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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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A change is coming!!!

Farm Radio Weekly will be taking a publishing break next week because new and exciting website developments are coming your way! We will feature a new look and a new name.

As of December 15, 2014, Farm Radio Weekly will be called …

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If you want to learn more and help us count down to our website launch and new look:

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Also, follow us on Twitter:

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Look out for an email soon with more details about the launch ― and about how you can win a prize by getting your colleagues to follow us on social media!

We can’t wait to unveil all the new changes! The countdown to December 15 is on.

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Farm Radio Weekly spotlights African farm broadcasters

Farm Radio International knows that farmer radio programs help farmers voice their concerns and share their lives through the airwaves. We want to celebrate the hard work of the farm radio broadcasters who serve these farmers.

Starting in December 2014, we will be profiling an African farm broadcaster in many of our weekly FRW editions. We will be collecting stories about farm radio broadcasters from all over Africa.

We want to build a better understanding and an appreciation for what African farm broadcasters do, and spotlight how their work improves the lives of small-scale farmers and farming communities.

Do you or your station want to be featured in Farm Radio Weekly? Do you want to nominate another broadcaster you think FRW readers should hear about?

Get in touch with us by emailing nbassily@farmradio.org and proberts@farmradiotz.org.

In your email, tell us:

why you think your work and the work of your radio station should be highlighted;

how your farm radio programs are put together; and,

how you interact with your farming audience.

Whether you are nominating yourself or another broadcaster, please email us with responses to the questions above, along with your contact information (name and phone number) or the contact details of the broadcaster you are nominating.

We will follow up with you or the person you are nominating –and get your stories published!

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Congratulations to Victoria Dansoa Abankwa, 2014 George Atkins Communication Award winner

Victoria Dansoa Abankwa is one of the three joint winners of Farm Radio International’s George Atkins Communications Award for 2014.

Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa is a dynamic woman who is both passionate and vocal about the development of African agriculture. She produces and presents an interactive farmers’ program called Akuafoa kyɛpɛn on Radio Central, a public radio station that covers Ghana’s Central Region and parts of Western and Ashanti Regions. She volunteers her time to the radio station, fitting in the work around her job as an officer with Women in Agricultural Development for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana.

When Akuafoa kyɛpɛn was facing financial challenges, Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa’s determination and passion to continue broadcasting to farmers came to the fore. She decided to fund the program herself. She uses her own resources and initiative to find farmers, extension officers and other experts to contribute to the program.

Her vision for farmers is a simple but powerful one: Agriculture in Ghana can be a lucrative and rewarding profession.

Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa currently hosts two programs a week on Central Radio, one on general farming practices and another specifically focused on orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). She is a driving force behind OFSP programming at Central Radio. She visits farmers and health facilities and attends forums, workshops and other events to introduce and educate people on the benefits of OFSP.

In her acceptance speech for the George Atkins Communications Award at a ceremony in Cape Coast on September 19, Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa noted that the training she received from FRI had improved her presentation skills and her ability to interview farmers in the field. She credits this training with helping her win the award. She also thanked her husband and children for always standing by her, and thanked the supportive staff team at Central Radio for sharing ideas and offering assistance.

Congratulations!

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SolarAid’s micro solar project in rural Tanzania: Tremendous solar energy potential

This week’s story from Somaliland talks about the rising cost of charcoal. One promising long-term energy solution for Africans, including small-scale farmers, is solar energy.

In April 2009, FRI distributed a script on solar energy in Tanzania. While the potential for solar energy in Tanzania is tremendously high, most people are discouraged by the high initial cost of purchasing solar panels. As a result, few rural Tanzanians are taking advantage of solar power. An example noted in the script is a secondary school in the Mafinga District of Iringa Region which uses kerosene in laboratory tests and cannot use computers because there is no electricity.

SolarAid is a UK-based charitable organization that addresses this issue by producing low-cost solar panels for Tanzanian schools and homes. Our script of the week talks about the organization’s efforts to bring affordable solar power to the Tanzanian countryside.

http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?rscript=87-6script_en

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Farm Radio Weekly spotlights African farm broadcasters

Farm Radio International knows that farmer radio programs help farmers voice their concerns and share their lives through the airwaves. We want to celebrate the hard work of the farm radio broadcasters who serve these farmers.

Starting in December 2014, we will be profiling an African farm broadcaster in many of our weekly FRW editions. We will be collecting stories about farm radio broadcasters from all over Africa.

We want to build a better understanding and an appreciation for what African farm broadcasters do, and spotlight how their work improves the lives of small-scale farmers and farming communities.

Do you or your station want to be featured in Farm Radio Weekly? Do you want to nominate another broadcaster you think FRW readers should hear about?

Get in touch with us by emailing nbassily@farmradio.org and proberts@farmradiotz.org.

In your email, tell us:

  • why you think your work and the work of your radio station should be highlighted;

  • how your farm radio programs are put together; and,

  • how you interact with your farming audience.

Whether you are nominating yourself or another broadcaster, please email us with responses to the questions above, along with your contact information (name and phone number) or the contact details of the broadcaster you are nominating.

We will follow up with you or the person you are nominating –and get your stories published!

Post your comment »

Fill out the survey for Pack 99 and you could win $50 U.S.

Pack 99 is entitled: Cassava: The post-harvest value chain. Four of the ten items present information about post-harvest activities in cassava, especially processing and marketing. Two items are broadcaster-how-to docs, three focus on beneficial farming practices, and one item focuses on sweet potato processing in Rwanda. Lots of food for thought!

Like Pack 96 on growing cassava, this Pack focuses on cassava in Tanzania. But the information will be useful – with appropriate local adaptation – for all cassava-growing areas in Africa.

The feature article in Voices introduces each item in the Resource Pack. Voices also presents an article on knowing your audience, and profiles two exciting Farm Radio International projects in Tanzania – a farmers’ poll called Paza Sauti, and Radio Boda-boda! Find out more by clicking on the links below (.docx).

Voices 99(PDF)
Coverletter
Table of contents
Introduction to cassava value chain
Processing cassava brings wealth to farmers
Cassava is wealth: New harmonized standards for processing cassava flour in East and Central Africa
It’s better to sell together: The benefits of collective marketing
Mother of twins: New maize variety enriches and nourishes Ugandan farmers
Farmers learn about compost manure on the radio – with great results!
Ethiopian farmers learn new practices to prevent pest damage in chickpeas and lentils
Rwandan farmers show that sweet potatoes can be a profitable crop to grow and to process into other foods
How to find useful and reliable information about farming on the Internet
How to establish and manage successful radio listening groups

Farm Radio International wants to hear from our broadcasting partners! We are conducting a survey to find out more about the broadcasters who use Farm Radio Resource Packs. Just by filling out a short survey, you could win $50 US in mobile credit! Please submit your feedback by November 15th. Tell your colleagues to fill it out too! Fill out the survey here.

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Have you liked Barza on Facebook?

Did you know that Barza, our online community for African farm radio broadcasters, has a Facebook page?

We invite all of our Farm Radio Weekly (FRW) readers to “like” the Barza page. It’s easy! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/barzaradio?ref=hl and press on the like button.

That’s where you’ll also find posts with the latest issue of FRW, and posts about upcoming changes to Barza.

After you like the Barza Facebook page, we encourage you to click on the arrow pointing downward on the like button and then click on “Get notifications.” By doing this, you’ll ensure that you receive notifications from Facebook every time we post something on the Barza page.

We look forward to interacting with you on Facebook.

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Farm Radio Resource Pack 99 now online

Pack 99 is entitled: Cassava: The post-harvest value chain. Four of the ten items present information about post-harvest activities in cassava, especially processing and marketing. Two items are broadcaster-how-to docs, three focus on beneficial farming practices, and one item focuses on sweet potato processing in Rwanda. Lots of food for thought!

Like Pack 96 on growing cassava, this Pack focuses on cassava in Tanzania. But the information will be useful – with appropriate local adaptation – for all cassava-growing areas in Africa.

The feature article in Voices introduces each item in the Resource Pack. Voices also presents an article on knowing your audience, and profiles two exciting Farm Radio International projects in Tanzania – a farmers’ poll called Paza Sauti, and Radio Boda-boda! Find out more by clicking on the links below.

You can read the full Voices online here: http://farmradio.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Voices-99.pdf

You can read the full Farm Radio Resource Pack online here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/pakage-99-cassava-the-post-harvest-value-chain/

Farm Radio International wants to hear from our broadcasting partners! We are conducting a survey to find out more about the broadcasters who use Farm Radio Resource Packs. Just by filling out a short survey, you could win $50 US in mobile credit! Please submit your feedback by October 20. Tell your colleagues to fill it out too! Fill out the survey here.

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Radio Gbarnga at centre of efforts to inform Liberians about Ebola

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am Jefferson Massah with the Ebola Situation Report.“

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

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Radio spot on cholera

In light of the current cholera outbreak in Ghana, Farm Radio International’s Ghana office arranged for the following radio script to be distributed to many of FRI’s broadcasting partners in the country. The script touches on both the prevention and treatment of cholera. It was adapted from a piece written by Kuma Drah. Broadcasters across Africa can use this information to create their own radio spots and other pieces on cholera.

VOICE I: Do you know how you can prevent the loss of lives during an outbreak of cholera? Let’s find out more about cholera from a doctor.

VOICE 2: Cholera is a severe diarrhea-like infection that is caused by eating food or water contaminated by a particular kind of bacteria or germ. Cholera can kill untreated people within hours through excessive loss of fluid.

VOICE 1: How can we prevent cholera?

VOICE 2: You can prevent cholera by taking the following three steps:

First, drink only boiled or treated water and bottled or canned carbonated beverages.

Second, wash your hands often with soap and clean water.

Third, if soap and water are not available, wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner that contains at least 60% alcohol.

It’s most important to clean your hands before you eat or prepare food and after using the toilet.

You should also:

Eat foods that are packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot.

Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats or seafood, or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.

Dispose of faeces in a sanitary manner to avoid contaminating water and food.

VOICE 1: Doctor, what should we do when we suspect that someone has cholera?

VOICE 2: Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediately replacing the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients are given oral rehydration solution, also called ORS. ORS is a pre-packaged mixture of sugar and salts which is mixed with water and drunk in large quantities. You can also prepare your own ORS at home if ORS packets are not available.

VOICE 1: Doctor, how do I prepare ORS at home?

VOICE 2: You need three ingredients: First, 1 litre or five 200-millilitre cups of clean water.

Second, six level teaspoons of sugar.

Third, half a level teaspoon of salt.

Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves.

The patient should drink as much of the mixture as possible in order to replace the excessive loss of fluid.

VOICE 1: What next, Doctor?

VOICE 2: Rush the patient to a health facility. Remember that cholera is a germ usually found in water or food that has been contaminated by the faeces of a person infected with cholera. You can prevent the spread of cholera by keeping your hands, food, water and surroundings clean.

VOICE 1: Thank you very much, Doctor, for your clear and concise advice to keep our hands clean, eat and drink only food and liquids we know to be safe, prevent our faeces from contaminating water supplies, and rehydrating and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible.

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Farm Radio International helps broadcaster become weather expert

Rotlinde Achimpota from Radio Mambo Jambo

Mambo Jambo Radio, affectionately known to its listeners as MJ, is a music and entertainment radio station based in Arusha, Tanzania. But in a first for MJ, its newest program focuses on agriculture and how to engage young people in farming.

Kilimo na Jamii, or Farming and society, hit the airwaves in northern Tanzania in June of this year. The program’s host, Rotlinde Achimpota, is no stranger to farming. She grows maize, cassava, pumpkins and potatoes in her kitchen garden in Usa River, about 25 kilometres east of Arusha.

Kilimo na Jamii is a 30-minute farmer radio program which airs every Saturday. Ms. Achimpota features farming advice from local agricultural extension officers and stories about successful farmers. But the highlights of the show are the two weather reports, during which Ms. Achimpota provides critical weather information for farmers in the station’s listening area.

Ms. Achimpota spent three months at The Hangar, Farm Radio International’s Arusha-based Radio and ICT Innovation Lab. There, she honed her skills as the reporter and producer of Beep for Weather. This is a mobile phone-based weather forecast which includes advice for farmers on how to use the forecast.

Ms. Achimpota receives weather data from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency and Toto Agriculture. She takes this data to extension officer Digna Massawe, who helps her provide listeners with an accurate weather forecast and meaningful analysis. During a three-month trial, farmers found the service useful; weather patterns have become erratic recently because of the changing climate.

Ms. Achimpota says her work with FRI helped her become more comfortable recording and editing the interviews and news items on her radio program. She says, “I’m becoming a radio producer. I do the [radio] program all by myself. I prepare it every week.”

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FarmQuest reality radio in Mali: Now available on SoundCloud and YouTube

The vast majority of the labour force in Mali is engaged in subsistence farming. But many young people do not see agriculture as a career that can lead them out of poverty. Youth unemployment in Mali is high.

Many young people see farming as a symbol of poverty and wish to distance themselves from it. Too often, they remain unemployed when the best opportunity to earn a decent living is right in front of them: farming.

Farm Radio International believes agriculture can provide a good livelihood for young farmers. FarmQuest, or Daba Kamalen in the Bambara language, is an innovative reality radio series which is broadcast from Fana, Mali. The series encourages youth to consider farming as a profitable business, and not just a means of subsistence.

FarmQuest follows six young candidates who are competing for the title of “Mali’s best new farmer.”

You can learn more about FarmQuest at: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/farmquest-promoting-farming-as-a-sustainable-employment-option-for-youth-in-mali/

Listen to all FarmQuest episodes on SoundCloud (with English transcripts):https://soundcloud.com/farmradio/sets/farmquest-reality-radio-in

YouTube videos show the candidates and the radio station operations. You can watch them at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8WMEQQs0bi_FkrXKKKtGLv1wFh7g_sWd

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Kikwato Junior: 2014 George Atkins Communication Award winner

Kikwato

The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato interviewing Rehema Mshana in Tongwe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kikwato

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

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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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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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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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Voices from the field: Erena Micheal, Tanzania

Farm Radio International’s archive of audio postcards keeps growing!

Farming is what Erena Micheal knows best. With the profits from her farm, she pays for her children’s school uniforms and books.

Recently, Mrs. Micheal listened to an agriculture program on Pride FM in Mtwata that helped her improve her farming (Pride FM is one of Farm Radio International’s 560-plus broadcasting partners). Through the radio, she learned about the importance of planting her crops in rows. And because of this, she harvested more rice than ever this year.

Mrs. Micheal works hard for her money. But that doesn’t stop her from enjoying herself! She dances under the hot summer sun dressed in her colourful kangas (traditional Tanzanian fabric used for clothing and for carrying babies), and celebrates the rice harvest with her fellow farmers.

Find out more on FRI’s blog page. You can see and hear the audio postcard here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/10/voices-from-the-field-erena-micheal-tanzania/

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Farm Radio International helps farmers standardize bag sizes for food crops

For many years, the system for bagging and pricing agricultural products in Ghana has been problematic for farmers, especially for maize.

Many crops are sold using crude measures such as baskets and sacks. Food crops have traditionally been sold by the bag, not by weight. In Ghana, middlemen forced farmers to use the size 5 bag, commonly known as the Mokola Woman. These bags can hold more than 150 kilograms, depending on the crop.

In collaboration with several partners, Farm Radio International helped partner radio stations Obuoba FM and Akyeaa FM introduce a program to improve the production and marketing of good quality maize across the Ashanti Region of central Ghana.

The radio program, named AKUAFO MO (Thank you to farmers), is broadcast every Thursday from 8-9 p.m. The program uses new ICTs to develop interactive and farmer-centred ways of communicating. Farmers can share local knowledge through the ICTs, and are better able to manage their businesses. This has led to positive changes in maize and cowpea production.

Ofori Kumah Christian is the host of the Akyeaa FM program, which targets seven districts and municipalities. His listeners were particularly concerned about the bagging system, and the program focused on getting it changed. He says: “We had discussions with Nananom [chiefs and elders], police, MPs, District Chief Executives … and the general public and farmers. Their views were recorded and played back on air as a mini-documentary with [a] phone-in segment.”

The radio station continued to highlight the problem, and regularly invited the DCE, Chief and elders to discuss the bagging of maize. As a result of these public discussions, the system for weighing and measuring crops has changed. A bylaw was passed to require the use of the size 4 bag, which holds between 80 and 100 kilograms, depending on the crop.

Sarpong Opoku is a farmer in Ejura, a town 100 kilometres north of the Ashanti region’s capital, Kumasi. He explains: “We like the fact that it’s now law in all the seven districts that no one should use the old sack ‘Makola Woman’ to bag maize again, either in the market, village or in the bush. We highly appreciate the program and call for more of such radio programs.”

Farmer Kofi Acheampong agrees. When he was asked how the program had affected his financial status, the farmer smiled and said, “We are now better off … We earn higher as compared to some time ago.”

Akyeaa FM has carried out regular visits to villages, towns and market centres to monitor the effectiveness of the new bagging system.

Even the porters at the local markets are happy. Kofi Kumah says, “I appreciate the program. We used to carry 150 kilograms … of maize at our back and this was not helping our health in any way.”

Addo Eric is a police commander in Ejisu, a town 20 kilometres east of Kumasi. He says, “My colleagues in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions and I will ensure the buyers [and] farmers … do the right thing.”

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Farm Radio International blog: Audio postcards

One of FRI’s methods of communicating its work is through audio postcards.

The concept is simple: a postcard-like photo shows a scene of farmers or radio broadcasters, or even an FRI broadcasting partner at work. The picture is accompanied by a soundtrack which explains the work going on, the conversation, the moment.

Our latest postcards include Teaching new technologies can be tough at times, but always rewarding, in which FRI’s Nathaniel Ofori describes some of the work he does with radio stations in Ghana. You can listen to it here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/07/audio-postcard-teaching-new-technologies-may-be-tough-at-times-but-always-rewarding/

In Tanzanian cassava co-operative triples harvest by listening to the radio, FRI’s Executive Director Kevin Perkins describes how a radio series produced by one of FRI’s partner radio stations, Pride FM, helped co-operative producer groups improve their cassava production and marketing. You can find that postcard here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/06/02/audio-postcard-tanzanian-farmers-boost-cassava-harvest-through-local-broadcaster-programming/

Check out FRI’s blog for up-to-date information on what we are doing to raise the profile of small-scale African farmers on the continent and around the world! You can find all of FRI’s audio postcards and other communications at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/

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Save the date: Farmer e-course and competition returns!

Farm Radio International is excited to announce that its new online e-course and competition for radio broadcasters will begin in September.

Do you have a regular farmer program that you want to improve? Are you thinking about starting a farmer program but don’t know where to begin? This course will teach radio broadcasters how to make engaging, entertaining and informative farmer radio programs.

Participants will learn about storytelling, how to keep a show interesting, and how best to address the issues their audience finds important.

A new component in this year’s course covers Information and Communication Technologies, or ICTs. Participants will be given tools and training on how to reach out to their audience through mobile phones and polls – and an opportunity to try them out!

The Farmer program e-course and competition will run 12 weeks, beginning September 15, 2014. Course materials will be in English. The e-course and competition is open to radio broadcasters who are part of a radio station team in sub-Saharan Africa, and who did not participate in the 2012 e-course training. This course is offered in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

At the end of the course, participants can enter the competition by submitting a program design. There are exciting prizes available for the winners!

Stay tuned for more information, as registration will open in a few weeks’ time.

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