Geoffrey Ojok | June 22, 2015
Silvesto Gwebayanga takes his little, old, black radio and sits in the shade under a big mango tree. He ignores the sounds of noisy children playing near his home in Buyende, a village 140 kilometres east of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.
Every Wednesday the 41-year-old farmer tunes in to Ssebo FM, a local station which broadcasts to eastern Uganda from the nearby town of Kamuli. It’s time for Eiroboozi Ery’abalimi, Lusoga for “Farmers’ voice,” a farmer radio program that is produced with help from Farm Radio International.
After learning about raising poultry through the program, Mr. Gwebayanga decided to start his own poultry business. He says, “I sold [enough] sweet potatoes to raise the starting capital of $160 U.S. to start raising poultry. After I built a temporary house for the birds, I bought 120 broiler chicks and feed.”
He explains, “I chose broilers because they take a short time to mature and they are in demand from hotel owners in Kamuli town.”
Jonathan Gidoi is the marketing manager for the Village Hotel in Kamuli town. He says, “Our clients prefer broilers because they’re tender. We like them as well because we use less fuel cooking the broilers than cooking other [local] breeds.”
Mr. Gwebayanga buys 250 kilograms of ground maize bran and mixes it with an equal weight of dried fish mash. He spends $93 U.S. to feed his birds on the nutritious feed for a week.
Mary Mutesi is the station manager at Ssebo FM. She says: “The feedback we receive from farmers shows [that] … they appreciate that the radio works. There is a clear link between what they hear on the radio and the practical business of keeping poultry, or growing crops.”
Nassar Ngobi is the extension officer for Kamuli district. He says: “The farmers’ radio program has made my work easier … I don’t need to chase up on farmers from village to village. I can also talk to farmers when answering their questions every Sunday via the phone-in on the farmers’ review program.”
He continues: “This Sunday, for example, listeners to Wednesday’s Eiroboozi Ery’abalimi asked for more information on the items concerned with making their own feeds [and the] proper use of animal manure to boost their [crop] yields.”
Shiboe Simon Peter is also benefiting from the radio program. He explains: “I was spending a lot [of money] to hire land to grow crops. But from the new skills I gained through the radio program, I am now able to grow enough vegetables using only my own small plot of land to sell at [the local] market, and still have enough to eat at home.”
Mr. Gwebayanga has expanded his poultry business from 120 to 570 birds. He says: “I earn $1,350 U.S. from my sales every four months. This has brightened my life … I have bought a plot three kilometres from Kamuli town. I plan to expand the business there. In addition, I am building a permanent house in Buyende village.”