Fanto Samake has been around cattle since childhood and, as a candidate in the FarmQuest reality radio program, wanted to raise dairy cows.
Unfortunately for Fanto, and other farmers in his village of Tingole Banankabougou, cows are expensive. Although his mother gave him three head of cattle to get started, adding to his herd to increase milk production enough to sell to the local dairy was challenging.
The FarmQuest series did not gloss over the real challenges of starting a farming business, such as purchasing quality seed or a sufficient number of animals. Mentors and visits from agronomists provided contestants with tips on how to best succeed, and the listening audience learned alongside the young contestants.
When an agronomist visited Tingole Banankabougou as part of the show, he advised Fanto and other dairy farmers in the village to diversify by purchasing goats. Goats reproduce quickly, enabling Fanto to sell the offspring to buy more dairy cows and move closer towards his goal of producing enough milk to sell to the dairy. For his efforts, Fanto was rewarded not only with a growing herd, but also the people’s choice award, as he received the most votes in a free, phone-based poll that took place after the final episode.
We hope that you enjoyed learning about Fanto’s farming experience and will stay tuned to meet the next FarmQuest candidate. (If you just can’t wait for the next video, see below.)
Made possible with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, FarmQuest was a reality radio program broadcast in Mali to encourage youth to consider farming as a legitimate and profitable career choice, and not just a means of subsistence, by following six farmers competing to be named “best young farmer of the year.” Learn more about about the project by checking out the following links:
– FarmQuest videos
– FarmQuest audio (in Bambara with English transcripts)
– “Can a reality show really deliver aid to Africa?” (article in the Toronto Star by Marc Ellison)
– FarmQuest project page