Audio postcard: Helping farmers improve their sorghum harvest with radio

In the hot, dry villages in the Shinyanga District of northern Tanzania, growing certain crops can be difficult. From concerns about drought, to birds and other pests, farmers in the area face many challenges.

Last year, Farm Radio International launched a participatory radio campaign (PRC) airing on Faraja FM to discuss sorghum — a popular crop grown in the region. The program, called Kilimo Na Mazingira (Agriculture and Environment) helped share best practices for cultivating the grain with farmers, while giving them a voice on the air.

The PRC aired for 16 weeks and reached villages throughout the Kishapu and Shinyanga Rural districts.

In Mwajiginya village, Doto Mlega, 53, discusses the success of his sorghum crop.

After finding some relief from the scorching sun under a tree, Doto explains that he tried to grow sorghum in the past, but it was unsuccessful due to poor planning. Now he says he’s able able to produce a good harvest because of what he learned from the program.

“During the last year it helped me because we [learned to] plant with a line and use a lot of manure. So we harvested a lot . . . I learned a lot about the development of how to plant and to get a lot of harvest.”

The nutritional benefits of foods made from sorghum are known to help lower the risk of diabetes, a disease on the rise in Tanzania. Because of this, market demand for sorghum is increasing. Certain varieties of the grain also tend to be more resistant to drought and pests, the main challenges of farmers in the area.

Doto says the extra income has helped improve the quality of life for his wife and six children. “It helped my family, the extra income. [It helped] pay the school fees for kids, and clothes.”

Through Farm Radio International’s innovative ICT services such as beep4tips and phone interviews, broadcasters were able to address specific challenges facing farmers and allow their voices be heard by others.

Doto and other farmers agree that being able to connect with broadcasters and experts in the studio is invaluable.

They say it is beneficial for them because they can get information from experts. When they call into the studio, they explain their questions for the expert to analyze.

Based on the success of last year’s show, Doto looks forward to Farm Radio International and Faraja FM’s new programming that will address other agricultural concerns of farmers in the area.

“I expect a lot of things, good things. . . . When the program is on the air it will help me harvest good food and pay school fees for my kids. And it will also help me to build a nice house,” said Doto.

Kayla Wemp
About the author  
Kayla Wemp is is a recent graduate of Carleton University’s Bachelor of Journalism program. She is spending her summer interning with Farm Radio International in Tanzania, working on telling stories from their mental health program and various agricultural projects.

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