Youth unemployment in Mali is high. The vast majority of the labour force in Mali is engaged in subsistence farming, but many young people do not see agriculture as a “career choice” that can lead them out of poverty. In fact, many see farming itself as a symbol of poverty and they wish to distance themselves from it. Too often, they remain unemployed when the best opportunity to earn a decent living lies right in front of them: farming as a business.
Farm Radio International believes farming can provide a good livelihood for young farmers. We came up with the concept of FarmQuest, a reality radio series that followed six young farmers as they competed for the prize of becoming Mali’s “Best New Farmer.” Each participant took up the challenge of creating a vibrant farming business with support from advisors and experienced elders. Over six episodes, they faced tough decisions, weighed options, watched the skies, worried about their plants and animals, and negotiated with buyers. This concept was awarded the prestigious 2012 Innovation Challenge Award by the Rockefeller Foundation. Subsequently, the Foundation provided Farm Radio International with a $100,000 grant to bring the concept to reality.
We worked with a partner radio station to produce bi-weekly radio episodes over twelve weeks. In these six episodes, the station’s large audience of young people were entertained, informed and inspired by the trials and tribulations of six carefully selected young people as they created, developed and managed a farming business.
The project aimed to create more positive (though realistic) attitudes toward farming among young people, and to encourage them to consider farming as a pathway to greater prosperity.
Learn more about FarmQuest by watching a series of videos about the project produced by documentary filmmaker Erica Pomerance (the introduction to the video series is below) and listening to audio clips of the program (in Bambara with English transcripts).