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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

Infestation, innovation and inspiration

Greetings! Thank you for taking the time to open Farm Radio Weekly issue #298. Kick off your shoes and settle down to read about farmers in Liberia, Tanzania and Uganda.

Armyworm caterpillars are slowly munching their way through farmland in northern Liberia. Increasing numbers of the pests are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake: crops are being destroyed and watercourses polluted. What can farmers and officials do to manage the infestation?

Aloycia Mndenye, from Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, used to spend a large part of her day collecting firewood to heat her home and cook family meals. But now a domestic biogas plant has reduced her workload – and her husband prefers shovelling manure to carrying wood!

What can you grow when you don’t have a lot of land? Ugandan farmer Jimmy Oleng discovered that he could make a good living from hot chili peppers. The perennial plants can be harvested three times a year and their fiery fruit commands a high and stable price.

The Resource section highlights some free and open source Information and Communication Technologies designed for use by local and community radio stations. Do you need to update your applications? Check out the Resource section on the sidebar!

In a couple of weeks’ time, Farm Radio Weekly turns 300, and we’ll be celebrating International Youth Day. Keep an eye on your inbox for that special edition! In the meantime, we wish you a peaceful and harmonious week.

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Liberia: Caterpillars invade farmer’s crops (by Prince Collins, for Farm Radio Weekly)

An infestation of millions of armyworms has damaged crops and is polluting drinking water in northern Liberia. The infestation was first identified in June 2014, and farmers say the situation is becoming desperate. The caterpillars have forced more than five thousand farmers to abandon their homes and farms in Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties.

Janeba Flomo’s farm in Lofa County has been seriously affected. The 44-year-old farmer says: “All my efforts have gone in vain for this year. The caterpillars have destroyed all my okra and other crops … I don’t know where they are coming from but the situation is getting worse every day.”

Armyworms can be very destructive, attacking food crops and grazing land. But it’s not just their appetite which has an effect on farmers. Their droppings contaminate drinking water, where they are toxic to humans.

Yarkpawolo Tarnue farms in Gbarpolu County. The 55-year-old farmer left his land in June after the armyworms arrived. He says, “[The] creek we drink from is polluted. There is no water in my village to drink. When you drink from the creek, you will get sick and maybe die.”

Lofa is considered the breadbasket of Liberia. Local farmers produce large quantities of cassava, eddoes, plantains, bananas and potatoes to supply Liberian markets. Morris Chea is a local agriculture inspector at the Ministry of Agriculture. He says, “The ministry is worried about the situation and is doing everything possible to contain the attack.”

Liberian officials and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization have visited the affected areas. They are assessing the extent of the damage and say that something will be done immediately to help farmers.

Clarice Jah is a member of the Liberian Parliament. She indicated that Parliament has already met, and that the government will make resources available for affected communities to counter the infestation. Ms. Jah says: “The situation has been brought to our attention. We will take a decision … immediately to handle the situation. We cannot sit and see our local farmers and people go through this nightmare.”

Mariam Kabbah also farms in Gbarpolu County. She is frustrated by the armyworm infestation. She uses the money she earns from her farm to send her children to school, but now worries that she will not be able to pay fees for the next academic year.

Mrs. Kabbah says, “My entire cassava farm was destroyed by the caterpillars. I don’t even have access to my farm any longer … The caterpillars have taken over.”

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Tanzania: Cooking with gas gives women a break (Trust)

Aloycia Mndenye quite literally shouldered the burden of her family’s need for fuel. She often tried to convince her husband to help her collect firewood from the forest, but her efforts failed. He believes that collecting firewood is women’s work.

Mrs. Mndenye is a 32-year-old farmer from Lunyanywi village in the Njombe region of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. Like most people in rural Tanzania, Mrs. Mndenye does not have access to grid electricity and depends on firewood and kerosene for lighting and cooking.

She spent two hours a day collecting firewood to provide heat for her home and fuel for her cookstove. Mrs. Mndenye says: “It was very exhausting to be honest. I had to go longer distances to get enough stock. Nights are very cold here sometimes [and] the temperature drops to [the] freezing point.”

But two years ago she installed a manure-fed biogas plant which changed everything.

Her husband used to avoid most domestic tasks. But now he takes part in operating the biogas plant. He sometimes even cooks with the gas – leaving Mrs. Mndenye more time to tend to her fields.

She says: “This plant has simplified a lot of work. My husband and I are taking pride in the project. He’s very keen to ensure that it is well-maintained so that we can offset the cost of installing it.”

The biogas plant is just outside the family’s four-bedroom house. The digester can create enough gas to power a cooking stove and several gas lanterns.

The biogas plant was installed as part of a project supported by Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture. Researchers from the institution say that biogas has caused men in villages across southern Tanzania to reassess their responsibility for providing the family’s fuel.

Mr. Mndenye says that despite the pungent smell of fermenting cow manure, he enjoys shovelling dung from the family’s dairy herd into the digester.

He spends half an hour every day mixing manure with water to remove impurities that slow down gas production. He adds, “It’s much easier and more dignified than collecting firewood. I mix water in two buckets of manure to get enough gas.”

According to the Tanzanian government, surging demand for firewood has placed huge pressure on the country’s forests, and has also affected water resources. The biogas unit not only saves wood otherwise used for cooking and heating, but also saves families the money they normally spend on other fuels.

Mrs. Mndenye has invested the money she would have spent on kerosene in a small shop that sells a range of consumer goods. She says, “I don’t want to waste money … [so] I put it somewhere to generate more income.”

Biogas plants have other benefits. Professor Ndelilio Urio of Sokoine University says the residues from biogas production are a better fertilizer than dried manure. The high levels of urea in the slurry increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil.

Professor Urio says that families have been taught how to use the slurry in their home gardens to boost production of vegetables and fruits. And, thanks to the economic benefits of increased agricultural production, men are now taking an interest in feeding the biogas plants.

Mrs. Mndenye says: “Before setting up this project, my husband was spending over 2,500 Tanzanian shillings [$1.50] every week purchasing kerosene – but now we use our own resources to get night light.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, In Tanzania’s switch from firewood to biogas, men step up and women get a break, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140702094720-nr1t9/

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Uganda: Farmers benefit from hot prices for chilies (by Emmanuel Opio, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Jimmy Oleng’s face is wreathed in smiles. The 50-year-old has earned a lot of money growing hot red chili peppers.

Mr. Oleng started planting chilies when he saw how much money a friend was making from the crop. He recalls, “When I started planting chili in 2010, the money [I earned] helped me to pay for education for my five children.” That year, Mr. Oleng sold 72 kilograms of chilies from a single harvest for 288,000 Ugandan shillings [$108 US]. He gets three harvests a year and earns 864,000 shillings [$324 US] annually.

The farmer is based in Kulu Hali village, in Lira District, northern Uganda, about 320 kilometres north of Kampala. His chilies are proving to be a good bet at local markets. The price of chilies is normally stable during harvesting season at 4,000 shillings [$1.50 US] per kilogram.

In comparison, a kilogram of maize sells for as little as 200 shillings [8 US cents] if there is a glut in the market, and sunflower seeds fetch about 800 shillings per kilogram [30 US cents].

Mr. Oleng has made the best use of his small parcel of land, 40 metres by 30 metres, or just over one-tenth of a hectare. His pepper bushes mature three months after planting, and can be harvested for two to three years before the plants are no longer viable.

Mr. Oleng’s wife, Adongo, helps out on the farm. She says, “The seedling is planted on a nursery bed for roughly one month before [being trans-] planted in a garden.” She weeds the chilies twice a season before harvest.

This year, Mr. Oleng spent only 2,500 shillings [about $1 US] on chili seeds, but expects to receive more than 300,000 shillings [$113 US]. He has found enough money to buy some land, and wants to plant more chilies to increase his earnings.

Hellen Acam is the director of the North East Chili Producers’ Association, or NECPA. The association was formed in 1998, and now has 150 member groups. She says, “[I] started promoting the growing of chili to improve the lives of farmers.”

NECPA buys about 300 tonnes of chilies a year from farmers in northern Uganda, and sells it for export to countries such as India and China.

Mrs. Acam says the association is seeking financial assistance to help develop post-harvest handling practices. NECPA is also looking into fair trade certification to help its members benefit further from chili peppers.

Mr. Oleng is happy with the money he makes from his chili bushes. He says, “I suggest that chilies are [a] good bet for farmers without much land to spare.”

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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-Tanzania: Researchers urge farmers to adopt intercropping and organic fertilizer

Agricultural experts from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and Malawi came together recently in Arusha, Tanzania, at a meeting organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA.

There was general agreement that in order to increase yields, small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa need to embrace farming systems that include intercropping and organic fertilizers.

AGRA Tanzania Project Coordinator Stephen Lyimo says intercropping improves productivity and profitability while organic fertilizers improve soil fertility.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.coastweek.com/3727-agriculture-02.htm

2-Ethiopia: Seed banks increase farmers’ options

Small-scale farmers in Ethiopia are benefiting from seed banks in community-based training centres across the country. The most recent to open is in the Oromia region.

There are now 18 seed banks spread across Ethiopia’s Oromia, Amhara and Southern regions. Farmers can source and plant a greater variety of seeds from these banks, which also serve as training centres for local farmers, including women, on beekeeping and horticulture.

The community centres also provide farmers with greater access to information to combat the effects of climate change. Ethio-Organic Seed Action and the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity plan to expand the seed banks into more areas of the country.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140704110845-bjkc6

3-Uganda: Refugees and asylum seekers prosper

Many of the 387,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda have been able to find enough work to support themselves and their families. This is helping to relieve the burden on humanitarian services in the country.

Most live in refugee settlements where they can farm and earn a living, although many have relocated to Kampala and other parts of the country.

A research team from Oxford University’s Humanitarian Innovation Project found that 78 per cent of refugee households in Kampala no longer receive assistance from the UNHCR or other agencies. In refugee settlements, 17 per cent of households receive no assistance.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100284/refugee-economies-the-ugandan-model

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Call for applications: Open Society Fellowships

The Open Society Fellowship financially supports innovative and unconventional approaches to the fundamental challenges of open societies. The fellowship aims to promote work that enriches public understanding of these challenges and stimulates far-reaching and probing conversations within Open Society Foundations and in the larger world.

The Open Society Fellowship is accepting proposals for fellowships from anywhere in the world. Applicants should possess a deep understanding of their chosen subject and a track record of professional accomplishment.

A fellowship project might identify a problem that has not been previously recognized, develop new policy ideas to address familiar problems, or offer a new advocacy strategy.

Project themes should cut across at least two areas of interest to Open Society Foundations, including human rights, government transparency, access to information and justice, and the promotion of civil society and social inclusion.

Successful projects should push the boundaries of current thinking and carry lessons that can be applied to a variety of settings. Fellows may produce a variety of work products, including publications such as books, reports, or blogs; innovative public education projects; or the launch of new campaigns or organizations.

Individual journalists, activists, academics, and practitioners in a variety of fields are encouraged to apply. Proficiency in spoken English is required.

Interested applicants should first download and review the fellowship guidelines at this address: http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/open-society-fellowship

To apply, go to: https://fellowships.submittable.com/submit

The deadline for applications is August 4, 2014.

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UNESCO: Empowering local radio with Information and Communication Technologies

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, has been operating an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project in seven African countries. The project’s goal is to improve the lives of the poor, especially women and girls, by improving the quality of local radio stations’ programming.

Empowering Local Radio with ICTs aims to help local radio stations acquire ICT skills and develop wider coverage of local news. The project focuses on gender equality and financial sustainability, providing better social services, and engaging the community on issues of local concern.

The UNESCO website features several ICT applications of interest to local radio stations. These free and open source programs are designed to allow radio stations to send and receive large information files through the Internet, gather information about their listeners’ locations, design websites, manage their accounts, create documents and surveys, record and edit interviews, and improve interactions with their listeners.

To access the ICTs through the UNESCO website, go to: http://en.unesco.org/radioict/icts

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Voices from the field: Erena Micheal, Tanzania

Farm Radio International’s archive of audio postcards keeps growing!

Farming is what Erena Micheal knows best. With the profits from her farm, she pays for her children’s school uniforms and books.

Recently, Mrs. Micheal listened to an agriculture program on Pride FM in Mtwata that helped her improve her farming (Pride FM is one of Farm Radio International’s 560-plus broadcasting partners). Through the radio, she learned about the importance of planting her crops in rows. And because of this, she harvested more rice than ever this year.

Mrs. Micheal works hard for her money. But that doesn’t stop her from enjoying herself! She dances under the hot summer sun dressed in her colourful kangas (traditional Tanzanian fabric used for clothing and for carrying babies), and celebrates the rice harvest with her fellow farmers.

Find out more on FRI’s blog page. You can see and hear the audio postcard here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/10/voices-from-the-field-erena-micheal-tanzania/

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Is an insect always a pest?

This week’s story from Liberia shows the kind of damage that can happen when insect infestations are serious and spiral out of control. But is an insect always a pest? Should you always use pesticides when you see insects?

Farmers need to assess at what point spending money on pest control is justified. If a farmer spends money on a pesticide to control pests that are doing only a small amount of damage, he or she may actually lose money. To minimize damage, farmers should examine their fields regularly to monitor pest populations, and apply controls only when infestations reach the level of “economic damage.” “Economic damage” is defined as the point at which insect damage causes a loss of income greater than the cost of buying and applying a pesticide or other control measure.

Our script of the week shows that pesticides and other pest control methods may not be necessary if the damage caused to crops is minimal. You may want to talk to an agricultural extension worker to find out what the economic damage levels are for commonly grown crops in your region, and include this information in your broadcast. This will help farmers in your listening audience to better understand the concept of economic damage.

For example, farmers in Guatemala learned how to test for economic damage levels in stored beans. They were taught to check samples of stored beans every 30 days for weevil damage. If more than four of every 100 beans (4%) were damaged, the farmers were advised to control the pest. If the percentage of damaged seeds was less than four percent, there would not be a significant reduction in germination, nutritional quality or sale price of the beans.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-72-integrated-pest-management-strategies-for-farmers/is-an-insect-always-a-pest/

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Good business, bad markets, and serious land issues

Welcome to Issue #297! This edition of Farm Radio Weekly brings you stories from the Comoros Islands, Zimbabwe and Senegal.

Youssouf Mmadi grew up farming, and was put in control of the family farm after his father died. However, his young head was already ripe for business and he has brought his family prosperity and a blossoming future.

Zimbabwean maize farmers welcomed the good rains, thinking they would be able to cash in at the markets. But bumper yields have driven down prices, and late payments from the state buyer have forced farmers to look for other sources of income or to sell their stocks for ready, but petty, cash.

Small-scale farmers in Senegal are angry that private companies are buying up common land to create commercial farming enterprises. Many are disappointed that outsiders have promised much but delivered little. Will the new government be able to protect farmers’ traditional rights of communal ownership?

The Script of the week highlights a Farm Radio International how-to guide: if you want to make good intros, extros and promos for your agricultural program (and for other subjects, too!), check out the Script section below.

We wish you a happy and peaceful week,

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Comoros: Young farmer meets success by building customer loyalty (by Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Youssouf Mmadi was born in Djoumoichongo, a village 10 kilometres north of the Comoran capital, Moroni. The 33-year-old father of one grew up in a farming family, accompanying his parents to their plot to help plant fruit and do other work.

His family grew food for their own table, planning only as far as the next harvest. Being young, Mr. Mmadi was not involved in decision making. But by the age of 21, he knew that his family’s life could change for the better through farming.

In 2002, the young man’s father died and he became the head of the family. Things began to change on the farm. He continued to grow the same fruits − oranges, avocados and lemons − but at an increased volume. He explains, “I decided to produce for the market.”

Mr. Mmadi signed contracts with grocers in the capital to supply them with fruit that met quality standards for juice production.

His first payment was 30,000 Comoran francs [$83 US]. He realized quickly that fruit farming could provide for himself and his family. With a big smile, Mr. Mmadi says, “I ​​started with 12 clients. I sold each one a bag of fruit every five days for 2,500 francs [$6.90 US]. Now I deal with more than 30 customers.”

Mr. Mmadi has established a relationship of trust with his customers. He explains: “Either I am paid on delivery or I can return to my clients a few days later. Sometimes I will exchange my fruit for other goods instead of taking the cash home to my family.”

Ali Papa is one of Mr. Mmadi’s clients. He says: “I ​​spend less than before, now that I do not buy my fruit from the market. I no longer have to pay for a taxi, the fruit costs less, and also I save time.”

Said Hassane has similar feelings. He says: “What is interesting about this contract is its reliability. I have also found that Mr. Mmadi emphasizes the human side of our relationship. I can take delivery and give him the money later – this allows me to budget better.”

With the money from his sales, Mr. Mmadi can support himself and has gradually improved his life. He says, “Through this business, I have built a house and opened a grocery store for my family, and I also help my widowed mother.”

Because transportation can be a daily headache, he is planning to buy a delivery van. He also intends to expand the business by signing supply contracts with major hotels in the area.

The young man is proud to do this kind of work, and invites other young people to embrace agriculture as a business. He says, “Agriculture is a profession like any other. It is profitable and you live an honourable life.”

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Zimbabwe: Low prices mean tough choices for farmers (By Vladimir Mzaca, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Stanley Jena is frustrated. The farmer is stuck without a buyer for his maize. If he accepts the price offered by the Grain Marketing Board, or GMB, his losses will be heavy. But other buyers are offering even less.

Mr. Jena is a small-scale farmer from Jambezi, in Matabeleland North, about 400 kilometres north of Bulawayo. Unreliable rains led the farmer to grow drought-resistant crops such as sorghum and finger millet.

But the 2013 rains were good and the weather favourable for maize. He says, “Most of us planted maize. This year we gathered bumper harvests.”

Mr. Jena harvested 20 tonnes of maize, and planned to sell his surplus. His family was very excited about their potential profits. The GMB was the obvious market. But things did not go as hoped.

He says: “They are offering low prices. I think it is because there is a lot of maize this year. But [the GMB] forgot that it was expensive to produce maize since fertilizer prices were high.”

The GMB is offering farmers $390 US per tonne this year, down from $420 US the previous season when Zimbabwe was faced with an acute shortage of maize.

Farmers often travel long distances to sell their produce to the GMB, and must cover the cost of transporting their harvest to the nearest depot.

Bongiwe Xaba is a small-scale farmer from Jambezi. She says: “The depot is 80 kilometres away. It would have been ideal to hire a truck to take my two tonnes but, because of the cost factor, I opted to use my ox cart.”

Ms. Xaba says she cannot see herself managing to pay back the money she borrowed from her sister to buy inputs.

In April 2014, Mr. Jena sold five tonnes of maize to the GMB, but his payment was much delayed. He says, “It is a big inconvenience because I wanted to pay school fees for my daughters and also fend for the family. I ended up selling five of my goats.”

Stevenson Dhlamini is a Zimbabwean agricultural economist. He says the GMB’s failure to pay on time means that private buyers are taking advantage of farmers. Many offer ready cash, but at lower prices. Desperate farmers are often forced to take a loss.

There is no minimum price for maize in Zimbabwe. There are no price controls, and market forces dictate the selling price. Even if Mr. Jena sold his remaining maize to the GMB, he would lose up to 40 per cent of his investment.

He says: “I will treat some of my maize and wait for the opportune time even if it takes two years to sell to a desperate market when hunger strikes. I will mix some of it with concentrate to make feed for my cattle.”

Mr. Jena has 10 cattle, and can cut feed costs by using his maize for pen feeding. Last season he grew nothing but maize. But he has other plans this season. He says, “I have been attending sack potato planting classes. There is [a great] demand for potatoes in my area and therefore … I will manage to earn a living.”

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Senegal: Farmers angered by large-scale land purchases (IRIN)

Doudou Sow is furious. For the last 10 years, small-scale farmers in his area have been steadily losing their land to an influx of private investors. The Senegalese farmer says that outsiders have been purchasing fertile land in the Senegal River Valley where he has farmed for the last two decades.

Mr. Sow is a native of the Saint Louis Region in northern Senegal. He says, “I do not understand why hundreds of hectares are being given to outsiders when the priority should be to make land available to our own farmers.”

Policies in Senegal over the last decade have favoured large-scale acquisitions of farmland by both foreign and local investors. High profile schemes promoted agribusiness and biofuels. But the government of current President Macky Sall has been highly critical of the agricultural policies favoured by the previous administration under Abdoulaye Wade.

President Sall’s government, elected in 2012, is keen to review land ownership, arguing that it has not been properly reviewed since the post-independence era. The major piece of land legislation in Senegal dates back to 1964 and stresses free access to land and the importance of communal ownership under state control.

Between 2000 and 2010, more than 650,000 hectares of land were allocated to 17 private firms. This accounts for about 17 per cent of Senegal’s available crop land. According to a regional advocacy group, Pan-African Institute for Citizenship, Consumers and Development, ten of these firms are Senegalese and the others foreign-owned.

Mariam Sow is the coordinator of the Natural Protection program for the international NGO ENDA. Ms. Sow says, “These initiatives have led to a glut of private operators, including religious leaders and senior state officials, moving in on land in rural areas.”

She says the loss of farmland in areas like Gandon, 230 kilometres north of Dakar, is sapping farmers’ morale. She adds, “In losing their land … farmers lose a part of their identity.”

Many farmers agree strongly. The grassroots-based Fanaye Land Defence Association, based 430 kilometres north of Dakar, has expressed strong concern about changing patterns of land ownership.

Farmers in Fanaye say they need the state to show stronger support for local farmers. They are also disappointed that new landowners are failing to “add value” to the land they are buying by producing better crops and creating more employment for local people.

It is entirely legal for private investors to acquire land. But it conflicts with local farmers’ customary legal rights, and the majority of farmers do not have formal title deeds.

Tensions are strong in the Senegal River Valley. But Jean-Philippe Tre, an agro-economist at the World Bank, assures small-scale farmers that the growing presence of agribusiness is not land grabbing, but rather the development of commercial agriculture.

The Italian-backed company, Senhuile/Senethanol, acquired 20,000 hectares near Fanaye in 2011 by presidential decree. It has stated its intention to grow sweet potatoes to produce ethanol, and sunflower oil for export. Locals were promised thousands of jobs, but only 30 people have been employed so far.

Younouss Ball is a member of the Fanaye Land Defence Association. He says, “Given such conditions, young people do not have a reason to stay, and so they leave for the towns.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100258/fury-over-senegal-s-private-land-buyers

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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-South Africa: Is urban agriculture the way of the future?

A 2011 World Health Organization report states that South Africa is a food secure nation.

But the report also says that, while the prevalence of food insecurity dropped by half between 1998 and 2008, the proportion of people at risk of food insecurity did not change during that period. Furthermore, a study performed by the African Food Security Network in 2008 found that 70 per cent of urban South African households reported facing “significant” or “severe” food insecurity.

Urbanization is said to be the cause, with rural people moving to urban areas at a furious pace. Many end up in what researchers term “poor localities.” South African urban planners and policy-makers are now focusing on how urban agriculture should be integrated into urban planning.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100266/cape-town-poor-tap-into-new-food-markets

2-Cameroon: A haven for refugees from the Central African Republic?

The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Chad and Cameroon have taken in 226,000 Central African Republic refugees fleeing violence between anti-balaka and ex-Seleka groups since December 2013.

Eighty thousand refugees have crossed into Cameroon this year. Local officials are blaming insecurity in Cameroonian towns and cities on the refugees. Undocumented workers are being exposed to detention and exploitation.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, is struggling to identify the undocumented workers arrested by authorities.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100233/car-refugees-seek-city-life-in-cameroon

3-Zimbabwe: Mugabe says remaining white farmers must go

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said recently that white farmers would no longer be allowed to own land in the country.

Announcing a new land tenure system, Mr. Mugabe indicated that the government will also encourage the financial services sector to allow farmers access to funding.

Controversies over land ownership in Zimbabwe led to the destruction of a once-thriving agricultural sector, while economic sanctions triggered a decade-long recession that led millions to emigrate.

President Mugabe argues that he is correcting colonial land imbalances which are skewed in favour of a few thousand white farmers.

To read the full article, go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201407030346.html

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Call for applications: Earth Journalism Scholars

The Earth Journalism Scholars program is inviting non-US journalists, particularly those from developing countries, to apply for a scholarship to attend the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for the spring 2015 semester.

The visiting scholarship is intended for mid-career journalists with at least five years’ experience, who have shown dedication and skill while covering environmental issues. The scholars will be selected in September 2014 and begin their scholarships in mid-January 2015.

The program will cover the costs of travel, lodging and tuition. Scholars will receive a modest stipend to cover basic living expenses.

All applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, must commit to attend for the full length of the scholarship program (January to May 2015), and commit to taking university classes related to journalism or the environment.

In addition to completing the application form, applicants must submit two samples of their reporting and at least one letter of reference.

Applicants must be fluent in spoken and written English.

To apply, and for more information, go to this address and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page: http://earthjournalism.net/opportunities/2015-uc-berkeley-earth-journalism-visiting-scholar-call-for-applications

Applications are due July 27 by midnight Pacific Daylight Time.

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Farm Radio International helps farmers standardize bag sizes for food crops

For many years, the system for bagging and pricing agricultural products in Ghana has been problematic for farmers, especially for maize.

Many crops are sold using crude measures such as baskets and sacks. Food crops have traditionally been sold by the bag, not by weight. In Ghana, middlemen forced farmers to use the size 5 bag, commonly known as the Mokola Woman. These bags can hold more than 150 kilograms, depending on the crop.

In collaboration with several partners, Farm Radio International helped partner radio stations Obuoba FM and Akyeaa FM introduce a program to improve the production and marketing of good quality maize across the Ashanti Region of central Ghana.

The radio program, named AKUAFO MO (Thank you to farmers), is broadcast every Thursday from 8-9 p.m. The program uses new ICTs to develop interactive and farmer-centred ways of communicating. Farmers can share local knowledge through the ICTs, and are better able to manage their businesses. This has led to positive changes in maize and cowpea production.

Ofori Kumah Christian is the host of the Akyeaa FM program, which targets seven districts and municipalities. His listeners were particularly concerned about the bagging system, and the program focused on getting it changed. He says: “We had discussions with Nananom [chiefs and elders], police, MPs, District Chief Executives … and the general public and farmers. Their views were recorded and played back on air as a mini-documentary with [a] phone-in segment.”

The radio station continued to highlight the problem, and regularly invited the DCE, Chief and elders to discuss the bagging of maize. As a result of these public discussions, the system for weighing and measuring crops has changed. A bylaw was passed to require the use of the size 4 bag, which holds between 80 and 100 kilograms, depending on the crop.

Sarpong Opoku is a farmer in Ejura, a town 100 kilometres north of the Ashanti region’s capital, Kumasi. He explains: “We like the fact that it’s now law in all the seven districts that no one should use the old sack ‘Makola Woman’ to bag maize again, either in the market, village or in the bush. We highly appreciate the program and call for more of such radio programs.”

Farmer Kofi Acheampong agrees. When he was asked how the program had affected his financial status, the farmer smiled and said, “We are now better off … We earn higher as compared to some time ago.”

Akyeaa FM has carried out regular visits to villages, towns and market centres to monitor the effectiveness of the new bagging system.

Even the porters at the local markets are happy. Kofi Kumah says, “I appreciate the program. We used to carry 150 kilograms … of maize at our back and this was not helping our health in any way.”

Addo Eric is a police commander in Ejisu, a town 20 kilometres east of Kumasi. He says, “My colleagues in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions and I will ensure the buyers [and] farmers … do the right thing.”

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Free access: BBC opens up College of Journalism websites

The BBC College of Journalism’s international language websites focus on three key aspects of journalism practice that are particularly important in the regions of the world they serve: skills, language and values.

The College of Journalism’s international language websites – which include French, Hausa and Swahili – cover the essential editorial skills that BBC World Service journalists use on a daily basis.

They explore impartiality and accuracy in language, offering journalists around the world the opportunity to view the BBC’s in-house language style guides. They also explain the editorial values that underpin all of the BBC’s journalism.

The sites address specific issues concerning the use of language, including: grammatical learning points, the development and expansion of language, new terminologies, taboo wording, the golden rules of newsroom translation, online language and, above all, mastering the use of impartial language.

The College’s webpages will be free for anyone to use for at least one year, so make the most of their availability!

For more information, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/international-promo/article/art20130919155526763

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Broadcaster how-to guide: How to create ear-catching promos, intros and extros

From our most recent Resource Pack, we bring you a broadcaster how-to guide with detailed instructions on how to create promos, intros and extros.

You work hard to produce a weekly farmer program that serves your farmer-listeners well. But do you work hard enough to increase the number of farmers who listen?

You can grow your audience by creating promos and broadcasting them throughout your station’s weekly schedule. This will catch listeners who don’t yet listen to your program. And it will also remind your regular listeners to tune into the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will keep them there.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-98-groundnuts-the-post-harvest-value-chain/broadcaster-how-to-guide-how-to-create-ear-catching-promos-intros-and-extros/

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Moving forward: Rubber trees, chickens and sunflower brighten the future

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly! In issue #296 we look at small-scale rubber producers in Liberia, a fledgling poultry enterprise in Niger, and a different kind of oil bonanza in Uganda.

Rubber exports are essential to the Liberian economy. Small-scale farmers are investing in their rubber plantations, but face difficulties controlling insect pests. However, the returns on their investment should be good once the trees mature.

Maman Lawal moved to Libya, but returned to his native Niger when Libya fell into civil war. Mr. Lawal had not thought of himself as a farmer, but has made a successful business raising chickens for meat and eggs.

Farmers can make more money by processing their raw agricultural produce into commodity desired by consumers. Ugandan Dan Mawaki discovered this to be true for sunflower seeds, and now sells cooking oil and animal feeds.

Have you ever wondered how best to define your audience and tailor your programs to your listeners? The Resource section on the sidebar has a link to a free guide on targeting your audiences to help resolve conflicts.

Keep broadcasting!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Liberia: Small-scale rubber producers face challenges (by Prince Collins, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Martha Tamba is a small-scale rubber farmer. She is preparing for this year’s planting season by clearing her farmland in northern Liberia’s Lofa County. Though this small agricultural sector may not seem significant, it continues to play a pivotal role in the Liberian economy.

Rubber is Liberia’s largest export and the lifeblood of the country’s economy. Annual exports are worth nearly $200 million US.

Mrs. Tamba is a 42-year-old single mother who is trying to make ends meet. She says, “I depend on my small farm to cater [for] my children.” Her husband died ten years ago, and she relies on rubber sales to provide for her children and send them to school.

Mrs. Tamba sells a tonne of rubber for $700 US. She says: “I have used all the best practices and fertilizers for my young rubber trees to grow well. So I am very sure of getting more this harvest and making more money.”

The major challenge that small-scale rubber producers face is armyworm caterpillars. Farmers say they have incurred major losses this year from insect damage, particularly to young trees.

Mardia Taylor is a 46-year-old mother of six from central Grand Bassa County. She is dismayed by the level of damage the insects have caused on her farm. Mrs. Taylor says, “Every day the armyworms eat the leaves of the young trees. We spend a lot of money, but the situation is getting worse by the day.”

Small-scale farmers want agricultural institutions to help them protect their farms. Johnny Moore is a 54-year-old rubber farmer from Lofa County. He says something must be done now. He adds, “If nothing is done to help us, we will have no future harvest. We need chemicals to kill these insects. The insects are frustrating our efforts.”

Despite the damage caused by armyworms, some rubber farmers are optimistic about the future.

Thomas Cole is a 45-year-old father of four who says that so far he has been able to meet his family’s needs. But Mr. Cole admits there are challenges ahead, as capital and other resources are required to succeed at planting a good rubber farm.

He says: “I have pumped in more than $5,000 US in two years. I have to pay the workers, feed them, [and buy] fertilizers and other chemicals to get the rubber growing well. [But] I am investing because I know I will reap in the future.”

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