Lilian Madelemo has been a radio broadcaster since 2011, presenting news and entertainment programming at Uhuru FM in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Last year, she developed a farm program in collaboration with Farm Radio International to add to her growing repertoire.
The Swahili program called Kilimo Yakinifu (Efficient Farming) focused on new varieties of cassava and provided information to farmers about planting and harvesting techniques. She says the program even inspired her to start farming herself.
“I get more experience meeting with so many people and [there are] so many advantages learning from others,” she says.
The farmer program has also helped build her confidence. The training she received from Farm Radio and the interviews she’s done with farmers and extension officers has helped her learn many things about an industry that was new to her. During the program, Lilian visited farmers in their fields to learn how they have benefited from new varieties and planting methods. She made a special effort to speak to women farmers and and she used these interviews for vox pops in the program. She also wrote a Farmer Story that was published on Barza Wire, Farm Radio’s online agricultural news service. This interaction with farmers in their fields is important for building trust and improving the program to meet farmers’ needs.
“The first time, people were not ready to give information because they don’t know me,” she says. “After talking to them and explaining what I’m doing, they understand me and they give me their time and they appreciate doing something with me.”
But it hasn’t been easy as a female journalist in Tanzania, says Lilian. Before finding her current job at Uhuru FM, she faced sexual harassment after applying at a number of stations.
“After finishing college, it is hard for girls because when you go to the company to apply. [The men] like to approach you for sex and offer you a job,” she says.
But Liliano’s strength and resilience ultimately landed her the job at Uhuru FM where she works with a supportive team she admires. Her dedication and enthusiasm shine, and she has become a role model for young female journalists.
“I wish for them to join this career because it’s so good. Some girls and women fear the many challenges, but through my programs, I try to get girls to talk and take action to do the job like me.”
For Lilian, the George Atkins Communications Award is an opportunity to improve her skills as a broadcaster and further develop her programming to serve the needs of farming communities.
“I’m happy to know people understand me and what I’m doing through my job,” she says. “It encourages me and makes me have more confidence. Through this award, I know that people see what I’m doing and it makes me want to continue to do things better.”
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, founder of Farm Radio International.
About the author
Maxine Betteridge-Moes is volunteering with Farm Radio International in Tamale, Ghana through the Uniterra program. She has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Carleton University. In addition to her work with Farm Radio, Maxine is a freelance writer and podcast producer. She has experience living, working and studying in Europe, Asia and Africa.