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CTA. 2003. Vital signs. Spore 104. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47886
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore104.pdf
There are many unsung heroes in the back offices of the agricultural media.
There are many unsung heroes in the back offices of the agricultural media. Vital Okom?of The Farmer's Voice, is typical: a lithe lad in his mid-20s, ambitious, dedicated, and a bit of a rap artist. In his mail room jammed full of orderly piles of back issues, he suddenly launches into a song-like chant. His job description, rap-style. "OK, see, my job is to distribute the newspaper in the Centre province, which includes Yaound?but in fact I'm involved with all the copies, no matter their destination. Near the end of each month, the production people call me and I take the print-copy off to the printers. Two or three days later, they call and I go off with my mate Bernard in one of the cars to collect the result - 16,000 copies. It takes a couple of trips to get them all back here - nearly 50 packs of 250 copies each. First I pack up the parcels to go to the  regional offices like in Baffoussam and N'gaounder?they get around 500] - they distribute copies locally, including to local government representatives. Nowadays a shipping company picks them up; before we used to take them to the railway station. That's made a big difference to us, even if the copies get there no faster. The next day, I do the kiosks here in town. We used to have a list of 52, but we've cut it down to about 15 heavy sellers, some sell more than 100; in all, I sell 1,075 like this. They sell for FCFA 300 a copy, and they give me FCFA 225. Then I go off to all the villages roundabout, 50 in all; it takes a long day, dropping off 10 here, 20 there, to little stockists. I do two numbers together, and collect the money at the same time. The postal subscribers - 280, including our friends abroad - take me a day to do what with all the folding, cutting the labels, sealing the envelope tight. I only get to the post office the day after. Then it's time for subscribers here in Yaound?they've each paid FCFA 5,000 for a year, and I take them their copy by hand, one by one, knock knock, knock knock. I've got the labels and everything all sorted out by neighbourhood, and it still takes me 4 days to do them all. Next, the bulk orders, like the offices of the German or Dutch development agencies, who take 70 and 50 each, and the institutional ones. The National Assembly gets 180 copies, one for each member. The Office of the President takes 19, I take them there personally, they expect me. And the Prime Minister 5, Ministry of Culture 6, Justice 6, Industry and Commerce 7, External Affairs 8, Agriculture 6, Women's Affairs 6 ?" "I finished all that today for the February issue," he beams. "Now I have to do my accounts for the petrol, wrappers and sticky tape, and sign off on the inventory [a painstakingly filled ledger of who got what]. Look, add them up, I did 3,303 copies this month in the province alone. And tomorrow, I'm off back round the kiosks to make arrangements to collect their payments." ? FCFA 650 = 1 euro.