For an Extension Planning Area (EPA) to qualify for the Minister of Agriculture’s annual crop inspection tour in Malawi, it takes great effort and resources. Each EPA presents a farmer profile to the Director of Agricultural Services (DAES), Dr. Grace Malindi. Based on these profiles, Dr. Malindi selects the country’s top three farmers and undertakes a final site inspection to confirm which farmer will receive the Minister’s visit.
Dr. Malindi visited Chipoka EPA on December 23, 2010. Chipoka is one of three Farmer Voice Radio (FVR) community sites under the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in Lilongwe. The site has six Listener Clubs, set up by FVR, and another four self-started Listener Clubs that arose after the broadcast of an FVR Listener Club Campaign. Highly impressed with what she saw, Dr. Malindi invited other EPAs to visit the site and plans were confirmed for the Minister’s visit to the area.
Mr. Zondawako Chagoma, an FVR Radio Farmer and member of the Chipoka FVR Listener Club, hosted the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Professor Peter Mwanza, on January 12, 2011, and showed him around his farm. Mr. Chagoma testified that most of what he showcased on his farm was as a result of his attachment to Chipoka Listener Club and the fact that he followed the agricultural advice given through FVR programs. “I… followed the MBC [Malawi Broadcasting Corporation] Farmer Voice Radio NARA[National Agriculture Radio Agenda]-based programs on star practices, which included… one-one planting of maize, manure making and application, crop diversification, agroforestry, use of hybrid seeds, and conservation agriculture” he recalls. As an FVR Radio Farmer, Mr. Chagoma’s practices are broadcast nation-wide, through the FVR “megaphone”, for other smallholder farmers to learn from.
During his speech, the Minister stated that, “The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) not only supports FVR’s work at Ministry level but also recognizes the contribution FVR is making at [a] local level”. The Ministers’ sentiments were echoed when the Chief Agriculture Communications Officer (MoAFS) reported at a subsequent FVR Project Steering Committee meeting that the Ministry was very happy with the manner in which FVR radio stations help to disseminate information regarding government subsidy distribution programs to smallholder farmers through FVR programming. “It is a wonderful partnership”, she said, with appreciation.