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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.

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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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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-Sierra Leone: College radio informs listeners about Ebola

Sierra Leone is now at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Access to affected villages has been hampered by rain and poor roads, but also by rumour and fear.

Radio has an essential role to play by providing accurate information in local languages, and engaging local leaders to help people understand how to avoid spreading the disease.

Independent radio stations have been quick to mobilize in response to the outbreak. They are working together to produce and broadcast programming that responds to the acute need for more information on Ebola.

At Cotton Tree News-Radio in the capital, Freetown, a team of professional and student journalists are reporting on Ebola and hosting live debates which bring together decision-makers and members of national and local governments.

To read the full article, go to: http://hirondelleusa.org/news/ebola-virus-college-radio-in-sierra-leone-fights-against-misinformation/#.U9o33bcgkNU.twitter

2-Guinea: Discouraging bushmeat consumption

Medical teams struggling to curb Ebola in West Africa are discouraging people from eating bushmeat, as some believe this may have caused the outbreak.

A number of factors have contributed to the spread of Ebola, including poor knowledge and superstition, especially in rural communities; cross-border movement; and poor public health infrastructure.

But some rural communities are determined to continue their traditional practices. A resident of Nongoha village in Guéckédou says, “Animal husbandry is not widespread here because bushmeat is easily available. Banning bushmeat means a new way of life, which is unrealistic.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100428/ebola-softly-softly-on-bush-meat

3-Africa: Stigma of AIDS still a major barrier to addressing disease

Though West Africa’s massive Ebola outbreak has been dominating the global health spotlight, HIV and AIDS remain enormous issues in Africa.

Uganda’s anti-LGBT environment may explain the nation’s significant increase in new HIV infections, a trend that − with the exception of Angola − has been reversed in most other African nations.

Dr. Deborah Birx is the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading all U.S. government international efforts in HIV and AIDS relief. She says, “The AIDS pandemic in southern Africa is the primary cause of death for adolescents, and the primary killer of young women.”

U.S. President Barack Obama recently pledged $200 million U.S. to 10 African countries to help double the number of children on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/stigma-still-a-major-roadblock-for-aids-fight-in-africa/

4-Mozambique: Coping with HIV and AIDS?

Mozambique is struggling to contain the HIV epidemic, with one in ten of its 24 million people infected.

Only 60 per cent of Mozambicans have access to health services. There are an average of five doctors and 25 nurses per 100,000 people in Mozambique. In neighbouring South Africa, the ratio is 55 doctors and 383 nurses.

Recently, the United Nations ranked Mozambique 178th of 187 countries in terms of human development. Life expectancy is only 50 years, 70 per cent of the population live in poverty, and an estimated 56,000 women are newly infected with HIV each year.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/how-mozambique-is-coping-with-aids/

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Farmer program e-course: spots are going fast! Sign-up as soon as possible

Dear radio broadcaster,

Farm Radio International is excited to announce that our Farmer program e-course and competition for radio broadcasters will begin on September 15 — and registration is now open and spots are going fast!

This online course will help you make an engaging, entertaining and informative farmer radio program. You will be guided by African e-facilitators and paired up with experienced mentors.

You will learn:

  • How to identify your audience and your audience’s information and communication needs
  • About different types of information and how to address them in your program
  • How to provide opportunities for farmers to speak and be heard
  • How to tell stories
  • How to best serve both women and men farmers
  • How to design a structure for your program
  • How to determine what resources your program needs
  • How to use ICTs to incorporate audience feedback into your show.

At the end of the course, you will submit a program design developed during the course. The top program designs will be selected and winners will receive some exciting prizes!

The Farmer program e-course will take place over 12 weeks, beginning September 15, 2014. The course materials will be available online in English. The e-course and competition is open to radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa who did not participate in the e-course in 2012. You must be involved in producing a radio program at your station and have the support of your station manager to participate in the course.You may take the course individually or as part of a radio station team.

The course costs $50 US for individual broadcasters or $100 US for a radio station team (up to four people). Payment arrangements will be made after registration has been confirmed. A limited number of scholarships are available for broadcasters in need of financial assistance.

You will have to complete an online learning module on the VOICE standards before the e-course begins. Access to the module will be provided once you have signed up for the course.

If you are interested, fill out the sign up form by clicking here. The form requires information about your radio station and farmer radio program. We will review the registration forms and confirm your participation in the coming weeks.

For those who took the 2012 Farmer program e-course and competition but are interested in refreshing their training, please contact us by email at ecourse@farmradio.org.

The course is offered in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

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Orange sweet potato

This week’s story from Uganda talks about orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Our script of the week also talks about growing OFSP.

Most African economies are heavily dependent on agriculture. But many farmers are leaving agriculture to venture into other work. Their reasons for leaving vary, but include challenges such as climate change, pests and diseases, decreasing soil fertility, and fluctuations in market prices for their products.

Agricultural researchers are working on ways to make agriculture more viable for small-scale farmers. One type of research involves breeding new crops which offer specific benefits to farmers. Among these is the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Farmers in several countries have started growing this crop with getting good results.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamin A, which is vital for human health. The fresh roots can be made into cakes, breads and other edible products. Foods made with the fresh root retain vitamin A, which is partially lost when the root is ground into flour. Orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties grow more quickly than traditional African varieties and have a comparable yield.

Our script of the week features an interview with a Ugandan farmer who talks about her experience growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/orange-sweet-potatoes/

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Call for entries: Haller Prize for Development Journalism

The philosophy of Dr. Rene Haller and the Haller Foundation is to promote and share knowledge. That same motivation led to the establishment of the inaugural Haller Prize for Development Journalism.

There are many crucial development issues that merit closer scrutiny or wider exposure, but tend to be under-represented in the media. The Haller Prize aims to highlight some of these issues by exposing the failings of the media and encouraging best practices. The Prize was conceived as a force for positive change in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nationals of sub-Saharan African countries who reside in the region are invited to submit an unpublished article of up to 1,000 words in length which focuses on any aspect of development in sub-Saharan Africa. The article must be submitted in English.

Possible topics include: the success or failure of a charity- or donor-funded program; a specific issue (e.g., the impact of oil or gas exploration); the role of civil society and grassroots organizations; the positive or negative effects of upscaling in agriculture, and; technologies which improve people’s access to banking, agriculture or health services.

The deadline for entries is midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, on Friday, September 19, 2014. If you would like more information about the Haller Prize, email:  prize@haller.org.uk

The article must be submitted via an online form found at this address: http://haller.org.uk/haller-prize/about-the-prize/

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Climate change in Africa: A guidebook for journalists

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has produced a guidebook for journalists who report on, or who wish to improve their reporting on, the changing climate in Africa.

Climate change poses a clear danger to lives and livelihoods across Africa. Journalists have critical roles to play by explaining the causes and effects of climate change, describing what countries and communities can do to adapt to the likely impacts, and reporting on the actions that governments and companies take, or do not take, to respond to these threats.

Research on public understanding of climate change and surveys of journalists show that, across Africa, the media can do more to tell the story of climate change. UNESCO produced this guidebook to address this gap in reporting on the complex phenomenon of climate change.

The authors of the guide represent organizations that have trained hundreds of journalists around the world to report more effectively on climate change. They consulted 44 journalists from 17 African countries and 38 climate change specialists, who provided their insights on what was missing from African media coverage and how this book can help fill those gaps.

For more information and to download the guidebook in English or French, go to: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/publications-and-communication-materials/publications/full-list/climate-change-in-africa-a-guidebook-for-journalists/

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Ebola, pollution and communication

A hearty welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #301! In this edition, we present stories about threats and opportunities facing African farmers in their everyday lives.

Sierra Leone is one of the West African countries currently experiencing an outbreak of Ebola. Many farmers are leaving their crops to rot as fear of the disease forces them to abandon their farms.

Tests have shown that the irrigation water used by farmers on their vegetable crops near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe is polluted by high levels of sewage. Will the farmers find other methods to collect water, or will they be forced to grow other crops?

In the second of our two-part series which highlights the writing of our Bureau Chiefs, Mark Ndipita reports on how text messages are being used to supplement extension services. Widow Alice Kachere has improved her harvests and become a lead farmer in her village.

Do farmers in your listening area have problems with their water supplies? Read the Script of the Week below to give yourself ideas on how to raise the subject with your listeners.

Have a safe and peaceful week!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Sierra Leone: Farmers evading Ebola leave crops to rot (Bloomberg)

Brima Kendor is a plantation owner and spokesperson for the local chief in Kissi Tongi, a village in the Kailahun District of eastern Sierra Leone. He says: “Ebola has left with us with a high number of orphans who cannot take care of themselves and family plantations. This is the time to rehabilitate the cocoa farms but we can’t do that now.”

The Ebola outbreak is forcing farmers and their families to flee cocoa, rice and peanut plantations across eastern and northern Sierra Leone. Kailahun District borders both Guinea and Liberia, whose citizens are also experiencing the hemorrhagic fever that has no cure or treatment.

Edmond Saidu is the district agriculture officer in Kailahun District. He says the cocoa harvest will suffer this year and that farmers will likely leave peanuts and rice in the fields.

According to the World Bank, agriculture contributes nearly 60 per cent of the economy in Sierra Leone. But abandoned farms threaten to halt economic recovery in a country struggling to rebuild after a ten-year civil war left its infrastructure in ruins.

More than 900 people have died in West Africa since Ebola was first reported in Guinea in March of 2014, according to the BBC. The World Health Organization, or WHO, believes that the virus will probably spread for four more months in West Africa.

Control of the disease is being hampered by traditional burial practices, poor hygiene and a lack of adequate medical care, according to WHO. Sierra Leone had recorded 146 deaths and 435 confirmed cases of Ebola by the end of July, according to the Ministry of Health.

Henry Yamba Kamara is the managing director of Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Company, the state-owned producer and buyer. He says some international companies have refused to visit the Kailahun area to buy cocoa.

Mr. Kamara says, “The buyers have refused to go in. The outcome will be either the cocoa will rot, or nobody will be there to buy.”

Kailahun District, where most of the Ebola cases have been confirmed, is the largest producer of cocoa in Sierra Leone. Agriculture is the major economic activity in the district.

The district agriculture officer in Kailahun, Mr. Saidu, says: “This is the ploughing season, especially for swamp rice cultivation, and this is also the time for the first harvesting of cocoa in the rains.” But, he says, there is not much activity in the fields at the moment.

To read the full article on which this story was based, Ebola Orphans Flee Sierra Leone Farms as Cocoa and Rice Rot, go to: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-25/ebola-orphans-flee-sierra-leone-farms-as-cocoa-and-peanuts-rot.html

The World Bank is working with the World Health Organization, the United Nations and other development partners to support the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to contain the spread of the Ebola virus. To hear or download an audio clip about the situation on SoundCloud, go to: https://soundcloud.com/worldbankafrica/ebola-tackling-the-outbreak-in-west-africa

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Zimbabwe: Contaminated water forces vegetable farmers to change crops and irrigation techniques (By Vladimir Mzaca, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Killian Moyo earns his living from lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and cabbages. He sells his produce to communities in Bulawayo. But recently he discovered a serious problem: his source of irrigation water is contaminated.

In May 2014, Zimbabwe’s National University of Science and Technology conducted tests on water sources in the Nyamandlovu area of Bulawayo. The tests found that river water was contaminated with bacteria and heavy metals that are harmful for human consumption.

Mr. Moyo lives in the Nyamandlovu area. Like most local farmers, he irrigates his small plot from the Khami River. But he and many other small-scale farmers have been instructed to stop using river water for agriculture. If Mr. Moyo is to continue farming, he will have to find alternative sources of water.

Mr. Moyo was surprised and disappointed by the test results. He says: “This is the worst news ever. My specialty has always been market gardening. It will take a miracle for me and others to pull through.”

People have stopped buying his produce. He explains, “When word came out that our produce is contaminated, prices dropped and people avoided our produce. My tomatoes went bad without finding a buyer.”

A report by the National University of Science and Technology attributes the contamination to raw sewage flowing into the Khami. It is estimated that half of the sewage produced by Bulawayo’s 1.5 million people flows untreated into the river.

Fortune Musoni is the local catchment manager at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority. He says it could take up to 100 years to decontaminate the area. He explains: “The situation is dire. The river and boreholes close by are affected. About 200 farmers who use this water for irrigation are also affected.”

Mexen Mpofu also farms in Nyamandlovu. Because he suspected there was a problem with the river water, he set up a drip irrigation system. But the system is expensive and has eaten into his profits.

Mr. Mpofu says: “I used to water vegetables and at some stage the leaves would turn yellow. I sought advice and the indication was that the water was the issue. [But] Not all of us can afford drip irrigation.” Mr. Mpofu thinks he will be able to recoup the money he invested in the system, as he will benefit from increased market share as other farmers stop growing vegetables.

Mr. Moyo sought advice from water experts and was told to switch to maize and wheat. But he is not happy. He understands that maize and wheat would not be affected because farmers do not irrigate these crops, but worries that he will make less money. While he can grow vegetables all year round, maize and wheat are harvested only once or twice a year. He fears he will have to lay off some of his workforce.

Mr. Moyo says: “I invested a lot of money into my plot. I will engage water experts to find a lasting solution. There must be a way around this. I am thinking of having water harvesting systems [put] in place.”

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Malawi: Text messages help farmer increase yields (By Mark Ndipita, for Farm Radio Weekly)

For more than a decade after her husband’s death, Alice Kachere and her three children could not grow enough food to feed themselves. The widow, who lives in Chinthedzu, 20 kilometres south of Lilongwe, knew little about farming.

When Mrs. Kachere took responsibility for the family farm after the death of her husband in 2002, she faced major challenges. She says, “Our village stayed without being visited by an extension worker for many years. As I lacked skills in good agricultural practices, hunger never left my house.”

But in July 2012, the situation changed. Agents from an NGO came to her village and recorded the telephone numbers of farmers who wanted agricultural advice via their mobile phones. Mrs. Kachere decided to register her contact details. Soon, she started receiving text messages on her handset.

The information she received quickly helped Mrs. Kachere improve her farming. She now harvests 10 tonnes of maize from a 1.2 hectare plot which used to produce less than one tonne.

Mrs. Kachere credits the text messages. She explains: “Within a year, people noticed a change in my farming skills, and in 2013 I was chosen to be a lead farmer. I now know the good time to plant, how and when to apply fertilizer, and I have adequate knowledge in … weeding, harvesting, storage and packaging.”

As a lead farmer, Mrs. Kachere operates a demonstration plot. There, farmers gather to discuss farming issues such as good agricultural practices, climate change, HIV and AIDS, gender, and farming as a business. She says, “The messages we receive through our mobile phones help us in our discussions.”

Noel Limbani is the coordinator of text-based extension services for the Department of Agricultural Extension Services. He is happy that the project has helped reduce the workload of field extension workers, many of whom must travel long distances to visit farmers.

He says, “We targeted farmers with mobile phones so that they [would] share the messages with other farmers … this has helped a lot in the delivery of extension services.”

Lute Chiotha is an agricultural extension officer. She works with more than 2,500 farmers in the Mitundu area, near the city of Lilongwe. Ms. Chiotha says the text messages have increased farmers’ knowledge and improved the way they share information.

Because farmers face problems related to climate change − including diseases, extreme temperatures and poor rains − they have had to change the way they farm. Ms. Chiotha says, “They need constant advice on farming, and using mobile phones appears to be effective in my area.”

Mrs. Kachere has certainly benefitted. The information in the text messages helped her increase her yields. But she thinks that farmers would benefit if the messages covered more topics. She says: “I am requesting the Department of Agricultural Extension Services to include market and weather information in the text messages. I take farming [to be a] business and, as farmers, we have to be on the lookout for climate change which is affecting production.”

Mrs. Kachere is happy to be receiving extension text messages. Her family’s life has improved since she signed up for the service, her farm is more productive, and she can sell the surplus from her harvests.

She says: “My husband died and left me in a grass-thatched house. But now, I am able to send my children to school, and I have managed to build a house [which has] corrugated iron sheets and electricity.”

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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-Senegal: Cattle tracking technology

Cattle rustling, or raiding, is a common problem for herders in sub-Saharan Africa.

But now, rural Senegalese farmers will be able to keep track of their cattle with radio frequency identification tags and mobile phones.

The new cattle-tracking technology is designed to deter cattle rustlers.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28399336

2-Sierra Leone: Radio public service announcements counter misinformation about Ebola virus

The Ebola virus continues to claim lives in West Africa.

BBC Media Action has produced a series of eight public service announcements, or PSAs, which will air on 30 local radio stations in Sierra Leone.

The PSAs provide information on prevention, symptoms, and the importance of not eating bush meat. They also seek to dispel myths about the spread of the disease.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcmediaaction/posts/Using-radio-to-respond-to-Ebola-in-Sierra-Leone-

3-Kenya: Harvesting rainwater with rock outcroppings

Residents of Mutomo, a trading centre in eastern Kenya, used to trek over 100 kilometres to fetch water. But now, rock outcrops are being used to create a water harvesting and supply system.

In a rock catchment, rainwater running off rock surfaces flows down to a reservoir sited below the catchment area via long channels of flat rocks cemented onto the rock surface.

Since 2009, Mutomo has built 40 rock catchment reservoirs. Recently, they introduced tilapia to the reservoirs to help the community feed itself. Despite suffering from poor rainfall, the villagers now have enough water to sustain themselves until the next rainy season.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140728134036-1wlc9/?source=jtOtherNews2

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Call for entries: The African Fact-Checking Awards

Are you a reporter or presenter working for an Africa-based media house? Have you published or broadcast a report that exposed a misleading claim from a public figure or institution?

The African Fact-Checking Awards are sponsored jointly by Africa Check and the AFP Foundation. They were established to honour the work of African journalists who expose misleading claims made by leading public figures and powerful institutions around the continent.

To apply for the awards, individual journalists or teams of journalists must submit an original piece of journalism that investigates a claim made by a public figure or institution in Africa. Your piece must have been published or broadcast (print, online or on radio or television) for the first time by a media house based in Africa between September 1, 2013 and August 31, 2014.

The piece must expose the claim as wrong or misleading, based on the best available evidence. Entries may have been first published or broadcast in any language, but a transcript in either French or English must be presented alongside the original.

The winner will receive a prize of 2,000 euros, and the two runners-up will each receive 1,000 euros. The winners will be announced in November, 2014.

For more information, and for the entry form, go to: http://africacheck.org/how-to-fact-check/the-african-fact-checking-awards/

The deadline for applications is August 31, 2014.

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New publication: Reporting justice: A handbook on covering war crimes courts

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) aims to give voice to people on the frontlines of conflict, crisis and change. Working from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the organization describes its aims as helping people in the world’s most challenging environments to access the information they need to drive positive changes in their lives – holding government to account, demanding constructive solutions, strengthening civil society and securing human rights.

IWPR works to forge the skills and capacity of local journalism, strengthen local media institutions, and engage civil society and governments to ensure that information achieves impact.

Like any specialized journalism, reporting on war crimes has its own demands and its own rules. Historical background, procedures and law must be understood.

IWPR’s new publication − Reporting justice: a handbook on covering war crimes courts – aims to give reporters the tools to properly report on the trials of war crime suspects or investigate war crimes on the ground.

To download the PDF file of this handbook in English, French or Portuguese, go to: http://iwpr.net/reporting-justice-handbook-covering-war-crimes-courts

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Farmer program e-course registration is open!

Dear radio broadcaster,

Farm Radio International is excited to announce that our Farmer program e-course and competition for radio broadcasters will begin on September 15 — and registration is now open!

This online course will help you make an engaging, entertaining and informative farmer radio program. You will be guided by African e-facilitators and paired up with experienced mentors.

You will learn:

  • How to identify your audience and your audience’s information and communication needs
  • About different types of information and how to address them in your program
  • How to provide opportunities for farmers to speak and be heard
  • How to tell stories
  • How to best serve both women and men farmers
  • How to design a structure for your program
  • How to determine what resources your program needs
  • How to use ICTs to incorporate audience feedback into your show.

At the end of the course, you will submit a program design developed during the course. The top program designs will be selected and winners will receive some exciting prizes!

The Farmer program e-course will take place over 12 weeks, beginning September 15, 2014. The course materials will be available online in English. The e-course and competition is open to radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa who did not participate in the e-course in 2012. You must be involved in producing a radio program at your station and have the support of your station manager to participate in the course.You may take the course individually or as part of a radio station team.

The course costs $50 US for individual broadcasters or $100 US for a radio station team (up to four people). Payment arrangements will be made after registration has been confirmed. A limited number of scholarships are available for broadcasters in need of financial assistance.

You will have to complete an online learning module on the VOICE standards before the e-course begins. Access to the module will be provided once you have signed up for the course.

If you are interested, fill out the sign up form by clicking here. The form requires information about your radio station and farmer radio program. We will review the registration forms and confirm your participation in the coming weeks.

For those who took the 2012 Farmer program e-course and competition but are interested in refreshing their training, please contact us by email at ecourse@farmradio.org.

The course is offered in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

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Clean water and a clean environment make a better life

This week’s story from Zimbabwe deals with contaminated water and how it is affecting the livelihoods of local vegetable farmers. Our script of the week is a drama that also deals with contaminated water. In this case, the water is a carrier of a disease called schistosomiasis which is having serious effects on a rural village.

The drama tracks an exciting process of discovery in which the source of the problem is finally identified and local people co-operate to deal with it. A village leader and other community members relate the story to a radio host.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/clean-water-and-a-clean-environment-make-a-better-life/

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Young people make the future bright

Welcome to the 300th edition of Farm Radio Weekly! To mark this special issue, two of this week’s stories focus on the future: Africa’s young people.

Generations of Tanzanian farmers have practised slash and burn agriculture. This has led to many plots becoming barren and infertile over time. But a new school-based initiative is encouraging young people to conserve soil fertility and increase crop yields.

An ongoing project in South African schools is teaching young, aspiring journalists how to record, edit and report on issues that concern them. One student, Sibusiso Mazibuko, hopes that the produce from his family’s plot will raise enough cash to fund a career in filmmaking.

Farmers’ co-operatives in West Africa, unable to get support from banks, are organizing to provide services to their communities. Farm Radio Weekly’s new Francophone Bureau Chief reports on two success stories.

August 12 marks International Youth Day. Follow the hyperlink to find out how to join local and international celebrations!

Our Event section on the sidebar highlights an international competition for young journalists, and the Resource section features a guidebook aimed at improving the output of young radio presenters and producers, as well as anyone else who works with youth.

The foundation of every culture is the education of its youth: good habits formed early make all the difference.

Keep broadcasting!

-          The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Tanzania: Planting the seed of conservation in schools (by Felicity Feinman, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Kuruthumu Amlima dreams of becoming a farmer like her parents. But the 14-year-old does not plan to farm exactly like them.

Ms. Amlima lives in the village of Liwale, about 200 kilometres west of Mtwara, a city just north of the Tanzanian border with Mozambique. Farmers in this area traditionally practice slash-and-burn agriculture. Although this practice temporarily boosts nutrients in the soil, over time it causes soil erosion and nutrient deficiencies. Farmers are eventually forced to find new farmland.

Ms. Amlima is learning the principles of conservation agriculture through a program at her primary school. The program emphasizes crop rotation, minimum tillage and continuous soil cover. These practices improve nutrient levels in the soil and prevent soil erosion, allowing farmers to use the same plot year after year. Ms. Amlima adds, “You get a bigger harvest from smaller land with conservation agriculture.”

Lindi and Mtwara Agribusiness Support, or LIMAS, is a Finnish development project which funds the trainings in 56 schools in the Liwale district. The project has been a success at Nalulelo Primary School, where Ms. Amlima studies. This year, the school grew and sold 1,200 kilograms of maize for a profit of 373,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $225 US).

Juma Chijinga is an agronomist at LIMAS. He says that profitability is a key aspect of conservation agriculture. He explains the farmer’s needs: “At the end of the day, they want increased production. They need increased income.”

But finding a balance between production and conservation can be challenging. While crop rotation is a key aspect of conservation agriculture, the Nalulelo School farm grew only maize this year. This is not as beneficial to long-term soil health as rotating crops.

But in the short term, it provided the school with a more immediate need – food. Mr. Chijinga says: “Their priority is food … they decided that this year they would plant maize, so that they [could provide] for the [students] who are expecting to write examinations this season.”

Some of the children’s parents are also interested in conservation principles. But Mr. Chijinga thinks real change will take time. He says: “These people are used to traditional agriculture … You can’t expect them to change overnight, but they can learn … [by] … seeing that there is some benefit.”

Ms. Amlima’s teacher, Rashidi Hamisi, thinks farmers in Liwale could benefit from adopting conservation agriculture, as slash-and-burn farming is often time-consuming. He says, “When they use conservation farm[ing], they have more time for other things and they get good production and crops.”

Older farmers might take more convincing. But Ms. Amlima is already sold on conservation agriculture. She plans to use it when she, someday, starts her own farm. Ms. Amlima says, “I like conservation because it’s good for the future.”

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South Africa: Young reporters learn the ropes at school (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Since 2010, South Africans have celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day to mark Mandela’s birthday. Many people in the country, both young and old, honour his legacy on July 18 by volunteering and performing community service.

Sibusiso Mazibuko spent Mandela Day planting crops in the garden of a childcare centre in Tembisa township, north of Kempton Park, an eastern suburb of Johannesburg. The 17-year-old taught young children how good agricultural practices can reduce the effects of climate change and fight food insecurity, two subjects about which he is passionate.

He says: “For the last four years, my mom has been growing spinach, onions and tomatoes in her garden at home. She taught me that it’s important to plant vegetables for our family.”

When he’s not teaching young children how to grow food, Mr. Mazibuko is an aspiring documentary filmmaker. He is a member of the Youth Press Team at Tembisa Secondary School. Mr. Mazibuko can often be seen carrying one of the iPads, microphones or tripods provided to the club through iSchoolAfrica, a nation-wide educational initiative.

iSchoolAfrica launched the Youth Press Team project four years ago, as South Africa prepared to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With the international spotlight on the country, the initiative gave youth a platform to share their stories with the world.

iSchoolAfrica currently works in 20 under-resourced schools across South Africa, providing appropriate technologies to improve classroom learning.

Michelle Lissoos is the project director at iSchoolAfrica. She says: “They started off filming using a handheld camera and then edited their work [afterwards]. Now, they can film and edit [on] one device. We have a facilitator who trains the educators at the school.”

Mr. Mazibuko says: “Working with the Youth Press Team at my school makes me feel I can produce and develop my own documentary films. I’m going to apply [to] the London Film School in the U.K. if I can find a scholarship or bursary.”

John Aphane is one of Mr. Mazibuko’s teachers at Tembisa Secondary School. The 31-year-old teaches more than 200 students every year. He has seen Mr. Mazibuko excel over the last three years, becoming a senior member of the Youth Press Team.

Mr. Aphane says: “The Youth Press Team gives a voice to the community. [Mr. Mazibuko] found a passion for media after joining the team. He’s written some stories and is currently working on a movie with other students.”

The teacher adds, “Mandela Day was an important occasion to understand the role Mr. Mandela played in the history of this country and to learn to do something for others.”

The late Nelson Mandela believed strongly in the power of education. He once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

For his part, Mr. Mazibuko says he learned that selling vegetables at the market can help parents pay their children’s school fees. He would like to grow enough food so his mother can raise the money to send him to university. He sees film as a way to make real change in the world.

He says: “My mother taught me that it’s important to plant and water vegetables, as agriculture can help people by feeding families. I have learnt for myself that telling stories can educate people.”

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West Africa: Farmer groups respond to lack of funding (by Inoussa Maïga, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Soumaïla Sanou and the other cereal farmer members of the Comité interprofessionnel des céréaliers du Burkina, or CICB, are savouring their success. While many farmer groups find it difficult or impossible to fund their agricultural activities, Mr. Sanou and members of his organization have successfully raised 52 million West African francs [$107,000 U.S.] and placed it in a member’s fund.

During a recent international conference on financing for agriculture held in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr. Sanou, the president of CICB, explained how the organization achieved its success. The group raised the funds by selling bulk grain which members had contributed from their own harvests. CICB will use the money to fund bulk purchases of fertilizer for member farmers.

Mr. Sanou explains,“The fertilizer that each producer receives is proportional to the quantity of grain he sold to the organization.” CICB returns any leftover cash to its member’s accounts after purchasing the fertilizer and sends each farmer a receipt detailing the amount they are owed.

But the group’s success came only after members were forced into taking the initiative for themselves. CICB was established because local banks refused to grant loans to individual farmers. The banks argued that the farmers could not provide sufficient evidence of their ability to repay.

Bassiaka Dao is a director of a West African network of small-scale and commercial farmers’ organizations known as ROPPA. Mr. Dao says that governments have established agricultural banks, while farmers have formed credit unions. He believes, however, that the agricultural banks were often poorly structured. He adds, “Their capacity for lending remains weak, and many have failed after turning their focus away from financing agriculture.”

Left to their own devices, the farmers were forced to come up with their own solutions. Farmers’ organizations across West Africa have developed mechanisms to improve members’ access to basic agricultural services such as fertilizers, equipment and small loans. They have even developed markets to encourage commodity trade.

Another success story comes from Niger. The Fédération des Unions des Coopératives de Producteurs de Riz, or FUCOPRI, organizes bulk sales of paddy rice in the country. Ayouba Hassane is the group’s technical director. He says that the federation was formed “to deal with the thorny issue of marketing.”

Mr. Hassane adds, “The leaders of the federation were able to convince the Nigerien government to buy the local paddy rice boost food security.” He says this has solved the crucial problem of getting funds to co-operatives to help them function.

These are the kinds of initiatives that enable organizations to meet the most pressing needs of women and men farmers, particularly the most deprived.

Things are gradually starting to change, and the financial situation of farmers is improving. Mr. Sanou says, “Yesterday we were running after the banks; today, the banks are coming to us with credit.”

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