I am a farmer, wildlife enthusiast, agricultural and biodiversity conservation community radio broadcaster. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in History and International Studies from Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria and a Masters in International Development and Cooperation from the Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of Pavia, Italy. I use radio educational programs, to communicate latest agricultural science and biodiversity conservation trends, to enrich the knowledge of smallholder farmers in Nigeria. As Executive Director of The Smallholders Foundation, a rural development organization based in Imo State, South Eastern Region of Nigeria, our community radio station, the Smallholder Farmers Rural Radio (Farm 98.0 FM), is used to develop and broadcast 10 hours of daily agriculture, environmental and market information in the local Igbo Language to inform and improve the economic and environmental management capacity of local smallholder farmers.
Over the past 15 years I’ve worked to increase agricultural development capacity by broadcasting content covering: crop production techniques, livestock management, seed accessibility, soil management practices, erosion and flood control techniques, farm management and safety, food safety, crop pest and livestock disease control, rainwater harvesting, treadle pumps making, small scale irrigation management. I also discuss topics relating to farmer health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and malaria. Additionally, I share information on how to improve small farmers’ wider environment, including: alternatives to slash and burn agriculture, sustainable water management, enacting and enforcing laws to protect community streams and rivers, using drought-resistant plants, techniques to restore degraded rainforests, wetlands and mangrove ecosystem, sustainable fish harvesting technologies, planting multi-use trees, coping with extreme weather events, agro forestry, wildlife management, ecotourism, utilizing renewable energies, among others. I broadcast daily commodity prices from 38 major markets within the region, giving farmers information on how to access national and international markets, steps on exportation and accessing micro-credit facilities.
I am particularly excited to be a OMP-IWT Visiting Fellow because I’ve been looking for an academic stimulating environment, where I can interact with researchers to create and implement a new interdisciplinary approach to solve the contemporary challenge of illegal hunting and trade of pangolins in Nigeria. The aim of the project is to secure increased income for the local population in Ogun and Oyo states, South Western Nigeria, thereby reducing the need to generate income through illegal poaching of pangolins for local meat consumption and trade in scales. My project seeks to carefully select 100 hunters, farmers, Pangolin scales dealers, bush meat sellers, forest reserve workers and timber dealers from 53 local government areas of Ogun and Oyo states, Nigeria and train them in sustainable homestead Grasscutter (Greater Cane Rat, Thryonomys swinderianus) farming and marketing as a means of an alternative livelihood.
As part of the project I will also produce and broadcast an 11-episode educational radio serial drama in the local Yoruba Language titled “Meet the Pangolin” to increase local knowledge about Pangolins and create public awareness about the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Endangered Species Control of International Trade and Traffic (Amendment) Act, 2016. This absolutely prohibits the hunting or trading in wild animals, including pangolins (specified in the First Schedule). The educational radio serial drama will be aired on Ogun 90.5 FM Radio, Abeokuta and Premier 93.5 FM (FRCN), Ibadan, Oyo State, over a six-month period with a reach of at least 5 million listeners.
Additionally, my project will establish an inter-agency Pangolin Monitoring Desk in Ogun and Oyo states, with representatives of the Nigerian Police Force, The Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency (NESREA), and the Nigerian Parks Authority, to enforce the Endangered Species Act, thereby controlling the illegal hunting and trade in pangolins. My goal is to build a long-term partnership with OMP -IWT. This partnership will continue the cross-fertilization of ideas and exchange of knowledge long after my fellowship ends which will be critical to refine and implement my project in Nigeria.