Posted on Monday, July 4, 2011
“As a kid I grew up in farms had a mini zoo, loved animals, and liked being close to the environment. But, ironically, I never wanted to become a farmer,” said WISE award winner, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu from Nigeria.
After failing twice to clear the university entrance exam for journalism, Ikegwuonu ended up studying history and international studies. “But I still harboured a passion for journalism and wrote a lot. Meanwhile, I had also started working with an NGO for spreading awareness on HIV AIDS. But whenever I met people, I ended up talking about agriculture,” said Ikegwuonu. According to him, it was this realisation that made him think of a medium that could communicate information related to agriculture in a sustainable manner. On choosing radio, he said, “The radio, which blends information and entertainment, has proved itself to be an effective medium for educating farmers. The broadcasters are full-time farmers who work part-time in radio. These broadcasters have taken a crash course in journalism and we broadcast three times a week.”
In 2007, with the support of UNESCO’s international programme for the development of communication, Ikegwuonu established a radio station that broadcasts daily sustainable agricultural management practices in the local Igbo language. This initiative is currently reaching 250,000 listeners living in remote areas within the Imo State in Nigeria.
Talking about his project, Ikegwuonu said, “We provide farmers with information on markets and educate them on livestock.”
On the role of technology in dispensing information, Ikegwuonu said, “Technology can benefit people, if used in the right way. Our aim is to provide information to farmers for free. Technology has tremendous potential to be leveraged for similar initiatives.” Talking about his future plans, Ikegwuonu added, “We want to have a bigger radio station reaching out to more people. Our aim is to reach out to 90 million people.”
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