All posts in News from Our Partners

To mark International Women’s Day, this week’s issue of Farm Radio Weekly, features stories of four remarkable women. Featured in this International Women’s Day blog, is the story about Farm Radio International broadcast partner, Ugochi Anyaka, who went to the town of Mpape, just outside Abuja, Nigeria, to research what would become her award-winning story. There, she met with John, the originator of a unique method of manufacturing briquettes.

As Ms. Anyaka explains in her audio report, Saving the Trees for Paper Briquettes, John is the brains behind a project that uses waste paper to manufacture briquettes. The briquettes are an alternative fuel to traditional firewood. In the report, John explains, “Briquettes are made of paper which you soak into water for two hours, and you press it into the briquette maker and it comes out in the form of bread and you start using it like charcoal.”

Ugochi Atrophy with the UNEP award

Ugochi Atrophy, a broadcaster from Farm Radio International partner Aso Radio in Nigeria, with her UNEP award

Ms. Anyaka’s story won first prize in the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Young Environmental Journalist Award. The 29-year-old says the award is “the greatest moment of joy” in her career. Indeed, Ms. Anyaka’s report beat out more than 120 entries from journalists all across Africa.

The UNEP award “aims to showcase excellence in the field of environmental reporting and nurture new talent that will help to shape opinion on the environment in Africa, and beyond, in years to come.”

Ms. Anyaka explains that her story “was done to show the opportunities in a changing climate – and not just the woes. It also seeks to show the conflicting viewpoints about the Clean Development Mechanism.” (The Clean Development Mechanism is a tool within the Kyoto Protocol to mobilize additional funding in developing countries for investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.)

Ms. Anyaka, a self-proclaimed eco-journalist, can be heard on Aso Radio’s airwaves every Thursday at 9 a.m. as the host of Green Angle, a show that delves into environmental and climate change issues.

To listen to Ms. Anyaka’s award-winning story, click here.

To learn more about Ms. Anyaka and her eco-journalism, you can read her blog, Eco Nigeria, or follow her on twitter: @UgochiAnyaka.

To read the UNEP press release about the Young Environmental Journalist Award, click here.

From all of us at Farm Radio International, congratulations Ugochi!

To celebrate International Youth Day, Farm Radio Weekly featured a story on Grace Amito’s visit to Canada earlier this year and how one talk she did inspired her to further action within her district. While in Ottawa, she visited a local primary school to tell the children about her work as a radio broadcaster with Mega FM in Gulu, northern Uganda. One of the children, 10-year-old Ella Jackson-Cappuccino, said,

It was interesting to hear about how radio in Africa helps farmers grow more food.  I liked hearing about her [Grace’s] radio station that she works at. It was interesting to hear how some small towns have one radio and get into groups and listen together, unlike here where we have thousands of radios.

Grace Amito distributes radio to Sacred Heart High School, Gulu, Uganda

As a result, children and parents from the school Grace visited decided to raise money to provide radios where they were most needed. With the money raised, Grace was able to buy four radios. She gave one radio each to four of the largest schools in Gulu. The radios are large and powerful so that a group of up to 500 can sit and listen comfortably.

But Grace wanted to do even more for these schools. In Gulu, some schools have gardens, but students often view farming as a punishment. With this in mind, and inspired to promote farming amongst young people, Grace wants to produce farm radio programs for the students to listen to on their new radios. She hopes that, in the long term, students will see farming as a viable way to earn a living.

In the short term, students will benefit from a school farming and feeding project that Grace has begun working on. The project aims to improve the quality of school meals and enhance the effectiveness of nutrition and agricultural education.

In an email, Grace explained why the school farming and feeding program is so important:

With rising costs of food, many parents cannot afford school lunches for their children. Yet when primary schools offer lunches, attendance by boys and girls from poor households surges. If a school can produce part of the meal, the costs are lower. Pupils can learn to grow crops, and then have the satisfaction of eating what they grow.

She also mentions the difficulties involved in organizing a school feeding program:

However, a major obstacle to a well-functioning school feeding program, particularly in an urban setting, is a lack of funding. Food usually has to be purchased at the market which is expensive.

Grace distributing high-protein maize to Sacred Heart High School, Uganda

As a first step, Grace obtained Quality Protein Maize from the National Agricultural Research Organization. The maize was distributed among five senior secondary schools. She plans to distribute maize to six primary schools in time for the next planting season, which starts in August.

Grace is now starting to work on the farm radio component of the school program. She thinks a sponsor would help get things started. She hopes that – as well as taking part in growing maize and eating it at school – the children will be able to listen to programs on their school radios and learn the value of farming.Grace Amito était en visite au Canada plus tôt cette année. Cela l’a inspirée à en faire plus pour son district. Pendant qu’elle était à Ottawa, elle a visité une école primaire où elle a parlé à des enfants à propos de son travail de radiodiffuseur à Mega FM, dans le district de Gulu, dans le nord de l’Ouganda. Un des enfants de 10 ans, Ella Jackson-Cappuccino, a déclaré:

« C’était intéressant de comprendre comment la radio aide les agriculteurs d’Afrique à cultiver plus de nourriture. J’ai bien aimé l’écouter [Grace] parler de la station de radio où elle travaille. Il était intéressant d’apprendre comment certaines petits villages ne possèdent qu’une radio et forment des groupes d’écoute pour l’écouter ensemble, contrairement à ici où nous avons des milliers de poste de radios. »

Grâce Amito distribue la radio à l'école secondaire Sacred Heart,Gulu, en Ouganda

Après sa visite, les enfants et les parents de l’école que Grace a visité ont décidé de cotiser des fonds pour offrir des postes de radios à ceux qui en ont le plus besoin. Avec l’argent collecté, Grace a pu acheter quatre radios. Elle a donné une radio à quatre des plus grandes écoles de Gulu. Les radios sont grandes et puissantes, de sorte qu’un groupe de 500 personnes puissent s’asseoir et l’écouter confortablement.

Mais Grace a voulu en faire encore plus pour ces écoles. À Gulu, certaines écoles ont des jardins, mais les étudiants considèrent souvent que l’agriculture est une corvée. Dans cet esprit, et désireuse de promouvoir l’agriculture auprès des jeunes, Grace veut produire des programmes de radio agricole pour que les élèves les écoutent sur leurs nouveaux postes de radios. Elle espère qu’à long terme, les étudiants verront l’agriculture comme un moyen viable de gagner leur vie.

À court terme, les étudiants bénéficieront d’une formation en agriculture et d’un projet d’alimentation sur lequel Grace a commencé à travailler. Le projet vise à améliorer la qualité des repas scolaires et à améliorer l’efficacité de la nutrition et de l’enseignement agricole.

Dans un email, Grace a expliqué pourquoi la formation agricole et le programme d’alimentation sont si importants:

« Avec la hausse du prix des denrées alimentaires, de nombreux parents ne peuvent pas se permettre d’offrir des déjeuners à leurs enfants. Pourtant, lorsque les écoles primaires offrent des déjeuners, la fréquentation par les garçons et les filles des ménages pauvres augmentent. Si une école peut produire une partie du repas, les coûts sont moindres. Les élèves peuvent apprendre à cultiver, et avoir la satisfaction de manger ce qu’ils cultivent.»

Elle mentionne également les difficultés liées à l’organisation d’un programme d’alimentation scolaire:

« Toutefois, un obstacle majeur pour qu’un programme d’alimentation scolaire fonctionne bien, en particulier en milieu urbain, c’est le manque de financement. La nourriture doit généralement être achetée au marché, ce qui est coûteux. »

Grâce distribution du maïs haute en protéines à l'école secondaire Sacred Heart, de l’Ouganda

Dans un premier temps, Grace a obtenu du maïs de l’Organisation nationale de recherche agricole. Le maïs a été distribué dans cinq lycées. Elle prévoit de distribuer du maïs à six écoles primaires à temps pour la prochaine saison de plantation, qui commence en août.

Grace commence désormais à travailler sur le volet radio rurale du programme scolaire. Elle pense qu’avoir un bailleur de fonds les aiderait à débuter. Elle espère qu’en plus de prendre part à la culture du maïs et des aliments pour leur école, les enfants seront en mesure d’écouter les programmes sur les radios de l’école et apprendre la valeur de l’agriculture.

Ottawa, Ontario March 1, 2011 – Grace Amito was bitter when her manager at Uganda’s radio station Mega FM assigned her to the farm broadcast. “He told me all the other programs had been taken up by my fellow presenters since I was away.”

That was in 2002, when Grace says she didn’t have “a single clue on farming.” Today she says her farm listeners are now part of her family and her life.

They trust me so much. I cannot hesitate to receive them in my house whenever they travel to town and fail to find their way back to their villages. Others want me to be their surety whenever they seek loans from commercial banks.

Grace is host of “The Farmers and the Animal World,” a daily program for Ugandan farmers, who like millions of others in Africa often have no other source of farm extension information except radio.

From March 1-12, she will be in Canada to speak and to formally receive the George Atkins Communication Award, named after the famous CBC farm broadcaster who founded Farm Radio International, an Ottawa-based NGO that provides radio scripts and training to more than 360 partner radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Grace is a skilled, courageous, and creative broadcaster, highly committed to helping small-scale farmers in northern Uganda rebuild after years of civil conflict. We are proud that she is a partner in the Farm Radio International community,” says FRI’s executive director Kevin Perkins.

Mega FM used radio broadcasts through 2004 to 2006 to facilitate peace talks that helped end the war in northern Uganda. A program called “Dwog Cen Paco” (come back home) targeted Lord’s Resistance Army fighters and encouraged them to lay down their arms.

Over time, they listened to the messages channeled through the program and they started coming out of the bush and were granted amnesty, says Grace.

Since 2008, Grace has been working closely with Farm Radio International to produce a hugely popular radio program on beekeeping and honey production. To show their gratitude for her programs, farmers stop by to leave gifts of pails of honey in the Mega FM lobby.

Grace Amito will visit Canada from March 1-12 and will be giving talks in Ottawa, Guelph, Toronto and Montreal.

 -30-

Contact: Brenda Jackson

Farm Radio International

613-761-3646

brenda@farmradio.org

www.farmradio.org

About Farm Radio International:

Founded in 1979, Farm Radio International is a Canadian charity with the mission of supporting broadcasters to strengthen small-scale farming and rural communities in Africa. Farm Radio International researches and produces radio scripts on rural development issues and distributes them to over 360 radio broadcasters who interpret and use the scripts to provide their listeners with practical information about farming, land management, health and other issues. Farm Radio International also develops training opportunities; researches farm radio strategies and facilitates networking among and between broadcasters.

Grace Amito of Mega FM interviewing a farmer in Gulu, Uganda in 2008.

Grace Amito of Mega FM interviewing a farmer in Gulu, Uganda in 2008.

On November 5, 2010 Farm Radio International was proud to announce the 2010 George Atkins Communications Award winner was Grace Amito, a broadcaster from Mega FM in Gulu, Uganda. This award recognizes rural radio broadcasters for their outstanding contribution to food security and poverty reduction in low-income countries.

Unfortunately Grace was unable to join us in Ottawa, Canada to receive the award in person, but she sent us this great thank you message. It was played for the over 500 guests that attended the joint Farm Radio International-WUSC Opening Night Reception and Award Ceremony at the 2010 Annual Assembly.  The loud applause from the audience said it all…

http://www.farmradio.org/audio/grace.mp3

Congratulations once again Grace, we hope to see you in Canada later in the new year.  Keep up the great work!

To Listen to the thank you message click the play button above or copy this link into your internet browser: http://www.farmradio.org/audio/grace.mp3

“We knew the technique of composting, but it is by the strength of radio that we have the courage to do so.” These words from a farmer in a small village in rural Mali tell a story that we have seen repeated many, many times over the past three years.  It is the story of how radio, by far the most widely available mass communication medium for most of the developing world, has provided life changing agricultural information for farmer after farmer across sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2007 Farm Radio International in partnership with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been undertaking an action research project called the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI).  The major aim of the project is to design and implement a participatory, multi-stakeholder action research program to discover, document and disseminate best practices for using radio-based communications to enhance food security in Africa.  In short, we are trying to learn and share how radio can be used most effectively to ensure that farmers are able to provide food for their families and earn income on the market.

AFRRI represents one of the first attempts ever undertaken to systematically measure the effects of farm radio programs on the practices and knowledge of farmers, extension workers and others involved in helping smallholder farmers achieve greater food security.  In the past, there was some evidence that radio is an effective means of communicating with smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa but the truth is that much of it was anecdotal.  Thanks to AFRRI, we started getting hard data to back up these stories.

So after three years what are we learning?  We are now in the last year of the AFRRI project and we are starting to see some very exciting results.  Using a participatory method of program production, including extensive community dialogue, we have seen that radio is most effective whenit is voices of fellow farmers that are on the air talking about their triumphs and challenges.  Of course there is room for agriculture experts such as extension staff, but it is truly the voice of farmers that makes the difference.  We are also learning how men and women have different experiences in implementing new techniques learned on the radio.  Above all else we are learning just how effective radio can be when it reflects the concerns and hopes of the local farming population.  We are learning how important radio is to rural development across sub-Saharan Africa.

To read more about the research results that are coming in from the field please click here.

Enock Kyambaddee, Farm Manager for Uganda Rural Development Training Center (URDT) in Kagadi Kibaale

Enock Kyambaddee, Farm Manager for Uganda Rural Development Training Center (URDT) in Kagadi Kibaale

The video above (or here) shows Enock Kyambaddee, a supporter of AFRRI who believes radio is the best tool to inform and educate millions of farmers in Africa.  Enock works as a Farm Manager for Uganda Rural Development Training Center (URDT) in Kagadi Kibaale. He also volunteers as an extension support officer for AFRRI. In 2008, he attended the radio broadcaster’s capacity building program. Since then he has supported the Kigadi Kibaale radio station in producing and broadcasting radio campaigns on agriculture topics that are important to local farmers.  Enock says that radio “Gives voice to the voiceless”We can’t agree more, and we will continue to support small-scale agriculture in Africa to make sure farmers are able to have a voice in their own development.

If you want to learn more about AFRRI please visit our website.

Adama Zongo - editor-in-chief of Farm Radio broadcasting partner Radio rurale du Burkina

Adama Zongo has been the editor-in-chief of Farm Radio broadcasting partner Radio rurale du Burkina – the national broadcaster – since 2005. But Adama is not new to rural radio broadcasting. He started his career in July 1982 after being trained at the Centre Interafricain d’Études en Radio Rurale de Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. Adama first received Farm Radio International script packages in the 1980s, when the organization was known as the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. From 1985 to 1990, Adama dabbled in print journalism as a reporter for the national daily newspaper Sidwaya. But his love for radio brought him back to broadcasting in 1990, when he started working for Radio rurale du Burkina as a trainer of local radio broadcasters.

Radio rurale du Burkina produces many radio programs on rural topics such as: improved seeds, dry season crops, irrigation, organic manure, fodder production, production of crops such as cowpeas, rice and corn, and diversification of agricultural production; as well as climate change which, Adama stresses, has a significant impact on agricultural activities.

In all his years as a rural radio broadcaster, Adama says the best story he covered was in 1984. The story was about a bank’s inconsistent practices in informing farmers about purchase prices for inputs. Adama explains that each year, before the growing season, the bank estimated the input needs of farmers without setting a fixed price for the inputs. It was only after the inputs were distributed that the bank set the prices. The farmers did not understand why the bank was unable to set the prices before they distributed the inputs. They felt cheated and were convinced that the bank was trying to rob them. After these concerns were broadcast, the bank felt the need to provide the farmers with more information. They started an awareness campaign to educate farmers on agricultural credit.

As editor-in-chief of Radio rurale du Burkina, Adama says his station regularly covers events such as la Journée Nationale du Paysan, where farmers have face-to-face discussions with Burkina Faso’s president and voice their concerns, as well as events such as International Women’s Day.

Adama is a two-time winner of Farm Radio International scriptwriting competitions. In 2008, Adama’s script on organic fertilizer was a winning entry in the scriptwriting competition on African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change. An audio production of his script, Organic fertilizer within easy reach, was produced for World Food Day 2008, with the help of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Read his winning entry for the scriptwriting competition on smallholder farmer innovation:  “The Motor Pump Mill“.

Listen to one of his award-winning scripts (french only).  http://www.farmradio.org/audio/adama.mp3

Adama Zongo de Radio Rurale de Burkina

Adama Zongo est depuis 2005 le rédacteur en chef de Radio rurale du Burkina – le radiodiffuseur national – partenaire de Radios Rurales Internationales. Mais Adama n’est pas un novice dans la radiodiffusion en milieu rural. Il a débuté sa carrière en juillet 1982 après une formation au Centre Interafricain d’Études en Radio Rurale de Ouagadougou, au Burkina Faso. Adama a reçu ses premières pochettes de textes de Radios Rurales Internationales dans les années 1980, lorsque l’organisme s’appelait le Réseau de radios rurales des pays de développement. De 1985 à 1990, Adama a bricolé dans le journalisme écrit comme reporteur pour le quotidien national Sidwaya. Mais son amour pour la radio l’a ramené vers la radiodiffusion en 1990, lorsqu’il a commencé à travailler pour Radio rurale du Burkina à titre de formateur des radiodiffuseurs locaux.

Radio rurale du Burkina réalise de nombreuses émissions radiophoniques sur des sujets du monde rural, comme les semences améliorées, les cultures en saison sèche, l’irrigation, le fumier organique, la production de fourrages, la production de cultures comme les niébés, le riz et le maïs, la diversification de la production agricole, ainsi que le changement climatique qui, selon Adama, a un impact considérable sur les activités agricoles.

Durant ses années comme radio-diffuseur rural, Adama déclare que la meilleure histoire qu’il a couverte s’est déroulée en 1984. Il s’agissait des pratiques incohérentes d’une banque en vue d’informer les agriculteurs sur les prix d’achat des intrants agricoles. Adama explique que chaque année, avant la saison de croissance, la banque estimait les besoins d’intrants des agriculteurs sans en fixer de prix fermes. Ce n’est qu’après la distribution des intrants que la banque fixait les prix. Les agriculteurs ne comprenaient pas pourquoi la banque était incapable de fixer les prix avant de distribuer les intrants. Ils se sentaient trompés et étaient convaincus que la banque essayait de les voler. Après la diffusion de ces préoccupations, la banque a ressenti le besoin de fournir plus de renseignements aux agriculteurs. Elle lança une campagne de sensibilisation pour informer les agriculteurs sur le crédit agricole.

En tant que rédacteur en chef de Radio rurale du Burkina, Adama précise que sa station couvre régulièrement des événements comme la Journée nationale du paysan, durant laquelle les agriculteurs ont des discussions personnelles avec le président du Burkina Faso et expriment leurs inquiétudes, ainsi que des événements comme la Journée internationale de la femme.

Adama a remporté deux fois les concours de rédaction de textes de Radios Rurales Internationales. En 2008, son texte sur les engrais organiques a figuré parmi les gagnants du concours de rédaction de textes sur les stratégies des agriculteurs africains pour s’adapter au changement climatique. Une production audio de son texte « De l’engrais organique à portée de main » a été réalisée pour la Journée mondiale de l’alimentation de 2008, avec l’aide de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (FAO).  Lire son texte primé pour le concours sur les innovations des petits exploitants agricoles: «Le moulin motopompe».

Lien vers un texte radiophonique:  http://www.farmradio.org/audio/adama.mp3

We are happy to present the second English audio production of one of our award-winning scripts from the Smallholder Farmer Innovation script package. Thanks once again to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for funding this audio production.

Stanley Nyakwana Ongwae from Kisima Radio in Kenya

The production you are about to hear is from the script: “Women use ‘hanging gardens’ to grow vegetables and solve land crisis”. This award-winning script was written by Stanley Nyakwana Ongwae from Kisima Radio in Kenya. “Hanging gardens” is the name given to crops grown in synthetic or sisal sacks filled with soil. Based on real people from the slum area of Kibera, this script gives us an insight into their solutions to landlessness in Kenya.

Congratulations and well done, Stanley!

Listen here!   Stanley Ongwae \’hanging gardens\’ audio production

To read the scipt, click here.

Rosemond Ohene, a graduate from Cape Cost University in Accra, joined Ghana’s Rite FM with no experience in radio broadcasting.  It was a very challenging task but luckily for Rose, she found the Farm Radio International web site.  She soon discovered that there was an office in Ghana that operated the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI). This was the key to her success.

Rose learned about the script writing competition from Ben Biafor, Farm Radio’s National Research Coordinator in Ghana. According to Ben:

Rosemond Ohene, broadcaster at Rite FM in Ghana

Rosemond Ohene, broadcaster at Rite FM in Ghana

Rosemonds’ encounter with AFRRI/FRI made a tremendous impact on her ability to look at all the possible agriculture programs and how she can turn them into actual product for her station Rite FM. Her first encounter with the AFRRI team allowed us to share with her our approach to farm radio programming using Farm Radio’s VOICE standards. Rosemond had the opportunity to read through and take some copies of the FRI script with her. I am happy to be a part of Rosemond’s career in radio.

Through this network, she joined the online training for Farm Radio broadcasters offered by FRI. With her agricultural science background, she quickly learned the techniques of script writing and was able to not only compete in the competition but also win a prize.

Meeting such vibrant and intelligent people like Rose Ohene has inspired all of us at Farm Radio International. We would like to congratulate Rite FM management for their visionary move towards serving smallholder farmers.


What are Farm Radio International “VOICE” Standards?

  • Value. We value and respect farmers for their hard work in producing food for their families and the markets.  We talk in depth with farmers to understand their lives and to learn how radio can be of service to them.
  • Opportunity. We provide farmers with the opportunity to use radio in ways that help them to be active participants in development. We help them to bring their voices to radio and identify issues of concern to them.
  • Information. We provide the information farmers need to safeguard and improve farming and the quality of rural life. We present the information in ways that help farmers understand it and use it. This information includes discussions among local farmers about matters of concern to them.
  • Consistency. Farmers can count on us. We broadcast to them on a reliable, regular basis, at least weekly, at a time when they say they are available to listen. Where necessary, we broadcast at two different times for the convenience of both women farmers and men farmers.
  • Entertainment. We take great effort to broadcast programs that farmers find irresistibly attractive as well as useful. There is no excuse for boring farm radio programs!

His name is Asio Koku, an agricultural research officer working for Ho Municipality in Ghana. His duties include sending information about new technologies to farmers and assisting with data collection. His encounter with Farm Radio International’s African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) was a simple one. But now he can’t forget how it transformed his life.

In the fall of 2008, Mr. Koku was sent a letter from one of Farm Radio International’s broadcast partners, Volta Star Radio in Ghana, inviting him to attend training.  His assumption was that it was to assist them in helping out farmers, but it turned out to be an opportunity for him to receive life-changing education.  He was trained as a radio presenter (broadcaster) and was also trained to collect data for the ongoing research in the African Farm Radio Research Initiative. This led to the task of assisting the station in promoting NERICA rice (one of the chosen Participatory Radio Campaigns in Ghana).  For the most part during the NERICA rice campaign he worked as a radio presenter and his expertise as an agricultural research officer helped him easily communicate to the farmers.

Asio Koku

Asio Koku, agricultural extension worker turned farm radio broadcaster in Ho, Ghana

When given the chance to be trained in radio scriptwriting through Farm Radio International’s online scriptwriting competition, Mr. Kuko took it.  However, due to his illiteracy in computer use, he was not able to complete the course. But that did not hold him back – he was given a Sansa (a small MP3 recorder) to record programs and download them to a computer.

“One of my accomplishments due to my involvement with AFRRI is that I am now computer literate and can now do a lot of things with a computer…. I remember the challenge came when we had the face-to-face training of broadcasters. Being a novice to computer use, I was literally sweating under the air conditioner. But today it is history”, said Mr. Koku.

He continues while still laughing about his experience “…. I was thinking broadcasting is beyond my scope. But the training I had with Farm Radio International helped me to effectively communicate with the communities I am serving. Prior to this I was only talking to them, now I communicate with them because I do know what to say, when to say it and how.”

Asio also remarked. “One more advantage of the training was learning to research information on the internet including the ability to access Farm Radio’s scripts which were of great help”.

“In the future, I wish the Minstry of Agriculture takes up the challenge to do radio programming to farmers. Particularly using human (story based) types of programming. Those types of programs are more attractive to the audience. Actual mass communication is a tool for extension purposes however it is not utilised very well. Due to the programs we are producing in the AFRRI project, instead of the extension officer looking for farmers it is the farmer now looking for extension service. Moreover, these days farmers have mobile phones and often call the station after the broadcast. This means they are getting the message and have great interest. I hope this will be taken up by the ministry and we will be able to provide the service even more…”

Girma Hailu, AFRRI Program Officer at Farm Radio International, believes Participatory Radio Campaigns will be successful and sustainable if the capacity of service providers such as extension staff and radio broadcasters continues to improve.  “There are several similar stories from many of the 25 radio stations that the AFRRI collaborated with in the past three years. We wish Asio Koku all the best in his future endeavours.”

John Cheburet (left) with Githenya Kariuki and the potatoes he preserves with sawdust

John Cheburet’s “media fantasy” was formed at a young age. As a boy, he and his brother used their father’s radio. They listened to many programs: from sports commentary to news on Deutsche Welle Swahili. In school, he realized that his awareness and general knowledge was above his peers who did not listen to radio. So, at a young age, he was struck by the “enlightening” power of media.

As a 30-year-old man, John is on the other side of the radio. He interviews farmers and produces broadcasts for The Organic Farmer weekly radio program which airs on the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation. But he says the key to his work is still listening.

John began his radio career by volunteering for Radio Waumini, a Catholic radio station in Nairobi, shortly after graduating from college. When he joined The Organic Farmer, it was with a passion for media for development, especially for using community media to provide appropriate information to rural communities.

John says the best information often comes from people within these rural communities. When asked what advice he has for other journalists reporting agricultural news, he replies:  “The shoe wearer knows where it pinches the most!”

John notes that broadcasters can sometimes make the mistake of thinking farmers need to be given information, while forgetting that farmers have information to share. Farm Radio International’s scriptwriting competition on smallholder farmer innovation proved the importance of listening to farmers.

Farmers are doing good things to address problems, but we don’t get to hear their stories.  So if we go out to the field and capture one story, then it is worth it, says John Cheburet

By listening and partnering with farmers, John has created many meaningful radio pieces. He believes that good programs provide “learning moments.” His award-winning script about a potato farmer who discovered an innovative way to extend the storage life of his crop is just one.

Listening and learning were also keys to John’s success in the scriptwriting competition. In this case, his partners were fellow participants and facilitators in an online scriptwriting course offered to broadcasters who intended to enter the competition. The participants communicated with facilitators and each other, through the competition website. John says that the support he received was invaluable. “Sometimes I would be lagging behind in an assignment and without the encouragement from my fellow trainees and facilitators I wouldn’t have been able to submit my entry,” John says.

Click here to read John’s award-winning script.

John Cheburet (à gauche) avec Githenya Kariuki et les pommes de terre qu’il conserve avec la sciure de bois

Le « fantasme des médias » a germé à un jeune âge chez John Cheburet. Quand il était gamin, avec son frère il utilisait la radio de leur père. Ils écoutaient de nombreuses émissions, depuis les commentaires sportifs jusqu’aux nouvelles sur Deutsche Welle Swahili. À l’école, il se rendit compte que son éveil et son savoir général étaient supérieurs à ceux de ses pairs qui n’écoutaient pas la radio. Il fut donc frappé dès son jeune âge par le pouvoir « instructif » des médias.

Jeune homme de 30 ans, John se retrouve de l’autre côté de la radio. Il interviewe les agriculteurs et réalise des émissions pour le programme radiophonique The Organic Farmer, qui prend l’antenne toutes les semaines à la Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Mais il précise que la clé de son travail demeure encore l’écoute.

John a débuté sa carrière radiophonique comme bénévole pour Radio Waumini, station radiophonique catholique à Nairobi, peu après l’obtention de son diplôme collégial. Lorsqu’il s’est joint à The Organic Farmer, c’était avec une passion à l’égard des médias pour le développement, surtout pour utiliser les médias communautaires en vue de fournir des informations appropriées aux collectivités rurales.

Et John dit que la meilleure information vient souvent des gens de ces collectivités rurales. Interrogé sur le conseil qu’il donnerait à d’autres journalistes rapportant des nouvelles agricoles, il répond : « C’est l’homme qui porte les chaussures qui sait où ça lui fait mal! »

John fait remarquer que les radiodiffuseurs peuvent parfois commettre l’erreur de penser que les agriculteurs ont besoin de recevoir de l’information, tout en oubliant qu’ils ont de l’information à partager. Le concours de rédaction de textes radiophoniques de Radios Rurales Internationales sur les innovations des petits exploitants agricoles a prouvé l’importance d’écouter les agriculteurs. Il poursuit:

« Les agriculteurs font de bonnes choses pour s’attaquer aux problèmes, mais nous n’avons pas la chance d’entendre leurs histoires. Par conséquent, si nous nous rendons sur le terrain et ramenons une anecdote, alors le jeu en vaut la chandelle »

John a aussi partagé un truc pour préparer une bonne entrevue sur le terrain. Il suggère d’utiliser les transports en commun pour s’y rendre. Loin d’être un désagrément, John estime que cela offre une toile de fond cruciale sur un lieu et ses habitants. Cela veut aussi dire aux agriculteurs « vous êtes sur un pied d’égalité » et « nous sommes des partenaires dans ce projet ».

En écoutant les agriculteurs et en étant partenaires avec eux, John a créé de nombreuses émissions radiophoniques valables. Il croit que de bonnes émissions offrent des « moments d’apprentissage ». Son texte primé portant sur un producteur de pommes de terre qui a découvert une façon novatrice de prolonger la durée d’entreposage de sa récolte en est la preuve.

L’écoute et l’apprentissage ont également été les clés du succès de John lors du concours de rédaction de textes radiophoniques. Dans ce cas, la seule chose c’est que ses partenaires étaient des collègues participants et animateurs lors d’un cours de rédaction de textes radiophoniques en ligne offert aux radiodiffuseurs qui avaient l’intention de s’inscrire au concours. Les participants communiquaient avec les animateurs, et entre eux, par le biais du site Web du concours. John mentionne que l’appui qu’il a reçu fut inestimable. « Parfois, j’accuse du retard dans mes tâches et je n’aurais jamais été capable de soumettre mon texte à temps sans l’encouragement de mes collègues stagiaires et animateurs » conclut John.

Cliquez ici pour lire le texte radiophonique de John, gagnant du concours