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Can a reality show really deliver aid to Africa?

In an article published recently in Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper, Canadian journalist Marc Ellison explores this question as he reports on his experiences with Farm Radio International’s work with Malian farmers, journalists and broadcasters.

For two months, Mr. Ellison worked with FRI to provide technical training of local journalists at Radio Fanaka, in Fana, Mali. In association with FRI, the radio station produced a six-part radio reality show called Daba Kamalen, Bambara for “Best farmer.”

In recent years, young Malians haven’t been interested in an occupation often perceived as old-fashioned, even though instability in the country and ongoing drought have caused food shortages. Many would rather seek their fortune in the capital, Bamako, or risk their lives in the country’s artisanal gold mines.

FRI’s plan was simple − create a reality show that would follow the ups and downs of six young people trying to become successful farmers. Daba Kamalen is actually based on a traditional competition held in Malian villages to identify the best farmer. Over 40 young people applied to take part in the series.

Farm Radio International’s Mark Leclair says, “There has been an interest in doing something larger in scale that would reach the whole country, but this, of course, all depends on the interest from donors.”

You can read Marc Ellison’s full article in the Toronto Star at this link: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/01/20/can_a_reality_show_really_deliver_aid_to_africa.html [1]

For another take on FRI’s involvement with the radio series, follow this link to the FRI audio postcard page: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/08/08/audio-postcard-reality-radio-in-mali/ [2]