Monica Ruth Acan smiles and says, “I first felt the spirit of agriculture while I was a student in secondary school. All students had to tend to a garden. While I didn’t like doing it at first, I came to love it.”
Ms. Acan presents two programs on Radio Wa: Wa Farmer (Our Farmer) and Poto Wa Tin (Our Garden Today). The station broadcasts on 89.8 FM in Lira, northern Uganda.
After presenting her programs, the 27-year-old broadcaster hops on her red Honda motorbike and drives off to her other job, leaving a cloud of dust in her wake. Ms. Acan is not only a broadcast journalist, but also an agriculture extension officer. She visits farmers and helps them understand the importance of good farming practices and nutrition.
Ms. Acan was born and raised in Lira, and has one younger sister and two brothers. Ms. Acan says: “My mother loves agriculture. I did have to do a lot of work to help her. Together we grew maize and sunflowers. This made me appreciate farming at a young age and want to study the science behind it.”
Her love for agriculture took her to Busitema University, in Tororo, Uganda, where she graduated with a diploma in crop production and management.
Before Ms. Acan took the reins of Radio Wa’s farmer programs, the station’s director, Alberto Eisman, was at a loss. Mr. Eisman says, “Wa Farmer had been on air for a long time. [But] When Monica became the presenter last year, it was a decisive moment for us.” He adds, “People love her style and wit. It’s a combination of her agriculture knowledge and personality. She’s bright and optimistic. She brings this into the programs every week.”
Farmers tune in regularly to hear Ms. Acan’s agricultural advice. Rose Akoye is a 66-year-old mother of five, and the chairperson of the Abil’a village farmers’ group, 30 kilometres from Lira. She says, “I feel connected to her. I call in regularly to speak with her. Women make most of the decisions at home about food.”
Dennis Ayoand and his wife Dillys enjoy Ms. Acan’s programs so much that they named their new baby after her. Ms. Acan visits Abil’a as often as she can to spend time with her namesake, seven-month-old Monica.
Ms. Acan says, “I’ve trained people … on farming techniques. I use the radio program as a way to continue my agriculture extension work.” She adds, “I moved away from home and live in town, but … I dream of having my own farm one day.”
Published online @ Barza Wire