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

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Balancing the interests of wildlife and rural communities: Lessons from Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary in Ghana

This week’s story on ecotourism in Côte d’Ivoire mentions that one of the threats to preserving wildlife and the natural world is the expansion of farmland into forested areas. Our script of the week touches on the same theme, focusing on the sometimes conflicted relationship between farmers and wildlife.

Sometimes wildlife can damage farms and destroy crops. And sometimes farming activities, including clearing forest for farming, can harm wildlife and destroy their habitat. How can farming and wildlife co-exist? People need to farm, but no-one wants to needlessly harm wildlife. What is the answer?

Some communities have found an answer by creating wildlife reserves which generate tourist income. In some cases, these areas are also protected by traditional beliefs which prohibit people from harming the animals in the reserve. Although this script profiles only one example from Ghana, there are similar cases all over Africa, and indeed all over the world.

As a broadcaster, you can help to solve conflicts between farming and wildlife preservation by interviewing people who represent both interests, and by broadcasting examples, like the Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary highlighted in this script, in which communities have successfully balanced the interests of wildlife and the needs of farmers.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-87/balancing-the-interests-of-wildlife-and-rural-communities-lessons-from-buabeng-fiema-monkey-sanctuary-in-ghana/

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Beekeeping – Part two: A home for your bees

This week’s script from Zambia shows how honey can benefit farmers by increasing income and improving livelihoods. Our script of the week – from July 1997 – also focuses on beekeeping.

Farmers all over the world earn extra money by keeping bees. Farmers can sell the honey, wax and other products made by bees. Also, because bees pollinate crops, keeping bees on or close to your farm will probably increase your crop yields.

Beekeeping does not require expensive equipment or a lot of land. Bees are relatively easy to care for and can be kept almost anywhere.

If you decide to keep bees, one of the first things you’ll have to do is to get or make a hive. A hive is the bees’ home. It is the place where they take care of their young, build their wax comb, and store honey. A hive also protects bees from rain, cold, wind and pests.

There are many different types of hives to choose from. Some are simple to build, while others require more equipment and experience. You will want to choose a bee hive that makes it easy for bees to produce a lot of honey. At the same time, it should be a structure that makes it easy for you to harvest the honey.

Our script of the week gives instructions on making two simple types of hives. Farmers should be able to make these simple hives with materials which are readily available. http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-45/beekeeping-part-two-a-home-for-your-bees/

For general information about bees and beekeeping, see Beekeeping – Part one: Have you heard the latest buzz? That item can be found at: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-45/beekeeping-part-one-have-you-heard-the-latest-buzz/

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An introduction to value chains

This week’s story from Zimbabwe talks about contract farming. Contract farming involves a farmer or group of farmers making an agreement with a contractor to provide crops of a certain quality and quantity in exchange for receiving various kinds of production assistance and a guaranteed market.

Contract farming or outgrower farming is just one of the value chain arrangements covered in FRI’s December 2012 broadcaster information document, An introduction to value chains.

The info document is designed to help broadcasters understand how value chains work. It defines some key terms, gives some examples of value chains and discusses why it’s important for farmers to think of themselves as part of a value chain. It also lists the potential benefits of value chains and talks about different strategies farmers can follow to improve or “upgrade” their involvement with value chains, in other words to increase the amount of income or other value they can gain from the crops and animals they produce. With a better understanding of how value chains work, broadcasters can better serve their farmer audiences.

The document is written from the perspective of the small-scale farmer. As a broadcaster, your role is to present information about value chains. Radio can present value chain success stories, encourage discussion on how value chains can benefit farmers, and act as a source of information about local, national and regional value chains.

Read through the document and let us know if you have any questions about anything you read. You can contact us at: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org. Or, you could raise your question on Barza by leaving a comment in the comments section here: http://barza.fm/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/an-introduction-to-value-chains/. You must be a registered member of Barza to leave a comment. (You can sign up here if you don’t already have an account. It’s simple and free!)

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/an-introduction-to-value-chains/

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Kenyan farmer uses organic farming practices

This week’s story from Zambia focuses on organic farming. FRI published a script in June 2005 on George Opondo, a practising organic farmer in western Kenya. The script noted that people all over the world are realizing that high-input agriculture is often not sustainable. Although it gives high yields in the beginning, it is difficult for a farmer to maintain these yields year after year.

In Kenya, the climate and soils are often not well-suited to high-input farming. Hybrid and improved seeds usually require good rains and very fertile soils to yield well. If the conditions are not good, hybrid seeds may actually yield less than local seeds.

If a lot of money has been invested in buying inputs, then this money may be wasted. In cases like these, organic farming, which relies on as few inputs from outside the farm as possible, is more appropriate to the needs of many farmers.

In this program you will hear about Mr. Opondo’s experience using a trench compost bed to improve the soil, and about his use of traditional herbs to treat and prevent animal diseases.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-75-forecasting-environmental-change/kenyan-farmer-uses-organic-farming-practices/

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Raising rabbits for meat and profit: Part two

This week’s story from Cote d’Ivoire talks about raising and housing rabbits. Rabbits can be of great
value to the family and the community at large. They provide meat, a source of fertilizer, and other
products, and can be quickly sold for cash or turned into a nutritious meal when needed. With careful
attention, they are not difficult to raise and can be looked after by any member of the family.

In the concluding part of a two-part interview, a famous Nigerian rabbit farmer and retired agricultural
extension worker describes the most important things we must do to raise, feed and house rabbits well.

The script includes detailed instructions for building rabbit cages.
http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-80/raising-rabbits-for-meat-and-profit-part-two/

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Script of the week: Rural youth success stories

Young people in Africa face many problems, not the least of which is how best to earn a living.

In both rural and urban areas, young people are challenged bydisease, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, unsafe work environments, social exclusion, and limited opportunities for education and employment. Do they stay with their families and try to farm or set up a business, or do they migrate to the cities, where the streets are “paved with gold”? Many choose to leave their rural homes in search of a better life.

Getting youth to participate as active partners in food security and agricultural production is a major challenge. It is essential to overcome constraints such as lack of land, access to credit, and lack of education and training for both farm and non-farm activities. By providing young people with income-generating activities and access to agricultural extension and other support services in rural areas, they may come to see farming as a viable way to earn a good living.

This week’s script is a two-part series designed to show young people that there are opportunities for employment in rural communities. You could broadcast the two parts on separate days, or present both stories in the same program. You may also wish to extend the series by producing programs on youthsuccesses in your community.

The full text of the script is available here:http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-59-radio-in-support-of-rural-youth/rural-youth-success-stories/

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Many heads are better than one: The story of Ngolowindo Co-operative

Like the co-operative featured in this week’s story from Tanzania, the co-op in our script of the week has been in existence for some time, in this case since 2001.

The script focuses on Ngolowindo Co-operative in Malawi – how it started, its achievements and challenges. It highlights the strengths and the benefits of co-operatives. If broadcast on your station, the script could encourage co-operatives, clubs, associations and individuals to learn how to reduce some of their fears and problems and maximize their profits, while remaining sustainable.

The script touches on a major problem faced by many co-operatives: financial worries. It also talks about business plans for co-operatives.

Here’s one tip from the script: A good co-operative business plan should ensure that rates paid for electricity and rates charged on loan repayments are covered by the costs of equipment depreciation. This will ensure that, for example, pumps can be replaced as necessary. Also, when equipment is donated, it is especially important to ensure that co-operatives thoroughly consider how they will sustain it, including the costs of maintaining and replacing these assets. Perhaps the co-operative could obtain a long-term loan and ensure that loan repayment rates are set so that the co-op can cover the loan and other overhead costs.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-94-african-farm-radio-research-initiative-afrri/many-heads-are-better-than-one-the-story-of-ngolowindo-co-operative/

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Health considerations for refugees

This week’s story from Cameroon deals with a refugee situation. Our script of the week deals more directly with the needs of refugees.

Unfortunately, the needs of refugees are not always addressed by the media during a crisis. Instead, there may be more focus on providing information to foreign journalists about the activities of relief agencies. But refugees need information that can help them take a more active role in the relief effort.

Before broadcasting information to refugees in your region, educate yourself about who they are. Where are they located? Do they live in official or unofficial camps, on a short-term or long-term basis? What kinds of problems, including local epidemics, do they face? With this knowledge, you can provide valuable information that other media may not be providing.

These five radio spots cover clean delivery kits, water safety and storage, sick children, men’s mental health, and prevention of HIV and AIDS. The spots can help start discussions about the physical and mental health problems faced by refugees in your area.

One way to use these spots is to do a role play. You are a visitor (or maybe a resident) walking through the camp. As you walk, you overhear different conversations. There are some sound effects in these spots, but to produce them you will need only a drum, two glasses, and some cheerful music.

The information contained in the INTRO to each scene is intended as a guide only. Depending on whether you air the spots on the same day, or over several days or weeks, you might want to include additional information here – reintroducing the topic, setting the scene, or recapping some of the information.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-67-rebuilding-rural-lives-livelihoods/health-considerations-for-refugees/

This week’s story from Cameroon deals with a refugee situation. Our script of the week deals more directly with the needs of refugees.

Unfortunately, the needs of refugees are not always addressed by the media during a crisis. Instead, there may be more focus on providing information to foreign journalists about the activities of relief agencies. But refugees need information that can help them take a more active role in the relief effort.

Before broadcasting information to refugees in your region, educate yourself about who they are. Where are they located? Do they live in official or unofficial camps, on a short-term or long-term basis? What kinds of problems, including local epidemics, do they face? With this knowledge, you can provide valuable information that other media may not be providing.

These five radio spots cover clean delivery kits, water safety and storage, sick children, men’s mental health, and prevention of HIV and AIDS. The spots can help start discussions about the physical and mental health problems faced by refugees in your area.

One way to use these spots is to do a role play. You are a visitor (or maybe a resident) walking through the camp. As you walk, you overhear different conversations. There are some sound effects in these spots, but to produce them you will need only a drum, two glasses, and some cheerful music.

The information contained in the INTRO to each scene is intended as a guide only. Depending on whether you air the spots on the same day, or over several days or weeks, you might want to include additional information here – reintroducing the topic, setting the scene, or recapping some of the information.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-67-rebuilding-rural-lives-livelihoods/health-considerations-for-refugees/

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Grow food cheaply by the roadside

This week’s story from Rwanda profiles women who are creating large backyard vegetable gardens to feed their families and make money from the surplus.

But what if you live in a city and don’t have any land? How can you grow food? All around you there are only houses and buildings, roads and traffic.

But take another look at those roads. Is there land beside them? Often there is. And often nobody is using it. Why not grow food beside a road? You can earn money and feed your family better by farming roadsides and public rights-of-way.

Many people who live in cities across the world grow food or graze animals on strips of land beside roads or canals. They also use public utility rights-of-way such as the land around a power line or railway tracks. This kind of urban agriculture is called roadside or right-of-way farming.

In Nairobi, Kenya, many of the roads between the centre and the outskirts of the city have crops along their edges. If you were to drive or walk along these roads, you would also see cattle grazing.

Our script of the week gives some instructions on growing crops on the roadside and rights-of-way. It includes sections on how to protect crops from theft, how to get water for your roadside or right-of-way crops, and how to protect your crops from airborne lead.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-29/grow-food-cheaply-by-the-roadside/

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Orange sweet potatoes

Africa is currently facing hunger and poverty on a large scale. Most economies in Africa are based on agriculture, yet many farmers are leaving agriculture to venture into other work, driven by challenges such as climate change, pests and diseases, decreasing soil fertility, and price fluctuations.

Two of this week’s stories feature sweet potatoes, a common staple in many parts of Africa. But, as this script from December 2008 shows, the orange-fleshed sweet potato offers farmers and consumers benefits to their health and their wallets!

Orange sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamin A, which is vital for human health. Cakes and breads can be made with fresh orange sweet potato. Foods made with the fresh root retain vitamin A content, unlike making the root into flour. The orange-fleshed sweet potato grows more quickly than white sweet potato and has a comparable yield.

This script is based on an interview with a Ugandan farmer.

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

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A decade of success: Community-owned project brings tapped water to village in western Kenya

To celebrate World Water Day, this week’s stories from Kenya and Ethiopia highlight some of the problems farmers face when water is scarce.

Water is fundamental to life. Our bodies need water. Our daily tasks need water. Animals, whether domestic or wild, need water. Plants, too, need water. There are also machines that must have water to operate. Without water, there is no life.

But sourcing water can be a major problem, often because of the long distances people must travel to find it. Too often, there is not enough to meet community needs.

For this reason, some communities initiate projects to address their water problems and improve their quality of life. Our script of the week explains how a community in western Kenya solved its water problem by initiating and then sustaining a water project for more than 10 years. Read through it and see if perhaps there are some lessons for your community!

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/a-decade-of-success-community-owned-project-brings-tapped-water-to-village-in-western-kenya/

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Micro-doses of fertilizer increase yields in the Sahel

This week’s story from Niger presents evidence of the benefits of micro-dosing. Our script of the week continues the focus on micro-dosing, and is also set in Niger.

Desertification is a major problem in Niger and other parts of the Sahel. Land degraded by the process of desertification results in poor yields and poor grazing, loss of farmland and rangeland, reduction or disappearance of forests, and serious economic difficulties for producers, herders, and the general population.

A project called the Desert Margins Program (DMP) studied farming practices which enhance food security and alleviate poverty through halting or reversing desertification.

This script focuses on a DMP project which used micro-doses of fertilizer to increase crop yields in Niger.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-79/micro-doses-of-fertilizer-increase-yields-in-the-sahel/

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Gender and farm programs

In keeping with the focus on International Women’s Day, our script of the week focuses on gender.

This week’s script is a broadcaster guidance document which introduces radio broadcasters to the topic of gender and gender equality. It provides some useful definitions, and presents some facts and statistics on existing inequalities between men and women.

The document provides guidelines on how to reach both women and men farmers, involve them in your program, and give them the information they need. It also includes a checklist to ensure that your program is respectful of both male and female listeners. Finally, the document encourages you to reflect on gender equality at your own station.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/gender-and-farm-programs/

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Sack farming: Unlimited vegetable harvest!

This week’s story from Zimbabwe explains the benefits of growing potatoes in backyard sacks.

In 2010, FRI held a scriptwriting competition on farmer innovation. Two of the winning scripts focused on sack farming, and both were set in the Kibera section of Nairobi, Kenya. We feature one of these pieces as our script of the week.

The script notes that rapid population growth is putting pressure on Africa’s natural environment, and making it difficult for many to find land to grow food. Sack farming provides hope for those without land.

The script tells the story of Mike Buseti, a Kenyan farmer who discovers sack farming. Growing food in sacks helps him avoid the starvation that threatens his family.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-90/sack-farming-unlimited-vegetable-harvest/

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75 tips on how to make your radio program better

In keeping with FRW #278’s focus on World Radio Day, our script of the week is a broadcaster how-to document which offers useful tips on how broadcasters can improve their farmer programs.

Radio, more than any other medium, speaks the language of farmers. Farmers count on radio to provide the information they need, when they need it. And farmers want radio to include them in discussions of how best to grow the crops that feed their families, and how to make some money at the market.

Too often, radio lets farmers down. Farmers tune out when the most important information isn’t there or when lectures by professors, politicians and promoters drown out farmers’ voices.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Broadcasters in Africa can produce better programs for farmers. They can meet farmers’ needs, involve farmers, and make the broadcasts more interesting. What is needed is to shine a light on good practice and share it widely across Africa.

In 2010, Farm Radio International gathered information about farmer radio programs from radio stations in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. Based on our findings, we published a list of tips for broadcasters who want to improve their farmer programs.

We grouped the tips into three categories: quick fixesmiddle-sized improvements, and the big stuff. We encourage you to consider implementing the “quick fixes.” If they work out, move on to more complex improvements. Before long, you will have a transformed radio program – more effective and more fun – with more job satisfaction too!

For this Script of the Week, we have chosen our “top dozen” fixes, including a few from each category of the original document.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/75-tips-on-how-to-make-your-radio-program-better/

For the complete 75 tips document, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/broadcaster-resources/special-resources/.

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‘Spray me, I’m itchy’: What moo really means

Tick-borne diseases are a major economic issue in many parts of East, Southern and Central Africa. One tick-borne disease, East Coast Fever, kills a million cows each year in East Africa alone.

In many cases, a farmer’s very livelihood depends on cattle. So livestock disease is a significant issue, and raises the chances of poverty and malnutrition.

Current methods of disease control are limited. Farmers’ use of acaricides – pesticides which are designed to control ticks – is limited by rising prices and increasing acaricide resistance. The use of live vaccines, though successful in some areas, is often dependent on refrigeration facilities, and can be difficult in certain regions.

The best chance for success in disease control is to take an integrated approach. That means using a variety of methods. Measures which are successful against tick-borne diseases include pasture management, effective fencing, rotational grazing, raising tick-resistant cattle, and new methods of immunization in combination with strategic use of acaricides. It should be noted that livestock keepers are extremely well informed about ticks and know which tick produces which disease.

This script is a mini-drama which highlights the challenges associated with controlling tick-borne diseases. Two ways to use this script are by simply adapting this drama for your audience or using it as inspiration to produce your own mini-drama on livestock diseases in your area.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-88/spray-me-im-itchy-what-moo-really-means/

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Soil fertility and climate change: An issue pack

In this week’s story from Zimbabwe, farmers use anthill diggings to replenish the fertility of their soil. Our script of the week is all about soil fertility.

Unfortunately, soil fertility is declining in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change is expected to bring more extreme weather events such as flooding and drought, and more unpredictable weather. These changes will likely only deepen problems with soil fertility.

Soil fertility is declining for a variety of reasons, including burning crop residues, excessive or insufficient use of fertilizers, and improper crop rotations.

But there are many traditional and modern practices which can help boost soil fertility, and assist farmers in making their farms more resilient and adaptable to the changing climate. These include micro-dosing of fertilizer, using rather than burning crop residues and other organic matter, planting nitrogen-fixing crops and trees, making good use of compost and manure, and taking steps to prevent wind and water erosion. Best practices will vary by region, and will often build on local knowledge.

This issue pack begins with two true stories about farmers and soil fertility. It then offers some background information on the subject. Next, it suggests some starting points for creating locally relevant radio programs. Finally, it lists various kinds of resources on soil fertility – radio programs, documents, and organizations working on the issue.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-89/an-issue-pack-soil-fertility-and-climate-change/

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Higher yields and less weeding if you transplant rice from a nursery

This week’s story from Ethiopia recommends planting wheat in rows to ease the challenge of weeding. Our script of the week also suggests a best practice to ease weeding, but this time in rice.

Transplanting is an important agricultural practice for rice, especially lowland and irrigated rice. It involves uprooting young rice seedlings from a nursery or “seedbed” at the 3 or 4-leaf stage (generally about 15 to 21 days old), and transplanting them into a cultivated field. Transplanting reduces the requirement for weeding, reduces the need for irrigation, and requires fewer seeds. At the same time, it gives higher yields. But farmers must follow proper transplanting techniques to achieve success. These techniques are outlined in the script.

Practices for transplanting from seedbed to field vary from one country to another. For example, some farmers use a long string that is marked at regular intervals. After each line is planted, they move the string to the next row. Farmers often leave 20 centimetres between plants and 20 centimetres between rows. But this depends on the type of cultivation tools available. To reduce the workload, farmers in Zeguesso, in southern Mali, use their feet as a guide when transplanting in rows. The rows aren’t perfectly straight, but farmers say the method is quick and simple.

This script is presented in two parts. You might want to use them together in one time slot, or separate them into two programs to be aired at different times.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-85/higher-yields-and-less-weeding-if-you-transplant-rice-from-a-nursery/

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Are burning crop residues and grass good for soil health and fertility? Views from a farmer and an agricultural researcher

This week, FRW reprints a Nigerien story from earlier this year that focuses on soil fertility. One way that some farmers attempt to increase soil fertility is by burning crop residues. Crop residues are the remains that are left over after the plant or crop has been put to use – for household food, for fodder, for sale, etc.  But what is the effect of burning crop residues and other vegetation on soil fertility?

In this script, a smallholder farmer and an agricultural researcher give different opinions on whether burning crop residues and grasses is a good idea. The farmer sees that burning residues makes her farming work easier. Burning controls weeds and pests, and improves yields in the season after burning. On the other hand, the agricultural researcher says that, over the long-term, burning destroys the soil. It causes increased soil erosion; it kills beneficial soil organisms, and eventually causes lower yields.

This is a complicated subject. Some researchers say that, in humid environments like western Kenya, it is not as harmful to burn residues as it would be in dryer environments. In dry environments, burning residues can reduce soil fertility quite quickly.

For some farmers, it may be easier and cheaper to burn residues and grass, even if it is not a good long-term strategy. Farmers may not have the labour or resources to grow cover crops, dig residues into their fields, or adopt other practices for long-term soil fertility and conservation. Cutting bush and pulling weeds by hand is labour intensive.  But, when farmers burn their fields, they see immediate gains.

Broadcasters should help farmers understand that cover crops, incorporating residues, and other soil-building practices – including the residue and agroforestry practices suggested by the agricultural researcher in this script – are a good long-term investment.  An investment which will help them achieve good yields over the long-term. But it’s important to note that not all these practices work in every climate. For example, farmers in dryer areas may not have sufficient mulch or crop residues to use some of these practices. Or all the residues may be needed to feed livestock.

http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?rscript=91-1script_en

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Conservation agriculture for better yields

Conservation farming has made a great difference for resource-poor small-scale farmers. Now many households have enough food throughout the year and sometimes even have a surplus for sale.

It consists of very simple methods of farming that include reduced disturbance of the soil during land preparation, not burning crop residues after harvest, crop rotation, and reliance whenever possible on organic compost and livestock manure instead of chemical fertilizer.

This script from Farm Radio Resource Pack #97 is about how Zambian farmer Agatha Ngoma changed her life with conservation farming. You could use it as inspiration to research and write a script on conservation farming or a different farming practice which might be of benefit in your area.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/the-success-story-of-agatha-ngoma-a-small-scale-farmer-in-zambia-conservation-agriculture-for-better-yields/

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