Voices from the field: Mary Mashka
Walking through a vegetable field, Mary Mashka, 27, stops to uproot some green, leafy lettuce, adding it to the bundle in her arms. The vegetables will add to a nutritious meal for her two young children, both under the age of ten.
Mary is a small-scale farmer in Makiba, a village in the Meru District of northern Tanzania. She is also an avid listener of Fahari Yangu on Radio Five. The weekly half-hour program, supported by Farm Radio International in cooperation with Irish Aid, provides the latest agricultural information for small-scale farmers like Mary.
It focuses mainly on topics related to growing vegetables, including everything from the nutritional benefits of certain crops, to storage methods and market information.
Sitting outside the village office, Mary explains that the techniques she learned from the show, such as when to use fertilizer and pesticide, as well as how to store different vegetables, has helped her make the most of her harvest.
“I like [the program] because it has helped me improve my farming, and we depend on farming here,” she says. “The crops are now good, because we listen to the radio and now know how to grow it.”
One of the most valuable segments Mary hears on Fahari Yangu is market information. Before she kept up to date with market prices on the program, she had to rely on the prices middlemen told her, which tended to be far too low.
Now, she says, she’s able to bargain.
“We now know the prices, so we are confident and comfortable selling to the middleman,” she says. “I used to sell one sack of green peppers for 40,000tsh and now we sell it for 60,000tsh.”
In English, Fahari Yangu means “my pride.” Beaming, Mary describes her family’s improved quality of life due to her crop’s success.
“Life is now good,” she says. “Before we used to struggle finding food, struggle finding clothes even for the kids. But now I have food and I can buy my kids clothing. I am happy.”
Radio 5’s Fahari Yangu program is part of our “Developing demand-led interactive farm radio services” project, supported by Irish Aid.