Author: Asst. Professor, GBPUA&T, Arpita Sharma, originally posted April 1 2017 - Establishment of Community Radio Station in Junagadh Agriculture University (JAU) is a success story and inspires other institution to replicate the model for the benefit of the rural populace. Arpita Sharma highlights a success story of Saurashtra, Gujar.

Community radio can be regarded as most appropriate medium of mass communication in developing countries with very low literacy rates, poor transportation systems and very low purchasing power. The idea of community radio in most parts of the country had been a "wonderful idea". It is an idea that should expand because as a platform of communication, community radio forms a part of a tripartite stakeholder partnership: the broadcaster, the person disseminating the information and the listener who is keen for information, knowledge and dissemination of facts.

It is a new concept to ensure 'People Participation' at a grassroot level for their local development. It provides the platform to the rural people to take part in each and every step, like programme designing, recording, broadcasting and evaluation. Community Radio is a local communication medium of empowerment.

The goal of development communication is to mobilize rural people at a grassroot level and sensitize them so that they could become self-reliant and develop themselves by their own efforts. Community-based independent media is now perceived by media activists and grassroots organizations as a means of enabling rural people and marginalized sections of the society to manage their own development and to acquire a sense of control over its course through self-management.

Junagardh Community Radio

Establishment of Community Radio Station in Junagadh Agriculture University (JAU) is a success story and inspires other institutions to replicate the model for the benefit of the rural populace. The university represents eleven districts viz., Amreli, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Rajkot, Surendranagar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Gir Somnath, Botad and Morbi historically known as Saurashtra, covering about 32.82 per cent area of the Gujarat State. The university is functioning in a typical arid and semi-arid type of climate in the state. Saurashtra is the home of famous breed of cattle, cow (Gir), buffalo (Jafrabadi), goat (Zalawadi) and horse (Kathi). Junagadh Agricultural University offers education in agriculture and allied sciences, i.e., agriculture, agricultural engineering and fisheries.

The JAU, identifying the dire needs for a community radio station in its service to cater to the people the following: updated information and scientific knowledge on various aspects of socio-economic activities and steps to start a second community radio station in Saurashtra region in Gujarat. Junagadh Janvanihas was licensed to JAU and based in Junagadh. In keeping with its tradition of promoting the welfare and betterment of society, JAU, Junagadh took the initiative to launch the community radio station (Junagadh Janvani) to serve the cause of progress and development of the community at large. The radio station caters to different groups by interest like students, community members, farmers, rural women, unemployed youth, school going children, farm workers and others.

The community radio station, Junagadh Janvani reaches out to masses on issues concerning health, environment, development, scientific awareness, women, social issues and others. It makes all efforts to inform, and educate, while entertaining the public. The Mission Statement of the Junagadh Janvani is “to utilize the power and reach of Radio to inform, educate and empower the diverse communities that make-up Junagadh and work in tandem with socially committed groups, educational institutions, NGOs and corporate bodies to educate communities and the public towards socially responsive behaviour; to share skills, knowledge, insights and promote initiative in individuals; to help preserve and popularize Indian heritage, art and culture; to act as a catalyst in meaningful social transformation and development; to sensitize and spread awareness on vital issues confronting the community.”

Man behind Junagadh Janvani

The idea of Junagadh Janvani emerged in 2009 when Dr. NC Patel joined as a Vice Chancellor of the JAU. He is well known for his professional contribution for the development of technologies and a number pieces of processing equipment that facilitated young entrepreneurs and agro-processors. Under his leadership the Junagadh Janvani established and became operational on June 23, 2014. 

Dr. Patel, having realized the potential of the Community Radio in spreading awareness among rural community, in 2009 had unveiled the concept of Community radio for the benefit of rural community of Saurashtra region and to bring in a qualitative change in rural area. In the year 2009-10, only 12 Community Radio stations were established by the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and Agricultural colleges or institutes.

Out of 175 permissions for establishing Community Radios, 163 were granted to NGOs or educational institutes and remaining licenses were issued to agricultural institutes or Krishi Vigyan Kendras. At that time only 12 operational Community Radio Stations seemed like a dot on the map of India.

Thus, Dr. Patel, in order to empower the farmers and rural people, took the initiative to start first Community Radio Station in Saurastra region of Gujarat.

With the support from the state government, the JAU converted the AGRISNET studio into Community radio station and, after some time, got the license. All the needed equipment was purchased for establishing the Community radio station.

After discussion among participants the radio station was named as “Junagadh Janvani”. It is available at 91.2 FM frequency. The radio broadcast covers 70 villages nearly area of 15 square km of the JAU. Programmes relay all aspects of agriculture including crop science, horticulture and animal husbandry and social sector issues like health and education.

In initial phase, programmes on horticulture, animal husbandry, education, education, research, literature, culture, culture, folk art, health, etc., were available to listeners. Scientists from various departments of the JAU, students, local NGOs and artists willingly contribute to programme contents for the benefit of farmers and learn from them, too.

The university had spent nearly Rs 20 lakh to set up a studio for community radio. Besides, JAU had initiated the process to pay annual spectrum fee of Rs 21,412 last month to the Information and Broadcast Ministry. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allotted channel number 91.2 for the radio to the university and range was from 12 to 16 km. The university broadcasts four hours of programmes during the day before augmenting the number of programmes.

The Way Forward

Presently Junagadh Janvani broadcasts the programmes 8-9 am in morning and 5-6 pm at evening. The programmes cater to the needs of various interest groups from farmers to children and provide them the platform to access knowledge and information that can improve their standard of living and well-being. We hope to have Community Radio in each district of the Saurashtra region in Gujarat.

The Junagadh Janvani aims to empower every individual in society, to become a winner and an achiever by harnessing and nurturing human potential; to sensitize society to global, national and local issues; to use technology and human enterprise in tandem to help create a meaningful and proactive social ambience where interdependence becomes mutually supportive and to focus on a universally responsive India.

The need of the hour is to educate the masses, create awareness and cater to the needs of the people at the grassroot level. The Junagadh Janvani is successful community radio which helps and empowers the grassroot people of Surashtra.  Through innovative concepts and new initiatives, JAU has ensured that the wheels of progress move at rapid pace and the fruits of development reach all rural people in Saurashtra.

(Author Arpita Sharma is Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Communication, College of Agriculture, GBPUA&T, Pantnagar)

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