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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

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.


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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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Malawi: Widow harvests prosperity with cassava (by Mark Ndipita, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is a hot sunny day and Agnes Kandodo is busy inspecting the crops in her cassava field. The widowed mother of two uproots a cassava plant and smiles. The tubers look mature, big enough to eat and ready to sell. She puts them in a basket and returns home to prepare the afternoon meal.

Mrs. Kandodo lives in Kumayani, a village about 25 kilometres southwest of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Her cassava has taken her from poverty to prosperity.

Mr. Kandodo died in 2000, leaving his widow almost destitute. Mrs. Kandodo says: “My late husband left me with two daughters. We could [no longer] afford city life and we were forced to move to Kumayani where my late husband [had] bought a piece of land.” The family slept in a chicken coop because there was no house on the land.

Mrs. Kandodo needed a reliable income to support her family. She recalls: “At first I thought of poultry farming, but I realized that feed was very expensive. I then planted cassava because it does not require fertilizer.”

In 2001, there was no cassava within 15 kilometres of her farm and Mrs. Kandodo had difficulties finding planting materials. But, 20 kilometres away, she managed to find a large enough supply to start her plantation. She carried 25 heavy bundles of cassava cuttings all the way to her farm.

After her first harvest, Mrs. Kandodo sold the tubers and replanted her field. She harvested more than enough cuttings to plant her entire plot, which is about the size of a football field. Then she sold the remaining cuttings to farmers who became interested in cassava after seeing how Mrs. Kandodo was profiting from the crop.

David Zakariya started growing cassava in 2004. He also farms in Kumayani. Mr. Zakariya explains: “In 2003, we had poor rains, but Mrs. Kandodo managed to harvest cassava. She sold [tubers] to many people in our area and she never lacked food at her house. This impressed me. [I started] growing cassava because [my] maize had poor yields.”

Mr. Zakariya says cassava is in high demand in the area. He adds, “Buyers come to us and buy cassava right on the farm … we do not [shoulder the] transport costs to sell our cassava.”

Hodges Nkhoma is the government agricultural extension worker in Kumayani. He says, “Climate change has made the weather and rains unpredictable. Hence, farmers should diversify by growing different crops, including drought-resistant crops such as cassava.”

But Mr. Nkhoma warns cassava farmers about mosaic disease. The disease is especially common when planting cuttings that have been used for a number of years. He says: “Farmers should always uproot, bury or burn cassava crops that have signs of disease such as discoloured leaves and stunted growth. Such plants will not produce tubers and may affect others.”

Since 2004, Mrs. Kandodo has been steadily reinvesting her profits in land, and now has 18 hectares. She still grows cassava, but also plants maize and raises chickens, pigs and goats to boost her income. She built a house with solar electricity and can afford to pay for her two daughters to go to school.

What is her secret? Mrs. Kandodo explains, “I sell cassava during the rainy season. It’s easy to harvest by hand, the [cuttings] can be easily replanted and they germinate well.”

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Mali: Mamadou Cissé and the watermelon thieves (by Meli Rostand, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Mamadou Cissé is a broadcaster with Radio Welena in Nossombougou, a remote area 75 kilometres north of Bamako, in southwestern Mali. He has worked at the station for 12 years. Mr. Cissé is the presenter of a farmer program called Biminimissa, or “Pioneer farmers,” and owns a farm in a nearby village. He rotates crops through the seasons, alternating maize, millet and watermelon on his two-hectare farm.

Last farming season, his watermelon yield was so good that thieves began to visit his farm, pilfering the best fruits as they matured. But he noticed a pattern. The watermelons disappeared only when he was presenting an evening program. So he devised a cunning plan. He had always presented his show live on-air. But one day, he sat down in front of his microphone and inserted a cassette into the tape deck. He pressed the record button and began to speak into the microphone. Now the show could air while he kept watch over the farm.

The trap was set. The recorded episode began with Mr. Cissé’s usual introduction. But the broadcaster was seven kilometres away from the studio, keeping an eye on his farm. The thieves listened to Mr. Cissé’s program near the farm, waiting for the right moment, unaware of Mr. Cisse’s whereabouts. At the end of the program intro, they seized their chance. They crept into his field, keeping their eyes open for the best fruits. From his hiding place, Mr. Cissé recognized their voices— a well-known hunter and his wife.

The thieves reached the middle of the field, tapping watermelons and listening for the hollow sound of mature fruit. Just then, Mr. Cissé turned on his torch and emerged from his hiding place. He declared, “So you are the ones doing my harvest these days.” Taken by surprise, the thieves exclaimed, “This is devilish! How can somebody be on air and on his farm at the same time!”

Before he could nab the couple, they turned their backs and fled, disappearing into the darkness. But the news spread quickly across an amazed village. Ashamed, the couple returned a few days later to apologize, and the thieves and the DJ now live together peacefully in the village.

Having saved his watermelons from thieves, Mr. Cissé earned 400,000 Central African francs (about $800 U.S.) from his harvest. He used part of the money to buy two bulls and a cart to ease his farm work.

In July and August 2014, Meli Rostand conducted research for Farm Radio International at six radio stations in Mali and Burkina Faso, including Radio Welena. His work is part of FRI’s African Radio Research Program Initiative (ARRPA). In 2011, FRI conducted research at 22 radio stations and organizations in five other countries; Meli’s work concentrates on Francophone stations in Mali and Burkina Faso. Through Meli’s research, FRI hopes to get a clearer picture of the conditions under which farmer radio programs are created in Francophone West Africa, of the strengths of the radio stations and the challenges they face, and of how to better support our broadcasting partners.

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FRW news in brief

1-West Africa: Radio informs public about Ebola

Radio Kintoma has been dispelling the rumours that Ebola is a plot by the government to frighten the population.

The community radio station in Voinjama, a Liberian town just south of the border with Guinea, has been broadcasting messages about Ebola since the outbreak began in May.

Mary is a small-scale farmer from northern Liberia’s Lofa Province. She says, “I now believe Ebola is real and it kills people every day.”

Radio Kintoma is providing crucial education on how Ebola is transmitted from one person to another. People have learned to stop burying their own dead, to wait for health workers to come and tend to sick people, and to stop shaking hands and engaging in other everyday social rituals which increase the risk of transmission.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140925093608-a5osu/?utm

2-Nigeria: Ebola and the media

Nigeria reportedly has the eighth largest Internet population in the world – 67 million users. There are also nearly 166 million mobile phone subscribers in a population of 175 million.

With so many Nigerians online, websites such as ebolalert.org and ebolafacts.com have become important channels for providing accurate information to help people stay safe. They complement telephone hotlines and more traditional public health approaches.

According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Geoffrey Njoku, over a six-week period, nearly 60,000 people received more than 3.6 million texts with key messages about Ebola and how to stay protected.

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has declared survivors of Ebola to be the “safest people to be around,” given their new immunity to the virus.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100674/ebola-and-the-media-nigeria-s-good-news-story

3-Great Lakes: Experts warn of ‘dire consequences’ as Lake Victoria’s water levels drop further

Climate experts say the rise in global temperature is affecting rainfall patterns over Lake Victoria.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report states that increased warming and rainfall in the western Indian Ocean will lead to climate extremes in East Africa.

Professor Hannes Rautenbach from the University of Pretoria says, “The rain belt over Uganda will shift.” The report argues that Lake Victoria, which has been receiving high volumes of rain, will soon experience a 20 per cent drop in rainfall.

This decrease, coupled with increased evaporation due to higher air and water temperatures, will cause a drop in water levels in the near future.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/experts-warn-of-dire-consequences-as-lake-victorias-water-levels-drop-further/

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Call for applications: Investigative science journalism fellowship for the Global South

SciDev.Net, with support from the Association of British Science Writers, encourages investigative science journalism in the Global South. The organization is currently offering a fellowship which will enable a journalist to carry out a detailed investigation.

The fellowship is open to all science journalists who are employed by or freelance for a media outlet, and are living and working in non-OECD countries.

The fellowship is intended to support a journalist who would otherwise not be able to carry out this work. The successful applicant will receive a cash prize of 3,500 GBP ($5,837 U.S.), a laptop, mentoring support from experts in science journalism, and training and conference opportunities.

Applicants should apply in English using the application form on the SciDev.Net website. The application should be emailed with a copy of your CV and two examples of published or broadcast investigative work (in any language) to: award@scidev.net.

An application document and further information on eligibility criteria is available. You can access the application form and other documents at: http://www.scidev.net/global/content/announcements_notice.4E56778E-D464-4A93-9F9AB3C65149FC11.html

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m., British Summer Time (4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time), October 10, 2014

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World Food Day 2014 focuses on family farming

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations marks World Food Day each year on October 16, the anniversary of the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.

The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming.” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.

The theme of the 2014 World Food Day is Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth. This theme was chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. It focuses world attention on the significant role that family farming plays in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, especially in rural areas.

See the FAO World Food Day website for more information and useful links for preparing programs and events for the day. Go to: http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/home/en/

More resources are available at this address: http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/resources/en/

An infographic highlights information relevant to the Day. You can find it here: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/230925/

You can follow FAO’s World Food Day Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/FAOWFD

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Radio Gbarnga at centre of efforts to inform Liberians about Ebola

As West Africa experiences the largest ever outbreak of Ebola, misconceptions abound. Many in Liberia, afraid of the health authorities, care for their sick relatives at home, thereby exposing themselves to the virus.

Jefferson Massah and Radio Gbarnga are working to counter misconceptions about Ebola with better information, communicated through the radio.

Mr. Massah is a radio broadcaster from Bong County in north central Liberia. Through training programs with Farm Radio International, he has learned about the power of radio to inform and engage an audience. With his team at Radio Gbarnga, Jefferson is making sure Liberians can recognize Ebola, understand it is an often fatal disease, and know where to turn for help.

Radio Gbarnga and other radio stations in Bong County have joined the social mobilization team of the local Ebola task force. The team meets three times a week to receive updates on the situation, and then Radio Gbarnga uses this information to keep their audience up-to-date with the latest news. The station also conducts interviews with local health authorities and international organizations working in their community.

A recent broadcast aired information on a new treatment centre and updates from Save the Children and the Red Cross. Here is an excerpt from that program:

“Welcome to Ebola Situation Report, a radio production on Radio Gbarnga to provide updates about the Ebola situation in central Liberia. Coming up on Ebola Situation Report today, the leadership of Bong County embarks on a search for a temporary centre to contain Ebola patients, while a 40-bed quarantine treatment centre is under construction by the British charity Save the Children…. Nearly all health centres now abandoned by both patients and health workers in Bong County. We will speak with the officer in charge of a community clinic in Kpaai district. What is the Liberian National Red Cross Society doing in the fight against the Ebola virus? …

I am Jefferson Massah with the Ebola Situation Report.“

Radio Gbarnga also incorporates messages on Ebola prevention into its news and current affairs programs, and one hour a day is dedicated to listeners calling in to provide updates on the situation in their communities. The radio station team has extended its broadcast day by an additional two hours to ensure their community receives the information it needs.

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It’s better to sell together: The benefits of collective marketing

This week’s story from Malawi introduces a woman who has done well as a cassava farmer. Our script of the week profiles Tanzanian farmers – and processors – who have benefited from group marketing of cassava.

In Tanzania, cassava has undergone a personality change of late. Cassava was considered a subsistence food, and a food strongly associated with a particular culture and particular customs.

But now, cassava is ubiquitous. You can find cassava flour, raw cassava tubers and fried cassava snacks everywhere ― in markets, on the roadside, in supermarkets, and in the hands of female vendors in traffic jams.

This script looks at the cassava value chain, the challenges of positioning cassava in the marketplace, and how collective marketing is helping both cassava producers and cassava processors.


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Rebuilding lives

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly. Issue #306 highlights stories from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo about rebuilding after conflict has shattered lives. We also present a story from Côte d’Ivoire about prisoners learning farming skills in prison.

Micheline Kavuo was forced to flee her farm and live a city life when hostilities broke out in northeastern DRC. But now that the Congolese army have repulsed the rebels and the authorities are making the countryside safer, she and her brother are starting to farm again.

Facing Justice was a biweekly radio program which aired on stations across northern Uganda. During its four-year lifetime, the program helped rebuild a community fractured by two decades of war. Now, its successor is carrying the torch of peace and reconciliation.

Prison life can be dark, depressing and dangerous. But it can also provide an environment where offenders are rehabilitated and learn valuable skills. A prison farm in Côte d’Ivoire is offering inmates a chance to escape overcrowded cells, eat better, and prepare for life on the outside.

October 2, 2014, is the International Day of Non-violence. The Day promotes using non-violence during protests and when demonstrating against injustice. Will your station organize a feature show on the Day? Follow the hyperlink for more information and resources.

The Ebola outbreak is still affecting communities across West Africa. Unfortunately, there has also been an outbreak of cholera in Ghana. Our Action section below features a script which can be used as a public service announcement. Please use it if cholera threatens people in your broadcast area.

Have a great week, and keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly Team

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Farmer recovers as DRC conflict ends (by Jacques Kikuni Kokonyange, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Tears well up in Micheline Kavuo’s eyes as she remembers everything she lost.

Ms. Kavuo is a farmer from Mamoundioma, a village 50 kilometres from the city of Beni, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Like many other farmers in the region, she had to abandon her five-hectare plot when a Ugandan-backed rebel army invaded.

For three long years, she could not set foot on her farm. Forced to take refuge in the city, Ms. Kavuo found a job in a bakery which paid $50 U.S. per month. She had a hard time making ends meet.

She says, “I lost my cocoa plantation because those terrorists ravaged my farm. But today I am happy … to have recovered my land.”

She finally returned to her fields in June of this year, after the Congolese army pushed the rebels back across the border. She found nothing but withered cocoa plants. She says, “It looked like a hurricane had ripped through [the field].”

It is early in the morning but Ms. Kavuo is already at work, weeding her field. Her younger brother is beside her, pruning the few remaining cocoa trees with a machete. Little by little, things are returning to normal on the farm.

Like Ms. Kavuo, more and more farmers are returning to the countryside. The provincial government has begun to rebuild roads in rural areas to help farmers resume their lives. Police sweep the area for unexploded mines.

The government distributed improved seeds to help farmers who had lost almost everything. Ms. Kavuo planted cassava and plantains. Both are in high demand in surrounding towns.

She sold her first harvest only three months after returning to the farm. The proceeds allowed her to pay off some debts. She also rebuilt her dilapidated house. She says: “I profited from taking my harvests to the market in the city of Oicha. Buyers came to me … I felt like a princess because I am one of the few women who has been able to get back into farming after the end of the conflict.”

She is hoping to get a loan from a local farmers’ co-operative to diversify her crops. She says, “I also need the help of an agronomist so that I can prevent my banana trees and cassava plants from being attacked by parasites.”

Encouraged by her first harvest, Ms. Kavuo is daring to dream of bigger things.

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