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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

Security issues: Food, shelter and fishing grounds

Hello! Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #305. This edition has an East African flavour. Farmers are profiting from an improved variety of banana in Rwanda; we look at the security situation for women and girls in camps for displaced people in South Sudan; and we hear about the explosive situation in Tanzanian fisheries.

In 2006, the Rwandan government introduced a policy of regional crop specialization. This means that farmers in different parts of the country are required to embrace new varieties of, and new ideas about, their crops. Farmer Laurent Mushingwamana found bananas to his liking.

The civil war in South Sudan has forced thousands from their homes to escape violence and bloodshed. One hundred thousand people are internally displaced and have sought solace in UN camps. But are the camps protecting women and girls from sexual violence?

Tanzanian fisherfolk are resorting to explosives to land bigger catches! Stunning a shoal of fish with a stick of dynamite can mean big profits. But the damage caused to the maritime environment may result in the loss of fishing grounds and coral reefs.

This week, we present the first in an occasional series of articles which feature our broadcasting partners. After taking part in an FRI pilot project on weather services for farmers, Rotlinde Achimpota initiated a farming program on her station, the Arusha-based Mambo Jambo. Read more in the Action section below.

Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day; teach a person how to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime. Unless someone uses dynamite to catch all the fish at once …

Have a happy and peaceful week!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Rwanda: Farmer adopts improved bananas and becomes role model (by Fulgence Niyonagize, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Laurent Mushingwamana uprooted all of his old banana trees and replaced them with new suckers. His neighbour, Mathias Ndikunkiko, could not believe his eyes. Mr. Ndikunkiko recalls: “When I saw him uproot all his trees, I thought he had gone mad. I asked myself, ‘How could he replace the plants which have fed us since our childhood?’”

Laurent Mushingwamana is the chief of Gitovu, a village in Karongi District, in the Western province of Rwanda. Bananas are the main crop in the region and Mr. Mushingwamana is considered a model farmer.

Mr. Mushingwamana explains how he began the process of improving his bananas. In 2006, Rwanda implemented a new policy of “agricultural regionalization” that encouraged farmers to specialize in crops that were most suitable to their climatic regions. Mr. Mushingwamana says: “I used to cultivate bananas traditionally, like the others. Then one day we had a meeting with other administrative authorities. We were asked to be the pioneers in developing our respective communities.”

Bananas were one of the crops chosen for Karongi District. Mr. Mushingwamana also grows beans and potatoes but chose to make bananas his main crop. In 2009, he decided to learn as much as he could about bananas. He recalls: “I went to nearby Rubengera to visit an Anglican church that grows bananas. This church is also a banana plant multiplication centre. I learned how and why I could improve my farming.”

Mr. Mushingwamana remained at the centre for a week. He returned home with planting materials for a new variety called FIYA. It was the increase in yield that quickly convinced his neighbours to follow his lead. Mr. Ndikunkiko, the neighbour who thought Mr. Mushingwamana was crazy for uprooting his bananas, says, “When I saw his yields, I immediately uprooted my own bananas.”

According to Mr. Mushingwamana, the new variety produces bunches of bananas that weigh a minimum of 80 kilograms. He says: “The largest bunches from the traditional variety only weighed between 20 and 30 kilograms. Each banana plant now earns me between 8,000 and 10,000 Rwandan francs [$11.50-14.50 U.S.].” Bunches from the traditional variety earned him barely 2,000 francs [$2.90 U.S.].

Mr. Mushingwamana is still leading by example. Agricultural extension officers regularly invite him to share his experiences with farmers from other villages. He shares his secrets with them, such as how to properly maintain plants and how best to apply manure.

In recognition of his efforts, Mr. Mushingwamana was presented with a cow by Karongi’s mayor. But his journey is far from over. He says, “I have just set up a banana farmers’ co-operative, which we’ll use to spread the best practices in banana production widely.”

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South Sudan: Women fearful in camps for internally displaced people (IRIN)

Julie Francis starts her self-imposed curfew at sunset. Since December 2013, the widowed mother of four has been living at the United Nations base outside Malakal, 40 kilometres from the Sudanese border.

Mrs. Francis is one of more than 17,000 people who came to the camp to escape violence in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. But the overcrowded camp has its own dangers, especially for women and girls.

Mrs. Francis hears drunken teenagers hound women walking on the site’s dark paths. She sees the holes men cut through the tarpaulin walls of the showers to peep and leer at women. She comforts survivors of rape.

She says, “It is too much. They attack us at … the toilets or at night where we collect water.”

There were twenty-eight reported cases of sexual assault in the camp in the first half of 2014, according to the Global Protection Cluster. But aid workers say it is probable that the vast majority of attacks go unreported.

Nor is the problem limited to this one camp. Since renewed fighting broke out in in mid-December, nearly 100,000 people have crowded into 10 camps in the eastern half of the country, all administered by the UN Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS.

There are no official statistics, but humanitarian groups say sexual and gender-based violence is present to varying degrees in all the larger camps. Women and girls feel a growing resentment at the lack of action to protect them from rape, assault, harassment and domestic violence.

Nana Ndeda is the advocacy and policy manager for Care International. She says, “[Women are] getting very frustrated by the fact that UNMISS is not able to provide the kind of security that they would want provided.”

Malakal camp was established nearly nine months ago and Ms. Ndeda says it is high time that UNMISS, aid agencies and camp leaders figure out how to better protect women. As she points out, “There’s no end in sight to the [camp] world.”

In 2005, UN agencies and humanitarian groups produced a booklet entitled Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings. The booklet makes detailed recommendations on creating safe spaces for women to seek help, and provides guidelines for encouraging women and girls to be involved in improving their own situation.

But with the sudden, massive movement of people to hastily constructed camps, UNMISS employees have been unable so far to implement the UN guidelines.

Every night, Mrs. Francis pushes a bedframe in front of the entrance to her tent as soon as it gets dark. When she or her daughters need to go to the bathroom, they use a bag.

Mrs. Francis thinks the situation is unfair. She says, “People should take this seriously. There are still people who need to know that it is not right to rape.

To read the article on which this story was based, Women fearful in South Sudan camps, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100591/women-fearful-in-south-sudan-camps

To read the handbook, Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, go to: http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?docid=439474c74

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Tanzania: ‘Blast fishing’ destroying marine habitats (BBC)

Along the coast of Tanzania, you can hear the dull thuds of underwater explosions. Fishers are using explosives to maximize their catch. But the rich coastal marine life is being destroyed as more and more fishers turn to illegal methods to make a profit.

Fishers light explosives and toss then overboard. The explosions generate underwater shock waves which stun fish and other marine creatures. Any fish that float to the surface are scooped up with nets and taken to the fish markets.

Experts say one blast is enough to kill everything within a 20-metre radius. But the explosions also destroy underwater coral systems, home to countless fish and other marine animals.

One worried fisherman prepares his wooden boat by the beautiful, calm waters of the Indian Ocean. His small vessel is one of the many that ply the thousands of kilometres of coastline. He says: “Blast fishing destroys the fish habitats underwater where fish reproduce. The number of fish has drastically reduced. We are not able to catch many fish like before.”

He and his colleagues have informed the police about blast fishers, but the practice continues. There is a secretive and apparently sophisticated network in place. Arrested dynamiters may be bribing officials to avoid prosecution. The fisherman says, “If they find out that you reported them they … threaten to hurl explosives on your boat, so sometimes we are scared to report them.”

Baraka Mngulwi works in the government department of Fisheries Resource Protection. His department faces a huge challenge. Mr. Mngulwi says that the punishments for blast fishing ─ up to five years in prison and a further 12 months for possession of explosives ̶ are not a deterrent. One blast can enable a catch of up to 400 kilograms of fish and a profit of $1,800 U.S. The temptation is just too great.

SmartFish is a fisheries program funded by the European Union. The program says that Tanzania is the only country in Africa which still practices large-scale blast fishing.

Michael Markovina works for SmartFish. He says that, after a series of blasts, coral reefs resemble a war-torn city. Mr. Markovina believes that blast fishing will turn Tanzania’s coastal waters into a barren wasteland.

Every morning, fishermen haul their catches to hundreds of traders in Dar es Salaam’s busy fish market. Demand outstrips supply, and auctioneers quickly sell the catch to the highest bidders.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to spot a dynamited fish. One trader says she can identify blasted fish by their loosened scales. She says, “We don’t buy them. Because of the impact of the blasts, they rot very fast … Some buyers and sellers don’t know that, so they buy them.”

Bala Gomwa is an auction officer. He says, “If you are not experienced, it’s very difficult. Out of 60 auctioneers, maybe two or three can tell.”

Mwanya Sleiman is a former blast fisher who now campaigns against the practice. He lost both hands when an explosive detonated before he could throw it overboard. He says: “My motivation was just the money I got from selling the fish, but I didn’t know about the impact it would have on me or the underwater environment.”

Mr. Sleiman urges others to learn from his experience. He explains, “I want the future generation to find a conserved Indian Ocean so that they can also enjoy the resources.”

To read the article on which this story was based, Blast fishing destroying Tanzania’s marine habitats, go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29049264

For more information and resources about blast fishing, go to: http://www.tnrf.org/en/dynamitefishing

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1-Liberia: Hip hop radio station informs community about Ebola

A Monrovia-based music radio station is playing a different tune by broadcasting public information about Ebola. Hip hop DJs at Hott FM rap regularly about quarantine centres, preventative measures and new cases of the disease.

The UN Children’s Fund, or UNICEF Liberia, teamed up with Hott FM to produce a hip hop song called, “Ebola is real.” It provides practical, youth-focussed advice on the virus. Two other Ebola-themed songs have been getting airplay across the country.

UNICEF states that almost half of Liberia’s population is under the age of 18. Using popular music to broadcast essential information about Ebola may help stem the spread of the disease.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-01/liberias-hottest-hip-hop-station-has-all-latest-ebols-music-and-news

2-Kenya: Better soil protection boosts crop yields

According to a report from the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, about 1.7 million small-scale farmers in 13 African countries have adopted practices to improve the health of their soils, boosting their crop yields and incomes.

AGRA says its soil health program has led to the rejuvenation of more than 1.6 million hectares of degraded land in the past five years. Farmers who participated in the AGRA initiative in Tanzania, Malawi and Ghana have reported 200-300 per cent increases in yields of maize, pigeon pea and soybean.

According to the report, it is essential to tackle soil erosion and introduce beneficial farming practices such as crop rotation and sustainable fertilizer use. “Unhealthy soils,” the report states, “… could kill Africa’s hopes for a prosperous, food-secure future.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140821222748-4l1tj/

3-Democratic Republic of Congo: Thirty-seven dead from Ebola as virus spreads

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has spread into northwestern DRC, 800 kilometres from Kinshasa, the capital of the central African nation.

The Ministry of Health says the Ebola virus has spread to nine northwestern communities. Félix Kabange Numbi, DRC Minister of Health, reported that 37 people have died as of September 11. There were a further 66 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, according to the Minister.

The NGO Médicins sans Frontiérs has opened two health centres in affected areas of the DRC to help treat people infected with the virus. The World Health Organization states that, since March, 2,300 West Africans have died in the Ebola outbreak.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20140912082729/sante-virus-ebola-ebola-sante-ebola-a-fait-37-morts-en-rdc.html?utm

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Call for applications: Dart Center Ochberg Fellowships for 2014-15

Reporting responsibly and credibly on violence or traumatic events ─ such as street crime and family violence, natural disasters and accidents, war and genocide ─ is a great challenge.

Since 1999, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has offered the annual Ochberg Fellowships to outstanding journalists interested in exploring these critical issues.

The Ochberg Fellowship is a seminar program for senior and mid-career journalists who wish to deepen their knowledge of emotional trauma and psychological injury, and improve reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. Successful applicants will attend an intensive week-long program of seminars and discussions to be held January 17-22, 2015 at Columbia University in New York City.

Program activities include: briefings by prominent interdisciplinary experts in the trauma and mental health fields; conversations with journalist colleagues on issues of ethics, craft and other aspects of professional practice; and a host of other opportunities for intellectual engagement and peer learning.

Twelve fellowships are available for print, broadcast and online reporters, photographers, editors and producers with at least five years of full-time journalism experience. All fellowship seminars will be conducted in English. Fellows must be fluent in spoken English to participate in the program.

The fellowship covers travel to and accommodation in New York City, as well as most meals and other expenses directly related to program participation. The program does not cover costs related to travel visas, health insurance or ground transportation in fellows’ home cities.

Further information is available here: http://dartcenter.org/content/2014-ochberg-fellowship-guidelines#.VBaFk_mSxqX

Applications must include a CV, samples of work, and recommendation letters from past or current employers. The deadline for applications is October 1, 2014, using the online application form: http://dartcenter.org/2014-ochberg-fellowship-application

Selected fellows will be notified by email in early November.

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Free on-line agricultural training videos: Crops, livestock and business skills

Access Agriculture is an international NGO that encourages the use of training videos to help farmers improve their farming and generate higher profits. The organization’s videos are designed to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

The videos, available in several languages, are designed for use by agricultural research and development staff and communication professionals. Extension agents or representatives of farmer organizations will also find the information useful in the trainings they provide to farmers.

The videos can be downloaded or watched online. In addition, the audio tracks can be downloaded for use by radio stations, and DVD copies of programs can be requested on Access Agriculture’s website.

You can search the website at this address: http://www.accessagriculture.org/

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Farm Radio International helps broadcaster become weather expert

Rotlinde Achimpota from Radio Mambo Jambo

Mambo Jambo Radio, affectionately known to its listeners as MJ, is a music and entertainment radio station based in Arusha, Tanzania. But in a first for MJ, its newest program focuses on agriculture and how to engage young people in farming.

Kilimo na Jamii, or Farming and society, hit the airwaves in northern Tanzania in June of this year. The program’s host, Rotlinde Achimpota, is no stranger to farming. She grows maize, cassava, pumpkins and potatoes in her kitchen garden in Usa River, about 25 kilometres east of Arusha.

Kilimo na Jamii is a 30-minute farmer radio program which airs every Saturday. Ms. Achimpota features farming advice from local agricultural extension officers and stories about successful farmers. But the highlights of the show are the two weather reports, during which Ms. Achimpota provides critical weather information for farmers in the station’s listening area.

Ms. Achimpota spent three months at The Hangar, Farm Radio International’s Arusha-based Radio and ICT Innovation Lab. There, she honed her skills as the reporter and producer of Beep for Weather. This is a mobile phone-based weather forecast which includes advice for farmers on how to use the forecast.

Ms. Achimpota receives weather data from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency and Toto Agriculture. She takes this data to extension officer Digna Massawe, who helps her provide listeners with an accurate weather forecast and meaningful analysis. During a three-month trial, farmers found the service useful; weather patterns have become erratic recently because of the changing climate.

Ms. Achimpota says her work with FRI helped her become more comfortable recording and editing the interviews and news items on her radio program. She says, “I’m becoming a radio producer. I do the [radio] program all by myself. I prepare it every week.”

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Women face many challenges after conflict

Stress, confusion, grief and anguish are emotions frequently experienced by people in conflicts or in emergency situations. The following script is intended to encourage discussion about these feelings. It includes a radio drama-style discussion among three village women, and testimonials from a relief worker and from a man who has returned home after a war. You could use them as individual stories, or broadcast them together as one longer program.

There are other ways that broadcasters can help people in their community, and especially women, deal with emotions during or after conflict:

  1. Reinforce the idea that it is normal for people to have strong feelings in these types of situations. When you interview local people, include questions that invite them to talk about their own lives and families. However, leave discussion of traumatic events to trained counsellors.
  2. Promote community events and encourage listeners to attend. It is more difficult for people to deal with complex emotions when they are isolated. Support efforts to bring people together.
  3. Create special programming for women. This can take many forms – group discussions, interviews, or radio dramas. Invite women to call the radio station if they need help from the community. For example, a woman might be looking for lost relatives, or need help with child care or chores.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-67-rebuilding-rural-lives-livelihoods/women-face-many-challenges-after-conflict/

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Dairy, digging and discrimination

Thank you for reading this edition of Farm Radio Weekly. Issue #304 features stories about donated dairy cows in Cameroon, South Sudanese veterans digging for peace, and apparent ageism in Zimbabwe.

Mary Nfor Ngwa was a teacher until a fire decimated her school. While looking for a new job, she joined a local group ̶ and received a dairy cow! Now, her dairy business is making her more money than she earned before, and she’d like to teach young people that farming is a profitable way to earn a living.

As the civil unrest in South Sudan continues to make life difficult, some veterans of the independence struggle have made a new life for themselves. They have leased farmland and are selling vegetables at the markets, and planning to add new crops in the future.

Elderly, rural Zimbabweans often provide for their grandchildren after their own children have left home in search of work. But extension agents and NGOs are ignoring their needs, favouring younger, more energetic farmers. Older farmers are valuable too!

Dairy cows provide excellent manure for the fields and, with a little investment, household power as well. But it is their basic product, milk, that is most valuable. When farmers form co-operatives, their buying and selling powers increase. Find out more in our Script of the week.

Close your door, turn off your phone and enjoy this Weekly in peace!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Job seeker begins new life with donated cow (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Mary Nfor Ngwa begins each morning by visiting her cows. She checks their stalls, and she strokes and talks to them. As she feeds one of her cows, she says, “This cow has changed my life. My hopes are renewed.”

Mrs. Nfor Ngwa taught for nine years in a private elementary school in Bamenda, the capital of Northwest Region. But the school closed in 2009 after a fire. There was no money to renovate, so the school could not reopen. Mrs. Nfor Ngwa lost her job. Unable to find another teaching position, she returned to her home in Santa, a village 25 kilometres south of Bamenda.

A neighbour invited Ms. Nfor Ngwa to join a local group and add her name to the waiting list for a donated cow. She remembers that day well. She recalls, “The suggestion made me smile. As a graduate teacher, I did not see myself as a cowherd. I regarded it to be a backward step.”

The NGO Heifer International had started a cow donation scheme in a nearby village. The idea attracted a group of young people in Santa so much that they adopted it for themselves.

Peter Mbu had received a donated cow a few years earlier than Mrs. Nfor Ngwa, and encouraged her to become a cowherd. He explains: “The cow donation system relies on the fact that a person receives a dairy cow from a community member. When the cow gives birth, that person gives [the calf] to another female member of the community, and so on.” Farmers receive a cow free of charge, provided that they agree to pass on a free heifer calf. Before they can receive a cow, they must provide suitable housing for the animal.

So Mrs. Nfor Ngwa signed up. She says, “About six months after I registered, I received a dairy cow, and I said to myself, ‘What am I going to do now?’”

With the help of her group members, Ms. Nfor Ngwa has adapted to her new life. She makes a better living than she did as a teacher. She says, “I have gradually expanded my herd. I sell the calves. I also sell yogurt made ​​from the cows’ milk. I recently bought a freezer with the income from my cows.”

Despite her new occupation, Mrs. Nfor Ngwa has not forgotten teaching. With a broad smile, she says: “I would like to start classes in the holidays to teach young people the love of farming, and to challenge their belief that farming and livestock-rearing are reserved for those who have failed elsewhere.”

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South Sudan: War veterans plant for peace (IPS)

Along the fertile banks of the White Nile, a war veterans’ co-operative is planting a garden for peace and a food secure future in South Sudan. The garden is like a cornucopia in a country facing a potential famine.

Wilson Abisai Lodingareng is the founder of the Werithior Veteran’s Association, or WVA, in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. He explains: “I have seven active members in the group, all former SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] troops. I call them when it’s time to weed the garden. I visit once a day, each morning, to check the health of the crops and to see what’s ready for the market.”

The WVA members grow one and a half hectares of vegetables on the banks of the Nile River, six kilometres outside Juba. Mr. Lodingareng says it was a struggle to obtain this prime but idle agricultural land. Many international investors had also expressed interest. It took him almost three years to acquire a lease from the community which owns the land.

Simon Agustino is the program officer at the Mennonite Central Committee, or MCC, in South Sudan. He remembers Mr. Lodingareng visiting the MCC office to ask for assistance with a proposal. Mr. Agustino recalls, “The veterans had no hope and no way to provide for their families. People thought he was wasting his time with digging. But he didn’t give up.”

MCC provided Mr. Lodingareng with capital to lease the land, pay for training in fruit and vegetable production, and buy farm supplies and tools.

Mr. Agustino says, “Finally he got land. [It] is now yielding and his crops are being sold at the market … more veterans are considering joining.”

The WVA veterans are members of several South Sudanese tribes. The association’s work demonstrates that agriculture is one way for people to look beyond tribal differences and work together. The group has transformed their field from a wasteland of long grasses and weeds to a garden bursting with leafy vegetables and herbs.

The co-operative started by growing okra, kale, mulukhiyah (jute leaves) and coriander. Mr. Lodingareng says, “These … crops [mature] quickly, within one to two months. Okra is harvested every three to four days.”

Mr. Lodingareng sees the group expanding into surrounding land which is currently fallow. He says, “I’m looking at … crops like maize, potatoes, carrots and eggplant. The first year has been a struggle. The next year should be much better.”

According to Mr. Agustino, many SPLA veterans engage in crime rather than finding work. But Mr. Lodingareng refused to turn to cattle raiding or robbery. He has a vision for the future of South Sudan. He says: “I did my part to put my country on the path to self-determination. Now my approach is to work hard. Me, I will do anything that can pull me out of poverty and improve my situation financially.”

He believes it’s never too late to take up farming. He says, “The political climate has discouraged many from planting this season. But if everyone planted gardens, things will improve.”

To read the article on which this story was based, War veterans planting for peace in South Sudan, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/war-veterans-planting-for-peace-in-south-sudan/

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Zimbabwe: Elderly farmers neglected by government and NGOs (IRIN)

Girazi Mukumbaa farms in Wedza, about 160 kilometres southwest of the capital, Harare. The 64-year-old is “old school” when it comes to agricultural practices. He uses cow dung to fertilize his maize, relies on local herbs to treat his cattle, and avoids chemical fertilizers.

In recent years, Mr. Mukumbaa’s crops have repeatedly failed during dry spells. He would like to raise chickens or pigs to help sustain his family, but his age is proving to be a hindrance; community-based organizations think he is too old to merit assistance.

Wonder Chabikwa is the president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, or ZCFU. He says that younger farmers receive better support from NGOs. Young people are perceived as more energetic and easier to communicate with. Older people are often ignored, even though many households are dependent on their care and guidance.

The United Nations defines elderly people as those who are aged 60 and above. According to the UN Population Fund, six per cent of Zimbabwe’s population, over three-quarters of a million people, are elderly.

David Phiri is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s sub-regional coordinator for southern Africa and Zimbabwe. He says: “Elderly persons make a great contribution to household food production in rural areas. They face the heavy burden of looking after [extended] families, as younger persons leave home to look for jobs elsewhere.”

Agricultural and food production experts say elderly people still make a significant contribution to household food security through farming. But older farmers are excluded from mainstream support programs such as those promoting techniques for adapting to climate change.

Mr. Chabikwa says older farmers, like younger ones, need training on soil management, adapting to climate change, marketing and diversification. He adds that households headed by elderly farmers are often more vulnerable to food shortages.

Many elderly people did not benefit from Zimbabwe’s fast-track land redistribution program, begun in the year 2000, when 4,500 white-owned farms were redistributed to about 300,000 small-scale farmers.

Innocent Makwiramiti is a Harare-based independent economist. He says: “This means that most [elderly farmers] remain farming on tired soils in largely dry areas that require much fertilizer and water, and [need] a great deal of farming support.”

Mr. Mukumbaa does not understand why he is routinely bypassed by officers from the Agriculture Ministry’s extension services and NGOs. He says: “Young men and women who have been told why there are so many droughts these days have no time to explain these things to old people like me. They say I am too old and therefore cannot understand a thing.”

Mr. Chabikwa says: “The irony about smallholder farming in Zimbabwe is that government and other stakeholders generally do not acknowledge the contributions that the elderly make to food production for families and the nation.”

To read the article on which this story was based, Zimbabwe’s neglected elderly farmers, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100566/zimbabwe-s-neglected-elderly-farmers

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1-Ethiopia: Africa Green Revolution Forum

The Africa Green Revolution Forum was held recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Leaders from across Africa debated a new vision for agriculture and food security.

Key debates at the forum included the issue of small-scale farmers’ access to land over the next 20 years, and whether a “foreign land grab” is the main threat to accessing land for agriculture.

Lack of access to farm land poses a threat to economic stability. Researchers called on African governments to protect young people’s futures by safeguarding the land rights of rural communities. They argued that small-scale farmers need proper attention and investment over the next 35 years to ensure that Africa’s countries develop at least middle-income economies.

For more information about the Forum, go to: http://www.agrforum.com/index.php/program/

2-Sub-Saharan Africa: ONE launches anti-corruption campaign

The anti-poverty group ONE argues that progress made in fighting extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has been lost to corruption and crime.

The organization released a report entitled A Trillion Dollar Scandal. The title refers to the amount of money that disappears annually in illicit financial dealings and money laundering. The report states that corruption is responsible for an annual 3.6 million deaths, and that eliminating corruption could provide funds for 500,000 primary school teachers, education for 10 million children, and treatment for more than 11 million people with HIV and AIDS.

ONE is urging donors to make tackling corruption a priority. Promoting transparency in government would make information, such as ownership of companies, available to the public and discourage corruption and theft.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-29040793

3-West Africa: Ebola threatens food security

The ongoing Ebola outbreak may cause labour shortages during the upcoming harvest season, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. Food prices have already begun to rise.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been severely affected by Ebola, with almost 2,300 people dying since March. FAO warns that the food security problem could intensify in the coming months as the outbreak widens.

Over the next three months, FAO and the U.N. World Food Program, or WFP, will deliver 65,000 tonnes of food to 1.3 million people affected by Ebola. WFP says $70 million U.S. is needed for this emergency relief. In addition, FAO needs $20 million U.S. to support farmers on the ground.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140902070026-27kni?utm

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Call for applications: Facts & formats: Sexual and reproductive health

A course entitled Facts & formats: Sexual and reproductive health will be held at RNTC in the Netherlands in early 2015. Mid-career broadcast journalists and program-makers with at least three years’ experience in factual and informative programming other than news and current affairs are invited to apply.

Facts & Formats is a four-week course (March 30-April 24, 2015) designed to help participants develop and pitch new creative ideas and target specific audiences in an attractive and effective way.

The course will cover subjects such as: how to use a variety of formats to increase the attractiveness and the effectiveness of factual radio and TV programs; creative ways to package and present information on radio, TV, and online through social media; and how to design and produce factual pilot programs on sexual and reproductive health.

English is the working language of RNTC courses. If English is not your first language, you will need a certified statement from a recognized authority establishing your proficiency in spoken and written English.

NFP fellowships are available for this course, and contribute towards the cost of living and tuition fees, visas, travel, insurance and thesis research. For information on how to apply for an NFP fellowship, go to: http://www.studyinholland.nl/scholarships/scholarships-administered-by-nuffic/netherlands-fellowship-programmes/netherlands-fellowship-programmes-nfp

The deadline to apply for the course is February 15, 2015. The deadline to apply for the NFP fellowship is October 26, 2014. For more information about the course, go to: http://www.rntc.nl/factsandformats

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Guidebook: World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has produced a guidebook entitled World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The book offers a new look at recent evolutions in media freedom, independence, pluralism and journalist safety. It explores these subjects at the international level and with respect to gender and global media.

The overarching trend documented in the book is that the disruption brought on by technology and, to a lesser extent, the global economic crisis, has had mixed results for freedom of expression and media development.

This publication comes at a critical moment for press freedom, amid unprecedented opportunities for expression of new voices as well as new forms of restriction, surveillance and control.

World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development is a key resource for governments, the media, academia, the private sector and civil society, and an interesting read for anyone interested in the contemporary media environment.

To download the full text as a PDF document, go to: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002270/227025e.pdf

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FarmQuest reality radio in Mali: Now available on SoundCloud and YouTube

The vast majority of the labour force in Mali is engaged in subsistence farming. But many young people do not see agriculture as a career that can lead them out of poverty. Youth unemployment in Mali is high.

Many young people see farming as a symbol of poverty and wish to distance themselves from it. Too often, they remain unemployed when the best opportunity to earn a decent living is right in front of them: farming.

Farm Radio International believes agriculture can provide a good livelihood for young farmers. FarmQuest, or Daba Kamalen in the Bambara language, is an innovative reality radio series which is broadcast from Fana, Mali. The series encourages youth to consider farming as a profitable business, and not just a means of subsistence.

FarmQuest follows six young candidates who are competing for the title of “Mali’s best new farmer.”

You can learn more about FarmQuest at: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/farmquest-promoting-farming-as-a-sustainable-employment-option-for-youth-in-mali/

Listen to all FarmQuest episodes on SoundCloud (with English transcripts):https://soundcloud.com/farmradio/sets/farmquest-reality-radio-in

YouTube videos show the candidates and the radio station operations. You can watch them at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8WMEQQs0bi_FkrXKKKtGLv1wFh7g_sWd

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Dairy farmers reap the benefits of working together in a co-operative society

Agriculture is the backbone of most African economies, yet farmers are among the poorest people on the continent. There are many challenges confronting the agriculture sector in Africa, including limited access to farming inputs, poor infrastructure, lack of access to markets, and the changing climate.

Farmers need creative ways to improve their income and food security, and governments need to create a favourable environment which helps farmers make a good return on their businesses.

Farmers benefit when they pull together in organized ways to solve their challenges. The co-operative movement provides an opportunity for farmers to improve their income and food security through their own efforts.

This script captures the experiences of people involved in a successful dairy co-operative in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-94-african-farm-radio-research-initiative-afrri/dairy-farmers-reap-the-benefits-of-working-together-in-a-co-operative-society/

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Ebola, fowls and fodder

A hearty welcome awaits you in Farm Radio Weekly! Issue #303 covers the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and investigates how to improve livelihoods with farm livestock.

As the Ebola virus continues to affect countries across West Africa, citizens are being encouraged to seek treatment as soon as they notice symptoms. Quick action could be the key to survival.

What do you do when you retire? Ruth Nalunkuma, a former nurse in Kampala, is keeping chickens and intends to sell eggs to meet the needs of her extended family. She encourages other urban dwellers to do the same.

Although nutritionally balanced and efficient, commercial feeds can be expensive and out of reach for small-scale farmers. But Chrissy Kimu found that, with some planning and a bit of spare land, nutritious feeds can grow on trees!

Catch up with The Adventures of Neddy the Paravet. In the Script of the Week, Neddy tells us to grow fodder trees and shrubs. Their nutritious leaves and seeds are an excellent addition to diets for goats and cows.

Farm Radio International is presenting the 2014 George Atkins Communication Award to three African broadcasters. In the Action section this week, we profile the first of the winners, the late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato of Tanzania.

Keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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West Africa: Early treatment brings light to Ebola gloom (IRIN)

More than 1,400 have died as a result of the Ebola crisis in West Africa since the disease was first recorded in March of this year. But although medical scientists have not yet identified a cure, some of those who sought treatment early have recovered from the virus.

Current Ebola treatments mainly relieve the symptoms. They ease the headaches, fever and muscle pains triggered by the virus, and cope with the vomiting and diarrhoea.

Julie Damond is the spokesperson for Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, in West Africa. She says, “We can’t do anything else because there is no treatment for the virus. The only thing we can do is help the body fight the virus and develop immunity.”

A patient’s body can sometimes rebuild its defences and restore health. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, nearly half of the patients in the current West African outbreak have recovered.

It’s not clear why some people die and others recover. Ms. Damond says, “It is impossible to know when a patient is admitted whether they will recover or not. It’s not about age or gender.” But it appears that the earlier the disease is tackled, the better the chance of surviving.

Those who are most at risk of contracting Ebola are the doctors and nurses who treat patients, and the families who look after sick relatives at home. More than 120 health workers in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have died of Ebola during the current outbreak, according to WHO.

These deaths have caused panic, causing the already weak health systems in the area to become more dysfunctional than ever. Some families are shunning hospitals, seeing danger rather than an offer of help. Liberia and Sierra Leone have declared the outbreak a national emergency and are using quarantine measures to prevent further spread. It is now illegal to keep Ebola patients away from treatment centres in Sierra Leone.

Distrust of governments and public institutions is difficult to overcome. But, while Ebola is a serious and often fatal disease, some people have returned to their communities after completely recovering in treatment centres.

The stories of patients who have recovered from Ebola may offer hope and bolster trust in conventional medical approaches to the disease, and the preventive measures that aim to avoid risky exposure to Ebola patients.

Melvin Korkor is a 44-year-old Liberian doctor who recently recovered from Ebola. Dr. Korkor tested positive for Ebola in July. He and five nurses were transferred to the capital, Monrovia, for treatment. Unfortunately, all his colleagues died.

Dr. Korkor says: “[I received] the same treatment that was given to the other Ebola patients. There was no special treatment because I am a doctor… [but] today I am back home and reunited with my family.”

When Dr. Korkor returned to his community, some of his neighbours were afraid to go near him. But Larry Tonnie is one neighbour who is encouraged by the doctor’s recovery. He says, “We are glad to have him back. Now we know that there are people who can get cured of Ebola once you check yourself in on time.”

MSF spokeswoman, Ms. Damond, says, “What we have seen in this outbreak is that when people come early to be treated, they have a better chance of surviving. This is a message we are trying to get out there so that people understand.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, Silver lining in Ebola gloom, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100540/silver-lining-in-ebola-gloom

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