FAO uses radio to help Somali farmers boost production, deal with extreme weather conditions

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) — The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Tuesday that it’s using radio in Somalia to help farmers increase production and deal with the extreme weather conditions.

FAO said its radio training, which was launched at the height of the COVID-19 crisis as a way of dealing with the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, is helping farmers cope with drought, erratic rain and floods that regularly affect this arid and semi-arid country.

“Through radio, we managed to overcome access challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions and carried out a remote extension to address the threats caused by climate change,” said FAO Representative in Somalia Etienne Peterschmitt in a news release to mark World Radio Day.

Peterschmitt noted that radio programs are part of FAO’s capacity development strategy in the country. FAO’s radio training modules cover a broad range of topics, such as good agricultural practices, value chain development, climate-smart agriculture, nutrition, fishery, livestock and financial education.

According to FAO, the use of such technology is suited for Somalia, a country with a rich oral tradition but poor internet penetration rates, especially in rural areas.

There are more than 60 radio stations in Somalia according to FAO, adding that radio is also considered a credible and trustworthy source of information, as listeners can interact first-hand with this medium through call-ins or even in-person visits to the broadcasting station.

FAO said it has produced and broadcast an average of 736 episodes per year, corresponding to approximately 14,700 minutes on air since 2021. Each episode lasts about 20 minutes and is drafted by FAO experts in English using simple, everyday vocabulary. The episodes are then translated into Maaxa Tiri and Maay, the two main spoken languages in Somalia, and are then broadcast by 21 radio stations to spread across the country, including the public service broadcaster in Somaliland.

It said an episode focusing on water management within the context of FAO’s Climate Smart Agriculture tells farmers how best to water their crops and how to harvest rainwater that can be used during the dry season. This efficient water-use approach combined with careful crop selection can help offset the impact of a changing climate.

According to FAO, another episode explains to farmers how to add value to their crops by packaging produce into containers and in particular quantities in readiness for storage and transportation; and labeling the produce to allow easy identification in stores and markets 

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