“Serving agriculture, the basic industry. This is George Atkins.”

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of founder George Atkins, in his 93rd year, on November 30, 2009.

George Atkins listened to farmers. And his best advice to broadcasters was just that: listen to the farmers. George learned from farmers. In fact, we don’t think George ever met a farmer from whom he didn’t learn something.

George was a well known CBC farm broadcaster in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Always an advocate for farming and the family farmer, he signed off his radio reports with “Serving agriculture, the basic industry, this is George Atkins.”

In 1979, following retirement from the CBC, George created Developing Countries Farm Radio Network (since renamed Farm Radio International), the world’s only organization dedicated to supporting small farmers and their families through the use of radio – the one medium they all use. Since then he has sustained that organization with his leadership, vision and boundless energy.

Our thoughts are with his wife Janet, their four daughters and their families, as they come to terms with the loss of a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

At Farm Radio International, we will miss his regular encouragement, good humour and sense of celebration. We are strengthened by the example of his persistence, and we will honour that memory in our work every day.

In the video posted below,  Atkins tells us the story of how he founded Farm Radio International following a bus trip in Zambia in 1975. Hundreds of millions of people around the world now receive appropriate, timely and relevant information through Farm Radio International’s network, all because of a little idea that came from George.

If you have a memory or reflection to share, please post a comment by clicking the “Comment” button below and leave a reply.  We will be sure the family receives all or your messages.

If you are interested in supporting the work that George started you can click here.


C’est avec une profonde tristesse que nous annonçons que George Atkins, fondateur deRadios Rurales Internationales, est décédé le 30 novembre 2009.—–

George Atkins était toujours à l’écoute des agriculteurs. Il n’y a pas un seul agriculteur duquel George ne pouvait pas apprendre quelque chose. Et un de ses meilleurs conseils aux organismes de radiodiffusion était justement cela: être à l’écoute des agriculteurs.

George Atkins était bien connu comme chroniqueur agricole de la CBC dans les années cinquante, soixante et soixante-dix. Toujours un défenseur du petit agriculteur et de l’agriculture familiale, il terminait toujours ses topos à la radio avec la phrase suivante : ” Au service de l’agriculture, l’industrie de base. C’était George Atkins. ”

À la retraite, George a créé le Réseau de radios rurales des pays en développement en 1979, le seul organisme au monde avec la mission de soutenir les petits agriculteurs et leurs familles à travers l’utilisation de la radio – un moyen de communication qu’ils utilisent tous. C’est grâce à son leadership, sa vision et son énergie sans pareil que l’organisation a grandi.

Nos pensées sont aujourd’hui avec son épouse, Janet, leurs quatre filles et leurs familles, alors qu’elles composent avec la perte d’un époux aimant, un père, un grand-père et un arrière grand-père.

À Radios Rurales Internationales, nous nous souviendrons toujours de ses encouragements réguliers, de sa bonne humeur et de sa joie de vivre. Nous sommes encouragés par l’exemple de sa persistance et nous honorerons la mémoire de son travail acharné dans notre travail quotidien.

Si vous avez des histoires ou des réflexions à partager, veuillez laisser un commentaire en cliquant sur «  comment » et soumettez vos commentaires dans la section « Leave a Reply ». Nous nous assurerons de transmettre vos messages à la famille de George Atkins.

Si vous êtes intéressés à supporter le travail que George a commencé il y a de cela 30 ans, cliquez ici!

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  1. Mark Leclair on December 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I left this message as a comment on the CBC news piece but thought I’d post it again here:

    When I joined Farm Radio International two years ago I don’t think I truly grasped the uniqueness of this Canadian organization. As the months passed I felt like I started to get to know the man behind the then Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. I learned of an adventurous broadcaster that took a trip to Zambia in 1979. I learned of someone who always thought of the people he was serving, whether a rural farmer in Canada or a smallholder thousands of miles across the world. I learned of a man that was decades ahead of his time in the international development world. But most of all I think what I learned from George Atkins is the change that one person can make in the world given their dedication to the cause. And this is what George did. He has literally changed the lives of millions of people around the world thanks to his “little idea” conceived on a bus traveling through Zambia in 1979.

    We have truly lost great man and someone who stands as an example of the best this world has to offer.

    Rest in Peace George.

    Mark Leclair
    staff at Farm Radio International in Ottawa, Canada

  2. Adeola Soetan, Lagos, Nigeria on December 4, 2009 at 2:58 am

    What a big loss! So,by the time i was writing a tribute in my regular column ‘Food Security and You’ in the Nigerian Compass Newspaper on the night of November 30, Geoge Atkins had passed away. The tribute titled ‘Farm Radio at 30? was written to celebrate Atkins’ invaluable contributions to agriculture and food security using the radio as a powerful medium to enhancing farmers skill, knowledge, and attitude in Africa and globally. (See Nigerian Compass Newspaper of Friday, December 4,2009).
    As a broadcaster, an agric.extension and rural sociologist and also a producer of Farmers Radio programme which was broadcast on two national radio stations in Nigeria (Raypower Lagos & Radio Nigeria, Ibadan), i bear eloquent testimony to the farmers education and enlightenment values of those agric. information tapes produced by Atkins which we used extensively free of charge as part of our programme content.
    We join farmers worldwide to mourn the passing away of a priceless friend and benefactor. We sincerely commiserate with his family and the Farm Radio International global family. The best way to keep George Atkins memory alive is to improve further on his vision and mission of food security for all.

    Adeola Soetan
    Feed Nigeria Initiative (FENI)
    Lagos, Nigeria

  3. Olatoye Adebayo Victor on August 10, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Rest in peace George Atkins,and your good work is still fresh and i hope the family will continue the good work you left.


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