Why community listening groups come together

March 20, 2017
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Community listening groups are popular in Uganda, and contribute greatly to radio programming.

In the Kiboga district of Uganda’s Central Region, 25 farmers meet once a week. They all grow beans, support each other through a village savings and loans association, and listen to Akaboozi Radio Station. This is the Kirangira Farmers’ Association community listening group.

The group loves Akaboozi Radio Station, and listens to programs which are vital to their farm work. One such program, Kalasamayanzi (Farmers’ program), discusses growing beans.

The farmers are growing beans and selling them to Community Enterprise Development Organization, or CEDO, where they will be processed and sold as pre-cooked beans. The beans are rich in protein and iron.

The farmers know that they are useful to the radio station as listeners. David Sebina said, “We the listeners are the main customers of the radio.” They know the sponsors of the radio program are anxious that listeners tune in every week.

They also contribute to the program. Jenifer Nakaye is a 55-year-old farmer who recently started growing beans. Thanks to advice from programs on Akaboozi Radio Station, she is confident of a good income. She had an opportunity to contribute her voice to a discussion in week 11 of the radio program, which focused on post-harvest practices such as transportation and storage.

Mrs. Nakaye proudly says, “It was the first time in my whole life to be in the studio in Akaboozi Radio Station in Kampala.”

In Uganda’s Mubende district, the Kasambya Twegate community listening group has more than 100 members. Muomesa Muyanja Expedito says they tune in because they get valuable information: “It’s easy for us to get news and information regarding farming activities. And we have learned to plant on time.”

They also learned to contribute to the radio station. Kevina Nabigobe Bukande explains it well: “Through exchange and discussion, the world learns from us, and we also learn from others.”

But these farmers didn’t come together just to benefit from the radio program. Mary Naluwaga is a member of the Kirangira Farmers’ Association. She says that there are more opportunities in a group—for example, training opportunities. Another group member, Jennifer Kabasomi, agreed. She says that she is exposed to more knowledge in a group than when working as an individual.

The members of the Kirangira Farmers’ Association are also benefiting from a village savings and loans association, which gives them access to money by taking loans from other group members.

As a group, they have discussed and adopted many new practices. These include okukabala, or clearing their gardens well, improved post-harvest handling, and improved quality control of their beans. They also discuss different pesticides for managing pests.

Mrs. Nakaye adds, “We always talk about modern agricultural practices and we discuss how to get improved seeds.”

Mr. Sebina adds, “In a group, you become stronger than as individuals.”