SC Johnson Introduces New Radio Technology to Remote Rwanda Communities

Project Shares On-Demand Educational Information with Pyrethrum Farmers in Developing World

RACINE, Wis., Feb. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — SC Johnson has distributed 225 MP3-enabled Lifeplayer radios to remote farm communities in northern Rwanda. SC Johnson is the first to use this new technology in an educational project to support pyrethrum (py) farmers. Initially, the project will benefit more than 5,000 py farmers, which is approximately 60 percent of the total number of py farmers in Rwanda, by sharing farming news, market trends and wellness information.

To help alleviate past problems around communication access, the Lifeplayer radios will allow farmers to listen to pre-loaded, pre-recorded programming and broadcasts that impact their livelihood and quality of life. Topics covered include best practices for pyrethrum cultivation from seed propagation to planting, harvesting and drying, the function of farming cooperatives, as well as the role of members in these cooperatives and health topics important to Rwandan farming communities such as reproductive/maternal health, early childhood diseases and HIV/AIDS.

“We’re excited about this initiative because this project is about empowering farmers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the information they need to more efficiently grow and market their crops,” said Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability. “The technology represents a leap forward for py farmers – making them more competitive in the marketplace and helping them increase their family incomes.”

Working toward a Sustainable Pyrethrum Supply

Py is a plant-based insecticide harvested from dried chrysanthemum flowers. It is used globally in insecticide products, including SC Johnson brands like Raid® and Baygon®.

SC Johnson has purchased py from East Africa for more than 40 years – working with the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya to help build capacity, stabilize the supply and bring more reliable income to farmers there. In 2008, SC Johnson began another initiative in Rwanda to explore sustainable development opportunities with py farmers and ultimately developed a partnership that takes a holistic approach to py farming.

The goal of this project is to increase py production while also increasing the content of the yield. The initiative is already seeing results. Now several years into the partnership, four years of declines in crop yields have been reversed and growth has exceeded project objectives. In the last season alone, dry flower production was 71 percent above goal and pyrethrin yielded from crops exceeded expectations by more than five percent. The Lifeplayer radio content will reinforce these trends by educating on farming and marketing practices, as well as providing ideas for effectively working in cooperatives.

Lifeplayer Technology

The Lifeplayer, developed by Lifeline Energy, is a revolutionary solar-powered, wind-up device that combines AM/FM/SW radio with an MP3 player. In addition to providing traditional radio broadcast opportunities, programming can be pre-loaded onto flash drives and then played back for farmer listening groups. Radio Lifeline, a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization, produces all broadcasts and podcasts to support the project.

“Using communication technologies, traditional pyrethrum farmers will, for the first time, be able to share in the same pool of information, bringing rapid change not only to the quality of their crops, but also to the lives of their families and communities,” said Kristine Pearson, Lifeline Energy Chief Executive Officer.

Farmers will have an opportunity to offer their feedback over the next year. In this way, their responses to messaging and delivery can be monitored and adjustments can be made as needed to ensure that they are benefiting.

About SC Johnson

SC Johnson is a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control and shoe care. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR. MUSCLE®, and RIDSECT®. The 126-year-old company, that generates $9 billion in sales, employs nearly 13,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world.

About Lifeline Energy

Working in more than a dozen countries, primarily in Africa, Lifeline Energy focuses on reducing energy poverty for the world’s poorest populations. Partnering with local aid organizations, Lifeline Energy assesses the target population’s energy and information needs, co-creates appropriate distribution strategies and trains end-users to maximize the benefits of Lifeline products. Lifeline Energy fully engages the community, working with vulnerable groups to design renewable products they need in their day-to-day lives, which also can be used in microenterprises. Lifeline Energy remains a registered 501c3 tax exempt charity in the USA, a registered charity in the UK and is a Section 18A and 21 non-profit in South Africa.

About Radio Lifeline

Radio Lifeline is an entirely independent 501c3 that currently utilizes the Lifeplayer in projects that support both the coffee and pyrethrum sectors. Radio Lifeline produces two separate radio broadcasts that address the individual needs of each farming sector, while sharing information regarding health and cooperative development and sustainability.

Jam Stewart

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