Their high-power transmitter is broken and their sponsors haven’t been paying their bills. But the team behind Radio Communautaire la Vérité (or “Truth community radio”) isn’t giving up.
The station broadcasts 24 hours a day in French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kinande, and Lingala from a tower installed near Virunga National Park, in Rutshuru territory in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Radio Communautaire la Vérité has four agriculture programs. Agriculture et l’agriculteur (or “Farming and the farmer”) is the station’s most popular program, airing during prime time from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The show focuses on how farmers can increase their yields.
The station’s other farmer programs cover subjects such as market opportunities, aquaculture, finances, processing, and protecting crops from wild animals. A livestock show is hosted by a veterinarian.
Moussa Dunia is the station manager at Radio Communautaire la Vérité, also called RACOVE FM. A local environmental association launched the station to support farmers who are struggling with climate change, hunger, and insecurity.
Mr. Dunia explains: “This radio station is the only one in the region to help farmers improve their production. It encourages farmers’ initiatives and is a mouthpiece for them to talk about their agricultural innovations or any demands they may have.”
For example, farmers share their experiences starting small businesses; their plans to process maize and soy into oil, flour, and biscuits; the advantages of forming farmers’ co-operatives; and their difficulty obtaining a good price for their products.
Mr. Dunia adds: “We also call upon the farmers to come together to plead their case when there’s theft, when wild animals attack their plants, in case of conflicts between farmers and herders, and to put a system in place to determine prices—because outsiders often impose their prices.”
The station’s 1,000-watt transmitter reaches more than a million people, but it’s damaged at the moment. The station is borrowing a lower-powered transmitter from another station while it tries to fix its own.
Mr. Dunia says obstacles like this are common, and that his team is determined to find solutions so the station can continue broadcasting.
One challenge they face is that most of the station’s revenues come from program sponsorships. But sometimes sponsors are unable to pay on time, which means the station can’t pay its staff or rent, or finance its radio operations for several months at a time.
Mr. Dunia says that, while this might slow them down, it doesn’t stop them: “We don’t just sit there—we keep selling our services and we convince our partners to buy them. We turn to dedications and local announcements to keep the radio functioning.”
Mr. Dunia says listeners comment online, make suggestions, and send feedback that shows how Radio Communautaire la Vérité is helping farmers in Rutshuru territory. But, he says, the station’s impact is most evident during its annual general assemblies: “This is when all segments of the population in the region come and bear witness to the benefits of the radio and its impact in the community.”
He adds: “Sometimes we find that the material we’ve given the population [on air] is being followed and practiced, and the people tell us about it—and that’s when we can really taste or feel the results.”
Radio Communautaire la Vérité is a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner. If you would like to learn more about becoming a FRI partner, please see Farm Radio International’s Guide to resources and Partnership agreement here: farmradio.fm