Broadcasting a program on Maliana Community Radio

For a few hours each evening when the town generator is turned on, a small radio transmitter in the hills above Maliana broadcasts music, call-in, and information programs to homes throughout the Maliana basin.  Staffed entirely by volunteers and using equipment donated from a variety of programs over the last 12 years, Maliana Community Radio is a popular source of news and entertainment for families in rural areas of the Bobonaro district.

The Timorese Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) supports a small salary for an Information Assistant to prepare biweekly programs featuring agricultural information and news about the ministry for broadcast on the station.  Over the past year, the Seeds of Life office in Maliana has been working with Dinis do Nascimento, the MAF Information Assistant in the district, to produce quality programming that features information on Seeds of Life activities and research findings.  Topics range from improved varieties released by the Ministry to information about the informal seed production system and research trials being run throughout the district.  Farmers hosting Sol on farm demonstration trials and seed production plots often comment that they have heard the programs and community members contact the program to ask how they can become involved.

Journalists from the station often accompany Sol team members on visits to farmers and seed production groups.  This provides much needed transport to the journalists and gives the farmers a chance to share information and have their opinions heard.  While Sol advisors and visitors are sometimes interviewed, the bulk of the broadcast is made up of farmer interviews and commentary from district MAF officials about program activities and the issues faced by the farmers and groups being visited.

Dinis do Nascimento, MAF Information Assistant, interviews a farmer

A typical example of these programs was recorded over the months of February and March, and aired on April 2nd.  Interviews with the Sol Research Advisor, the Sol Regional Advisor, the MAF District Director, the MAF Chief of Extension Department, the Sol Informal Seed Production Coordinator, a Sol OFDT researcher, and numerous Suco Extension Officers, Informal Seed Production Group leaders, and farmers were included, as well as commentary from the journalist who had conducted the interviews and prepared the program.  Rob Williams, Sol Research Advisor, encouraged farmers to conduct their own agronomy research to see what works for them, and the MAF District Director congratulated informal seed production groups on a successful harvest this year.  The Chief of Extension Department explained that informal seed production will help to make communities seed self-sufficient without the need for expensive imported seed that often arrives too late to plant.  Accompanying each interview was a clip of traditional music from the area where the interview was recorded.  Community radio provides a valuable source of information in rural communities, as it is the only form of outside media that is available to many households.  The 46 minute program will be repeated 3-4 times throughout the month of April.