Learning from the farmer down the road, in a neighbouring village or nearby country
When a drought affected the supply of fish, Vicky Mwanga decided she needed to close her fish business. The 42-year-old mother of three took up onion farming, but it has not been an easy transition.
A poor batch of seed meant her first harvest of onions was badly affected by disease. Capital is also a challenge for Vicky, who wants her business to grow. She needs to hire help for preparing her land and planting, but that costs money. Yet her main problem is pests.
“[A]fter my neighbour harvested, all the pests moved to my farm and it is affected now,” she said.
“Because the pesticides I was using were not strong enough to overcome the pests, I had to change pesticides.” Pesticides are another cost that was straining her limited income.
Vicky turned to her neighbour for advice – who directed her to a radio show produced by Moshi FM. Moshi FM was on the air with an agricultural program, supported by Farm Radio International, that asked farmers their challenges growing vegetables and shared tips gathered from extension officers, researchers and expert farmers. Moshi FM helped expert advice reach thousands of listeners in an instant.
“We don’t wait for agricultural officers or extensions officers to come and visit the farms, so we work ourselves, farmer with farmers through experiences,” explained Vicky.
Listening to the radio increased Vicky’s harvest, and onion farming has changed her life.
“I have done many things through onions. For example all my three children are in private schools, the school fees and all needs come from onions. I have built two houses, which can enable to me to get credit or loan of almost ten million shillings. I can get loans through that house. Onions have changed my life,” Vicky said.
All thanks to a radio program which helped save her harvest from pests.
(Story by Esther Mwangabula)