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“PERFECT” opportunities for youth in Agriculture - Bridging the knowledge gap in Farming through the Radio

Hlamalani Ngwenya Hlamalani Ngwenya is an international consultant for GFRAS. She is involved in the “Talent development in agriculture: Growing ambitions for agricultural professionals initiative that GFRAS is spearheading in collaboration with the International Agri-Food Network, YPARD, FAO, GCHERA, TAP, Nuffield International farming scholars and others. 

This coalition serves as a response to the 2013 Committee on World Food Security’s endorsement of its Multi-Year Programme of Work for 2015-17, including a Round Table entitled “A Plan of Action to Build Knowledge, Skills, and Talent Development to Further Food and Nutrition Security.”

Evidence suggests that the majority of young people are not interested in agriculture as it is often seen as an activity for the elderly and not lucrative enough. Agriculture is still seen from the dominant perspective of primary production or ‘farming’. While farming is an important aspect, narrowing the perspective of agriculture to this alone, has an influence in further alienating the young people away from agriculture.

Farming requires other support functions such as Policies, Entrepreneurship, Research, Finance, Extension & Rural Advisory Services, Communications and Technologies. All these provide PERFECT alternative opportunities for youth in agriculture. Against this backdrop, Hlami Ngwenya has started a campaign on “PERFECT” opportunities for youth in Agriculture, as an effort to bridge the knowledge gap.

The Munghana Lonene FM (known as MLFM) is one the National radio stations of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Broacasting in XiTsonga  (one of the 11 official languages in South Africa), the station has a listenership of over 1 million people in South Africa and parts of Mozambique.

Ruth MaphopheEvery Sunday between 20h05 -22h00 MLFM hosts a show called Minkondzo ya Tinghwazi, (meaning “Footprints of the Legends”). This program produced by Ms. Ruth Maphophe (on left), and presented by Pastor Strike Manganyi (down right) is a motivational talk show aimed at profiling people from all walks of life who have made a difference in people’s lives in one way or another.

As South Africa celebrated the Youth Month (of June) as a rememberance of the historic event of the June 16, 1976, many radio programs for this month were geared towards inspiring the youth.

On Sunday the  07thof June 2015, MLFM profiled as one of its legends Hlami Ngwenya to recognize the contributions that she makes in mentoring local youth; but also her involvement with GFRAS and engagement with other global partners in the advancement of “Talent development in agriculture: Growing ambitions for agricultural professionals.

During this two-hour live broadcast, Hlami shared about (among others) GFRAS and its creative competition on rural advisory services, the work of YPARD and CTA and other PERFECT opportunities in the broader agricultural sector.  During the show, the youth were allowed to phone in to engage and ask questions for clarity.

Pastor Strike In the week following the show, Hlami has directly received calls from both parents and youth from deep rural areas seeking for more information. The MLFL studio was also overwhelmed with calls from listeners who are hungry for more knowledge and information about agriculture beyond farming.

The effect that radio has in reaching millions of marginalized groups should not be underestimated. Radio remains one of the most accessible mass media platforms and this provides a great opportunity to reach out to the majority of the youth whom under normal circumstances would remain untouched by such valuable information.