2019 George Atkins Communications Award Winner Ide Carine Tchounga on the award, COVID-19, and a win-win partnership with Farm Radio

| October 25, 2021

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Ide Carine Tchounga has been broadcasting agricultural programming at Radio Communautaire Médumba in West Cameroon for 21 years. Now, as Station Manager, she says her priority remains the same.

In addition to her role as Station Manager, Ms. Tchounga continues to broadcast her program “Actualités agro-pastorales,” or Agri-pastoral news. It’s the same program that won her the George Atkins Communication Award in 2019. 

“Actualités agro-pastorales” goes on air every Tuesday and Friday for 30 minutes. 

Ms. Tchounga says, “The topics that the program addresses are topics that help farmers.”

She explains that these include everything from good practices in growing, harvesting, transformation, and marketing, to making and applying natural compost and fertilizers.

To gather the voices of farmers, as well as the sounds of their work, Ms. Tchounga says it’s important to go to the field. The resulting soundbites – birds calling, machetes chopping, and vox pops from farmers – make her program informative and entertaining.

As a laureate of the George Atkins Communication Award, Ms. Tchounga says, “Winning really energized me.”

She says that since receiving the award, she has more access to resource people, who respect her international recognition as a George Atkins Communication Award laureate. 

She explains, “Since that moment, I’ve worked more and more with the local agricultural officials. Before, they told me that they didn’t have enough time [for me], but they saw that I won the George Atkins Award and now when I ask for information, they make themselves available. Even when they’re not available, they send me what they can to answer my questions.”

Mrs. Tchounga recalls when she first became a Farm Radio broadcasting partner. Seeing that Farm Radio worked on agriculture and environmental issues – topics she addressed daily on the air – she noted that Farm Radio resources were well-suited to the needs of her rural audience.

She later met with an FRI-associated broadcaster in Cameroon who trained her to produce programs.

Ms. Tchounga smiles, “It’s thanks to him, thanks to Farm Radio, that I know how to edit audio for broadcasting.”

To this day, she continues to produce her own programs.

Ms. Tchounga recalls applying to the George Atkins Communications Award after seeing it advertised by Farm Radio. Looking through the previous winners, she noted that one of the previous winners was from Cameroon as well. She was encouraged to apply – and won. It was the first time she had ever submitted an application for an award.

Years later, as the prize hangs framed in her office, she reflects on how the award changed her life as a broadcaster, and offers this advice to this year’s George Atkins Communications Award hopefuls.

“Work hard because this award is worth the effort. Once you have it, it energizes you. And then you can also train others.”

She also says that broadcasters should diversify the topics they talk about on air, and be sure to touch on subjects that affect their listeners most.

To find out what her listeners want to hear, Ms. Tchounga works with the local department of agriculture and environment. The department is known to train farmers in the area, and so they are familiar with farmers’ concerns. Using this information, Ms. Tchounga works to create relevant programming for her listeners, and builds her relationship with local agricultural authorities as subject matter experts.

This also helps Radio Communautaire Médumba to support the department’s crop campaigns, such as a recent one promoting maize.

Years later, Ms. Tchounga continues to rely on Farm Radio resources to create her programs, especially Farmer stories. She says she reads these resources to see whether practices from other countries could work for her listeners too. 

To verify, she shares the Farmer stories with experts ahead of her program, and then discusses it with them on air. This informs listeners about why or how certain agricultural practices could work for them. 

For this reason, Ms. Tchounga says she always uses Farm Radio resources to inform her programming. 

She says, “I want to take this opportunity to say thank you and thank you again to Farm Radio International. Why? Because we have the resources to adapt to our local context. It allows us to produce our programs without difficulty.”

“It has been a real win-win partnership between Farm Radio and Radio Méduma. And we are ready to continue working with you.”

Photo: Ide Carine Tchounga in station. Photo courtesy of Radio Méduma.