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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Challenges to Africa’s farmers, and finding a niche market

Thank you for scanning your inbox and opening this latest edition of Farm Radio Weekly. In issue #309, we present stories about challenges facing farmers, on both the local and the national scale, and a story from Congo-Brazzaville about a farmer who found the root to success: turnips!

After the death of a parent, young farmers can be adversely affected when inheritance customs divide the family farm into small plots. Some countries have laws which establish a minimum size for farms, but making a living from a tiny plot is tough.

Farmers in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region often find it challenging to grow enough food for the year. Drought-tolerant crops like millet are staple foods in these semi-arid lands, but millet farmers near the northern town of Aribinda are facing a new problem: hungry birds.

There are many landless farmers. Forced to grow on abandoned or unused land, they are constantly at risk of eviction. But one family in Congo-Brazzaville is catering to immigrants with a taste for turnips, and turning profits from the crop into land of their own!

Are you a member of the Barza.fm website? Click the Like button on the Barza Facebook page to receive updates on the site. Read more in the Action section below.

November 2 is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Read the Resource section below for more on the Day. There are links to events and resources which you can use in your radio programming to help mark the Day.

Have a safe and peaceful week,

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Africa: Dividing farmland a threat to food security (IPS)

When Kiprui Kibet pictures his future as a farmer, all he sees is the ever-dwindling size of his small plot.

Mr. Kibet farms in fertile Uasin Gishu County in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. He says, “I used to farm on 40 hectares but now I only have 0.8 hectares. My father had 10 sons and we all wanted to own a piece of the farmland.” The family harvested 3,200 bags a year on 40 hectares, but Mr. Kibet produces only 20 bags, and sometimes less.

The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, or FAO, states that a majority of Africa’s farmers now grow food on less than one hectare of land. In Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, the number of people with one hectare of farmland has decreased by 13 to 17 per cent in the last decade. Experts say that subdividing land is becoming a significant threat to food security.

FAO says that small-scale farmers account for at least 75 per cent of Africa’s agricultural output. But according to a 2012 USAID report, 25 per cent of young adults who grew up in rural areas did not inherit any land because there was no land to inherit.

Titus Rotich is an agricultural extension officer in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. He says, “Farmlands are becoming so small that with time, farming will no longer be economically viable … land is only used to set up a homestead, and to grow a few backyard vegetables and rear a few chickens.”

Large-scale land purchases may also be contributing to the problem. Allan Moshi is an expert on land policy in sub-Saharan Africa. He says investors are rushing to East and Southern Africa and buying up huge tracts of land. He warns, “Large-scale land acquisition not only reduces available land for locals, but what is available to the locals still has to be subdivided [because of] land inheritance.”

Isaac Maiyo works for Schemers, an agricultural community-based organization in Kenya. He says, “Small-scale farmers still produce more than big farms. Big farms often lie idle. Investors hoard them for speculative purposes, but food is only rarely grown on this land.“

Some African countries have enacted laws to prevent land from becoming too fragmented. South Africa’s Agricultural Land Act prevents the “subdivision of agricultural land to the extent where the new portions created are so small that farming will no longer be economically viable.” The Kenyan Agriculture Act states that agricultural land should not be subdivided below 0.8 hectares. But many farmers do not know the law exists.

Mr. Kibet says: “We subdivide not based on what the law says, but based on the number of dependents who want a share of available land, particularly where land inheritance is concerned.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, Africa’s Dividing Farmlands A Threat To Food Security, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/africas-dividing-farmlands-a-threat-to-food-security/

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Burkina Faso: Feathered grain thieves force farmers to harvest early (by Nourou-Dhine Salouka, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Farmers in the village of Pém are panicking. For the last few weeks, birds have been ravaging millet fields in and around Aribinda, a town in northern Burkina Faso. Farmer Boubacar Maïga says he first spotted the birds in the fields at the end of September.

The birds may be small in size, but they are causing major damage. They are destroying crops throughout the village, stripping the plants of all grain. Mr. Maïga says, “These birds are a calamity. They attack the millet as the ears are ripening.”

Bassirou Koura also grows millet. He says, “This year I will not harvest a single ear because of the birds.”

Local farmers have tried to prevent the birds from reproducing by cutting down trees to destroy nests. They are also using scarecrows to frighten the birds away. But they have had little success.

Local authorities are advising farmers to harvest their millet early. Mamadou Maïga is the mayor of Aribinda. He says: “There’s nothing we can do to counter these birds. They move constantly and reproduce very quickly. We can only suggest to farmers that they harvest their crops quickly.”

Boubacar Maïga laments, “I have lost a third of my harvest. It could have been worse if I had not gathered it in early.”

Other farmers do not believe in harvesting early. Boureima Dicko asks, “What’s the point of harvesting unripe ears? An early harvest might only lead to a cartload of grain.” Mr. Dicko chose to abandon his field. The 50-year-old farmer says, “Aside from using the stalks as hay for my horse, I do not know what else to do.”

Local farmers are preparing for famine. Mr. Boubacar says, “We are used to disasters, but this is beyond anything I have experienced. We will starve this year if no one comes to our aid.” He does not know how he will feed his family of ten. His son, Ousmane, says, “I’m going back to Segou in Mali because there is nothing to do here. I’ve lived there before.” He hopes to find work in Mali again.

The coming months will be difficult for those in the area. The mayor, Mamadou Maïga, says: “In years of plenty, crops in the Sahel only provide enough food for eight months. This year, the harvest will be exhausted after three months. It is necessary that the government implements programs quickly to distribute grain or sell it at subsidized prices.”

The mayor has already instructed the regional head of agricultural technical support to tour the area and report on the situation. But it is not only Pém that is affected. People in the nearby villages of Bossou, Koutougou and Nassombou are experiencing the same misfortune. Boubacar Maïga says, “As we are not the only ones affected, I hope the government will hear our call.”

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Congo-Brazzaville: Turnips are ticket to profit for market gardener (by Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga, for Farm Radio Weekly)

The sun slips behind dense foliage as the day draws to a close, but a few golden rays penetrate the dense canopy of trees. The sun’s rays illuminate a large clearing planted with fruit trees and beds of vegetables. Despite the lateness of the hour, people are still at work.

Joseph Claude Milongo is operating a noisy, motorized water pump that provides a steady stream of water to the dozens of vegetable beds in his field.

His fellow gardeners refer to him as the “Turnip man.” Mr. Milongo earned his nickname because he is the only farmer in the area who grows turnips. The vegetable was introduced to Congo-Brazzaville about four years ago by Chinese settlers, who eat a lot of turnips.

Mr. Milongo explains: “The turnip is a very attractive plant. It can be grown throughout the year, whatever the season.” Turnips do not need a nursery bed because the seeds can be planted directly in the soil. An added bonus is that farmers do not need to dig over seedbeds, which saves time, money and labour. Mr. Milongo adds, “After 45 days they are ready to harvest. We sell both the leaves and the roots.”

He grows turnips to increase his income. His dream is to own his own small farm very soon. He says: “After 15 years of farming, it’s [only] now that I am making good profit margins. [After I have paid for] seeds, manure, soil preparation and so on, I have enough left over to live on and plan other projects.”

Unlike tomatoes, eggplants or endives, turnips are easy and cheap to grow and hardy. Most of Mr. Milongo’s buyers are West African, Chinese and Arab immigrants.

He says: “I can buy a box of [turnip] seeds for 5000 Central African francs [$9.60 U.S.]. I plant them in amongst the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in ten seedbeds, 20 metres long and one metre wide. I also grow seven beds which have only turnips in them. From that, I earn 250,000 francs [$480 U.S.] after 45 days.”

Mr. Milongo used his profits to buy land near the town of Ngabari. He hopes to one day set up a small family farm there.

He has been desperate for several years to own his own farm. Like many other small producers, he has squatted on derelict land near Brazzaville. But he was constantly in fear of being expelled from the site.

The 50-year-old father of six works with his wife, Patricia Kiembé. Her main role is selling their produce at the market in Brazzaville, where she maintains good prices and good relationships with their customers. She says, “It was I who convinced my husband to grow turnips.”

The couple discovered the crop at a nearby Chinese-owned farm. Mrs. Kiembé observed that people at the market were interested in turnips for their therapeutic properties – the vegetables are thought to be good for the heart and intestines. There was strong demand from the Chinese community, both for food and as part of traditional medicines.

So they seized their opportunity. The couple bought the water pump with their first-year profits. Mrs. Kiembé adds, “Slowly but surely, our situation is developing for the better, and soon we will have our own farm where we can start to raise pigs.”

Mr. Milongo believes they are off to a good start. But he still faces huge difficulties, especially in the dry season when he cannot draw water from the wells. Sometimes he has to wait hours before he can resume irrigating. But despite these challenges, Mr. Milongo is full of confidence. He concludes: “If I can continue to generate these profits, in two or three years I’ll have my own farm.”

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FRW news in brief

1-Somalia: Radio station turns words into action

Like many African countries, Somalia is a predominantly oral society. This means that radio can be a powerful communication tool.

The many radio stations in Somalia compete for listeners, but Radio Ergo is the country’s only dedicated humanitarian radio service. Over the past three years, Radio Ergo has created a niche by making a positive difference in the lives of people across Somalia.

Radio Ergo’s programming is varied. Every day, listeners can tune in to dramas, talk shows, and interviews with experts on a range of humanitarian issues, including health, education, displacement, and weather warnings which, for example, give people time to move safely to higher ground.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.unocha.org/top-stories/all-stories/somalia-ocha-founded-radio-station-turns-words-action

2-Uganda: Rising temperatures mean pests and diseases more damaging to coffee

Coffee is Uganda’s single largest export earner. The East African nation is the largest exporter of coffee on the continent; Ethiopia consumes more than half of what it produces.

The Uganda Coffee Development Authority estimates that 85 per cent of Ugandan coffee is produced by small-scale farmers, the majority of whom own fields of half a hectare to two and a half hectares. The coffee sector employs three and a half million people.

But all is not well in the Ugandan coffee business. Dr. Africano Kangire from Uganda’s National Coffee Research Institute says that warmer than usual weather may be creating a breeding ground for pests and diseases.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/as-uganda-heats-up-pests-and-disease-flourish-to-attack-its-top-export-crop/

3-Kenya: Farmers back referendum for more local aid

A growing number of impoverished Kenyan farmers are calling for a referendum to review the country’s constitution. They hope to improve their position under the country’s system of county governance.

Implemented in 2010, the Kenyan constitution devolved power to the county level, enabling counties to raise funds through their own levies. But according to lobby groups, the central government still oversees how the money is spent.

Isaac Ruto is the chairman of the council of regional governors, which supports the referendum campaign. He says, “The call for a referendum is because resources are not reaching marginalized Kenyans in various parts of the country.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20141020082634-rjw65/

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Call for nominations: Freedom of Expression Awards

Journalists, digital activists and other free speech advocates can be nominated for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards. These awards honour individuals who speak out in dangerous and difficult conditions.

Index invites the public, NGOs, and media organizations to nominate individuals in four categories: campaigner, digital activist, journalist and artist.

Winners will be flown to London, England to attend the award ceremony in March 2015. In addition, they will be invited to join a fellowship training program which will help them maximize the scope and impact of their work for free expression.

The deadline for nominations is November 20, 2014. To nominate someone in any of the categories, go to: http://www.indexoncensorship.org/freedom-expression-awards-2015-nominations/

For more information, go to: http://www.indexoncensorship.org/awards2015

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International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists: November 2, 2014

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The date was chosen to commemorate the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on November 2, 2013.

Why is there an International Day of Commemoration?

  • 593 killings of journalists were condemned by UNESCO between 2006 and 2013. In 2012 alone, the UNESCO Director-General condemned the killing of 123 journalists, media workers, and social media producers of public interest journalism
  • Less than 6 % of the 593 cases have been resolved
  • 94% of killed journalists are local correspondents
  • 41% of killed journalists worked in the print media
  • Only one in 10 cases of crimes against journalists, social media producers and media workers has led to a conviction

These figures do not include the many journalists who suffer non-fatal attacks on a daily basis, including torture, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations. Women journalists also face specific risks, including sexual attacks.

When attacks on journalists go unpunished, it sends the message that reporting the “embarrassing truth” or “unwanted opinions” will get people in trouble. Society as a whole suffers from this impunity. The kind of news that is silenced is exactly the kind the public needs to know.

You can read the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/freedom-of-expression/safety-of-journalists/un-plan-of-action/

For more information about the Day, go to the UNESCO website where you will find news of events and further resources: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/int-day-to-end-impunity/international-day-to-end-impunity-2014/

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Have you liked Barza on Facebook?

Did you know that Barza, our online community for African farm radio broadcasters, has a Facebook page?

We invite all of our Farm Radio Weekly (FRW) readers to “like” the Barza page. It’s easy! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/barzaradio?ref=hl and press on the like button.

That’s where you’ll also find posts with the latest issue of FRW, and posts about upcoming changes to Barza.

After you like the Barza Facebook page, we encourage you to click on the arrow pointing downward on the like button and then click on “Get notifications.” By doing this, you’ll ensure that you receive notifications from Facebook every time we post something on the Barza page.

We look forward to interacting with you on Facebook.

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How to find useful and reliable information about farming on the Internet

The huge amount of information now available on the Internet is creating new opportunities to find specific and reliable information. But it has also brought new challenges.

How can a broadcaster avoid getting lost in such an enormous volume of information? How can broadcasters ensure the reliability of the information they find? What websites regularly publish reliable information on farming-related topics? How can broadcasters rewrite this information in language that is understandable by farming audiences? And what can broadcasters do about conflicting information?

This guide is divided into five parts. Part one briefly describes strategies for finding, organizing and sharing information or “content” on the Internet.

Part two suggests some methods to help you ensure that the information you find on the Internet is reliable.

Part three provides a list of organizations and websites that are known to provide reliable information.

Part four offers advice on how to deal with conflicting information.

The guide closes by offering practical advice on how to translate technical farming language into words and phrases that are understandable by farmer audiences.

Click here to download the file as a Word document.

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International Day of Rural Women: Celebrate women farmers!

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly. In issue #308, we bring you three stories which celebrate the role of women in rural communities.

In the first of our two stories from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Miriam Mutokambali is now helping her family recover from the effects of war by selling what she had previously considered a worthless by-product – cassava leaves.

East African banana farmers are responding to the devastating effect of bacterial wilt in different ways. Rosette M’Chentwali uprooted her banana trees and planted vegetables instead. Now she is not only feeding her family, but her village too!

A women’s collective in Kenya discovered a solution to the problem of birds eating their sorghum – sunflowers! The bright yellow, seed-filled plants are more attractive to the feathered thieves than the cereal, and the women are profiting from higher sorghum yields.

October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women. Our Event section features links to help you plan a show about the Day.

This week’s Resource section contains links to clear and concise information on Ebola. Please use the information to prepare informative broadcasts for your listeners.

Keep your airwaves buzzing!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Cassava leaves are ‘green gold’ for woman farmer (by Jacques Kikuni Kokonyange, for Farm Radio Weekly)

After a long day under the hot sun, farmer Miriam Mutokambali walks home from the field with her children. Everyone carries a heavy bundle of green cassava leaves, or sombe.

Mrs. Mutokambali will sell the leaves in the market in Butembo, one of the main cities in North Kivu Province, where the vegetable is very popular.

Like many cassava farmers, Mrs. Mutokambali is pursuing this small but flourishing trade. She explains, “The war ruined our sources of income. By selling cassava leaves, we can survive until we can harvest our other crops.”

Until recently, people living near Butembo did not think of cassava leaves as a staple food. It was difficult to buy cassava leaves in the market. Vendors gave them away free, stuffed inside bags of cassava tubers.

But in recent times, life has been precarious. Many villagers have been displaced by conflicts. They have been forced to turn to foods they previously ignored, such as cassava leaves.

A woman trader at Butembo’s market explains, “Two years ago, we couldn’t give the leaves away. But today we can’t meet the demand.”

The leaves are affordable, even for those with few resources. It costs only 300 Congolese francs (32 U.S. cents) for enough leaves to feed a family of five. Many families not only survive on the leaves, but sell them to restaurant owners.

Angèl Nyirabitaro is a medical doctor. He says cassava leaves are a good source of protein. They are also a rich source of minerals, including iron, which is essential for good health and producing red blood cells.

Nutritionist Musubao Katembo recommends that cassava leaves be included in meals at least three times a week.

Mrs. Mutokambali is delighted to use this information as she travels door-to-door selling the leaves. She makes a good profit. She is able to promote the leaves to potential customers by saying, “You are safe to eat them at every meal!”

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Woman farmer replaces diseased bananas with vegetables (by Adeline Nsimire, for Farm Radio Weekly)

For nearly a decade, Rosette M’Chentwali and other farmers in her village struggled against the dizzyingly fast spread of banana bacterial wilt. Then one day, she decided she was sick of fighting the disease. Mrs. M’Chentwali made the tough decision to replace her bananas with vegetables.

Mugaruka Désiré lives nearby. His bananas are also blighted by bacterial wilt, but he disagrees with his neighbour’s decision. Pointing to Mrs. M’Chentwali’s garden, now dotted with amaranth, he says: “I am poor today because [my bananas] produce nothing now. But I’m not crazy enough to [uproot them] like my neighbour did.”

The decision to uproot her bananas was not one that Mrs. M’Chentwali took lightly. Widowed in 1984, she had fed and educated her four children by selling kasiksi, a local brew made from bananas.

She explains, “When he died, my late husband left me everything to support the family, including his banana plantation. I learnt how to brew kasiksi at my mother’s knee.”

Mrs. M’Chentwali was well known for her high quality kasiksi. She says, “My home was flooded with consumers when it was ready.”

When her bananas became infected by bacterial wilt, production fell to nothing. Mrs. M’Chentwali recalls, “I ​​could no longer produce kasiksi and we were really miserable. Eating became a luxury for my children.”

She had to sell her a large part of her belongings to meet her daily needs. Unable to wait for a treatment for bacterial wilt or a new, disease-resistant variety, she started experimenting with vegetables.

One day, Mrs. M’Chentwali harvested some amaranth from the small plot around her house. She recalls, “We feasted on these vegetables daily, but then I sold some at the small village market to get the money to buy some salt and palm oil.” She realized that growing more vegetables would earn her an income. But she did not have any vacant land near her home.

She says, “I realized that the land occupied by the sick and unproductive bananas could be used more effectively to grow vegetables.” So she uprooted the banana trees and planted more amaranth and eggplants.

Now she sells her vegetables twice a week at the local market and earns 15,000 Congolese francs, about $16 U.S. Her children are back at school, and eating is no longer a luxury.

Vegetables have changed Mrs. M’Chentwali’s life. She used to slake people’s thirst with kasiksi, now she is a vegetable trader.

But Mrs. M’Chentwali has not given up on bananas. Once the disease problem has been solved, she might renew her banana plantation by planting new suckers. She thinks she might divide her land in two – part for bananas, part for vegetables.

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Kenya: Women plant sunflowers to divert hungry birds (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It was not an uncommon sight in one part of western Kenya ― women standing in their fields, throwing stones at birds. The women were members of the Namulo smallholder farmers’ group. And the birds were feeding on their sorghum.

The women had experimented with many methods of stopping the birds, but every one had proved labour-intensive, expensive and time-consuming. Hiring people to scare off the birds cost $85 U.S. per season.

But last year the women found a cheap and convenient solution – sunflowers!

Regina Khayundi is a founding member of the Namulo women’s group, based in the Nzola area of Bungoma County in western Kenya. She says they formed the group to save money and fight hunger, adding that land is scarce and that it is easier to rent land as a collective.

The women grow the gadam variety of sorghum because it matures early and yields well. This variety is particularly prized by Kenyan brewers for its sweetness. Unfortunately, its flavour also makes it very popular with birds.

When the women noticed that the birds liked sunflowers, they decided to take action. They planted sunflowers between the rows of sorghum in their half-hectare plot. When the two crops matured, the birds feasted on the big yellow sunflower heads and ignored the sorghum.

Lydia Barasa is another member of the women’s group. She says the sunflowers are a great distraction for the birds, and help the women protect their investment in sorghum. She adds: “We only spent 1,200 Kenyan shillings [$15 U.S.] to buy four kilograms of sunflower seeds to plant on this [plot], and the profit is overwhelming because our sorghum is not eaten at all by birds.”

Mrs. Barasa adds that sorghum is very productive and has a ready market, fetching more than maize in local markets. She says, “One 90-kilogram bag of maize is sold at 1,800 shillings [$20 U.S.], while a bag of sorghum sells for 4,000 [$44].”

The women’s group harvested 45 bags of sorghum from their half-hectare. Not only was their yield greater, they did not need to spend money on scaring birds away. The women will have enough food to eat, and more income than if they had grown maize.

Priscilla Onyango is another member of the Namulo group. She says, “[This] sorghum has chased hunger from my family. I encourage other farmers to use sunflowers and embrace gadam sorghum.”

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FRW news in brief

1-Kenya: President Kenyatta to step down while appearing before ICC

Uhuru Kenyatta will temporarily step down as president of Kenya during his hearing at the international criminal court.

The African Union passed a resolution granting immunity from international tribunals for sitting presidents. But Mr. Kenyatta said he would invoke a hitherto unused article of the Kenyan constitution that allows the deputy president, William Ruto, to temporarily become president.

Mr. Kenyatta faces charges of crimes against humanity. It is alleged that he helped instigate violence that followed Kenya’s December 2007 presidential election, when more than a 1,000 people were killed. Mr. Kenyatta maintains that he is innocent of all charges.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/06/kenyan-president-uhuru-kenyatta-attend-international-criminal-court

2-Uganda: Farmers uproot cassava in fear of floods

Persistent rains have caused flooding in the Alebtong District of central Uganda, washing away crops. Farmers have begun uprooting their cassava, fearing it might rot in the ground.

The chairperson of the Alebtong District disaster preparedness committee, Mr. Richard Alioka, said the district might be hit with food shortages.

Residents are also worried about diseases, especially cholera, as several streams and wells have been contaminated.

Bishop Tom Ibrahim Okello, the president of the Uganda Red Cross Society, said people should not sit back but plant new gardens. The Society has been distributing relief items, including blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, cups and bars of soap.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Residents-uproot-cassava-in-fear-of-floods/-/688334/2453470/-/f3fyxp/-/index.html

3-Cameroon: Dire conditions for Nigerian refugees

Thousands of Nigerians who fled Boko Haram attacks are crowded into the Minawao refugee camp in Cameroon’s Far North Region. According to relief agencies, they are living in increasingly squalid conditions and at risk of contracting measles and other diseases.

The UN Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, says the population of the camp has risen from 6,000 to 15,000 over the past four weeks, and services are severely strained.

Camp manager, Muhamat Alhidi, says, “The population has reached a level where more urgent actions need to be taken to build more tents and provide sanitation facilities such as toilets and new wells.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100689/dire-conditions-for-nigerian-refugees-in-cameroon

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International Day of Rural Women: October 15, 2014

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. This Day, established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007, recognizes: “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

Rural women play a crucial role in the economy. In most parts of the developing world, they grow crops and raise livestock, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. They also care for children, older persons and the sick.

For resources to help you mark the Day on the radio, go to the UN webpage: http://www.un.org/en/events/ruralwomenday/

To mark the occasion, the Women’s World Summit Foundation has organized an annual worldwide empowerment and educational campaign since 1997. Celebrations and events take place in more than 100 countries around the world. Find out more at their website: http://www.woman.ch/index.php?page=women_15Oct&hl=en_US

There is also a Facebook page dedicated to the event: https://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Day-of-Rural-Women-October-15/201077766627602

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Ebola: Key facts

The World Health Organization has published several pages of information about the Ebola virus on its website, including measures to prevent its spread. This information can be used to prepare programs to raise awareness among your listeners.

The underlying message is this: the risk of Ebola transmission is low. Infection requires direct, physical contact with the bodily fluids (vomit, feces, urine, blood, semen, etc.) of people who are infected with Ebola.

To protect yourself, your family, and your community from Ebola, go immediately to the nearest health facility if you develop symptoms of Ebola. These include high fever, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and heavy or uncontrollable bleeding. Isolation and professional treatment increase a person’s chance of survival.

A fact sheet is available here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

Advice concerning hand washing, what to do if you are travelling, and food safety is available at this address: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/what-you-need-to-know/en/

There are several up-to-date information resources on this page: http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/en/

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Farm Radio Resource Pack 99 now online

Pack 99 is entitled: Cassava: The post-harvest value chain. Four of the ten items present information about post-harvest activities in cassava, especially processing and marketing. Two items are broadcaster-how-to docs, three focus on beneficial farming practices, and one item focuses on sweet potato processing in Rwanda. Lots of food for thought!

Like Pack 96 on growing cassava, this Pack focuses on cassava in Tanzania. But the information will be useful – with appropriate local adaptation – for all cassava-growing areas in Africa.

The feature article in Voices introduces each item in the Resource Pack. Voices also presents an article on knowing your audience, and profiles two exciting Farm Radio International projects in Tanzania – a farmers’ poll called Paza Sauti, and Radio Boda-boda! Find out more by clicking on the links below.

You can read the full Voices online here: http://farmradio.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Voices-99.pdf

You can read the full Farm Radio Resource Pack online here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/pakage-99-cassava-the-post-harvest-value-chain/

Farm Radio International wants to hear from our broadcasting partners! We are conducting a survey to find out more about the broadcasters who use Farm Radio Resource Packs. Just by filling out a short survey, you could win $50 US in mobile credit! Please submit your feedback by October 20. Tell your colleagues to fill it out too! Fill out the survey here.

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Sekedo, a drought-resistant sorghum for Karamoja

This week’s story from Kenya talks about women who are planting sunflowers to lure birds away from their sorghum. Our script of the week talks about another group of farmers who changed their sorghum-growing practices ― by planting a new drought-resistant variety.

The region of Karamoja in northeastern Uganda is a semi-arid savannah. It has an unreliable rainy season, which appears to be getting more unpredictable as the climate changes. Drought and hunger are recurrent features of life in Karamoja. Most farmers rely on livestock, while sorghum and millet are the main staple crops.

This script features a farmer in Karamoja who grows a new, quick-maturing sorghum variety called Sekedo. Planting Sekedo may help farmers in Karamoja adapt to the shorter and more unreliable rainy season.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-84/sekedo-a-drought-resistant-sorghum-for-karamoja/

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Farming tales: Beating the odds

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #307! This edition of the Weekly brings you two stories of people who discovered that farming was the key to a profitable and productive life. And there’s the curious tale of the robberies in the night …

The responsibility of providing for the family fell on Said Bacar’s shoulders after his father died. After picking up work wherever he could find it and struggling to feed his mother and siblings, he struck upon a solution – bananas!

Agnes Kandodo had to move to the countryside when she could no longer afford to live in the city. But the Malawian widow chose to farm and has since built her fortune by growing and selling cassava to a ready market.

A Malian radio show host and farmer set a trap in his watermelon field – and caught some thieves! The resourceful presenter had noticed that his crops were disappearing in the night and set out to investigate their fate. Find out how he did it in Mamadou Cissé and the watermelon thieves.

There are two important International Days coming up next week. October 16 is World Food Day, and this week’s Resource section is dedicated to providing information and resources to help you program the Day into your schedule. Our next issue, #308, will be dedicated to the International Day of Rural Women, on October 15. Stay tuned for related stories and resources!

If you want to contribute a story to Farm Radio Weekly, please contact Innousa Maïga (bureauarh@farmradio.org) for stories in French, or Mark Ndipita (bureau.chief@farmradiotz.org) for stories in English. It’s always good to hear from you!

Have a bountiful and safe week,

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Comoros: Bananas mean success for new farmer (by Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Every day of the week except Friday, Said Bacar travels nearly five kilometres from his village to his banana field. He tells anyone who will listen about his passion for his half-hectare of vibrant green plants with their golden-yellow fruit.

But Mr. Bacar has not always been a farmer. After his father died, he had to take whatever work came his way, including shoemaking and photography. He even repaired umbrellas, radios and watches. But he barely earned enough to feed the four members of his family – his mother, his younger brother and sister, and himself. There was never enough money left over to enrol his younger siblings in school.

Mr. Bacar says: “I was earning a living doing odd jobs, but I knew that I needed more money to support my family in those difficult times. I thought about it for several months before deciding to embrace agriculture, particularly banana production.”

Mr. Bacar justifies his decision like this: bananas are a staple dish, very much in demand in Comoros, and they generate a good income. They also mature quickly. He explains, “We can start harvesting bananas after six months whereas, for example, cassava and yams can take up to a year.”

Mr. Bacar embarked on his new life in 2012. He sought out his mother’s banana-farming brother, Hakimdine Abdallah. Over the course of a few months, his uncle taught him how to grow bananas.

He recalls: “I carried my uncle’s banana suckers and tools from the village to his field. I dug the holes in which we’d plant the suckers, and all the while my uncle instructed me how best to do it.”

Once he had learnt the tricks of the trade, Mr. Abdallah gave him a field to start his own banana farm. Mr. Bacar invested all of his savings in buying tools such as hoes and machetes, and purchasing banana suckers for planting.

Today, the young farmer has no regrets. He used the profits from selling bananas to build a house for his mother. But that’s not all. He says, “I also paid for my little brother to train as a builder. As for my sister, she is learning to sew.”

Mr. Bacar can sell up to 15 bags of bananas a month, and earns 7,500 Comoran francs [$20 U.S.] per bag. He is recognized as one of the most important banana producers in his village. His mother, Hadidja Soidik, helps out the young farmer by selling the bananas in the market. She says, “Today I am better off thanks to the efforts of my son, and I thank God.”

Mr. Bacar faces challenges such as a proliferation of thieves, but is never discouraged. He is committed to his farm and invests all his energy in it. He is very appreciative of his uncle’s role in his success. He says, “I will never forget the help my uncle gave me.”

For his part, Mr. Abdallah is satisfied to have contributed to his nephew’s success. He recognizes that the young man is hard-working and courageous. Mr. Abdallah says: “I am doubly pleased by Said’s success. Firstly, I am happy that my nephew makes his living honestly. And secondly, I’m glad for my sister that her son’s efforts mean that she has enough to eat.”

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