Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM)

How rural radio has improved agricultural practices for Tanzanian farmers

19/08/2021

Radio programs give rural communities an opportunity for their voices to be heard

“I know that I am privileged to listen and follow different programmes aired through MVIWATA FM,” says Odilia Jiovin, a farmer from Kilosa District in the Morogoro region of United Republic of Tanzania, which is known for the production and marketing of sunflower, coconut, sugarcane and sisal. “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 says.

MVIWATA is the Swahili acronym for the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in the United Republic of Tanzania, and the group began operating a radio service in August 2020. It is supported by the Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) through the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), which is a partnership involving the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and other partners.

To improve her knowledge of farming practices, Odilia relies on listening to MVIWATA FM’s agricultural radio programmes, which has helped her, as well as other farmers, to learn better farming skills

The agricultural advisory services have been made simple for Odilia and other farmers through the radio service, allowing them to learn, ask questions and gain knowledge that they later apply to their farms.

Radio as the voice of the voiceless

MVIWATA FM attracts smallholder farmers, youth and other marginalized groups, reaching approximately 250 000 people in both rural and urban areas of United Republic of Tanzania. The radio station has designed its programmes to focus on information, education, knowledge sharing and entertainment related to agricultural practices, and it 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 airwaves also carry recordings of farming community group meetings.

Better production, better lives for family farmers

The various agricultural practices shared through MVIWATA FM have significantly helped farmers to improve farm preparation and pest management, which has helped ensure higher yields. Odilia says that MVIWATA FM programmes, like Uzalishaji endelevu (Sustainable Production), taught her about integrated pest management, a low-cost and effective method, which she then applied in her horticultural farm, saving her crops and her money.

Educational programmes and information sessions have also supported farmers at the community level. In Ilonga village in Kilosa district, for example, 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 its construction in the 2021/2022 budget.

Other programme topics have included crop diversification, market access, social accountability, and handling land disputes.

With the support of the FMM through the FFF, MVIWATA has continued to share information with family farmers through the radio, sensitizing them to new processes and better farming techniques that 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 it was launched in 2012 to improve rural farming, forestry and farmers’ organizations through collective action. By supporting rural radio, the FFF has increased its positive impact and ensured the active engagement of a wide range of rural family farmers in United Republic of Tanzania and other African countries.

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