‘Fahari Yangu’: The Pride of Agricultural Radio in Tanzania

Esther tunes inARUSHA, Tanzania – A large, yellow, wind-up, solar radio crackles as farmer Esther Mbwana tunes it into her favourite radio station.

“I love the Fahari Yangu farmer program. I listen every week,” she says as she spins the dial and stops on 105.7 FM, Arusha’s Radio 5.

Mbwana is a 48-year-old mother of three from Poli village, located in the foothills of Mount Meru. While she tends to her organic vegetable garden, her and other farmers discuss each week’s program about how to improve traditional farming methods.

“Before I started listening to Fahari Yangu, I never knew about organic farming. Now many of us from Poli have adopted new techniques.”

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.

According to Radio 5 host Clara Moita, Fahari Yangu, or “My Pride,” has only been on-air for four months and it’s already seeing results in the listening areas around Arusha.

“I’m happy to see farmers adopting the methods I discuss on the program with agricultural extension officers,” she says, referring to her weekly farmer-friendly guests.

Co-produced by Farm Radio International, in cooperation with Irish Aid, Fahari Yangu seeks to provide nutrition sensitive and climate smart information for smallholder famers, like Mbwana.

Farm Radio International’s radio liaison officer in Tanzania, Susuma Msikula, says the collaboration with Irish Aid aims to boost vegetable farming in Tanzania and fight vitamin A deficiency at the household level.

“My kids are always healthy,” Mbwana says. “My youngest daughter Ruth has even taken up farming to follow in our family tradition.”

Recently, Mbwana moved from Poli to Ngongongare village a few kilometres east towards Mount Kilimanjaro. Now she plans to introduce organic vegetable gardening techniques and the Fahari Yangu program to other smallholder farmers.

…Meanwhile in another Tanzanian village…

Freeplay Encore Player_sml_thumb[2]Every week, while tending to her organic vegetable garden, Ndetniswa Kitomary, tunes her wind-up solar radio to 105.7 FM, Radio 5 in Arusha, for Fahari Yangu, or “My Pride.”

This farmer-focused program provides Kitomary with agricultural tips she finds useful in cultivating her crops. She calls in regularly on her mobile phone to share her thoughts with the show’s host Clara Moita.

“I feel like Clara is my daughter because I listen to her on the radio and speak to her on the program,” she says.

Kitomary lives in a village called Nambala, about a 20 minute drive from Arusha, Over the last few years she has been using her farm as a cooperative with members paying to be a part of what she calls an “experience-sharing project.”

Dairy goats and cattle are reared, while aquaculture and biogas is being done in conjunction with organic farming, an environmentally-friendly practice limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Now farmers, and even primary school students, from the Arusha-area come to learn about Kitomary’s project.

“I started farming 13 years ago to improve my family’s nutrition,” she says. “Now I’m able to take my surplus to sell at the market.”

A group of 11 journalists with Johns Hopkins University’s International Reporting Project (IRP) spent a day learning about the impact of Fahari Yangu and other Farm Radio International-supported agricultural radio programs in Tanzania.

After attending a live special broadcast at Radio 5 in Arusha, the journalists went to Nambala village to see how the program aids farmers, like Kitomary, in their everyday lives.

“Out of the 23 farmers working here with me, 20 are women and only three are men,” she says.

Fahari Yangu host Clara Moita interviewing farmer Esther Mbwana.

Fahari Yangu host Clara Moita interviewing farmer Esther Mbwana.

The organizer of International Reporting Project in Tanzania, Alexandra Frank, says the main objective of this excursion was to focus on agriculture, food security and farming practice in the East African country.

“We’ve been to projects in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Iringa and now Arusha,” she says. “Hearing from these women farmers about how the radio program reaches them is encouraging for the journalists present,” she said.

For more on the IRP visit to Tanzania, which was featured as an action item on Farm Radio Weekly earlier this month, check out this story from one of the IRP fellows on the NYTimes blog.

Fahari Yangu airs every Friday on Arusha’s Radio 5 (105.7 FM) from 6-6:30 p.m.

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About

Adam Bemma is a journalist and media development advisor working in East Africa and Southeast Asia.

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