Karen Hampson, Farm Radio Weekly Editor

| May 14, 2012

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In January this year, I left a snow-covered Ottawa and relocated to Farm Radio International’s regional office in Arusha, from where I work as Editor of Farm Radio Weekly. My background is in agronomy, and I have worked for many years with farmers in Africa, SE Asia and Brazil, as a volunteer, extension worker or researcher. Some years ago, I made a shift to writing and editing about sustainable agriculture, in the belief that farmers’ experiences and voices need a wider audience.

Farm Radio Weekly sources its stories through our two news bureaus, and from news and development websites online. I was lucky enough to take up the position of Editor just as our African news bureaus for Southern Africa and francophone Africa were opening. Part of the job that I enjoy most is working with the Bureau Chief, Mark Ndipita, who manages a pool of journalists across Southern Africa. Together, we suggest stories, identify topics, comment on story pitches sent in by the journalists, ask more questions, and do the final edit for radio. My main aims when selecting and editing any story for use in the Weekly is to ensure that they feature farmers’ voices, and that they will be interesting and relevant to listeners in different regions.

Using those criteria, the story I have chosen to republish was written by Zenzele Ndebele from Zimbabwe, who is profiled in this special issue. It is a straightforward story which reinforces the value of preserving local seeds. I chose this story because I believe that local (and some underutilized) seed varieties will become increasingly important in our changing climate, and that they are often undervalued and overlooked. In addition, in some regions, farmers’ varieties are under threat as seed companies try to gain a greater market. Yet saving, selecting and sharing seed is something all farmers across Africa can do to develop and vary their farming system.

-Zimbabwe: Farmers preserve local seeds but buy improved maize (by Zenzele Ndebele for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe) FRW 148, March 2011.


Outside of work, I enjoy reading autobiographies and practicing yoga, as well as getting to know Arusha better with my husband and young son. You are welcome to contact me at khampson@farmradio.org