A microphone and a guinea fowl: a young Canadian shares voices of Ghanaian farmers
In a community in rural Ghana, Maxine Betteridge-Moes sits down with several farmers. Through a translator, she asks questions about the impact of a local radio program about guinea fowl, run on Radio Savannah.
Their answers vary; some farmers explain how they learned to keep their keets (young guinea fowl) warm during power outages, others how they started using the proper medicines for their animals and still others how market information broadcast on the radio helped them sell the birds for a profit.
Maxine carefully records their answers, both in audio format for a radio documentary she’ll later produce and on paper for an evaluation report.
Maxine is a recent graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, volunteering with Farm Radio International through the Uniterra program, a WUSC and CECI initiative.
Interested in the intersection of development and media, she says she was “keen” to test her skills as a young journalist.
Adjusting to the role
Based in Tamale, a small city in the Northern Region of Ghana, Maxine’s official title is an Agricultural Knowledge Management Advisor. She supports Farm Radio International’s partner stations in their development of agricultural radio programs, as well as points broadcasters towards our collection of informative radio resources.
Tamale, with a population of approximately 350,000, is busy, but it’s smaller and less developed than Ghana’s capital, Accra. Maxine says it took some time to adjust to the pace and work culture in Ghana.
“At first, I was overwhelmed by the number of partner stations in Tamale alone,” says Maxine. Tamale plays host to 13 of Farm Radio’s partner stations.
“But once I had my introductory meetings with broadcasters at each station, I began to better understand the needs of our partners and how our resources can play a role in improving the content and quality of farmer programs across the country.”
Now, having been in Tamale for the past nine months, Maxine says she’s fully adjusted to life in Tamale, though it hasn’t always been easy.
She says she learned the importance and value of effective communication — especially being in touch with many broadcasters through a variety of mediums in different regions in the country.
“I’ve found that in-person meetings are often best and are worth the extra effort,” she says, adding she’s also learned how to overcome differences in communication styles.
“Being misunderstood can be incredibly frustrating, but it is rewarding to reach people in their language — both literally and figuratively.”
Learning a few words in Dagbanli, a local language spoken in Tamale, has also been helpful, she says.
Seeing the impact
Maxine has now fully immersed herself in Farm Radio’s work. A valuable member of our team in Ghana, in October she spent time in local communities gathering success stories and photos from farmers who had listened to radio program about guinea fowl rearing and creating economic opportunities for women and youth.
“It’s a great feeling to witness firsthand how Farm Radio is having a direct impact on improving the livelihoods of small-scale women and men farmers,” she says, adding that it is also rewarding to see how the resources provided to broadcasters are used, especially when many find it difficult to access reliable and relevant information about farming and radio broadcasting elsewhere.
Several stories particularly struck Maxine.
“One woman told me how the radio program united the women and men farmers in her community. She told me that with their improved income, they were able to pay their children’s school fees.
“It may seem like a small thing, but for me it really drove home the critical role that radio plays in knowledge-sharing in this part of the world,” she says.
“It made me so happy to be part of an organization that is committed to such important work.”
Listen to her radio documentary here:
Read more stories about broadcasters and farmers written by Maxine:
In Ghana, the farmer’s friend is always on call
Achieving zero hunger through radio programs on guinea fowl
The Mother of North Star FM uses unique drama format to address sensitive issues