Executive Director Kevin Perkins addresses a group of international digital journalists visiting Radio 5 in Arusha, Tanzania.
I’m Kevin Perkins and, in this photograph, I am welcoming a group of international digital journalists who are visiting Radio 5 on the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania. The journalists came to Tanzania to learn more about how we work with African radio stations to produce interactive radio programs for farmers.
That explains why the journalists were outside Radio 5. What about me? Why am I in this picture?
Let me begin by going back to the roots of Farm Radio International, when we did all of our work from Canada. We served hundreds of radio broadcasters across the global south with radio scripts and other services — but we did so from an office in Ontario.
Things have changed, as you will know if you have tracked our work over the last several years. We continue to generate and distribute scripts and other resources for broadcasters but, while in the past these were mainly written and produced in Canada, now most of them are created in Africa by African journalists. And, since 2007, we have had staff and offices in Africa, directly working with African radio stations to help them research, design, produce and broadcast interactive radio programs for and with small-scale farmers.
The last 18 months have been especially busy, with a wide variety of new projects coming on stream, from the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato project in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Burkina Faso, to the Nutritious Maize for Ethiopian Children program. With these and other new projects have come new partners, new training activities, new staff, and more work in Africa.
Given these changes, Farm Radio International asked me to spend one year doing my job as executive director from the regional office in Arusha, Tanzania. From this vantage point, I can work side by side with our teams in Africa, meet the partners, and get a better feel for the work as it is going on.
I arrived in Arusha on August 23rd, and I’ll continue to work here until the end of July. It has been a wonderful experience. The team at Farm Radio International’s office in Tanzania has been most welcoming, and has been happy to share their experiences with me as they go about their work. I have had opportunities to visit with radio stations and meet with farmers in far-flung areas of Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Through regular contact with colleagues in the Ottawa office, with members of the board of directors, and with our funding partners, I have been able to keep up with the ongoing duties of an executive director. I’ll be returning to Canada in August with a much stronger appreciation for the work in Africa, and deeper knowledge of how best to support it from our Canadian headquarters.