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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #188

Celebrating World Radio Day: Farmers all over Africa achieve success and satisfaction from listening to their radios

This week’s issue salutes World Radio Day, an annual day which will be celebrated for the first time on February 13th of this year. We mark this special day with four stories specially written for Farm Radio Weekly. Each tells the story of a farmer who is never without a radio!

Our first story takes place in Kenya. When a local radio station in western Kenya interviewed a mushroom farmer and broadcast her contact information, the woman’s business took off. Farmers called her for information, visited her and invited her to their farms. Joan Kimokoti now runs a successful mushroom business and has trained more than 300 other farmers to grow mushrooms.

Our second story comes from Zambia, where a farmer took advantage not only of market prices broadcast on QFM, but of recommendations on which markets were best for selling her fully-grown pigs. Guided by the information she hears on QFM, she sells her pigs for a good profit.

In the Republic of Congo, an indigenous woman’s life was transformed by listening to Biso na Biso radio station. Simone Botékéwas inspired by the story of indigenous women farmers who were growing their own cassava. Soon after, Simone started growing her own vegetables.

Our final story comes from Malawi, where a vegetable farmer took advantage of advice he heard on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. Goodson Chisaleka now  makes a good living selling vegetables door-to-door in Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe.

Don’t forget to read through the other sections of the Weekly. And stay tuned for next week’s issue, when we report on World Radio Day celebrations in Mali.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: Radio interview with woman mushroom farmer inspires others to grow mushrooms (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly in Kenya)

Joan Kimokoti has become a household name in much of western Kenya. She is well-known as a successful mushroom farmer. And the source of her popularity is a program on a local FM radio station called Radio Mambo.

Ms. Kimokoti and other farmers in the South Kabras region of western Kenya were introduced to mushroom farming in 2005, through the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project. They started growing mushrooms as a farmers’ group.

Shortly afterwards, Ms. Kimokoti started growing mushrooms on her own. She was soon making huge profits by selling to the airport and nearby hospitals. With her earnings, she became the proud owner of one hectare of land, a poultry project, and a goat’s milk project. She is also starting other small businesses. But it was Ms. Kimokoti’s interview on Radio Mambo that motivated other farmers to start growing mushrooms.

In 2008, Ms. Kimokoti travelled to Kenya’s capital Nairobi to attend a training workshop. There, she met a journalist from Radio Mambo who had come to cover the training. The journalist introduced her to one of his managers. She says, “The manager, Abel Amala, came and during our talk, I told him that I was a farmer growing mushrooms.”

The manager asked his staff to interview Ms. Kimokoti about her farming business. The team visited her at her farm. She says, “Two days later the story was aired, and my phone number was given to the listeners.”

Ms. Kimokoti started receiving calls from farmers in various districts. The word spread widely. She was frequently interviewed on radio, talking about mushroom farming and its benefits. She explains, “Most farmers call wanting to know how to grow mushrooms. Some have visited me, and I have visited others, done demonstrations with them and planted with them.”

Farmers in the region often sell mushrooms to hospitals, where they are used to boost the immune system of people living with HIV and AIDS. According to Ms. Kimokoti, farmers can harvest mushrooms three times a year. This brings in 250,000 Kenyan shillings, or around three thousand US dollars.

Ms. Kimokoti has assisted 15 farmers in her area. She has also helped seven farmers’ groups in neighbouring districts. She ensures that each farmer has his or her own mushroom garden. In all, she has helped more than 300 farmers. This is all a result of her radio interview.

Ms. Kimokoti says radio is a good tool to promote farming: “From the time I was interviewed,” she says “I received a lot of calls from farmers. When I asked them where they got my contact, they say from radio.”

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Zambia: Radio spreads pearls of wisdom, helps farmer raise swine (by Mutimba Mazwi, for Farm Radio Weekly in Zambia)

Theresa Bowa is a 27-year old farmer from Mumbwa District, in Zambia’s Central Province. She listens to QFM to keep abreast of matters in the world around her. But the radio gives her more than news. As a small-scale farmer, she gets information that is useful for her livelihood.

She listens to market prices on the radio. This is vital information for small-scale farmers who need to sell their produce. She says, “The reason I love QFM is that even when I miss out on the latest developments in agriculture, they still send me updates to my mobile phone using SMS.”

Theresa’s interactions with the radio have brought her an added benefit. She explains: “I was able to get information about the market for pigs. Not only that, QFM has always been on hand with weekly updates about which markets are in need of my fully grown pigs.”

Dr. Bowa (no relation to Theresa) is a veterinary doctor with specialized knowledge of livestock breeding and disease prevention. He is a frequent guest on farm radio shows. Dr. Bowa credits QFM with changing Theresa’s fortunes.

“Without them, Theresa would not have made it,” he says.

Another farmer who has benefitted from listening to the radio is Mrs. Albertina Chibesa. Mrs. Chibesa went into the poultry business after hearing on QFM that breeders were offering chicks at a discount.

She says, “I thought to myself: Why have I been missing out on such great opportunities.”

Fully grown chickens fetch about six and a half US dollars each. But Mrs. Chibesa says that until she heard about cheap ways of making feed, she spent about half of her earnings to buy it.

She explains, “I used to spend about three dollars on feed and vaccines per chick.” But now, by using a feed formula provided to her by QFM and Dr. Bowa, she has lowered her feed costs by 25 per cent.

Mrs. Chibesa continues, “This means good profit margins for me as well. One bag of starter feed for broilers costs $32 US dollars. Making it alone has put the cost of producing one bag at about $24.”

She says, “If it were not for QFM radio, I would not be basking in this kind of excitement.”

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Congo: Radio Biso na Biso changes the lives of indigenous women (by Privat Tiburce Massanga, for Farm Radio Weekly in Congo)

Simone Botéké is a farmer who lives in Sembola. She is from the people often referred to as pygmies, who are the indigenous people of the Congo rainforest.  She works in the fields of Bantu farmers. Every Thursday night is special for Ms. Botéké. This is the day of her favourite radio show, called “Women’s life.”  The program deals with a variety of topics, including hygiene, agriculture, and peaceful coexistence between indigenous people and Bantus. Simone is one of the few women in the village who has a radio. She is never without it. She takes it to the kitchen, to the field − she takes it everywhere!

Listening to the radio is one of the highlights of community life in Sembola. The small village is one of many villages surrounding Pokola, a city in the forests of northern Congo. Most people in Sembola are of indigenous descent. Children and adults gather in small groups to follow the programs of Radio Biso na Biso, which is a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.

In Sembola, women are busy cooking near wooden or thatched houses, while their children cry nearby. Simone Botéké calls to her child: “Bring me my radio, Mama Lydie is about to begin her show. It’s Thursday.”  Mama Lydie is Lydie Koungou, producer of the show “Women’s life” on Radio Biso na Biso  For three years, Simone has been listening to this show regularly.

Simone recalls a particular program which had a big influence on her. She says: “I once heard a show with indigenous women from the village of Ibamba. I was captivated because they had their own cassava fields. You know we, the indigenous people of the Congo, we are nomads and we rarely practice agriculture. But the experience of these women inspired me to challenge myself.”

After hearing about the farmers in Ibamba, Simone decided to plant crops, and has started growing vegetables. She says, “Thanks to the radio, I realized I could also make my own fields instead of always going to work for other people, like the Bantu who pay little. If today I go to work in someone else’s field, tomorrow I take care of my own field.”

Biso na Biso is the only station whose programs reach deep into the rainforest. It is also the only station whose programs are designed for the indigenous and Bantu communities which coexist with difficulty.

Apart from advice on agricultural activities, the “Women’s life” radio program also addresses health, children’s literacy, and the dangers of alcoholism, a disease which is rampant in the indigenous community.

The show’s presenter has a special status in the area. Many women ask her for advice, sometimes on matters of married life. Ms. Koungou says, “It is an honour and a pleasure to speak to people who believe in you. That is why I cannot say just anything on-air. My remarks are a kind of gospel truth for listeners. So I have to be aware of the weight of my responsibility. I could not imagine that radio has such an impact on people’s lives.”

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Malawi: Listening to the radio perfects Goodson Chisaleka’s vegetable farming skills (by Norman Fulatira, for Farm Radio Weekly in Malawi)

Goodson Chisaleka never goes anywhere without his radio – even his vegetable garden.

Mr. Chisaleka is a vegetable farmer in Chatata village, in the central Lilongwe district of Malawi.

He carries his radio everywhere. When he cycles, Mr. Chisaleka laces the small radio to his shoulder. He switches among the four major channels in Malawi, listening to news, music and other programs.

Mr. Chisaleka says, “One day I was tilling in my vegetable garden and at the same time listening to the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation radio’s Ulimi Wamakono program.”

Ulimi Wamakono means “modern farming methods” in the local language. And it was Ulimi Wamakono that changed his attitude towards vegetable farming.

Mr. Chisaleka had already taken up vegetable farming as a pastime. But after listening to the radio program, he realized that there was money in vegetable farming, provided he used modern methods.

He increased the size of his vegetable beds and planted hybrid varieties, following the advice he heard from the anchor on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, which is a Farm Radio broadcasting partner. Now, he makes a good living growing vegetables. He takes advantage of the ready market in Lilongwe, where he sells vegetables door-to-door.

Mr. Chisaleka cycles through the townships of Lilongwe selling vegetables, with his radio across to his shoulder and humming to the music. Most days, he returns home with 3,000 Malawi kwacha, which is approximately eighteen US dollars.

The people who laughed at him for carrying a radio everywhere have changed their tune. Now they admire what he’s achieved by following the advice of a farm radio program.

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Notes to broadcasters on World Radio Day

UNESCO recently announced that February 13th has been chosen as the date to mark the new annual World Radio Day. This special day gives all radio practitioners and enthusiasts a chance to celebrate their craft and share experiences.

To celebrate the power and reach of radio on this first World Radio Day, Farm Radio Weekly asked our writers to seek out farmers who have benefitted from the simple act of listening to the radio. We are pleased to present examples of farmers who were inspired to try new ideas and practices after first hearing about them on the radio. These stories show that listening is just the start. Farmers went on to find more information and test the different practices on their own farms, with success. In our story from Kenya, Mrs. Joan Kimokoti went on to share her success with others by becoming a guest on the radio show, and advising other farmers who contacted her.

UNESCO has details of the day on its website: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/world-radio-day/

Full details on how the day came about, and the importance of radio, can be found here:  http://www.worldradioday.org/

The Communication for Development Network has further information: http://c4dnetwork.ning.com/

Various activities have already been planned. UNESCO will present a number of initiatives on its website, and more activities will be announced on the World Radio Day Facebook page, which you can access here:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1235132307&ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/World-Radio-Day/244826332245912 Click “Like” to ensure you receive updates.

We would love to hear about any activities you or your station are planning. Perhaps you are preparing a dedicated radio program. Or interviews? Or maybe a community event? Please let us know. We will share your activities in the coming weeks. Contact: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

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Knight International Journalism Award

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is seeking nominations for its annual Knight International Journalism Award.

The Award recognizes media professionals worldwide, whose reporting has made a difference to the lives of people in their country. It highlights the efforts of committed journalists who have overcome difficult conditions to keep communities informed. Past recipients include correspondents who have exposed government corruption or war crimes.

Nominees can be reporters, editors, media managers, citizen journalists or bloggers. Award winners will be honored at ICFJ’s Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on November 13, 2012. The deadline to apply is February 27, 2012.

For more information and to apply, visit http://www.icfj.org/call-nominations-2012-knight-international-journalism-award

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UNESCO Community Radio Handbook

This handbook was produced by UNESCO in 2001, but contains information that is still relevant today. It shows that community radio stations can be set up by anyone with commitment and interest. The handbook provides tips on how to start up and maintain a community radio station with a minimum of external support. It contains sections that cover program policies, features and functions of community radio, and a case study of Radio Ada in Ghana, one of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners.

The handbook is available in French, English and Thai.

The English version:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001245/124595e.pdf

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Using community radio to heal after Kony’s war

Mega FM is a radio station in Gulu, northern Uganda. Since its establishment in 2002, Mega FM has made valuable contributions to stopping the conflict in northern Uganda, and to the ongoing healing process for northern communities.

Grace Amito produces the station’s farming programs. Grace has an educational background in conflict resolution, a background she put to good use at Mega FM. Grace was the winner of the 2010 George Atkins Communication Award, presented annually by Farm Radio International to recognize rural radio broadcasters for their outstanding contribution to food security and poverty reduction.

A recent article describes how Mega FM has helped to heal its community after more than two decades of conflict and atrocities in the fight between Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and Ugandan government troops.

To read the whole article, see: http://www.mediafrica.net/News_Popup.php?Id=5432

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Effective use of vetiver grass: A participatory radio campaign in Malawi helps farmers keep soil on their fields and money in their pockets

Our script of the week shows how Participatory Radio Campaigns can make a big difference in the life of small-scale farmers.

As part of Farm Radio International’s African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Malawi, Zodiak Broadcasting Station aired a series of programs called Mlera Nthaka, which means “soil conservation” in the Chichewa language. The programs provided information on planting vetiver grass hedges to reduce soil erosion. They provided practical information on how to construct and maintain vetiver grass, and described the benefits that farmers can expect. As a result of the five-month radio campaign, many farmers adopted vetiver grass, and groups of farmers established communal vetiver nurseries.

The script presents interviews conducted with farmers and extension workers. This script is a perfect example of how targeted and participatory radio programs can help farmers achieve great things.


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