V I D E O :: D R O N E

Nowadays the word ‘drone’ has such negative connotations.

Go on. Ask someone what comes to mind when you say that word: USA, surveillance, death.

Given this pernicious reputation I inwardly recoil whenever Malians refer to my GoPro-fitted helicopter as une drone. Technically they’re right – it’s an airborne device meant to capture aerial video and photography.

But rather than keeping tabs on militant activity, my drone will be used to capture a unique view of agriculture in Mali where I’m working with Ottawa-based Farm Radio International. FRI is currently running a pilot reality radio program which follows six young candidates as they try their hands at agriculture. After six bi-weekly episodes, locals and buzz in and vote for the candidate they think most deserving.

And given the recent conflict in Mali, and recent droughts, the emphasis on agriculture couldn’t have come at a more relevant period.

But I wanted to test the drone first in a wide open space – away from power lines and locals who could be potentially be decapitated by an ill-trained pilot.

My FRI colleague Lamine Togola sweet-talked some guards into letting us use a construction site just outside Fana – a small town a couple of hours northeast of Bamako.

And so check out the drone’s maiden voyage below – and be sure to watch to the end to see the crash landing.