Why do farmers love radio? It speaks to them about the important issues

Zena Gedebo is an enset farmer in Kembata, in the SNNPR region of Ethiopia. She is also an avid listener of Kembata FM, so when she heard about a new program on enset, she was hooked.

“In the evening, we always listen to Kembata FM. We like it because it uses our language and focuses on issues of Kembata. When I heard about the enset program, I thought I can benefit out of it. And I started following attentively,” Zena said.

Enset, also known as the false banana, is a staple crop in Ethiopia, particularly in the south and southwest parts of the country.Farm Radio International is working with Kembata Community Radio to develop and broadcast a participatory radio campaign to discuss enset. As with all FRI projects, the local radio station was engaged because of its knowledge of the local language, local issues and the trust it has already earned with listeners.

Drought, climate change, poor crop management and diseases are severely affecting enset production in the area, but Zena is gaining important information from the radio which have convinced her to change some of her farming practices.

“We used to apply ash to cure the infected enset trees. From the radio program, we have learned that this may worsen the situation,” she said. “In order to prevent enset diseases, we are planning to plant enset seedlings while maintaining the proper distance. From now on, we have already stopped spilling ash over our enset trees.”

Degefu Kebede has also learned how to prevent diseases in his crop. The 29-year-old farmer has grown enset for the past three years.

“I have stopped feeding the leaves and stems of infected enset trees to cattle. I, rather, started to cut off, hammer, burn and bury it. Doing so I am getting encouraging results. Now I am able to better prevent enset diseases.”

Degefu is a loyal listener of Kembata Community Radio, and said he appreciates the show because it addresses an important issue.

“In our village, the prime assets we call to have is enset. It is good to listen to a program which focuses on enset. It is very important for us to listen about disease prevention mechanisms.”

Kembata Community Radio is a broadcasting partner in the developing ongoing demand-led interactive farm radio services project, generously funded by Irish Aid. This project will see the development of eight radio campaigns across four countries — Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi. This is a continuation of a two-year project that saw 426,000 farmers try an improved agricultural practice because they listened to a participatory radio campaign.

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