Commercial Vernacular Radio Stations and Food Security in Machakos County: A Case of Musyi FM
Agricultural information dissemination is an important aspect in the quest to improving food security in Kenya and particularly Machakos County. Studies have proved radio to be the most effective mass media for this purpose especially the vernacular ones. Vernacular radio is ideal in disseminating agricultural information and food security issues as majority of the people reside in rural areas, do farming as their economic activity and are characterized with illiteracy and low levels of income. Therefore using any other medium or national languages of English and Kiswahili will cut of some of them. Informed by diffusion of innovations and dependence theory of mass media, this study sought to establish the contribution commercial vernacular radios have in enhancing food security in Machakos County by focusing on Musyi FM as a case study. The study focused on Mananja and Mamba, which are two representative administrative sub locations of the farming activities carried out in the county. Through systematic random sampling, a sample size of 176 individual farmers were selected and three key informants who included the assistant head of Musyi FM radio doubling up as a program presenter at the station and two ward agricultural officers; one from Ndithini and the other from Kithimani ward were purposively selected. The study adopted a mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect data through questionnaires, in-depth interviews and content analysis on Musyi FM programs. The data was analyzed and presented as frequency distribution tables, bar charts and narrations from which conclusions and recommendations were made. The study found that CVR stations delivery of agricultural information to rural farmers in an effort to improve food security in Machakos County was hindered by inappropriate broadcast time, poor signal and power problems. However the study found that CVRS were the best medium of ending food insecurity in Machakos County as they were the major source of agricultural information to farmers in the county. To improve food security in the county the researcher recommended CVR stations to broadcast their agricultural programs from 7.30pm to 9.00pm and improve their signal in all areas they cover.