For the first time in Kerala, a community radio service, targeted exclusively for a farmer audience, under the aegis of a government department began broadcasting on Wednesday.
‘Kuttanad 90.0 FM’ was inaugurated by state agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar, who also turned radio jockey for a few minutes to kick off the proceedings.
The community radio service, set up under the Farm Information Bureau (FIB) of the agriculture department, is aimed at informing and educating local farmers about the new trends in the sector and the agri-schemes of the state and central governments.
There would also be programmes on various aspects of irrigation and agriculture, from pest reduction to best use of fertilisers, interviews with experts as well as conversations about local folk songs and tales.
The radio station has been set up on the premises of the state seed testing laboratory in Kalarcode. The service will be available to listeners in a 20-km radius in Kuttanad, Kerala’s famed ‘paddy bowl’ which is one of the few places in the world where paddy farming is done below the sea level.
“We have started the service with a daily two-hour programme from 7 am to 9 am. We will need more time to go into full-fledged operations and we will be hiring more staff to operate full day programmes,” said George Sebastian, principal information officer of FIB. ‘We began this in Kuttanad because it’s a special place not just due to below the sea level farming. This is also where farmers face the most problems due to annual flooding and collapse of bunds. We want to address their issues. Through this radio service, we are also aiming to revive the lost art forms and folk songs of Kuttanad.”
If the Kuttanad radio becomes a successful model, the government plans to open more stations in areas like Idukki, Wayanad and Thrissur catering to the specific agrarian issues in such places.
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