About Radio Lifeline

HISTORY - Radio Lifeline was founded in 2004, at a time when coffee prices were at historic lows and a farmer’s cost of production could often exceeded the prices that their coffees would bring at market. Small-holder farmers were further constrained by their lack of access to to accurate market information or agricultural extension services, with the result that many farmers struggled to simply meet their daily needs.

The Coffee Lifeline project was launched with the simple goal of providing farmers with access to information that could help to transform their lives and livelihoods. Partnering with the USAID-funded SPREAD Project and The Freeplay Foundation (now Lifeline Energy) and with funds provided by several progressive US coffee companies, 200 solar and crank-powered radios were distributed into 12 coffee cooperatives, creating listening groups of 10-20 farmers for each radio. Since then, nearly 1,000 Lifeline radios have been distributed into farmer listening groups.

In 2005, Radio Lifeline partnered with Radio Salus, a community radio station affiliated with the National University of Rwanda, to create the weekly farmer-focused radio broadcast, Imbere Heza (Bright Future). Each broadcast contains information on a variety of topics, including agronomy, cooperative development and sustainablity, early childhood and maternal health, HIV/AIDS education, climate change, nutrition, food security, economic diversification and gender equality. Every program closes with a children’s story from various cultures around the world. In 2013 the Coffee Lifeline project expanded its activities into Kenya, partnering with the Kenya Meteorological Dept and Radio Kangema, a community radio station located in the Murang’a District. and Rware FM, located in Nyeri. Coffee Lifeline’s Thahabu Iitu (Our Gold) broadcast reaches an estimated 50,000 farmers, providing them with regular access to agronomy, health and social development programming. Major funding for these broadcasts has been provided by Keurig Green Mountain.

In 2009, Radio Lifeline partnered with USAID, Texas A&M University, SC Johnson Co. and SOPYRWA, a Rwandan pyrethrum manufacturer, to launch the Py Lifeline project as part of the Rwanda Pyrethrum Project. Pyrethrum is one of the world’s few botanical sources of natural pesticide and presents significant economic and development opportunities to the handful of countries where it grown, most of which are located in East Africa. Our Py Lifeline broadcasts currently reach nearly 20,000 farmers in Rwanda’s remote northern provinces, providing them with access to information that can improve the quality of their crops as well as the quality of their lives.

In 2013 Radio Lifeline launched into a new series of partnerships to conduct the world’s first national field trials into the benefits of biochar for small-scale coffee producers. Utilizing small, farm-based kilns, biochar can be produced from any dried biomass, including agricultural waste such as corn stalks, dried grasses, rice hulls, cow manure or wood chips.When incorporated into farms as a soil amendment, biochar promotes the growth of micro-organisms, reduces the leaching of water and nutrients, leading to higher yields and less dependence on costly petrochemical fertilizers, while potentially creating additional revenue streams for struggling cooperatives as global carbon markets continue to develop. Phase I test results demonstrated an average of 35% increase in yield and 50% decrease in input costs within the six participating cooperatives.



Peter Kettler - Founder/Director
Pascal Gakwaya Kalisa - Rwanda Field Coordinator
Emma-Claudine Ntirenganya - Broadcast Coordinator, Rwanda Imbere Heza producer

Kenya Associates
Josphat Kang’ethe - Thahabu Iitu Producer
Florence Gakenia Mwaniki - Journalist
Francis Kaimuru Maina - Journalist
Hellen Muthoni Njoroge - Journalist

Peter Kettler, Founder/Director
Over the past 25 years Peter has served in various capacities within the specialty coffee industry, with experience in every level of production from seed to cup. Beginning his coffee career as a barista while a student in Paris, he later gained experience as a manager for Steamer’s Coffee and as co-owner of Milwaukee’s Stone Creek Coffee. For ten years Peter was a senior trader at Holland Coffee, establishing its midwest warehouse and sales office while developing a customer base throughout 22 states and Canada. Peter was employed for several years as Director of Coffee at Taylor Maid Farms in Sonoma County, CA and recently served in the capacity of Development Director for Coffee Kids, an international non-profit focusing on the needs of coffee-farming families in Latin America.

Pascal Gakwaya Kalisa - Rwanda Field Coordinator
Pascal began his coffee career as a smallholder farmer in Rwanda and has received training in agronomy and communication at the National University of Rwanda. As a washing station manager for the Maraba Cooperative, he gained practical experience in the various stages of coffee processing. For five years (2007-12) he worked in several capacities for the USAID-funded SPREAD project, working closely with coffee cooperatives on issues of governance, loan management and certification. Pascal has also overseen quality control programs for RWASHOSCCO (Rwanda Small Holder Specialty Coffee Co.) and is a coordinator for the annual Rwandan Cup of Excellence competitions.

Emma-Claudine Ntirenganya - Broadcast Coordinator, Rwanda Imbere Heza producer
Emma-Claudine is a 2005 graduate of the National University of Rwanda’s School of Journalism and Communication and has become one of the country’s most respected journalist/producers in the areas of health and reproduction. Apart from her work with Radio Lifeline, Emma also serves as the producer, presenter and supervisor for a number of broadcast programs, including the weekly reproductive health program “Imenye Nawe” and the weekly “Mu Rubohero”. Emma is also a regular contributor to the magazine “NiNyampinga”, writing on issues related to reproductive and women’s health. She is the founder of the website ijabo.com which features information related to women’s health, education and social development. Emma was recently appointed Managing Editor of Girl Hub, an outreach and education initiative that seeks to empower young women in under-developed countries.





© Radio Lifeline 2014