- Barza Wire - https://wire.farmradio.fm -

Offering agricultural extension services on air

Zekarias Fiqru is a capable broadcaster based in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. He has years of experience on impact programming and has worked with Farm Radio on a number of projects as a producer and editor.

He has built a strong rapport with most development workers and offices in the radio over the year. He says his outstanding communication skills, topped up with training from Farm Radio, makes his job enjoyable and meaningful.

Mr. Fiqru adds: “Most of the radio programs I produce with Farm Radio International are rated the best in most weeks of the editorial board review of the overall programs produced in our radio station. FRI brings eye opening approaches and topics that have always motivated me to put in my best effort.”

Before COVID-19, agriculture extension services were offered in person. Now Mr. Fiqru puts his expertise to use to help farmers access trained agriculture experts remotely through the Supporting National Agriculture for Farmers project with FRI.

Mr. Fiqru works closely with local development workers to plan and conduct the field interviews to inform his radio programs. He works tirelessly, walking through farmland and neighbourhoods and conducting interviews until he feels like he has enough voices of both men and women farmers and experts.

Then Mr. Fiqru arranges the voice recordings to meet the high standards of Farm Radio’s interactive programming.

He says: “Having the detailed design and communication objective set before I go do fieldwork makes my work clear and efficient. Most of my work is done even before I leave the studio for an interview. I have all my questions and issues of discussion ready. After returning to the studio, all I worry about is maintaining the different standards of the radio episode. The VOICE standards stay in my head throughout the radio program production.”

The VOICE standards are Farm Radio’s self-developed guidelines for effective radio programming. The standards emphasize five key criteria: valuing small-scale farmers, providing the opportunity to speak and be heard, providing important information when it’s needed, maintaining consistent and convenient broadcast times, and creating programs that are entertaining and memorable.

For Mr. Fiqru, every week is exciting as he looks forward to putting the programs on air. He believes that the radio programs impact many families’ lives. The calls of appreciation from farmers are what keeps him motivated.

Bedhassa Jambo is a farmer in Koka Negewo woreda in Oromia region. He owns tomato and onion farms. He used to be a cereal producing farmer but now he is taking up horticulture because of better market return.

Mr. Jambo explains: “Even though the market value for these products fluctuates and the products have short shelf life, when it is done right, it brings you a better profit. Ever since I heard of the techniques of making a better wood support for the tomato plants, they are less affected by diseases and pests.”

Mr. Jambo learned how to make a better support for his tomato plants from Mr. Fiqru’s radio program. Now, Mr. Jambo is being interviewed for market-related episodes of the series. He plans to tell other farmers that increasing the quality of their produce will give them a better market value.

Kebede Demme is a daily labourer working on an onion farm. On his way home, Mr. Demme turns on his radio and listens to Mr. Fiqru’s radio program. Already, he has learned how to produce and harvest quality onions. Mr. Demme is motivated to own his own farmland and practice what he learns from listening to the radio.

Mr. Demme explains: “My knowledge and efficiency have increased from the information I got from the radio program on how to harvest onions. I also share the information I get to friends that work with me.”

At the request of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to expand the radio advisory services to the Oromia and SNNPR regions, Farm Radio International has implemented a participatory IVR-enabled radio program to provide the need-based advisory service under COVID-19 for small-scale farmers. This program is undertaken with the support of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia.

Zekarias Fiqru interviews a farmer in the field, 2021. Photo credit: Nebiyu Yetsedaw.