MVIWATA FM’s agricultural radio programmes is helping smallholder farmers in rural Tanzania improve their knowledge about agricultural practices and community development
Odilia Jiovin, a farmer from the Kilosa district, usually known for the production of sunflower, coconut, sugarcane, and sisal, (in the Morogoro region), relies on MVIWATA FM’s radio programmes. “I always take the initiative to share the information with my fellow farmers in our community, and apply the knowledge shared through the radio on my farm where other farmers come and learn too,” she said.
The MVIWATA FM programmes, such as Uzalishaji endelevu (Sustainable Production), taught her about integrated pest management, a low-cost and effective method which she applied in her horticultural farm, and has helped her save her crops, as well as her money.
MVIWATA is the Swahili acronym for the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in Tanzania, and the group began operating a radio service in August last year. The agricultural advisory services have been facilitated for farmers through the radio service, as they get to learn, ask questions, and gain knowledge that they can apply later to their farms.
Radio as the voice of the voiceless
MVIWATA FM attracts smallholder farmers, youth and other marginalised groups, reaching approximately 250,000 people in the rural and urban areas of Tanzania.
The radio station has designed its programmes to focus on information, education, knowledge sharing, and entertainment, related to agricultural practices, and fills the gap left by mainstream media outlets, that provide only limited coverage of issues relevant to rural people.
Listeners can tune in to programmes produced by a team of journalists who work closely with MVIWATA, and the stations also broadcast recordings of farming community group meetings.
Better production, better lives for family farmers
The various agricultural practices shared through MVIWATA FM have helped farmers to improve farm preparation, and pest management, which has helped ensure higher yields.
Educational programmes and information sessions have also supported farmers at the community level. In Ilonga village in Kilosa district, the information on the process of participatory planning helped the community to request a budget for the construction of a health centre. As a result, the central government has allocated some funds for the construction of the health centre in the 2021-2022 budget.
Other programme topics include crop diversification, market access, social accountability, and handling land disputes.
The Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) supports MVIWATA to share information with family farmers through the radio, sensitising them on new processes and better farming techniques, to improve their livelihoods. The FFF is a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and AgriCord, and was launched in 2012 to improve rural farming, forestry, and farmers’ organisations through collective action.
FFF has increased its positive impact by supporting rural radio services and has ensured the active engagement of a wide range of family farmers in rural Tanzania, and other African countries.