Logo: Farm Radio Weekly

1404 Scott Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4M8

Tel: 613-761-3650
Fax: 613-798-0990
Toll-Free: 1-888-773-7717
Email: info@farmradio.org
Web Site: http://farmradio.org/

Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio International script of the week

Community responses to HIV and AIDS

Our script of the week highlights community-based approaches to coping with the impact of HIV and AIDS.

One of the impacts of HIV and AIDS is that uninfected people must shoulder an increased workload. Africans have established a wide range of social support activities to deal with this issue. Sometimes these activities are initiated by the community itself, and sometimes they are started and/or supported by governments, NGOs or religious institutions. The wide range of strategies includes:

  • loans and savings clubs
  • shared child care
  • labour-saving clubs
  • funeral funds/burial societies
  • social support groups
  • community grain banks

Coping strategies that are developed locally are often the most practical and least expensive to implement. Broadcasters have an opportunity to promote and support local coping strategies by featuring them in radio programs.

This script features two hosts discussing a variety of approaches to the labour shortages that often result from HIV and AIDS. Please see the end of the script for descriptions of some of the coping strategies mentioned in the script.


Post your comment »

How to establish and manage successful radio listening groups

Our script of the week is from our latest Resource Pack, #99.

It is a broadcaster-how-to document which presents a tried and true method of establishing and managing radio listening groups, based on many years of experience in Zambia. The document is designed as a guide to forming and maintaining radio listening groups rather than a strict “blueprint” to follow, regardless of the situation. The basic principles of establishing and managing radio listening groups are well-established and do not vary greatly.

The document touches on the disadvantages of traditional radio listening, the advantages of listening to the radio in listener groups, ways of organizing listening groups, training listening groups, supporting listening groups, and monitoring and evaluating the success of radio listening groups.


Post your comment »

Improved cookstoves make life easier for women

This week’s story from Uganda highlights a farmer who makes a good income from designing and selling fuel-efficient cookstoves.

Improved cookstoves are especially valuable to women because women are often in charge of cooking in the home. If there is HIV and AIDS in the house and community, women’s work increases in many ways. If their husbands die, women must take on additional farm work. Many women are also responsible for orphans or other family members who have been left homeless. Women also care for people living with HIV at home. There are always funerals and community events to plan and attend – and all of these take time.

These short radio spots show that, if women replace their cooking fire or three-stone stove with a more efficient cookstove that burns less fuel, they will not have to spend as much time collecting firewood. More efficient cookstoves mean less work for women.

Improved cookstoves can be made of clay, dried mud, or metal. They may burn firewood, dung, charcoal, or coal. In some African countries, cookstoves are made and sold by women’s collectives. Certain types of stoves are popular in some countries, including Kenya Ceramic Jiko, Kuni Mbili and Upesi cookstoves.

Before you play these spots, you may want to find out which kinds of cookstoves are available in your area, where they are sold, and the price. Then you can incorporate that information into each spot.


Post your comment »

A friend in need is a friend indeed

This week’s story from Malawi talks about using Mandela cocks to dry groundnuts in the field. In October 2013, FRI distributed a series of scripts on groundnut production, including A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A friend in need is a friend indeed is a four-episode drama that includes a fictional interview with an agricultural scientist after each episode. The drama and the interviews focus on farming practices that reduce aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts. Aflatoxin is a toxic, highly carcinogenic substance that is produced by microscopic organisms called fungi (named “germs” in the drama). The fungi infect groundnuts, as well as maize and other crops, and cause the foods to rot. The fungi produce aflatoxin as part of the infection process.

The drama highlights the steps farmers can take to prevent aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts. The first episode concentrates on finding aflatoxin-free groundnuts to plant. Later episodes focus on ways to prevent aflatoxin contamination in the field and post-harvest, including using Mandela cocks.

Episode 1: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/a-friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed-keeping-your-groundnuts-free-from-aflatoxin-contamination-part-i-charity-begins-at-home/

Episode 2: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/a-friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed-keeping-your-groundnuts-free-from-aflatoxin-contamination-part-2-dodging-a-blow-depends-on-whether-you-see-the-blow-coming-quickly-enough/

Episode 3: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/a-friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed-keeping-your-groundnuts-free-from-aflatoxin-contamination-part-3-a-good-thing-does-not-come-without-labour/

Episode 4: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/a-friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed-keeping-your-groundnuts-free-from-aflatoxin-contamination-part-4-when-its-yours-you-are-free-to-open-and-see-it-any-time-you-want/

Post your comment »

How to find useful and reliable information about farming on the Internet

The huge amount of information now available on the Internet is creating new opportunities to find specific and reliable information. But it has also brought new challenges.

How can a broadcaster avoid getting lost in such an enormous volume of information? How can broadcasters ensure the reliability of the information they find? What websites regularly publish reliable information on farming-related topics? How can broadcasters rewrite this information in language that is understandable by farming audiences? And what can broadcasters do about conflicting information?

This guide is divided into five parts. Part one briefly describes strategies for finding, organizing and sharing information or “content” on the Internet.

Part two suggests some methods to help you ensure that the information you find on the Internet is reliable.

Part three provides a list of organizations and websites that are known to provide reliable information.

Part four offers advice on how to deal with conflicting information.

The guide closes by offering practical advice on how to translate technical farming language into words and phrases that are understandable by farmer audiences.

Click here to download the file as a Word document.

Post your comment »

Sekedo, a drought-resistant sorghum for Karamoja

This week’s story from Kenya talks about women who are planting sunflowers to lure birds away from their sorghum. Our script of the week talks about another group of farmers who changed their sorghum-growing practices ― by planting a new drought-resistant variety.

The region of Karamoja in northeastern Uganda is a semi-arid savannah. It has an unreliable rainy season, which appears to be getting more unpredictable as the climate changes. Drought and hunger are recurrent features of life in Karamoja. Most farmers rely on livestock, while sorghum and millet are the main staple crops.

This script features a farmer in Karamoja who grows a new, quick-maturing sorghum variety called Sekedo. Planting Sekedo may help farmers in Karamoja adapt to the shorter and more unreliable rainy season.


Post your comment »

It’s better to sell together: The benefits of collective marketing

This week’s story from Malawi introduces a woman who has done well as a cassava farmer. Our script of the week profiles Tanzanian farmers – and processors – who have benefited from group marketing of cassava.

In Tanzania, cassava has undergone a personality change of late. Cassava was considered a subsistence food, and a food strongly associated with a particular culture and particular customs.

But now, cassava is ubiquitous. You can find cassava flour, raw cassava tubers and fried cassava snacks everywhere ― in markets, on the roadside, in supermarkets, and in the hands of female vendors in traffic jams.

This script looks at the cassava value chain, the challenges of positioning cassava in the marketplace, and how collective marketing is helping both cassava producers and cassava processors.


Post your comment »

No water, no life: Corruption in a Zambian prison

Our story from Côte d’Ivoire shows a positive side to prison life. But that’s not always the case. Our script of the week looks at corruption in a Zambian prison, focusing on access to clean drinking water.

Like many Africans, a large percentage of Zambians get their drinking water from rainwater, shallow wells or unclean or contaminated water from streams. In response, governments, NGOs, donors and others have pumped funds into the water system in order to improve infrastructure, including in the prison system.

But, unfortunately, even prison systems are subject to corruption.

In this script, we see how people from different backgrounds were affected when a prison commissioner took advantage of his position to use a borehole meant for the prison for his own private use, and what happened when he was discovered.


Post your comment »

Women face many challenges after conflict

Stress, confusion, grief and anguish are emotions frequently experienced by people in conflicts or in emergency situations. The following script is intended to encourage discussion about these feelings. It includes a radio drama-style discussion among three village women, and testimonials from a relief worker and from a man who has returned home after a war. You could use them as individual stories, or broadcast them together as one longer program.

There are other ways that broadcasters can help people in their community, and especially women, deal with emotions during or after conflict:

  1. Reinforce the idea that it is normal for people to have strong feelings in these types of situations. When you interview local people, include questions that invite them to talk about their own lives and families. However, leave discussion of traumatic events to trained counsellors.
  2. Promote community events and encourage listeners to attend. It is more difficult for people to deal with complex emotions when they are isolated. Support efforts to bring people together.
  3. Create special programming for women. This can take many forms – group discussions, interviews, or radio dramas. Invite women to call the radio station if they need help from the community. For example, a woman might be looking for lost relatives, or need help with child care or chores.


Post your comment »

Dairy farmers reap the benefits of working together in a co-operative society

Agriculture is the backbone of most African economies, yet farmers are among the poorest people on the continent. There are many challenges confronting the agriculture sector in Africa, including limited access to farming inputs, poor infrastructure, lack of access to markets, and the changing climate.

Farmers need creative ways to improve their income and food security, and governments need to create a favourable environment which helps farmers make a good return on their businesses.

Farmers benefit when they pull together in organized ways to solve their challenges. The co-operative movement provides an opportunity for farmers to improve their income and food security through their own efforts.

This script captures the experiences of people involved in a successful dairy co-operative in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.


Post your comment »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Post your comment »

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.


Post your comment »

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.


Post your comment »

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.


Post your comment »

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.


Post your comment »

Is an insect always a pest?

This week’s story from Liberia shows the kind of damage that can happen when insect infestations are serious and spiral out of control. But is an insect always a pest? Should you always use pesticides when you see insects?

Farmers need to assess at what point spending money on pest control is justified. If a farmer spends money on a pesticide to control pests that are doing only a small amount of damage, he or she may actually lose money. To minimize damage, farmers should examine their fields regularly to monitor pest populations, and apply controls only when infestations reach the level of “economic damage.” “Economic damage” is defined as the point at which insect damage causes a loss of income greater than the cost of buying and applying a pesticide or other control measure.

Our script of the week shows that pesticides and other pest control methods may not be necessary if the damage caused to crops is minimal. You may want to talk to an agricultural extension worker to find out what the economic damage levels are for commonly grown crops in your region, and include this information in your broadcast. This will help farmers in your listening audience to better understand the concept of economic damage.

For example, farmers in Guatemala learned how to test for economic damage levels in stored beans. They were taught to check samples of stored beans every 30 days for weevil damage. If more than four of every 100 beans (4%) were damaged, the farmers were advised to control the pest. If the percentage of damaged seeds was less than four percent, there would not be a significant reduction in germination, nutritional quality or sale price of the beans.


Post your comment »

Broadcaster how-to guide: How to create ear-catching promos, intros and extros

From our most recent Resource Pack, we bring you a broadcaster how-to guide with detailed instructions on how to create promos, intros and extros.

You work hard to produce a weekly farmer program that serves your farmer-listeners well. But do you work hard enough to increase the number of farmers who listen?

You can grow your audience by creating promos and broadcasting them throughout your station’s weekly schedule. This will catch listeners who don’t yet listen to your program. And it will also remind your regular listeners to tune into the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will keep them there.


Post your comment »

Adventures of Neddy: A community animal health worker helps a village manage Newcastle disease

This week’s story from Niger focuses on chickens. Chickens are very easy to keep for several reasons. First, they can grazie freely on readily available foods. They also reproduce easily. But chickens are susceptible to a major disease which is the focus of our script of the week: Newcastle disease.

Though there is no cure for Newcastle disease, there is a preventive vaccine. Farmers fail to regularly vaccinate their chickens because of lack of knowledge or because the vaccine is expensive. Often, the drug is sold in large bottles which can treat several hundred chickens. This is very expensive for farmers who have only a few animals. And that is why community vaccination for chickens by community animal health workers or paravets is a great idea.

This script is a mini-drama which highlights the need to vaccinate chickens against Newcastle disease and the benefits of having a paravet in your community.


Post your comment »

To market, to market – Episode 2: A glut in the market: How supply and demand affect prices

This week’s story about raising chickens in Uganda mentions that, as supplies dwindle, market prices often rise.

Our script of the week is the second part of a five-part series on understanding and using market information. One of the critical benefits of having accurate information about the market is that farmers can then decide what crops to grow, and where and when to sell those crops in order to receive the best prices.

This script illustrates the laws of supply and demand. If there are large quantities of a certain product in the market – more supply than people can or will buy – prices usually decrease. On the other hand, if demand is high or supply is low – in other words, if people want more of a product than is available – prices frequently rise. Prices are often determined by how much of a product is available for sale at any given time.


Post your comment »

Paying farmers for environmental services

This week’s story from Kenya talks about a community that is undertaking certain activities in exchange for receiving carbon credits. The activities include tree planting, beekeeping, and fish farming. This project is one example of paying farmers to provide environmental services which benefit the community. Indeed, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these activities benefit the whole world.

In 2009, FRI published a script on paying farmers for environmental services. The script reported on a project in Malawi operated by a variety of international organizations and the government of Malawi. The project trained farmers to grow trees in order to store carbon. The trees benefited farmers directly by providing timber and firewood, but only after they had matured in a number of years. Until the trees matured, the project paid farmers for the use of their land and for properly managing the trees. The amount of the first payment depended on the numbers of trees a farmer planted, while subsequent payments depended on the number of surviving trees.

Tree planting is a long-term project, and the benefits often take years to become apparent. A forest produces more than just wood: what does your community think?


Post your comment »