Mariam Amiri’s field is her family’s source of food and income. She grows beans as a staple crop on her plot of land in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. She also cultivates a variety of vegetables, such as spinach, kale, pumpkin, onion, and a local plant known as mnavu.
Mariam, 32, knew that she was not getting the most out of her field and farming efforts. With four children to feed and send to school, she was determined to boost her yields. But, like most small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, she had limited access to information on improved farming practices. Agricultural extension officers were not available in her community.
She was delighted when she discovered a regular source of practical farming advice on Sauti ya Injili, a radio station airing a farm radio program tailored for small-scale farmers like herself.
Sauti ya Injili’s agricultural program offered very practical tips. Mariam learned to prepare her own organic fertilizer to add to her soil. This practice improves soil fertility, as well as improving water management. It meant that crops are more likely to thrive, even when weather conditions are less than ideal.
She also learned that simple changes such as planting crops in rows (instead of in random order) can improve her harvest and her efficiency.
Mariam tried many of the techniques she heard described on the radio. And her efforts paid off. In the years before she listened to the program, her typical yield was eight bags of beans. After introducing new practices she learned about on the radio, she harvested 12 bags. A 50 per cent increase, thanks to the advice she heard through farm radio!
The increase in production means Mariam knows where the meals for her children will come from in the months ahead. It also gives her some beans to sell, providing money to cover their school fees and other household expenses. She has found the program so helpful that she shares it with her local farming group. All of this thanks to a wide-reaching, low-cost, highly-effective radio program!
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