Radio Program No. 4
Today as has become the norm nowadays, the women are all seated on our arrival. We notice a few unfamiliar faces and a little undercurrent of tension.
Just a s soon as we are
settled, the women’s coordinator, Lami explains to us in Hausa that some women in the village are displeased because they were not duly informed when the listeners club started. As such, they are not registered members of
the cooperative society that was formed from the listeners club even though they were willing to partake in the activities from the start.
Several of the “unfamiliar” new women state their case and after a short while, we step in and explain that the program is open to everyone to benefit from and they are invited to listen up to the radio program and benefit from the information, or call in to contribute comments, ask questions or whatever.
Among themselves, the women of both parties (listeners club women and the others) reach a consensus that some of the funds they gather from their collective contributions will be used to register the women who have not been registered already.
By 2:30pm, the radio program starts. Using a script from Farm Radio International’s web site as a resource, the presenter explains how the women can prepare compost manure for use on their gardens or farms.
Several calls and 30 minutes later, the show ends with a promise by the presenter to say some more on the issue of organic and inorganic fertilizers.
From our baseline research, Soil fertility and fertilizer, (availability, affordability, authenticity, how to use) were major concerns of both women and men small holder farmers alike. As a result we intend to run 3 more episodes in order to cover the topic sufficiently.
Radio Program no. 5
After the last radio show, we were opportuned to meet a Gbagyi man, Zakaria Abashe, an expert on agro chemicals who also specializes in preparing compost manure and other chemicals used on farms. He is the perfect guest as he will speak directly in the language of the broadcast without need for a translator. As guest expert on today’s show, Zakaria educates the women on how to prepare organic fertilizer and the correct application of fertilizers on different crops.
The host presenter, Musa, introduces him and chats with him about the use of compost on the farm. They both opined that all things considered, organic manure, is a better way to preserve soil fertility. The host encourages his listeners to try to depend more on compost manure and reminds them to decompose their organic matter and animal dung in a pit in order to make manure. Various callers agree that compost manure is very fertile for the soil and they encourage their kinsmen to use more of it. One caller also speaks about arrangements that they make with Fulani herdsmen so that they can collect animal dung but he says that it is not sufficient for all their farming activities. Another lady, Christy makes a point that several of them, women, rear pigs so most of their leaves and organic garbage is used to feed these animals. The expert encourages the women to stay open to information by listening to the radio and communicating with experts because they can build their knowledge base and learn more profitable ways of managing the issues they are presented with as the experts learn more and pass it on. The presenters chat about how communication technology has advanced and how much information is out there. The presenter, Musa mentions as an example that the scripts he has been using for the radio programs have been sourced from the internet. He tells the women in the village to be open to these advances in information technology because technology has the power to improve their livelihoods and make farming more fulfilling. He further encourages them to keep in constant touch the state’s agricultural development program and also promises to give the number of the guest expert for further information.
A few men also call to voice their appreciation and appeal to prominent Gbagyi people to sponsor another program for Gbagyi farmers after this one.
Our women partners are able to make a few calls only because the phone calls coming in today from various parts of Kaduna and the neighbouring states are even more. At the end of the show however, the presenter asks the permission of the expert to give out his phone number to listeners including the project women listeners’ clubs for more information. Zakaria graciously agrees and the program was hardly over before he receives several calls from all over and from our women so he answers a few more questions of theirs.
The listeners club, so far, still meets without any push from us; sometimes the women are up to 40; at other times there are in the 20s. Not many of them seem to have purchased radios or cell phones of their own although yet despite the attractiveness of the two media to them. Two women have so far purchased individual cell phone handsets.
Even though the men don’t listen to the program together in their club I get more questions from them on my routine visits to the village. The women would seem happy to see you but they are always in a hurry to get to somewhere else so there is not enough time for much chit chat. The men, on the other hand keep asking questions about the program. On market days when visitors come from neighboring villages, they seem to pass on the information very quickly in my presence. They ask what the program is about and they promise to tune in and contribute if they can.
The biggest challenge still lies in the limited mobile network coverage.
Radio Program no. 6 and Listeners’ club activities
Last week, a few listeners asked questions on access and use of farm inputs such as improved seed varieties, herbicides and pesticides for storage. The presenter had advised that they tune in today to get answers to their questions. So today, The guest expert, Mr. Zakaria, an agro- chemical expert, informs listeners to be very careful when using chemicals on the farm . He pronounces that such practices must be undertaken with careful and detailed directions from agricultural experts. The guest expert asks interested parties to give him a call or visit his office for further enquiries. A regular listener and caller on the show, Mr. Sunday, narrates how he lost a bumper harvest due to wrong application of fertilizer. The host presenter gives the number of the expert and encourages listeners to get useful tips on improved farming practices from extension workers in their local government and from the state’s agricultural development program. Both presenters (host and expert) chat about the implications of over reliance on chemicals and the expert says that if used well, minimal pollution could be attained. The next caller, Hannatu Yusuf agrees with the presenter, saying that she uses dried pepper to store her beans and pleads with the presenters to give them more tips on cheaper and safer ways to store grains. Larai Kantoma, also from the listeners club, reminds listeners of different times when food crops have been known to wipe out the masses in Nigeria. She encourages farmers to use spices like garlic to store their food crops.
The host presenter speaks about how relevant mobile phones could be in passing on relevant information as well as sourcing for it. He encourages women (with particular reference to the women at Gwagwada) to make regular calls to Kaduna Agricultural Development program where he says they would be offered regular and useful tips.
Once more, both presenters chat on how nowadays, text messaging is used to send very regular updates to subscribed users in various fields. The expert, Mr. Zakaria declares that it is only a matter of time and a short one at that before this would be a very common practice in farming in Nigeria. He admonishes Gbagyi women not to lag behind because of their roles as women and he encourages men in various communities to support women’s development because women are much more than just “property”.
The presenter picks his final call from Mr. Usman who begs the presenter to replay the music he played earlier on about honouring women and dedicates the song to his wife.
Every week, more and more listeners seem to tune in to the program. We get more calls from people appreciating the program, others asking what is been discussed because they missed an episode or just tuned in for the first time. Our women at Gwagwada, are also ardent listeners although the not so good network signal doesn’t always allow their voices to be heard as much as they or we would like.
As for the phone, the women report that they are not making as many business calls as they had hoped because more and more people seem to be getting phones but they are able to generate a little income from the few calls they make. The treasurer gives account and they authorize that the income be added to their stipend as collective savings.