Agricultural broadcasting is a family affair at Radio Gurune in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Station director Lydia Ajono and her niece, broadcaster Josephine Adumako Akaribo, put together a weekly farmer program that serves the needs and interests of farmers across the region.
Several years ago, Ms. Ajono saw broadcasting potential in her niece, who was working as a teacher at the time. She asked her to volunteer at the station and train other staff on broadcasting skills and techniques. Ms. Akaribo was not formally educated in journalism, but attended trainings in Tamale and Accra at the Ghana Community Radio Network. She quickly developed a passion for radio.
Ms. Akaribo says, “I was able to do exactly what she wanted me to do and she was very happy with me.”
In 2011, she became a full-time radio broadcaster at Radio Gurune. She hosted a health and nutrition program, and read the English news. But her favourite program is Sada-Tire, a farmer program broadcast in the local Guruni language every Wednesday night.
Ms. Akaribo says, “I have a passion for the farmer program. Farming is something that I have fallen in love with over the years when I didn’t even know radio.”
Ms. Akaribo has visited her relatives in the farm from a young age and observed the challenges they faced in crop production and access to information. She says, “They would ask me why I am interested and I would say, ‘Because the way you have been suffering, I want to know how the productivity can be improved’.”
Ms. Akaribo has hosted the farmer program for over six years. And from the beginning, she knew she couldn’t help the farmers just by sitting in the studio. Ms. Akaribo makes it a point to visit farmers in their communities whenever she can, despite transportation challenges.
And she uses her position as a confident radio broadcaster to encourage other women farmers to speak up. Ms. Akaribo says, “This program has empowered women in the communities. … When I first went out, the men were ready to talk to me, but the women were not. Whatever the men said was final.”
In rural Ghana, women make up between 50-70 per cent of the labour force in the agricultural sector. They are the primary providers of food for their families. However, women have limited access to and control of farmland. Women need their husband’s consent to purchase or lease land. Furthermore, as land passes to male heirs, women are at an increased risk of losing food, income, and shelter.
But Ms. Akaribo knows that amplifying women’s voices in farming is crucial. She says, “When I go to the communities, I talk to the men and let them know why the women’s voices must be heard… I can’t do the program without them.”
Ms. Akaribo’s fieldwork is especially important, because of the lack of agricultural extension officers in the region. For many farmers, radio is the only available form of media that offers them information about farming.
She says: “[Sada-tire] is very powerful for farmers. There are many districts that benefit from the program we do and it’s very helpful. I really hope that this program will continue to make more impact in farming.”
Ms. Akaribo was a recipient of the George Atkins Communication Award in 2017 for her work in agricultural radio broadcasting at Radio Gurune. As a mother of two, she has recently returned from her maternity leave and she is excited to get back to work, especially on her favourite program.