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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

Notes to broadcasters on rat outbreaks

Rats are commonly regarded as pests throughout the world. Rats and other rodents such as mice eat crops, contaminate stored food, damage buildings and possessions, and spread dangerous diseases to people and livestock.

Rats will quickly populate an area if they find food and shelter. Thus, prevention is better than cure. It is important to keep houses, gardens, storage and community areas clean and rubbish-free. Remove any materials or equipment such as boxes or containers that rats can use as shelter. Food scraps or peelings should not be left lying around, and storage areas should be checked regularly for signs of rats.

Rodents are often controlled with poisons, but this has many drawbacks. Poison can enter the food chain, killing other animals. It also poses a threat to human health, with accidental poisonings common. Rat traps are often the most effective method for controlling rats. Traps can be bought or made.

The Food and Agriculture Organization provides brief guidelines on rodent control: http://www.fao.org/docrep/t1838e/T1838E1l.htm

A new design for rat traps has been researched in South Africa: http://www.researchintouse.com/nrk/RIUinfo/PF/CPP62.htm

Here is a magazine article about managing rodents ecologically in Bangladesh: http://ileia.leisa.info/index.php?url=getblob.php&o_id=200564&a_id=211&a_seq=0

Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts on rats and on pest control in general. Here are three which look more specifically at rats:
Dealing with Rats (Package 61, Script 11, October 2001)
When Rats Gain, Farmers Lose: How to Store Grain Properly (Package 66, Script 3, March 2003)
A farmer uses jatropha to protect his young oil palm seedlings from rodents (Package 90, Script 6, April 2010)

Perhaps you would like to develop a radio program about rodent infestation and control. Here are some questions you could raise:

-Which rodents are common in the region?

-Do they cause damage to houses and crops throughout the year? Or are they worse in a particular season? If so, why?
-How are rat and mice populations controlled at the moment? Are current methods adequate? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the methods used?
-What is done to prevent infestation? Could more be done? Do farmers or communities see current preventive measures as effective in controlling rat populations?

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