Jordan Omstead | September 18, 2017
Veronica Barik has a clear and powerful voice, with a tone that identifies her as a radio presenter. She works at URA Radio in Bolgatanga, near Ghana’s northern border. But since 2014, Ms. Barik has been nurturing a side project altogether different from her regular job—as a guinea fowl consultant.
In 2014, Farm Radio International partnered with URA Radio to produce a two-year series of radio programs on the guinea fowl value chain. As the Gurune language presenter, Ms. Barik shared solutions to some of the biggest problems facing guinea fowl farmers in Ghana today. The radio program covered issues such as keet mortality—a serious problem for the frail young birds. Ms. Barik also hosted discussions on how to keep keets healthy using a combination of herbal medicines and veterinary remedies.
Before the program began, Ms. Barik had no background in rearing guinea fowl. She says that, in addition to the Farm Radio training and resources, she learned a lot from farmers during the call-in segments of the program.
She explains, “Farmers call in to give their contributions. That is where I got the information, I got the skill, I got what makes me today as a consultant.”
But “guinea fowl consultant” may be a somewhat misleading title. Ms. Barik’s work is entirely voluntary and unpaid. She takes calls and offers her newfound expertise to any farmer who needs it.
Three years after the program started and several months after it ended, farmers still call Ms. Barik to learn more about rearing guinea fowl.
She says: “Even though the program is over, people still call me asking what they should be doing with their guinea fowl keets. They ask me, ‘Oh, Madame Veronica, my guinea fowl eggs have just hatched—what should I do?’”
Farm Radio programs require a lot of commitment from broadcasters. Broadcasters travel to the field, monitor their shows’ impact, and adhere to quality standards. Ms. Barik says it can be tedious at times.
But, she adds, “After the program, the experience I’m having—people calling me, recognizing the work I did—it has wiped off all the tediousness in me.”
Before she started as a radio presenter, Ms. Barik worked with local government. She was drawn to URA Radio because she saw an opportunity to inform her community and deliver meaningful programs. Thanks to what she learned during the program, her brothers are now considering rearing guinea fowl commercially. Ms. Barik even has a few birds of her own.
Her face brightens when she talks about how the radio program, and now her consulting, has helped people in her community.
She says: “So I am now a consultant and a happy woman because I have educated my people— and most especially [because] the youth and the women are going into guinea fowl rearing. So I am very happy.”