Why community listening groups come together

Why community listening groups come together

Community listening groups are popular in Uganda, and contribute greatly to radio programming.
 
In the Kiboga district of Uganda’s Central Region, 25 farmers meet once a week. They all grow beans, support each other through a village savings and loans association, and listen to Akaboozi Radio Station. This is the Kirangira Farmers’ Association community listening group.
 
The group loves Akaboozi Radio Station, and listens to programs which are vital to their farm work. One such program, Kalasamayanzi (Farmers’ program), recently discussed growing beans as part of the International Development Research Centre’s Cultivate Africa’s Future initiative.
 
These farmers are growing beans and selling them to Community Enterprise Development Organization, or CEDO, where they will be processed and sold as pre-cooked beans. The beans are rich in protein and iron.
 
They value the radio for the information it provides, but they also know that they are useful to the radio station as listeners. They tune in each week and they also contribute to the program.
 
Jenifer Nakaye is a 55-year-old farmer who recently started growing beans. She had an opportunity to contribute her voice to a discussion in week 11 of the radio program, which focused on post-harvest practices such as transportation and storage.
 
Mrs. Nakaye proudly says, “It was the first time in my whole life to be in the studio in Akaboozi Radio Station in Kampala.”
 
But these farmers don’t come together just to benefit from the radio program. Mary Naluwaga is a member of the Kirangira Farmers’ Association. She says that there are more opportunities in a group—for example, training opportunities. Another group member, Jennifer Kabasomi, agreed. She says that she is exposed to more knowledge in a group than when working as an individual.
 
The members of the Kirangira Farmers’ Association are also benefiting from a village savings and loans association, which gives them access to money by taking loans from other group members.
 
As a group, they have discussed and adopted many new practices. These include okukabala, or clearing their gardens well, improved post-harvest handling, and improved quality control of their beans. They also discuss different pesticides for managing pests.
 
David Sebina adds, “In a group, you become stronger than as individuals.”
 
Community listening groups are a feature of Farm Radio International’s projects, as they provide eager participants for the radio program and are a great source of feedback. The “Radio for reaching farmers with results” project involved 30 listening groups in Uganda and 10 listening groups in Kenya, each of which was provided with a radio so they could tune in. These listening groups had more than 460 members, 50% of whom are women.
 
The “Radio for reaching farmers with results” project was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, www.idrc.ca, as part of the Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) initiative.

 

About the author  
Tracy Akwii is a volunteer at Farm Radio International’s Uganda office.

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