On Saturday afternoons, residents of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands can tune into 104.3 Kings FM and hear the lively program, Kilimosound. Kilimo means agriculture in Swahili. But the radio program encompasses much more than life on the farm. Thanks to the charisma of radio broadcaster Paul Vicent, Kilimosound provides entertainment, education, and a network of support for farmers in the area.
Paul has wanted to be a radio broadcaster his whole life. “It was my dream,” says the radio host.
As an adolescent, Paul admired Salim Kikeke of the BBC. He spent hours mimicking the intonations of the baritone’s voice.
After completing university, Paul visited a radio station in the Southern Highlands. Luckily for him, the station was hiring. He landed his dream job as presenter at Kings FM based in Njombe, Tanzania.
“Everyone likes to work with Paul Vicent,” says Caroline Kimaro, an internet technology officer for Farm Radio International in Tanzania. “He’s cooperative and loves recording live in the field.”
Kings FM is a Farm Radio International partner working on the Up-scaling of interactive information and communication technologies to increase uptake of agricultural innovations project in Tanzania. The UPTAKE project aims to support small scale farmers improve their maize, bean, cassava and potato farming farming practices
With Farm Radio trainers, Paul learned how to create a program for farmers in the Southern Highlands region.
“When I meet farmers in the field, they say Kilimosound came at the right time,” says Paul.
Last year, potato farmers in the Southern Highlands struggled to keep their crops healthy. Diseased potatoes and low yields discouraged farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the harvest.
As part of the Farm Radio project, Paul helped create a special program devoted to potato farming.
He invited experts onto the show. Extension officers and government representatives explained best practices for potato farming, including methods for testing the nutrient levels of the soil. Experts also identified where farmers can find seeds from certified manufacturers, and stressed the importance of planting crops at the beginning of the rainy season. This information helped farmers manage diseased crops and increase their yields.
“There are so many challenges in potato agriculture. I linked the farmers to experts so they can know how to overcome challenges when they listen,” says Paul.
To make sure Kilimosound includes farmers’ voices, Paul travels to farms and conducts interviews with potato farmers. He says recording his program in the field not only makes for good radio, it also captures farmers’ immediate concerns.
After developing the agricultural aspects of the show, Paul focused his attention on youth. With feedback from Farm Radio, he made Kilimosound more youth-friendly by including a comedy segment.
The program scripts are translated into Swahili, and written to sound the way people speak in the region. By ensuring that the programs reflect the way people talk, Paul says he is able to reach more listeners.
Paul is a perpetual student. Through Farm Radio International, he learned how to help experts and farmers share their knowledge.
“I learned how to talk to the farmers, and how to convince them to talk with me. Farm Radio taught me how to produce and broadcast agricultural programs.”
Paul doesn’t need to mimic the intonations of Salim Kikeke. He knows how to use his own unique voice to successfully share stories from the field.
This story originally appeared in Barza Wire. Barza Wire is our online agricultural news service that shares farmer stories and resources for use by radio broadcasters. The project is supported by USAID’s New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund, through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Tanzania. For more information about the fund, please see: https://www.ifad.org/