Farmer Radio in Tanzania

Chai Ni Mali – The Value of Tea starts recording  and interviewing tea farmers!


RSTGA Tea Farmers in training

In November 2014, Cristina Talens from the LYF in the UK and Jasmine Bakula, our fabulous radio presenter from the DRC travelled to Rungwe to record the first radio programmes of Chai Ni Mali – the latest LYF Farmer Radio venture. They were accompanied by Ringtons, the Wood Family Trust and Waitrose who wanted to see first hand  how how the project was developing.

For this project, Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA) have partnered with Kyela FM,  one of  the most popular community radio stations in the region. The station was launched in 2010 as a grassroots community radio and is a designated partner of the BBC World Service for their coverage of local voting and elections. Kyela FM radio broadcasts from 5am to midnight with a potential audience of over 2 million in the 4 Tanzania regions of Mbeya, Iringa, Ruvuma, and the Northern part of Malawi where national radio and TV stations have limited reach.  The radio station’s aim is to inspire pastoral development in agriculture and in health outreach to the community. The station has set itself up as ‘the voice of the voiceless’ offering its microphone to marginalised communities including people living in poverty, women and children groups, disabled people, and people living with HIV/AIDS. UNESCO continues to support the station by building the capacities of Kyela’s radio journalists, so that they can produce radio programmes of greater relevance and interest to listeners. It is, therefore, an ideal outlet for the tea radio extension programme. Two wonderful Kyela FM radio presenters have been appointed to work with us, namely, Sophia Kayombo and Masoud Mauldi.

During the trip, the RSTGA  successfully organised the first farmer field  listening group with some 30 farmers from Mwakalele where the  radio presenters took their first questions about tea and markets. The farmers welcomed a radio programme for tea in which they would be protagonists and would get to ask all their questions. We also took the opportunity to interview Linda Lisser from Ringtons and Amali Bunter from Waitrose to talk about what customers in the UK loved about Tanzanian tea. The programme is a service provided for tea farmers in the Rungwe area.

Cristina says, ‘These shows acknowledge that tea is only one crop and one concern for the target community. Therefore, a “whole person” approach is to be taken when addressing tea farmers; issues such as health, family planning etc. as well as financial and land issues will all be addressed’

‘Farmers have important knowledge gaps on markets and some land management issues. However, listeners do have a lifetime of experience and knowledge in farming; this know-how will be built upon in a way that makes them feel proud of who they are and avoids being prescriptive. The focus will be on finding best practice, gathering interviews and information that the farmers can use, or applicable practices that potentially have high impact.

Lebi Gabriel from RSTGA says,’ The programmes can be used as a platform to promote the work of WATCO as a company and strengthen the relationship between RSTGA and farmers.’

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