Alex Nimwamanya started broadcasting at Voice of Kamwenge just six months ago, but has already seen the impact of his radio programs. Alex is a 30-year-old Ugandan radio journalist presenting a program called Eiraka ryomuhingi no murisa, or “The farmer’s voice.”
For 10 weeks, Alex settled in at the microphone every Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. to present the program live in two languages, Rukiga and Runyankore. The program touched on many subjects, including tips for sorting potatoes, drying them, and keeping pests away from the stored harvest.
Speaking with farmers was an important part of Alex’s work, whether they called in to the program or he visited them in their fields. He often heard how much they love the program. Alex said,
“They have even formed groups to train others on their achievements after they have harvested. So from there, I know that there is an impact.”
Voice of Kamwenge broadasts to about 2.4 million people, reaching western Uganda, northern Rwanda, and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is one of three radio stations working with Farm Radio International and HarvestPlus on this project. In total, the three radio programs reach 10 million listeners across western, northern, and central Uganda.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato is rich in vitamin A, and so it is a nutritious crop for farmers to eat. But it can also fetch them a good price in the market, and it can be turned into a variety of different foods, from chips to cookies. However, good harvesting and storage practices are important, both for farmers saving their potatoes for to eat in the months after harvest and farmers who want to sell when prices rise later in the year.
Marketplace information was an important feature of the radio program. Alex says this information helps small-scale farmers grow their business. He explains, “The radio program has created an impact since [farmers] have now been given strategies on how to market [their produce]. … If the strategies were not given, farmers would be working subsistence farming only, but now [many] farmers focus on commercial projects.”
His experience presenting the program has convinced Alex that radio is a fast and effective way for farmers to get the information they need, when they need it. He says,
“I have learned that people love to hear news concerning their business, like farming. Farmers are so appreciative of the news and information given to them.”
The program on Voice of Kamwenge — as well as those airing on Mega FM and Simba FM — have been so popular with farmers that they were extended for an extra five episodes to support farmers during the upcoming planting season as well.
We have worked with HarvestPlus in Uganda on several projects to promote the vitamin-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato, including producing the highly popular My Children radio drama. This was produced in seven languages and aired on 13 radio stations. Learn more about that work here.
This story is based on a Spotlight story that originally appeared in Barza Wire, Farm Radio International’s online agricultural news service. Barza Wire shares stories about small-scale farmers, for radio broadcasters to use in their programming.