The time has come for a change. Technology is an essence everywhere and even more desirous in a land like ours. Farmers are now experiencing technophiles by a community radio dedicated entirely to agriculture. No more politics, no more unrealistic guffs- but the pure productivity and helpfulness, here comes the story of Krishi FM, written by Prabhakar Ghimire and published by MyRepublica.com.
NAUBISE, Dhading, Dec 13: “Namaste! This is Anita Acharya from Krishi FM 105 Mega Hertz brining to you today´s vegetable prices at Dharke Bazaar.”
“………. Over 14000 kg of different vegetables items have been supplied to Butwal, Narayanghat, Kathamndu, Pokhara and Gorakhpur, India, from Dharke today,” the news reader Anita continues.
Apart from vegetable prices, she also reads out host of problems faced by local farmers and give solution to those problems.
“…If you have any problem in the farm, please don´t forget to inform us. We are ready to help you our best to solve your problems.”
Announcements of the FM station appear no different than what other radio stations in the country read out, but information that it broadcasts has greatly changed the life of thousands of farmers in Naubise and surrounding VDCs of Dhading.
Pramila Pandit, a vegetable farmer at Jeevanpur, Dharke is among the hundreds of farmers who have undergone a drastic improvement in the way they deal on their produces.
“In the absence of market information, we used to sell our produces at what the price brokers offer at nearby collection center in the past. Now, we don´t sell our produces at disposable rates,” shared Pandit.
The station regularly broadcasts the prices of vegetables in the Kalimati markets every morning. So, meaningful and strong is this information that farmers said it has boosted their bargaining power.
The FM has also facilitated the farmers to access markets other than Kathmandu. Farmers said they are now supplying their produces to the markets like Pokhara, Butwal Narayaghat, Birgunj and even to Gorakhapur in India, apart from Kathmandu.
“We can decide to whom to sell our product on the basis of the price they offer,” said Pandit.
The 50-watt FM has been airing 18 different programs during 12 hours (six hours each in the morning and evening) of broadcast every day and almost all programs are related to agriculture — from encouraging farmers to produces more to counseling them to solve their problems.
Dhunibensi Community Krishi Communication Centre has been running the radio station that launched its test transmission from September 5, 2009.
“Our station is entirely devoted to upholding interests of local farmer by boosting agriculture production and almost all programs we air are focused on farmers´ interests and their problems,” said Saroj Poudel, its station manager. “It is the first agriculture FM in the country.”
The FM has targeted the vegetable pocket areas such as Kewalpur, Chhattre Deurali, Goganpani, Naubise, Dharke and Tasarpu in the district. It is new experiment in the country where hundreds of FM stations, including so called community radios, are scrambling to increase their capacity to show their coverage strength.
Krishi Radio covers only around half a dozen VDCs, including Naubise, and has succeeded to create its niche market, quite unlike more than 250 FM stations operating in the country. It airs programs mainly on local issues, success story, live conversation with farmers, talks show with agriculture experts, suggestions of experts on farm related problems, new innovation in the field of agriculture, agriculture rights and entertaining programs relating to farming.
Upendra Adhikari, chairman of the center, stated that more than 90 percent of the local folks are regular listeners of the FM. “It has become a part of their daily life,” he added.
Though the radio station has not appointed any reporters to collect news and resources, more than 350 youths in 40 wards of eight VDCs are eagerly working as Nagarik Sambadadata (Civic Reporters). They gather what local farmers have to say and also collect cash and kind from local farmers against their advertisement in the radio. The radio is levying nominal charge in cash or kinds, including paddy, vegetables, fruits or any agro-produces, for the advertisement or announcement from the radio.
“We respond to missed calls from farmers so as to lessen their financial burden while sending local messages,” said Adhikari.
The radio station has not only raised farmers´ voice. It has also made the job of local agriculture technicians more comfortable by providing them a forum for counseling farmers. “We are planning to appoint farmers as our program presenters soon,” he added.
Suggested reading: Community Radios for Development of the Society in South Asia | ICT4D