Lessons learned on the radio are lessons learned for life
In 2008, Ugandan farmer Silkei Mike Chemusto heard a radio program about Victoria Highland Irish potato production, airing on Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.
“The message I got from that radio program helped me to expand my Victoria Highland Irish potatoes and construct that storage,” Silkei told Askebir Gebru, country director for Uganda, while showing off his granary.
“Before the radio show I did not have the skills to expand. Learning from the PRC messages helped me, and I constructed this storage. I harvested these potatoes in July 2014 and still [at the end of September] they look fresh,” Silkei said. Storing potatoes in a well-built granary means that Silkei can keep selling potatoes longer and at times when they fetch the best price. The result is more food and income throughout the year
The program Silkei described was part of a Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC) implemented by FRI in 2008 as part of the African Farm Radio Results Initiative (AFRRI). The PRC — one of 10 conducted as part of AFRRI in Uganda — focused on scaling up Victoria Highland Irish potato production, seed selection and storage. It was produced and broadcast by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.
Six years later, in September 2014, Askebir learned about Silkei’s success while he was visiting Kwoti parish, near the eastern border of Uganda. Askebir and his colleagues were in the parish making preparations for a new project called the Forest Landscape Restoration project.
Silkei’s story confirmed the remarkable long-term impact that this PRC had on the potato harvests of farmers in Kwoti.
Silkei, a father of two children, said the radio program increased his interest in planting potatoes and helped him expand his production.
Before hearing the radio program, Silkei planted eight to ten bags of potatoes. Last year, he planted 55 bags and harvested 535 bags, selling each bag for about 30,000 Ugandan shillings (about $12.50). Now his most pressing challenges are finding a reliable source of good seed and access to markets for his increased production.
Learn more about the African Farm Radio Research Initiative and its results, the first stage of this research project.