Nelly Bassily | June 30, 2008
Last week, Joseph Sekiku came to Canada to present at the Growing Inclusive Markets Forum in Halifax. From Halifax, he flew to Farm Radio International’s office in Ottawa. With his infectious smile and his knack for storytelling, Mr. Sekiku presented to Farm Radio International staff and donors as well as WUSC staff about how FADECO’s new FM radio station came to be and the impact it has had on the people in his community.
Joseph Sekiku is the founder and director of the Family Alliance for Development and Co-operation (FADECO), a rural development NGO in the village of Karagwe, northwestern Tanzania. FADECO strives to help farmers raise their standard of living by disseminating vital information and tips on agricultural practices.
In July 2007, by using recycled parts of an old computer and locally fabricated antennas, Joseph launched the first radio station in Karagwe: FADECO community radio 100.8 FM. The station is currently taking part in Farm Radio International’s African Farm Radio Research Initiative project. As an organization, FADECO works on many development issues. But Joseph says that 70 per cent of the station’s programming is focused on agriculture, with topics ranging from production to processing and value addition.
All of FADECO FM’s programs are in Kiswahili. Joseph says that one of the most popular programs on FADECO FM’s airwaves is Market Focus. Market Focus is a daily compilation of market prices. Devota Martine, a volunteer manager and, according to Joseph, the “bone marrow” of FADECO FM, hosts the show. Market prices are compiled from various sources such as the Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange and FOODNET in Uganda. Local Tanzanian market information is gathered by volunteer reporters who are dispatched throughout the country. They send text messages with crop prices or sometimes call the station for a live update using Skype, a free online calling tool.
What has been the impact of a radio program like Market Focus on the farmers in Karagwe? Joseph explains that before this radio program, farmers were exploited. A farmer producing maize, beans, or bananas wouldn’t know at what price to sell his crop. But now, if a buyer quotes a price, the farmer has more bargaining power because he or she is informed about market prices in various regions.
During his visit, Joseph toured the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) station in Ottawa. Joseph was happy to see that, although CBC has a lot of equipment and resources, FADECO FM achieves the same result as CBC – disseminating information to the people; only FADECO FM does it with very few resources. As an example of how FADECO FM operates with limited resources, Joseph brings his laptop to the field and plugs his microphone directly into the laptop to record farmers’ voices. As FADECO FM prepares to celebrate its first year on the air, Joseph emphasizes that radio is the poor man’s path out of poverty because it gives power and knowledge even to those who are not literate.
To listen to Joseph’s presentation, click here:
Joseph sitting behind the mike in the CBC Ottawa studios.
Joseph talking about FADECO FM community radio.