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Turning on radios, tuning in to resource-conserving farm practices

A radio program in Nepal brings information to farmers in a language they understand.

It’s Monday, 6:30 pm on Radio Birgunj, the voice of the plains in Southeastern Nepal. Fans for kilometers in all directions huddle by their radios to listen—not to a soap opera or pop music, but to a show about bed planting, horticulture, and zero-tillage. The weekly radio show on farming, targeted specifically to rural inhabitants, is one component of a project funded by CABI to introduce and promote resource-conserving technologies to the region’s rice and wheat farmers.

Radio is often the best way to reach rural families in developing countries, and farm shows broadcast from small community stations are not unusual. But Radio Birgunj broadcasts to a population of five million Nepalese, nearly all from farm families, and the station’s only “competition” is the region’s government radio network.

Ganesh Sah, head of the Agricultural Implement Research Center in Birgunj and long-time CIMMYT partner, is responsible for 70 programs since the show’s launch in January, 2005. “It’s been difficult coming up with a different topic each week, but we’ve managed with just a couple repeats,” he says.

The program’s popularity has led the government of Nepal launch another radio farm show in the region. For the whole article, go to www.cimmyt.org, under Enews/August 2006.