Spotlight on Soumaïla Gado, Radio Dar Es Salam, Niger, runner-up for George Atkins Communication Award

| December 19, 2016

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Radio Dar Es Salam is located in Téra, in western Niger, but the station has a large broadcast area, reaching into neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. It is one of the most listened-to radio stations in the area.

This is a large listening community to serve, and many of the 10 staff have little training in radio. Station technicians, broadcasters, and hosts have all developed their skills on-the-job, rather than through formal training.

But they are learning any way they can—including taking advantage of many of Farm Radio International’s resources and training opportunities. And one broadcaster stands out: Soumaila Gado.

Mr. Gado was a nominee for the 2016 George Atkins Communications Award, which recognizes the hard work of broadcasters in service of their farming audiences.

Mr. Gado is the principal host at the station, and is responsible for several programs produced in partnership with Farm Radio International.

The 48-year-old father of five left school as a primary student. He worked in many different fields before finding his voice as a broadcaster. Thirty years ago, Mr. Gado trained as a mechanic and then worked as a driver. He was later a trainer at an NGO, before joining Radio Dar Es Salam when the station was launched in 2012.

Mr. Gado says: “Before this job, I was a facilitator at a local NGO. We did trainings on HIV/AIDS and land reclamation. It is through this work that the radio director at Radio Dar Es Salam noticed me and invited me to become a presenter on the new radio station he was starting in Téra.”

At all these jobs, Mr. Gado stood out because of his charisma. He is someone people listen to—a good characteristic for a radio host.

Alhassane Abdou Mahamane, who leads Farm Radio International’s work in Niger, says, “Mr. Gado has impressed the Farm Radio International team with how quick he is to learn. He also respects the rules and lessons learned through the partnership with Farm Radio International.”

Mr. Gado is not the only one who has been quick to learn. When Radio Dar Es Salam started in 2012, it primarily broadcast programs that focused on Islam. Today, that content has changed. Many programs are simply for entertainment, or they broadcast information listeners need—like agricultural information.

Mr. Gado adds, “We broadcast a program on storing cowpea with the objective of sharing best practices with farmers and listeners.”

For this program, Mr. Gado recently met a cowpea farmer who said that he had obtained a PICS bag seven years ago, but had no idea how to use the airtight triple bags to improve the storage of his crop. Mr. Gado’s program had covered this topic, which greatly assisted the farmer.

Mr. Gado explains, “To store cowpeas, farmers use many methods which are often expensive and not very effective. They often lose some of their harvest because of these poor storage methods.” Mr. Gado’s program explained how to use PICS bags to reduce post-harvest losses. Thanks to the information on how to use the bags, the cowpea farmer bought new PICS bags and has been able to safely store 50 tonnes of cowpeas.