Tanzania: Put the Spotlight on Rural Development
Joachim Buwembo helped to create Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First), now a financially vibrant weekly publication focusing on agriculture issues. The eight-page supplement is published in English and Kiswahili by the Guardian Newspapers, the country’s top independent newspaper group.
Since it began, the supplement has featured more than 200 stories. Some reports led to new bank loans for farmers to buy imported tractors that lay idle as well as to increased government investment in dairy equipment and irrigation. Kilimo Kwanza attracts enough advertising to cover production costs. Its success has prompted competitors to beef up their coverage: Business Times now publishes a weekly agriculture page, and the government-owned Daily News pays more attention to farm issues than ever before. Buwembo has turned production over to a team he has trained, including an editor and a dedicated corps of reporters who have continued the supplement each week.
Before he began a new fellowship in Kenya, he developed a network of rural citizen journalists who are sending news tips that urban journalists can follow up on, providing a more comprehensive view of poverty issues around the country. The citizen journalists, all of whom are full-time or part-time farmers, are also sending reports on farm conditions and agricultural programs in their areas. The World Vision Institute helped support Buwembo’s citizen-journalism project by covering five training sessions for 24 people.