In 2011, James Achanyi Fontem, a broadcasting partner of Farm Radio International and winner of the 1996 George Atkins Communication Award, conducted a small training for broadcasters in Douala, Cameroon, about using Farm Radio International resources to produce rural radio programs. Among the broadcasters present was Ide Carine Tchounga.
In 2019, in the conference room of Radio Medumba, in Bangante, James and Ide found themselves at the same place once more — though this time James was presenting the 2019 George Atkins Award to Ide herself, honouring her dedication to reaching small-scale farmers over the airwaves.
Ide Carine Tchounga graduated from the School of Science, Information Technology, and Communication in 2000, after which she chose to work at a radio station in her village: Radio Medumba. Now, nearly 20 years later, Mrs Tchounga is the head of the station and a presenter of the program called “Actualités agropastorale” (Agri-pastoral news).
The idea to start this program came to her after she read several of Farm Radio’s Resource Packs.
“I decided to take advantage of these packs to create a program for farmers, which was appreciated by the management committee at the station who saw this as an occasion to be closer to the population,” she says.
At the beginning, the program was called “Monde Rural” (Rural World) and was broadcast twice a week.
During the production of the programs, Ide’s team brings together farmers and experts who “illuminate them” on areas of concern.
“This promotes contact [between farmers and experts] and in most cases the farmer’s technicians assist farmers in the field after the show,” Ide says.
They tackle topics like pest management, growing maize in the off-season, market gardening, how to make compost, eating organic, and more.
Her passion and strengths are linked to rural populations: going to the fields and farmers, being close to farmers, and being solicited by farmers to share the experiences of other farmers.
Ide says that a major problem for farmers in her region is the lack of training and finance available: many people turn to farming because they believe they have failed in life. The broadcasters uncovered this sentiment during an investigation and they took the problem to a representative from the Department of Agriculture. He helped them by intervening in several episodes to educate farmers and show them different opportunities offered by the government for obtaining finance and training.
One source of finance is micro-projects that parliamentarians can sponsor. Thanks to Radio Medumba, a group of youth has been supported by these funds. Mrs. Tchounga explains that a parliamentarian – who is a loyal listener – decided to support the youth after hearing their story on the radio. She called the station to advise the group to form a formal association and then she provided them with funding. Mrs. Tchounga has shared this experience in a Barza Wire Spotlight story and on YenKasa Africa.
The voices of farmers are included in the episodes of “Actualités agropastorales” in several ways, including studio and field interviews. And the last episode of each month is dedicated to reading the comments of listeners.
To make their programs interesting, Ide uses wild sounds, like birds and the noises of hoes and machetes.
Radio Medumba has a long history of partnership with Farm Radio. Two journalists have benefited from a training in 2011 in Douala where they learned about producing rural radio programs. And Ide says she uses our resources “non-stop” to improve the content of her radio programs. They have also spread the word to other stations in her area.
Farm Radio International presents the annual George Atkins Communications Awards to radio broadcasters who excel in providing programs to help small-scale farmers feed their families and increase their incomes. The award is named after the late Dr. George Atkins, the founder of Farm Radio International.