES team in Mali to deploy Radio Marché

group photo Segou

From 12 - 19 November the VOICES team travelled to Mali, to show our Malian partners the first version of the Radio Marché voice system. Radio Marché will be used by local NGO Sahel Eco and by two community radio stations: Radio ORTM Segou and Radio Moutian. Radio Marché supports the work and trade of farmers in the Tominian area.

Radio Marché is based on mobile voice and web technologies. It has been designed to automatically generate voice communiqués of market information, that can be broadcasted on the radio. Farmers in the Tominian area produce sheanuts, sheabutter, honey and other products. Radio advertisements increase their number of customers.
On a weekly basis Sahel Eco aggregates market information from the farmers. By using Radio Marché, it becomes very easy for them to have the offerings broadcasted on the radio.

The Radio Marché system facilitates the work of Sahel Eco and of the two participating radio stations. Formerly the market information was entered into a spreadsheet by Mr Tangara from Sahel Eco. The speadsheet was printed on paper and brought to the radio by bicycle. Now, Mr. Tangara enters the market information into a webform on his computer, and then he notifies the radio. The radio journalist simply dials a phone number and hears the voice communiqué. He can broadcast the communiqué directly on the radio, even several times if he likes. It saves him time and ensures that the offerings are broadcasted accurately.

To create the automatic voice messages, we recorded and processed the personal voices of the radio journalists Gustave Dakovo from radio Moutian and Mr. Foudeni from ORTM Segou. Although the voice communiqué is a computer genetared message, it sounds very natural, using this typical malian french accent. In 2012 the Radio Marché system will be extended so that it can automatically generate voice communiqués in Bambara and possibly also in Bomu, two African languages, spoken in Mali.
Mr. Tangara from Sahel Eco, and the radio journalists from Segou and Moutian were pleased with the Radio Marché system. They will test and deploy the new system in their daily routine.

During the trip we met farmers from the Tominian area and asked them their opinion about Radio Marché. The farmers were happy with the efforts currently undertaken to support their farming business by providing this new match-making platform that connects them to new customers. The farmers showed us their products and we could finally taste the honey and appreciate the sheabutter.
We took note of all remarks from our stakeholders, so that we can improve and extend Radio Marché and add functionality in the next coming months. We expect to be back in Mali in May 2012. Apart from the next version of Radio Marché, we will start working on other voice-based systems that may support Regreening in Mali. To be continued....