“Since the programmes on agriculture started on Kalya Radio, we farmers have benefitted greatly. This is a big region and the agriculture teachers (extension officers) are few. Radio is reaching every farmer.”
This is Samuel Kariwo’s testimony. The farmer from Kapchila in West Pokot, says that the information aired on the radio programmes has helped him improve his crop of potatoes, cabbage, carrots and tissue culture banana.
“Ask anybody in West Pokot; they will tell you they have moved from other radio stations,” he enthuses, “People are talking about the new agriculture programmes on Kalya Radio that are aired in our language. They are easy to follow and we are able to apply the information as it is given.”
An enduring lesson for him is knowledge about the availability of various seed varieties for vegetables. “Before we heard it on radio, we used to grow our vegetables ovyo ovyo (in a haphazard manner), but now we know from the radio that spacing for cabbage is 45cm x 45cm, he says, “We have also learned that the correct measurement for spacing of tissue culture bananas is 3 metres x 3 metres. The information is given step by step and is easy to put to use.”
Farmers also appreciate the linkage and access to the advice of agriculture officers facilitated by the radio station. “I contacted them about a problem I had with pests and they visited my farm,” adds Samuel, “That visit helped me solve my problem and I am thankful, but the officers went a step further and addressed the same issue via radio which means even more farmers benefited from their advice.”
Although the programmes are stimulating and highly informative, Samuel’s only complaint is that the one hour duration is too short for the numerous issues that farmers want articulated. In response, however, the County Department of Agriculture in West Pokot has instituted customer care desks at the ward level on designated days. The radio station adds value with strategic announcements to mobilize farmers to attend.
“The programmes are changing farmers’ attitudes,” says Samuel, “We are busy on our farms and not loitering in the towns because radio has taught us there is money in farming.”
More importantly for Samuel, is the visual testimony that farmers’ livelihoods are being transformed for the better in West Pokot County, the farmers also testify to the value of teaching and learning from one another the things they have heard over the radio.