Sharing farmer stories in local languages

| January 16, 2017

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Judie Lembela and her team know the importance of farmers’ voices. This group within the National Agricultural Information Services in Zambia collects and shares farmer stories with radio broadcasters— and they work in seven languages.

Mrs. Lembela says: “In a media landscape where English is the dominant language of broadcast, we understand that rural communities love to listen to radio in their own language. So we soldier on, despite many Zambian journalists not being interested in taking up such a job.”


The team includes seven radio producers. The producers interview farmers in the field, and the interviews are recorded, edited, and shared on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation. Other team members produce TV documentaries in English and publish farmer stories in different newspapers.

Mrs. Lembela says it is important to share farmers’ success stories because they can inspire others to try new practices. She says, “It is like listening to somebody who is just like you. A sense of: ‘If they can succeed, I can too’.”

Mrs. Lembela says the farmers’ stories are more compelling, interesting, and informative because they are using their own language. Listeners also understand the stories better when they hear them in their own language.

She adds, “Using local languages to share farmer stories is crucial as most farmers do not understand the English language. Daily they communicate in local languages, so it becomes part of their identity.”

One recent story featured a young Zambian farmer who developed a food supplement for goats, which has increased their milk production. When fed to chickens, the food supplement also helps to increase the number of eggs they lay. The food supplement is known as Zundu, and it‘s helping many local farmers increase their milk and egg production.

Mrs. Lembela says the story is very popular with listeners. “I have run this program several times on the radio and listeners always demand that it is played again,” she says.

Many of the stories feature young, successful farmers. Mrs. Lembela says she hopes listeners are inspired to see farming as a profitable enterprise, and that they consider starting a farming business. She adds, “It is crucial that we feature these young, educated farmers if we are to change the norm that farming should be done after retirement from a white-collar job.”