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Radio helps African farmer boost yields

In Nanga Eboko, a city in the Central Province of Cameroun, people face many difficulties, made worse because the city is isolated. Not a single piece of road over 170 km between the agricultural city and the political capital, Yaoundé. This forces the farmers to either sell their products to local dealers, or to the truck drivers who travel daily on the national highway which crosses Nanga Eboko. Otherwise, the farmers’ crops just rot on the ground for lack of viable ways to transport them to market.

Drinking water is almost nonexistent. There is no Internet connection or places of entertainment outside of drinking. Electricity is present on average only four days a week.

Odama FM is the only community radio station which broadcasts here. It is an essential means of distraction and the only source of information for people in the area, who are very poor for the most part.

Maman Christine Eboko, 60 is widowed, has no children and has been living in the area for the past decade. Like many other residents of the city, she lives from farming. She grows maize, cassava and peanuts. Previously, income from her three plantations did not enable her to live decently. For too long, she wasted a lot of energy on these plantations. But, all that changed when she learned about Odama FM, a partner of Farm Radio International, a Canadian agency based in Ottawa.

Maman Christine says that in the last four years, her life has changed. Through the Farm Radio stories that she listens to every evening on Odama FM with her neighbour’s radio, she says that she learned how to select good seeds, prevent plant diseases, and protect crops against animal attacks. She also learned how to avoid losses during the harvest and also how to store her products. Following the advice given in the Farm Radio programs has helped Maman Christine to grow more food crops and increase her income.

For example, she says with delight that her annual groundnut (peanut) production rose from seven to 12 bags. That’s a considerable financial gain considering that her annual income increased to 180,000 fca/year ($C420), up from 105,000 fca ($C237) a few years ago. With the significant increase in production, she can now farm new plots of land that she bought. She is also able to take better care of health and eat properly. Maman Christine tells us that she now eats chicken at least once a week. That was a luxury for her before. In short, her quality of life has really improved.

She says she is satisfied with the information she gets from Farm Radio International programs. However, she would like to see more programs on budgeting and financial planning. She believes that if she learns to manage better, she would be better able to plan her finances in the longer term. Maman Christine says, it is one thing to have money, but it is another thing to know how to manage it and have a plan of action during difficult times.

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