When radio proves more powerful than money

For about a century, radio has played a vital role in our lives. From bringing us up-to-the-minute news to providing us with the latest musical hits, it has connected us to what’s going on in the world. Today, radio is still changing lives around the world.

Masiye Mwale discovered the power of radio just a few years ago. Masiye is a mother of six living in the Chipata District of Zambia’s Eastern Province. She was finding it difficult to meet the needs of her family, especially when it came to sending her children to school.

In 2011, Masiye did some work on a neighbour’s farm to help boost her family’s income. As payment, she received a used radio. Masiye was initially disappointed, as she thought the radio would do little to help send her kids to school. But the radio soon changed her life.

Masiye started listening to music and talk show programs on Breeze FM, a local radio station. One broadcast in particular, Ulimi ndi Malonda (which means Farming is a Business), caught her attention. She was soon listening every week to learn about farming practices such as making her own compost and diversifying her farm.

Ulimi ndi Malonda was on air with support from Farm Radio International, a Canadian charity that fights poverty and food insecurity by sharing valuable information on agriculture, health and nutrition with farmers across Africa. Radio is the best tool for this work because more than 75% of rural Africans have access to a radio. In the last week alone, over 20 million African farmers tuned in to an informative radio show produced with the direct help of Farm Radio International.

And farmers are taking action. Farm Radio International’s research shows that farmers who hear about a new practice over the radio are five times more likely to adopt it. Masiye was one of those farmers.

She has reduced the amount of weeding she does, and has added chickens and goats to her farm as an additional source of income. The money she has earned through farming has allowed her to buy additional farming tools, as well as a motorbike to make it easier to get around.

Masiye and her family now eat better food, and she no longer worries about school fees and other household expenses.

All of this change because of a radio show.

(Story by Martin Mwape)

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