Serian FM is a local radio station in Samburu County, specifically located in Maralal town. The station broadcasts in the Samburu language, widely spoken in the county. Serian FM is in partnership with KiMI and SFSA for the production of an agricultural programme targeting smallholder farmers.
The programme is already popular with very high call and SMS text traffic from between the farmers and the station. Nick Lenyakopiro who doubles up as the station manager and the agricultural programmes producer explains that the partnership has made agriculture over-arch other programmes such that even during the morning breakfast shows that he produces, farmers interrupt to ask agriculture-related questions. Nick was trained on how to package agricultural programmes by KiMI and he is struck by the impact and transformation of farmers’ livelihoods in the areas reached by the broadcasts.
“A big portion of the arable land in Samburu County was largely unfarmed because our people are traditionally pastoralists,” he explains. “But after the programmes commenced, we are seeing more farms coming up which is a great improvement as we are now moving towards attaining food security and sustainable livelihoods for the rural poor.” Historically, the inter-community conflicts brought about by cattle theft has left many communities impoverished and insecure. However, as more Samburu embrace agriculture, there is a positive shift away from the old conflict zones.
In addition to the regular agricultural programmes, the station also runs short agriculture tips every day. Farmer success stories on the farms are also recorded regularly with the assistance of the County agriculture extension officers and these are played daily on the station – greatly popularizing the programmes and bringing visibility to issues as they affect farmers. Every last Saturday of the month is dedicated to receiving feedback from the farmers and discussing their issues. They also receive quarterly updates on weather information from the local metrological department. However ,they still rely on the predictions of traditional rain-makers, who Nick admits, are quite accurate in their predictions.
The station also has a good partnership with the Samburu County Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. The County Agricultural Minister, is a keen listener and has stated publicly that he likes the programmes. He has also promised support to facilitate the agricultural extension officers to keep working with the station to disseminate agricultural information within Samburu County.