On Republic Day, a new radio station dedicated to raising awareness about climate change and agriculture will be soft-launched in Latur, Maharashtra. The community radio station will be based in Lodga village, on the outskirts of Latur city.

The radio station is the brainchild of Pasha Patel, Chairman of the Maharashtra State Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices. Climate-related content will be provided by Skymet Weather Services, a pioneer in weather forecast and information.

The whole region around Latur city and the larger Latur district is a hub for toor dal (Pigeon Pea) farming and trading. Toor dal is a nutritious pulse and an important part of the vegetarian diet. Any major changes in toor dal availability have national ramifications.

Patel told BusinessLine that climate is rapidly changing weather and agriculture cycles. Climate scientists believe there are only 10 years left to save the earth and these years should be utilised to spread the message of conservation. The radio station is a step in that direction, and will connect farmers and the local population with their immediate environment, he said.

The station will be formally launched in March by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, said Patel. The radio station will also be available on the Radio Garden app, so that the farmers would be able to hear the broadcast at their convenience and location on a smartphone, he said.

Real-time alerts

Since climate is changing at a fast pace the radio station will provide real-time updates to farmers to help them take preventive measures. The radio station will also ask the farmers to plant as many trees as possible to capture carbon and mitigate climate change, Patel said.

Yogesh Patil, CEO of Skymet Weather, said that along with the farmers, the message on climate change must also reach schoolchildren. Therefore, radio sets and speakers would be provided in 100 local schools and every week special programmes would be made available for the children, he said.

A community radio station relies on the community for its survival. It has no advertising or commercial support. It is a medium that gives voice to the marginalised.