New Radio Programme takes Agriculture Extension to new levels in Marsabit County
R“Radio Programming has never been so interesting for Abdikadir Chari Guyo. Every Saturday evening for an hour between 8.15 pm and 9.30 pm the airwaves over Marsabit County take on a life of their own as soon as he opens up the microphone at Radio Star FM.
The menu of agricultural issues is inexhaustible as listeners across the county of Marsabit engage with the studio guests and Abdikadir in the Borana language. “People are hungry for information,” says Abdikadir, “they ask numerous questions and they are keen to share their varied experiences as farmers.”
Abdikadir Chari Guyo, Radio producer/presenter;
Koopi Qaabare (The Farmers’ Programme) Star FM, Marsabit
Koopi Qaabare, Borana for Farmers’ Programme, is a live radio programme that debuted in October 2015. According to Mr. Duba Nura, an agriculture extension officer with the Marsabit County Department of Agriculture, and a regular studio guest on the programme, the response is phenomenal: “The feedback we receive from farmers is overwhelming,” he adds, “but the most gratifying thing about Koopi Qaabareis that farmers listen to the programmes then go back to practice on their farms what they learned.”
This is the true meaning of e-extension, when farmers combine the two versatile technologies, mobile phone and radio and put to action the information acquired. It is keeping extension officers busy. Says Duba, “Our phones don’t stop ringing, and it is not just farmers calling but also stakeholders within the agriculture sector seeking ways to better reach farmers with products and markets.”
This has raised the profile of the agriculture extension department, which was rated at the top, taking the number 1 slot in early December 2015 among the County Departments.
There is a huge demand for agriculture extension services among farmers, and where previously officers were limited by resources and distances, extension via radio has greatly eased access to farmers on the one hand, created a diversity of choices and provided a timely and efficient way to exchange information between the Department of Agriculture and their clients.
A farmer called Charaka from Saku near Marsabit town is an avid listener and regular contributor to the radio programme. He was keen to know whether he should invest in acquiring a dairy cow or concentrate on dairy goats. During one of the live call-in sessions, he wanted advice to enable him make an informed decision before committing his investment. No detail was too small for him: “Please break down for me the cost of feeding and managing either a dairy cow or a dairy goat,” he said.
In the October to December 2015 season, farmers reported an improvement in their farm yields from listening to the programme and applying what they learned onto their farms.
Abdikadir is equally amazed at the enthusiasm and interest generated by the new agriculture programming at the station in the last quarter. He recalls the day the station suffered a power outage and the programme failed to go on air. “When we came back on air the following day farmers were calling to ask what happened and to demand there and then that we air the programme they missed,” he laughs, “Now they are demanding that we schedule two weekly programmes because, according to them, the current programme is too short in duration!”
He and his colleagues at Star FM know better than to skip a programme. “The lesson we have learned is that farmers are serious people and they follow our programmes keenly and keep our studio guests engaged long after the show has ended,” he adds, “We are indebted to them for their support.”