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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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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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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 ma#mce_temp_url#

1-Democratic Republic of Congo: Mobile phone app could help prosecute sexual violence suspects

The international NGO, Physicians for Human Rights, or PHR, is testing a smartphone application called MediCapt in the DRC.

The organization is using the app to document victims of rape and sexual assault in the DRC. The app stores photographic images of victims’ injuries along with medical examination forms in an online database. Law enforcement officials can use MediCapt as forensic evidence.

Though the application is still being developed, PHR has trained physicians how to use the new technology, and hopes that the system will be available in areas of conflict around the world in the near future.

To read the full article, go to: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/07/11/3459162/app-rape-war-zones/

2-Liberia: Rape in post-war Liberia

During Liberia’s 14-year civil war, sexual violence affected as many as 77 per cent of the country’s women and girls.

According to a new report from UK-based Overseas Development Institute entitled The Fallout of Rape as a Weapon of War, the incidence of sexual violence and rape in post-war Liberia is still “extremely high.” Data from 2013 show that up to a quarter of women and girls report being raped by a stranger, and nearly three in four married women have been sexually assaulted by their husbands.

Under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia’s government has enacted new anti-rape laws and established new courts, but prosecution rates remain low.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100364/tackling-liberia-s-high-rape-rate

3-Zambia: Sexual and reproductive health education on the radio

A new radio program, made by youth and for youth in Zambia, is raising awareness of sexual and reproductive health across the country.

The presenters and producers, aged between 16 and 22, want to de-stigmatize the subject of sexual and reproductive health and condom use.

Tikambe natulande, or “Let’s talk,” was developed by BBC Media Action and Restless Development, a Zambian youth-led organization.

Three radio stations − Radio Mkushi in Central Province, Radio Kasama in Northern Province, and the state broadcaster, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation − each  air their own version of the program.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcmediaaction/posts/zambia_blog_boyd_chibale_tikambe

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Call for applications: Thomson Foundation Young Journalist from the Developing World

Journalists are invited to enter a competition that recognizes young journalists working in the developing world.

Journalists must be aged 30 or under on November 25, 2014, working in countries defined as “developing,” and submit a portfolio of work.

The portfolio must contain three pieces of work which were published or broadcast on or after August 29, 2013. The work can be in any format – print, audio, video, multimedia or a combination of all four.

Entries can be submitted in any language but should be accompanied by a verbatim English language translation.

Entrants must submit written statements of up to 200 words per story. The statements should summarize the story’s content and any impact it had on public debate in the country of publication.

Potential award winners and leading figures from the world of journalism will be invited to attend the gala award night in London, U.K. on November 25, 2014.

The deadline for entries is 23:59 Greenwich Mean Time on August 29, 2014.

For the purpose of this competition, the “developing world” is defined as those countries with a per capita GDP of $20,000 U.S. or under, according to the 2013 World Bank Index.

For more information and to access the entry form, go to: http://www.thomsonfoundation.org/fpa-young-journalist-award

The completed form should be emailed along with other required documents to the following address: awardfpa@thomsonfoundation.org

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Youth radio for peacebuilding: a guide

Youth radio for peacebuilding: a guide contains tools and examples to help radio professionals and young people produce youth programs for peacebuilding. The guide was produced by the Radio for Peacebuilding Africa project, a program of Search for Common Ground. It is one in a series developed for radio producers and others involved in making positive radio in Africa − radio which makes a difference.

The guide includes how-to tips and advice on analyzing conflict; tools and examples of how radio professionals can create youth radio initiatives; and guidance for adults working with young people on radio programs for peacebuilding.

The guidebook was written for radio broadcasters (adult and youth) who want to make good, entertaining youth radio programs which also build peace. The tools described in the guide are designed to be used by those already working in radio, but could also be useful to young leaders who wish to design and implement their own radio initiatives. The guide is written with Africa in mind, and most of the examples are drawn from African countries.

This is an updated version of the guide, which was originally produced in 2006.

You can download this free guide as a PDF file from this address: http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/rfpa/pdf/manual_03_EN_color.pdf

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Meet the Bureau Chiefs!

We are pleased to welcome Inoussa Maïga as our new Francophone Bureau Chief. Mr. Maïga describes himself as a “journalist-consultant-blogger.” You can read one of his stories in this issue of Farm Radio Weekly.

Mr. Maïga holds a Master’s degree in International Management Media from the Lille School of Journalism in France. He is also the President of the Burkinabe Association of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

Mr. Maïga reports on agriculture and rural development, and acts as a consultant in the fields of media and participatory development communication.

He is a Burkina Faso correspondent for journals such as Défis Sud (Belgium) and Spore (Netherlands), and is also involved in documentary filmmaking and training broadcasters.

His involvement in rural development leads to coverage of issues such as food security, security of land tenure in rural areas, responsible and sustainable fisheries, development of knowledge and traditional know-how, and using ICTs for agricultural development.

Mr. Maïga is a keen blogger on social networks, and has run a personal blog on agriculture since February 2013 (www.googolfarmer.info). In July, 2014, his blog received the “Best Blog on family farming” award in the YoBloCo competition. The prize was awarded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

In Malawi, Mark Ndipita continues to run the Anglophone Bureau. Mr. Ndipita has more than seven years of experience in communication and development, with a focus on agricultural communication. One of his stories will be featured in FRW #301.

Mr. Ndipita holds a Master’s degree in Communication for Innovation and Development from the University of Reading, U.K. He is also a graduate of the University of Malawi, the Polytechnic, where he gained a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He holds a Certificate in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management from the Natural Resources College.

Since 2010, Mark has been the Farm Radio Weekly Bureau Chief for Anglophone Africa. He doubles as a Communications Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Malawi.

As FRW Bureau Chief, Mr. Ndipita identifies and manages writers who contribute articles to FRW. Currently, he manages writers from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia and Botswana. He assists writers in identifying and writing stories.

He is also responsible for ensuring the participation of southern African freelancers on Barza, FRI’s social media site for broadcasters to learn and share new ideas. Mark also promotes FRW and enlists FRW subscribers from the farm radio sector in southern Africa.

Mr. Ndipita writes stories for FRW from Malawi and other countries in southern Africa. Since 2010, Mark has facilitated the publication of over 100 farmer-focussed stories in FRW from writers in southern Africa.

If you are interested in working with either of our bureau chiefs, and ultimately have your work published in Farm Radio Weekly, contact them at the following email addresses:

For French writers: Inoussa Maïga bureauarh@gmail.com

For English writers: Mark Ndipita bureau.chief@farmradiotz.org

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The promise of conservation agriculture

This week’s story from Tanzania talks about conservation agriculture. In 2005, Farm Radio International distributed several scripts on conservation agriculture, including this week’s script of the week.

Adopting conservation agriculture also means adopting a major shift in mindset. Farmers are unfamiliar with the idea of not tilling the soil. Radio can play a role in addressing this change of mindset by broadcasting information about conservation agriculture. As a broadcaster, you can air programs about the different practices involved in conservation agriculture, and give voice to farmers who practice it and want to share their experiences with listeners.

Introduce the main ideas of conservation agriculture slowly, providing more details and information with each successive program. Make it clear to listeners that farmers who adopt conservation agriculture will face challenges, as they would with any new practice, but that they already have the tools to solve these problems when they arise.

Conservation agriculture has been successful in a wide variety of environments and socio-economic circumstances, provided that farmers adapt the principles to their own situations. In places where farmers have been practising conservation agriculture for several seasons or more, many report decreased weed and disease problems, improved soil structure, more stable yields, decreased need for labour, and a more sustainable farming system overall.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-76-agroforestry-practices-in-combating-desertification/the-promise-of-conservation-agriculture/

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Local radio educates, informs and has the power to champion justice

This is Farm Radio Weekly calling! Thank you for taking the time to tune in to the latest issue, #299. This week, we focus on radio.

People who listen to the radio love to hear about personalities. This includes listeners to Sulwe FM in western Kenya. These listeners have been introduced to, and love to hear about and meet, James Barasa Mamati, an 85-year-old who is still actively teaching younger people about farming.

Sarah Adongo grew up in a farming family in central Uganda, helping her parents in the fields. Now she helps small-scale farmers keep informed and updated by broadcasting relevant and reliable information on Gulu’s Mega FM.

A Nigerian radio station has developed a program which names and shames those who think that their position allows them to act with impunity. The collective power of listeners to the Brekete Family Radio program gives a voice to the voiceless and encourages community action.

When ethnically- or religiously-based conflict or violence threatens the peace in your communities, it is best to get people talking. This week’s Resource section highlights a guidebook tailored for radio producers and broadcasters who want to get the best results from on-air talk shows. Read more through the link in the sidebar.

Everyone who speaks on air is raising the next generation – so make your words count!

Keep those airwaves crackling!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: Eighty-five-year-old Mzee mmoja continues to inspire farmers (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is Saturday in Mawe tatu village and the local radio station, Sulwe FM, has organized a farmers’ day. More than 50 farmers have gathered at Joseph Kuya’s home near the Nzoia River in Kakamega County. Some belong to a radio listeners club, and the station has brought them here.

Many have heard Mzee mmoja on the radio and want to meet him. Mzee mmoja, Swahili for the one old man, is eighty-five-year-old James Barasa Mamati, an active farmer and role model for many.

At the meeting, the retired civil servant introduces the topics he will speak about. He says: “We shall learn about biological pest control, identify the nutritive values of different crops, then about mobile kitchen gardens and how to make one.” He adds, “If time allows, we shall also learn how to produce [a] pesticide using soap and weeds from the farm.”

His listening audience has many questions. The farmers ask about treatments for diseases, how to plant certain crops, treatments for livestock worms, and many other things.

Even at the tender age of 75, Hamed Mululu finds the Mzee’s advice invaluable. He says, “Mzee mmoja is just [an] amazing farmer. I have learned a lot from him.”

The Mzee leads the farmers to Mr. Kuya’s garden, where he demonstrates how kale should be spaced and explains why Mr. Kuya’s kale plants are not as healthy as they could be. He shows farmers how to plant vegetables in a sack. Everyone is excited.

Mama Eunice says: “I [used to] hate farming because I thought it was a non-profitable activity. But after I heard Mzee mmoja on [the] radio being an active farmer at an old age, [it] gave me hope.”

Petronila Simwenyi hosts the daily and weekly farmer programs on Sulwe FM. The shows target people below 65 years of age and reach more than 350,000 farmers in western Kenya. The broadcaster introduced Mzee mmoja to her audience in 2010 and says he has been a real success.

Ms. Simwenyi says: “It has been a journey of no regrets since I started doing the agricultural program. Through the program, we have visited and have organized forums with farmers.” Farmers have used the daily and weekly programs, both called Kumumilo kwo omulimi (Luhya for “Farmers’ voice”), to raise concerns about farm inputs, weather conditions, and climate change.

Ms. Simwenyi says Mzee mmoja has been a great help to the program by translating Farm Radio International scripts from English to Luhya so her listeners can better understand them.

Mzee mmoja’s organic farm features intercropped vegetables, vegetables growing in sacks, compost heaps, fish ponds, poultry and much more. Many visit him for solutions to their farming challenges.

Stella Nangila says: “James Barasa is the only old man in the area who is active in farming. I visited him and saw that he practices mixed farming, [and] makes compost for sale.”

The Mzee says he plans to live to 125 years of age. He eats lots of vegetables and fruits and avoids red meat, preferring fish, chicken and rabbit.

Ms. Simwenyi says: “I am yet to identify someone who [could] take over from him − someone who can volunteer, who can translate scripts to [the] local language, and, above all, who can be a farmers’ friend and a lover of agriculture.”

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Uganda: Woman broadcaster scatters seeds of understanding via the radio (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

A car approaches Omwonya village, splashing through potholes and shuddering across the undulations of the wet and muddy road. Dozens of farmers have gathered in welcome. As they spot broadcaster Sarah Adongo in the car, women begin to ululate and dance. As she steps out of the vehicle, the men join in with rapturous applause.

Ms. Adongo is the host of Lobo pa Lupur, or A farmer’s world. The 36-year-old presents the show on Gulu’s Mega FM in the local language, Luo, every weekday from 2:20 to 3 p.m.

Ms. Adongo says: “I have an obligation to keep small-scale farmers informed and updated with relevant and reliable information. Many Ugandan farmers cannot access newspapers or watch television, so they rely on the radio.”

The program tackles a regular topic every weekday. Mondays are devoted to livestock, poultry and fish farming. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the program is dedicated to crop production.

Wednesdays are all about agribusiness. Ms. Adongo explains: “I record a magazine-style show including farming news … market prices, and feature interviews with farmers. I will use some of the interviews I do today on next Wednesday’s show.”

Ms. Adongo grew up in a farming family and recognizes the need to tell the stories of farmers who face adversity. She says: “I grew up appreciating farming because, right from childhood, it had been the source of my family’s income. We used the money for food, clothes, education and medical care.”

The eldest of eight children, she learned from a young age how to use a hoe and tend the family’s cotton. As she got older, cotton prices dropped and her family switched to crops such as groundnuts, sunflower, sesame and cassava.

Mrs. Adongo’s father began to produce and sell vegetables to supplement the family income. The family farm financed her school fees. Ms. Adongo was the first member of her family to finish secondary school and, ultimately, graduate from university.

She says: “Agriculture is where I’m from; it’s part of me and it’s what has made me and my siblings the people we are today. Sincerely, if it was not because of agriculture, I would not have studied, because my parents had no salaried jobs.”

Ms. Adongo has been working at Mega FM since 2004. She has become one of the most popular radio hosts in northern Uganda. When she enters the studio and sits down in front of the microphone, farmers around Gulu district tune in their radios, eager to hear her voice.

Nicky Afa-ei is the Program Manager at Mega FM. He believes that Ms. Adongo connects with farmers because of her background. He says, “Farmers trust her. She helps them understand new trends and technologies in agriculture.”

As Ms. Adongo wraps up her last recording for the day, she walks to the car which will take her back to the studio. She says, “Radio has a multiplier effect. When farmers hear success stories they begin to try new methods. I want all of my listeners to be successful farmers.”

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Nigeria: Live on-air people’s court (Trust)

The Brekete Family Radio program is a perfect way to pass the time if you are stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Abuja’s morning rush hour.

Ordinary Ahmed Isa is the show’s host. His voice travels across the airwaves with a familiar greeting, Hembelembe, to which his studio audience responds, Olololoooo. Listeners in the traffic jam, or go-slow as it is called in Nigeria, mutter the response under their breath. No one can predict what will happen on this show.

Brekete Family Radio is a program modelled on a public complaint forum or people’s court. Listeners call in to report cases of government officials or private individuals avoiding punishment or censorship for their actions. A studio panel discusses the issue and invites the public to offer advice to the complainant.

The daily one-hour program has helped Nigerians who, until now, had no hope of accessing justice. Brekete Family Radio is quickly becoming the last resort of the common man in a country where many institutions are unaccountable.

Sometimes, the program calls a government official live on air and asks the official to explain his or her actions. Putting public officials on the spot through this kind of on-air public inquest has achieved significant results.

Recently, the studio panel heard the story of a man who was dismissed from his job at a government agency without clear cause. The man was still owed money and had exhausted his meagre savings trying to get a fair settlement.

Mr. Isa called the head of the government agency to get its side of the story. The official answered – but almost immediately hung up. Attempts to call him back were unsuccessful. The official in question did not seem keen to have this particular conversation. So Mr. Isa announced the official’s telephone numbers on air. Listeners were invited to text and call him until the issue was resolved.

Brekete Family Radio is broadcast in five Nigerian states, including Abuja. An estimated 20 million people listen daily, more than one in ten Nigerians. The program is flooded every day with thousands of text messages and hundreds of phone calls. Volunteer lawyers do their best to assist everyone who has an issue.

The program has become essential listening for many Nigerians. It is a platform for gathering public opinion, obtaining public redress, facilitating arbitration, and even fundraising for a scholarship program for the poor. The show has tapped deeply into Nigerians’ need for transparency and justice.

The day after he was publicly embarrassed on the radio, and as morning traffic again sat bumper-to-bumper, the government official offered a public, on-air apology to all Nigerians. Apparently, his phone had been ringing constantly. The bombardment of messages from listeners had forced his hand. The case of the overdue entitlement was resolved within weeks.

To read the full article on which this story was based, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140704110649-ra1xk/?source=jtBlogs

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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-Somalia: Poor rains increase risk of famine

Rainfall was only half of normal levels during the recent March-to-June rainy season in Somalia.

Crops and livestock have not received enough water, meaning that the number of hungry people will increase this year, echoing the situation in the lead-up to the 2011 famine.

The ongoing food crisis is already affecting over 850,000 people in the country. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, stated, “The food crisis in Somalia will deteriorate in the coming months, with drought conditions already observed in parts of the country.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140708140346-1tfpo

2-Malawi: Celebrating 50 years of independence

On July 6, 1964, Malawi gained its independence from the United Kingdom. This year, the 50th anniversary of independence coincided with the commemoration of 20 years of multi-party democracy.

But, 50 years after independence, Malawi still relies on donor aid. Forty per cent of the country’s budget is funded through aid, and two-thirds of that was suspended after the recent Cashgate scandal revealed that millions of dollars had been stolen from government coffers.

In his inaugural speech, recently elected President Peter Mutharika said the nation must expand its economic base by improving agriculture through irrigation and value-added processing, and by developing the mining sector, to move the country away from its dependency on donors

To read the full article, go to: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/06/malawi-celebrates-50-years-independence-201461584719773907.html

3-Mali: Eliminating pesticides

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization established a farmer field school in the Bla region of southern Mali in 2003. While only 34 per cent of cotton farmers in the area participated in the program, pesticide use on cotton farms in Bla − more than 4,300 households − dropped by 92 per cent.

FAO’s analysis showed that alternative methods of pest control were three times more cost-effective than purchasing and using synthetic pesticides.

Growers in the Bla study group reduced their average production costs by not applying chemical pesticides. By shifting to alternative “biopesticides” like neem tree extract, farmers saved nearly $500,000 US over the study period, with no negative impact on yields.

To read the full article, go to: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/284-spore/agriculture-1/10037-extension

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Call for applications: Grants for investigative journalism

Investigative journalists are invited to apply for reporting grants sponsored by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. The grants are intended to support investigative projects around the world.

Recent grants include investigations into widespread fraud in the Nigerian federal government program intended to fight poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals; the conflict between preserving nature and economic growth in an environmentally risky gold mining operation in Sierra Leone; and the plight of young children forced to work in Malawi’s tobacco harvest.

The average award is $5,000 US, which should cover out-of-pocket expenses such as travel costs. The Fund does not cover salaries or equipment. The first half of the grant will be given once an application is approved and the second half on completion of the project.

All proposals must be submitted in English and include a detailed budget.

The deadline to apply is September 8, 2014.

For more information and a grant application form, go to: http://fij.org/grant-application/

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Radio talkshows for peacebuilding: A guide

Everyone would like to live in a peaceful society, one not driven by hatred and violence. But the question is: how to get there?

Radio Talkshows for Peacebuilding: A guide contains tools and examples for creating talk shows in ways that contribute to peace. The guide was produced by the Radio for Peacebuilding Africa project, a program of the NGOSearch for Common Ground. It is one in a series developed for radio producers and others involved in making positive radio in Africa – radio which makes a difference.

The guide includes how-to tips and advice on analyzing conflict; tools and examples of how radio professionals can help build a peaceful society; and descriptions and definitions of the different types of talk shows and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

The guidebook was written for radio broadcasters who produce or present radio talk shows in countries or regions experiencing conflict. It focuses mainly on conflicts between groups, peoples or countries which are either violent or at risk of becoming violent. The guide is written with Africa in mind, and most of the examples are drawn from African countries.

You can download this free guide as a PDF file from this address:http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/rfpa/pdf/Talkshows_EN_color.pdf

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Audio postcards: Farm Radio International’s messages to you

Farm Radio International continues to produce audio postcards to inform you about the work we do with farmers and broadcasters. Why not check out three of our latest offerings?

In Ghanaian farmers capitalized on ICT to connect with markets, Farm Radio International (Ghana) ICT officer Nathaniel Ofori describes how a recently completed project, Purchase for Progress, used radio and ICT to improve the knowledge and skills of members of farmer organizations. The project focused on sustainably producing high-quality staple foods — particularly maize and cowpea — and post-harvest handling of these crops for home consumption and for sale at local markets. You can listen to the audio postcard here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/23/audio-postcard-ghanian-farmers-capitalized-on-ict-to-connect-with-markets/

Learning how to beep to vote in Burkina Faso introduces a new Participatory Radio Campaign that encourages farmers to produce orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. The project was launched in Orodara, a town in the southwest of the country, where a local radio station broadcasts the show. You can hear more about the campaign from Emma Bider at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/24/learning-how-to-beep-to-vote-in-burkina-faso/

Like many other young people in rural areas in Africa, Mamadou Diarra left his village of Ballan, Mali, to make money in the city. But the city did not live up to his dreams and he soon returned home. You can hear Mamadou’s story in Meet FarmQuest candidate Mamadou Diarra at this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/25/meet-farmquest-candidate-mamadou-diarra/

To access all of FRI’s audio postcards, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/

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How to get farmers talking about important things (Facilitating farmer voice)

This week’s story from Nigeria shows how the public can use radio programs to hold public officials to account. Our script of the week is a broadcaster how-to guide that offers tips to broadcasters on how to create radio programs that help farmers voice their opinions, wants and needs on the air.

Small-scale farmers are rarely comfortable talking on radio. They think that radio broadcasters and experts should do the talking while they, the farmers, do the farming.

But improving small-scale farming requires farmers to actively speak about things that are important to them. Farmers need to describe, discuss, debate, propose, criticize, support, and celebrate – all with their own voices.

When some farmers speak, more farmers will hear them, and they too will become emboldened to speak for themselves.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-96-the-root-of-life/how-to-get-farmers-talking-about-important-things-facilitating-farmer-voice/

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Infestation, innovation and inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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