The Archers has been one of the inspirations for a new radio show in Afghanistan.

Crops and Farmers, broadcast by Radio Tamadoon in Lashkar Ghar, is fast becoming a favourite with the province’s people.

It’s the brainchild of Royal Navy linguist Lieutenant Joe Nicholson, who has drawn on his agricultural background for the series, which is spreading understanding of modern farming techniques.

“I was asked to provide the local farmers with an educational program,” explains reservist Joe.

“Afghan farmers now have the freedom and security to be able to grow legitimate crops. The programme is a cross between Gardeners’ Question Time and The Archers, set in a fictional village, Helmand’s very own Ambridge.”

“We are limited on facilities so the cast is small, but we have sound effects – there is a skinny chicken that features throughout the shows. It is listened to right across central Helmand so we can potentially reach over a million people,” says Joe.

“Afghan farmers now have the freedom and security to be able to grow legitimate crops. The programme is a cross between Gardeners’ Question Time and The Archers, set in a fictional village, Helmand’s very own Ambridge.”
Lt Joe Nicholson

When writing scripts, he uses his experience from the family’s 485ha farm in Buckinghamshire.

Joe also calls on the South Carolina Agribusiness Development Team, a US National Guard unit, to help with questions from the show’s phone-in.

“We have an hour of questions on everything from wheat and water to nuts and raisins.”

Captain Steve Crosby Jones, from farming stock in Sussex, is part of the Specialist Team Royal Engineers, working on a project to help improve Helmand’s canals and irrigation channels.

“Every winter, the canals are drained so they can be repaired and silt clearance can take place. The radio is a great way of letting people know what we are doing and when and where water will be available and how to use it effectively.”

As to the theme tune, Joe says it has become his “earworm”, but accepts that it may not yet compete for the universal recognition that The Archers has.

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