The Kuttanad Farm Radio, as the initiative will be known, is a project of the Farm Information Bureau (FIB), Thiruvananthapuram and is among the measures being initiated by the State Government to tackle the lack of information that has led to aggravation of disasters brought upon Kuttanads farmers by the vagaries of nature.
According to FIB officer G.S. Unnikrishnan, the project was announced last month by Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran in the State Assembly and work has already begun with the objective of launching the radio, the first of its kind in the State, within three months.
To serve farmers in a radius of 25km from the centre of Kuttanad, the Kuttanad Farm Radio will have technical inputs from agricultural experts in the State Agriculture Department and will be operated by professional jockeys. Expected to cost around Rs. 30 lakh, the radio station will most probably be located at the Rice Research Institute in Mankombu here. The cost could vary depending on the transmitter capacity, Mr. Unnikrishnan said.
A survey to identify the requirements of Kuttanad farmers and to chalk out programmes accordingly is already on. Kuttanad-specific programmes will be broadcast twice a day. If the experiment turns out to be successful, plans are afoot to establish similar community radio stations in Palakkad, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.
"Since it is the State Government that will be running the radio station in association with the All India Radio, we require approval of the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry to launch the radio. We have already submitted necessary applications and hope the approval comes without much delay," Mr. Unnikrishnan said.
Similar community radio station projects were launched by non-governmental organizations, albeit for fishermen, but did not prove to be sustainable ventures, Mr. Unnikrishnan said, adding that the pre-launch survey for the Kuttanad Farm Radio would help to avoid any glitches.
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