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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

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.


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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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Uganda: Urban residents turn to vegetables and chickens to improve their lives (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Ruth Nalunkuma sits on her front doorstep and gazes at her kitchen garden. The 47-year-old mother of five grows fruit and vegetables in a garden outside her tiny home in Kigoowa, a suburb eight kilometres northeast of central Kampala.

Mrs. Nalunkuma says, “I grow spinach, pumpkin, passion fruit, onions, spinach and dodo [amaranth] in my garden. Unfortunately, I recently lost my eggplants due to disease.”

The widow shoos away one of her four grandchildren and slips on her sandals. With a skip in her step, she escapes her cluttered home to tend to her plot. Mrs. Nalunkuma provides for her family with what she harvests from her four-by-two metre square, 30-centimetre high raised bed.

She raises her right hand high above her head, saying, “I want to build a fence up to here to keep the goats out because they come and eat my vegetables.”

But Mrs. Nalunkuma is not just a gardener. Behind her home, a chicken run is shaded by banana trees growing in the muddy, red soil. The chicken run houses 35 layer hens, which she expects will produce enough eggs to earn her some much-needed income.

She explains: “I just started poultry farming. I have 35 chickens in this pen and another 35 chicks in my house. I hope to start selling the eggs at the market in the next few months.”

Ten years ago, Mrs. Nalunkuma was working as a registered nurse for Kamwokya Christian Caring Community, or KCCC, a Catholic organization. She learned about farming and, since retiring, has grown and sold crops to meet her family’s needs. Her example has encouraged others in the community.

Cathy Nakasi is Ms. Nalunkuma’s former supervisor at KCCC. She says: “Thanks to [Mrs. Nalunkuma], we now have many women engaged in peri-urban agriculture. It’s a great business opportunity, one I’m considering myself.”

Juliet Ndagire is the host of CBS Radio’s Buganda farming program. She has also adopted poultry farming to increase her income.

The journalist and mother of two lives in Bwebajja, a suburb southwest of Kampala, where she keeps 600 chickens. Mrs. Ndagire raises broiler chickens and layer hens, and sells the meat and eggs.

She says: “I now deliver my eggs directly to consumers in Bewbajja and Kampala. The cost of living has gotten much higher. This helps supplement my income as a journalist.”

Unlike Ms. Ndagire, Mrs. Nalunkuma has no external income to supplement. Although she still volunteers for KCCC, the work is unpaid. She is pinning her hopes on her small-scale poultry operation, expecting that it will provide her with a comfortable future.

Ms. Nalunkuma says: “I do what I can with the little space I have. One day I hope to have a one-acre farm on the outskirts of Kampala, but I will keep growing fruits and vegetables in the city to feed my family.”

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Malawi: Fodder trees bring hope to dairy farmers (By Mark Ndipita, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is four o’clock in the morning, but Chrissy Kimu is already warming water to wash her two dairy cows’ udders. She pours lukewarm water into a bucket, then wakes her husband to help her in the cowshed.

Mrs. Kimu is a small-scale dairy farmer from Chilenga, a village about 90 kilometres south of Lilongwe. Dairy farming has become her main source of income, and allows her to support her family.

Back in 2007, she almost gave up the dairy business. High feed costs were eating up her profits. She recalls, “I lost hope since I could not manage to buy expensive feed from shops, and I started experiencing a decrease in milk production.”

Rather than quitting, she was advised by an extension worker to plant “fodder trees” in her maize field. The seeds and leaves supplemented her cows’ diet and improved milk production. She no longer had to rely on expensive commercial dairy mash feeds.

A 50-kilogram bag of commercial dairy feed costs about $25 U.S., and each cow can finish one bag a week.

Within two years of planting the fodder trees, things had started to change for the better. Mrs. Kimu was incorporating the leaves and seeds from the maturing fodder trees in her cattle feed. She says: “[These trees] are incredible because they have rekindled hope in my family life. When I started feeding them to my cows, I started experiencing an increase in milk production.”

Mrs. Kimu planted the white-ball acacia (Acacia angustissima) and a Mexican species known as Leucaena pallida. She mixes dried leaves and seeds from the trees with salt, maize husks, soya and other ingredients to make feed.

Before the fodder trees, each cow produced between eight and 15 litres of milk a day. Now, their yields have nearly doubled and Mrs. Kimu is making a profit.

In 2010, she joined a local milk bulking group, which buys milk from farmers for 25 U.S. cents a litre. Because of the increased milk yields, Mrs. Kimu now makes about $300 U.S. per month.

She says, “Other farmers in the group were amazed seeing how [much milk] I was able to sell … without buying feed from the market.” Several group members planted fodder trees for themselves after seeing Mrs. Kimu’s success.

Levisoni Chimpesa is also a dairy farmer. His cows mainly eat maize husks and other crop residues. He planted fodder trees last year after seeing Mrs. Kimu cash in. His trees are still immature but he’s looking forward to the coming years. He explains: “Because I do not have proper feeds, I get 10 to 15 litres of milk from my cow per day, which is low compared to what Mrs. Kimu gets.”

Alfred Siliwonde is the agricultural veterinary officer for the area. He says poor feed management often affects milk production. Many farmers depend solely on crop residues in the dry season and grass in the rainy season.

Mr. Siliwonde adds: “Now that they have seen the benefits of fodder trees … it is very important to encourage farmers and equip them with knowledge and skills in managing these trees.” He advises farmers to take good care of the fodder trees. After the maize harvest, the trees are often exposed to damage by bushfires and roaming livestock.

Mrs. Kimu advises dairy farmers who are struggling with high feed costs to plant fodder trees. She says: “Some farmers are over-relying on expensive purchased feed [and] as a result they do not make a profit. Farmers should plant [fodder trees], which have helped me to pay school fees and buy an ox cart.”

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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-West Africa: Translating information on the Ebola outbreak

The NGO Translators without borders is providing free translation of Ebola fact sheets.

The translations provide preventive information on Ebola in local languages such as Fulani, Krio and Mandiké, as well as in French.

The fact sheets tell readers how to recognize the symptoms of the Ebola virus, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from spreading to other people.

To read the full article, go to: http://translatorswithoutborders.org/node/121

2-Cape Verde: Archipelago turns to local vegetable production

There has been a huge increase in island-grown food in Cape Verde over the last three years.

Investment in new agricultural technologies such as drip irrigation has helped increase local harvests. On the tourist-friendly islands of Sal and Boa Vista, vegetable production has increased by 250 per cent since 2011, from 168 tonnes to 608 tonnes.

Official statistics show that vegetable imports to the archipelago have actually decreased by 17 per cent over the same time period.

To read the full article, go to: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/296-spore/agriculture-and-health-2/10096-horticulture-171-en

3-Sub-Saharan Africa: Poverty and hunger will not end without better management of rainwater

Delegates to a recent World Water Week conference in Sweden have called on the United Nations to address rainwater management in the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, which expire in 2015, and will be discussed at the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

With the changing climate resulting in more irregular rainfall patterns, effective rainwater management could help millions of small-scale farmers in Africa. The senior scientific advisor to the Stockholm International Water Institute, Malin Falkenmark, says, “There is very limited fresh water [in some regions] and reduced possibility to irrigate, so you have to rely on rain.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140831204123-hl6xy

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Call for submissions: 2014 United Nations Correspondents Association Awards

The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) Awards honour the best journalistic coverage of the U.N. and its agencies and field operations. The UNCA is now accepting written and electronic submissions for the awards. Journalists anywhere in the world are eligible to enter.

The contest has four categories: print and online, broadcast, climate change and humanitarian/development.

The total prize amount is over $50,000 U.S., which will be distributed among the winners.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will present the prizes in December at the awards ceremony in New York, U.S.A.

Entries can be submitted in any of the official U.N. languages (English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Russian). Entries in other languages should be accompanied by a translation in English or French.

The contest deadline is September 15, 2014.

For more information, go to: http://unca.com/2014-unca-awards-call-for-submissions/

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Online resource: United Nations Children’s Fund Ebola information

The United Nations Children’s Fund’s Communication for Development section is sharing information on how to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

UNICEF has been working closely on this issue with the World Health Organization and other partners, communities, governments, and UN agencies. The resources will be continually updated to enable prompt responses to this humanitarian crisis.

The online collection of materials is designed to assist individuals and organizations in countries dealing with an Ebola outbreak to respond with accurate information in a timely fashion.

Materials include fact sheets emphasizing key messages, brochures, slide presentations, and other visual and audio resources. There are also training materials such as guidelines for community volunteers.

Other tools available through the webpage include Behaviour Change Communication in Emergencies:  A ToolkitEssentials for Excellence ─ Research, Monitoring and Evaluating Strategic Communication; and the UNICEF Cholera Toolkit.

To access this bank of resources, available in English, French, Portuguese and other languages, go to: http://www.unicef.org/cbsc/index_73157.html

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Kikwato Junior: 2014 George Atkins Communication Award winner


The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato interviewing Rehema Mshana in Tongwe.

Farm Radio Weekly presents the first in a series of profiles of this year’s three George Atkins Communication Award winners.

The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato, or “Kikwato Junior” as he liked to be called by his fans, was the driving force behind the creation of a farmer program at Mwambao FM radio, a station based in Tanga, in the Coastal Region of Tanzania.

He successfully hosted the program, Sauti ya Mkulima or Voice of a Farmer, for almost a year before he died on June 10, 2014. He passed away while his audience, especially female farmers, still needed him.

In a special ceremony on September 3, 2014 at Mwambao FM, FRI’s Managing Editor, Vijay Cuddeford, presented the George Atkins Communications Award to Kikwato Junior’s family.

Kikwato Junior joined Mwambao FM in 2011 and shortly afterwards introduced Sauti ya Mkulima. The program gained a huge following and attracted financial support by local agricultural organizations.

With this funding, Kikwato Junior visited and recorded farmers’ voices in the field, thereby increasing their participation in the program.

In the short period he presented Sauti ya Mkulima, he demonstrated commitment and creativity. He took action after learning that cultural barriers were restricting women farmers from participating in the programs and making their voices heard.

Kikwato challenged the situation by introducing a special hotline for women to call in to the program. This strategy encouraged women farmers to participate. Before the hotline, only 10 per cent of callers were women farmers. Now, women account for half of all calls ─ truly equal participation.

Kikwato Junior also introduced a blog which, among other issues, promotes women rights. The URL is: (www.kikwatojr.blogspot.com).

Though he has sadly passed away, Kikwato’s legacy of ensuring that the voices of women farmers are heard will live on.


From the left: Maimuna Kamoti (Kikwato's mother), Zabibu M. Kikwato (Kikwato's father), Terevael Aremu and Vijay Cuddeford from Farm Radio International during the award ceremony

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The adventures of Neddy the Paravet: Fodder trees provide nutritious livestock feed all year

This week’s story from Malawi highlights the benefits of fodder trees. So does our Script of the week.

A balanced diet provides livestock with water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and vitamins. These nutrients are essential for growth, reproduction, the production of meat, milk, and eggs; and an animal’s ability to provide transport and traction.

Each animal needs feed that matches its stage of life. Young animals require more protein than older animals, and pregnant and lactating animals need extra minerals and carbohydrates. Ruminants such as cows, sheep and goats eat more grass and straw than pigs, horses and rodents because they have a different kind of digestive system. If an animal’s diet is imbalanced, if minerals or energy are deficient or in excess, it may fall sick, experience difficulties with conception or miscarriage, become unproductive or even die.

When producing programs about livestock nutrition, encourage farmers to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the important components of an animal’s diet?
  2. How can I tell if something is missing, or what is missing?
  3. What happens if there is something missing from my animal’s diet?
  4. How can I ensure that my animals have a good diet?

Farmers should also ensure that their livestock’s diet stays relatively constant throughout the year. This can be difficult because diets vary from season to season, and sometimes from week to week. Also, because it is difficult to produce enough dry feed to save for the off-season, animals often get low-quality roughage and very little grain at that time of year.

Advise farmers to work with local crop specialists and other successful farmers to identify appropriate fodder plants.

This script encourages farmers to plant “fodder trees” or other fodder crops. Fodder trees, shrubs and other plants can supply nutritious livestock feed all year. Some good fodder plants are nitrogen-fixing, so they also improve soils. Let farmers know that they don’t need to use their best land for fodder plants; they can plant them in wooded areas, on rocky land, as fences, along roadsides, or in the terraces of rice paddies.


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New activities, new incomes

Greetings, and welcome to Farm Radio Weekly. Thank you for taking the time to read issue #302. This edition presents three stories about Africans who have improved their fortunes by changing what they do for a living: by branching out into agriculture and livestock, and by selling planting materials.

During the dry season, the level of the Congo River falls, fish become scarce, and it is difficult for fishers to make a profit. But as water levels fall, land becomes available, and an enterprising farmer has found that quick-maturing vegetable crops sell well at the Brazzaville markets.

Families living in squatter camps near Bulawayo have been re-located to new, permanent settlements, but had to leave their livelihoods behind. Now, a new poultry enterprise has started to generate small profits for people who had never imagined themselves as farmers!

Perpetua Okao is profiting from a radio program which highlighted the nutritional benefits of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Farmers across northern Uganda call her to order sweet potato planting vines for their fields, and her family is benefitting from the extra cash.

If you want to know more about orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, or your listeners show an interest in the crop, check out our Script of the week below, which features an interview with a Ugandan farmer who talks about her experiences growing the new crop.

So, grab a refreshing drink and kick off your shoes, and enjoy this issue of FRW!

Happy reading!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Congo-Brazzaville: On an island of fishers, the only farmer earns more money than most (by Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is ten o’clock in the morning. On l’île aux raphias, an island in the majestic Congo River, a fishing village is bustling with activity.

A patch of fine white sand hugs the outskirts of the settlement. Silhouetted against the verdant greenery beyond the sand, a man is almost shouting into his phone: “Hello! Yes, it is me, Célestin, on the phone! Yes. I have tomato, chili and okra plants that will be ready for harvest in two days! How much? And when will you arrive?”

The man with the phone is Célestin Botando. Both fisherman and market gardener, the father of seven is trying to acquaint potential customers with the produce available from his two hectares of vegetables.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Botando is the only farmer in this island fishing community. His tomato, okra and chilli plants grow and mature quickly, and his produce is highly valued in the Brazzaville markets.

He explains, “I ​​chose these plants for reasons of both time and space.” Mr. Botando has only a few months to work his land. During the dry season, the river waters retreat and expose a large tract of land. When the rains return, the island is mostly flooded.

Mr. Botando says, “I can only practice farming between May and September. But that’s enough for me to make a profit.”

For the last two years, he has farmed during the day and fished at night. He is proud of his double life. He lives this way in order to earn enough to pay his children’s school fees and meet the needs of his family in Kinshasa.

Mr. Botando had found it difficult to make ends meet as a fisher because the fish catch drops at the onset of the dry season. But his vegetable sales now offset the seasonal decrease in his income.

He feels fortunate to have an alternative activity during the dry season. He can sell a basket of okra for 10,000 Central African francs [about $20 US], and is able to harvest enough to sell at least 15 baskets a week.

Bonaventure Okombi is the head of the fishing village. He says: “[Mr. Botando] has an advantage in not having to clear his land. He made his fields on land that the river left him. We are proud of his initiative. Maybe it will inspire other fishermen to better occupy themselves at this time of the year.”

Mr. Botando’s niece, Bibi Ilunga, has been helping him since the beginning of the current growing season. She says: “We only have problems when irrigating. We need motorized pumps to make life easier … Can you imagine? We have to water all these plants by hand, morning and evening, and walk quite a way to the river to get the water.”

Ms. Ilunga is disappointed that farming is only an option in the dry season, noting that vegetables bring in more money than fishing. She would prefer it if the farming was year round.

The additional income from his farm helped Mr. Botando to set up a shop which sells goods such as kerosene, soap and canned foods. His only worry is that immigrants from the DRC like himself might be expelled from Congo-Brazzaville. But, he says with a smile, “If we’re not expelled, I think next year I will have more productive fields than these ones here.”

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Zimbabwe: Laying hens change former squatters’ fortunes (by Nqobani Ndlovu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Vote Munda used to sleep in a bush near the Bulawayo suburb of Trenance. He lived in plastic shelters and survived by panning gold, doing odd jobs or selling scrap metal he scavenged at refuse dumps.

In September 2012, Mr. Munda moved to a permanent shelter. His family was one of the nearly 200 squatter families relocated by the Bulawayo City Council from their squatter camp and to houses in Mazwi new village, a few kilometres west of Bulawayo.

Mr. Munda recalls: “Life was a daily struggle when we started staying at Mazwi, as we had no source of income. There is no gold panning at the village like at the Trenance squatter camp.”

Joel Siziba is another former squatter. He says they had to gather and sell firewood illegally to survive at the new village. Poaching firewood carries a $20 U.S. fine or a sentence of community service.

Mr. Siziba says things were so desperate that they contemplated returning to the squatter camps. There, at least, they could survive on the gold panning that had been their primary source of income.

Albert Mhlanga is the Member of Parliament for the local constituency. He says he was touched by the plight of the former squatters, and managed to get the NGOs World Vision and Masakheni Trust to intervene by helping the squatters start a poultry project.

In late December 2013, the NGOs built three large poultry runs, and in January donated 3,200 laying hens as a start-up.

The project nearly failed. Nearly 1,000 chickens died from disease and from mineral toxicity caused by badly mixed feeds. In the first few months, government veterinary services provided little or no assistance.

But these problems have been resolved and things are looking up. Mr. Mhlanga reports, “We went out of our way to look for experts to teach them proper poultry farming methods.”

The poultry runs are solar-powered to provide artificial daylight in the early morning and evening. Hens require 14 hours of daylight to produce eggs. If day length drops below 12 hours, production decreases and frequently stops.

Mr. Munda says, “This is our new way of life. We sell the eggs to residents at the nearest high-density suburbs.” They sell a tray of 24 eggs for $4 U.S. and share the proceeds amongst the 12 ex-squatters who participate in the project.

Lethukuthula Bhebhe is one of those participants. She says, “I never thought I would be a poultry farmer.” But, says Mrs. Bhebhe, they have to fetch water from five kilometres away. There are no donkey- or ox-drawn carts or even wheelbarrows to ferry the 20-litre jerry cans of water.

She says the poultry farmers need 360 litres of water every day for their laying hens. The project is trying to persuade the donors to sink a borehole for the new farmers.

Mr. Siziba says, “It is not much, but it’s better … this is a legal way of surviving compared to firewood poaching.” He adds, “Things can only get better.”

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Uganda: Farmer profits by branching out into selling sweet potato vines (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Perpetua Okao pulls a ringing mobile phone out of her pocket. She responds to the caller, “Yes, I may still have some vines. How many do you need?”

Mrs. Okao tucks the phone back into her pocket. She explains: “I’m the chairperson of Atego Farmers Women’s Group. We’re not only women farmers. We also have five men in the group. All members grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.”

The 63-year-old mother of 10 is a farmer in Atego village, about three kilometres from Lira, in northern Uganda. She grows orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to eat and sell. But she also makes money providing other farmers with the potato vines that are required to plant the crop.

Monica Acan is a broadcaster at Radio Wa, a radio station which targets people in the Lango sub-region, which includes Lira. She is both the host and producer of the Saturday night program, Wa Farmer, which means “Our Farmer” in the local Luo language.

Ms. Acan says: “Perpetua [Okao] is a vine multiplier, which means she grows the crop and [then] sells [the potato vines] to other farmers in the area. She’s the only woman around doing this.”

In July 2013, Farm Radio International and Radio Wa teamed up to launch Poto Wa Tin [Our Garden Today], a program which airs live every Monday evening. It is edited and re-broadcast on Friday afternoons.

At the end of each program, Ms. Acan reads Mrs. Okao’s phone number on air, as well as those of three other vine multipliers in the region. Ms. Acan says: “On the show, I promote orange-fleshed sweet potato, its nutritional aspects, the agronomic practices, as well as marketing and value addition of the crop. It airs in the evening so women farmers returning from the fields can tune in to listen.”

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, like carrots, pumpkins and other orange-fleshed foods, are rich in beta-carotene, a compound that the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for human growth and development, and also helps maintain the immune system and good vision.

Mrs. Okao feeds the fleshy orange potatoes to her children. She is convinced that they benefit from the sweet, tasty tubers. She advised a friend that the woman’s sick baby twins would benefit if the mother added the nutritious potatoes to her children’s breakfast porridge.

Mrs. Okao reports: “I’m happy to say the twins are both very healthy now. Besides porridge, you can also make bread and juice with orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.”

Mrs. Okao flips through a ledger book with the names and details of farmers who have purchased bags of vines from her, some on numerous occasions. She receives calls from all across northern Uganda. Farmers from as far away as Pader, Kitgum and Gulu have purchased vines.

Mrs. Okao says: “Since I started vine multiplication last year, I have distributed orange-fleshed sweet potato [vines] to 380 farmers. It has improved my household income. I was able to buy pigs and a cow and pay my oldest son’s school fees at a teacher’s training college.”

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