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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.

Issue #28

Warm greetings to all!

We hope that the past week has been a good one for our readers across Africa and around the world! This week, we extend a special welcome to our newest African subscribers: Renatus Raphael from the RCADC kibengwe telecenter in Tanzania, George Ambwene from the KBC Community Initiative Services in Tanzania, Lazarus Musyoki from Radio Mang’elete in Kenya, Soumaré Demba from la voix du Guidimakha/Association Foyer du Guidimakha in Mauritania, Paul Ananou from Radio Mono FM Comè in Bénin.

Most farmers are interested in affordably boosting their crop yields. This week, we have two stories about farmers who have done just that. Lilianne Nyatcha, our correspondent from Cameroon, tells us about farmers in the town of Nkongsamba who found that manure is a great alterative to expensive chemical fertilizers. And from Uganda, we have the story of a women’s group whose quest for better seeds led them to establish a 450-member seed production cooperative.

We thank all those who have sent us prepared stories over the past few weeks. If you have not heard from us yet, we will contact you soon to discuss how your contribution can fit into a future issue of FRW! And remember, the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/) is a great place to post a comment sharing your experience with an issue!

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Cameroon: Farmers find manure a good substitute for expensive chemical fertilizers (By Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)

2. Uganda: Improved seeds improve livelihoods for women’s group (New Vision, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT))

Upcoming Events

July 10, 2008: Deadline to apply for investigative journalism workshop at University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Radio Resource Bank

Illuminating voices – audio stories available for free download

Farm Radio Action

Scriptwriting winners to participate in climate change seminar

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Improve manure to make better fertilizer

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1. Cameroon: Farmers find manure a good substitute for expensive chemical fertilizers (By Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)

In Nkongsamba, an agricultural town located about 200 kilometres from Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital, the soaring price of chemical fertilizers has changed the way farmers look at manure.

Over the past year, the price of a 50-kilogram bag of chemical fertilizer has risen from 12,000 CFA Francs (29 American Dollars or 17 Euros) to 18,000 CFA Francs (43 American Dollars or 27 Euros). Fifty-eight-year-old Lisette Youtcheu used to apply only chemical fertilizers to her small fields of maize, cassava, and peanuts. But the high cost of chemical fertilizers led her to try pig manure, this year. She explains that she paid 9,000 CFA Francs (21 American dollars or 14 Euros) to obtain half a bag of chemical fertilizer. She also paid 4,800 CFA Francs (11 American Dollars or 7 Euros) to buy four 50-kilogram bags of dried manure. Ms. Youtcheu fed her crops with a mixture of the two fertilizers. She saved a lot of money and still received the same quality and quantity of production as in previous years when she used only chemical fertilizers. She regrets ignoring organic fertilizers for so long.

Sixty-three-year-old Anne Ngoueke is a bit more upset with herself. In 2007, she borrowed 30,000 CFA Francs (72 American Dollars 46 Euros) to buy two bags of chemical fertilizer for her land. But she couldn’t afford to apply fertilizer a second time, so her harvest was poor. Meanwhile, her son, a pig farmer, was throwing away manure right in front of her eyes. Now, because of the soaring price of chemical fertilizers and after hearing another farmer’s success story, her habits have changed. Before planting her seeds, she now collects, stores, and dries pig manure for her bean and maize crops.

Nkongsamba farmers who do not have easy access to these traditional yet newly discovered fertilizers now buy them from other farmers. This means a new source of revenue for David Wambo, who has been a poultry, rabbit, and pig breeder since 1963.From what he’s seen, Mr. Wambo asserts that, over the past four years, the constantly increasing cost of chemical fertilizers has prompted more growers to seek pig and chicken manure. In previous years, he used to throw away excess manure after using what he needed on his fields of soy, maize, and pepper. Today, demand for manure tends to exceed supply. Mr. Wambo sells a 50-kilogram bag of pig manure for 1,500 CFA Francs (4 American Dollars or 2 Euros) and chicken manure for 2,000 CFA francs (5 American Dollars or 3 Euros). The seasoned farmer doesn’t understand why it’s taken so many years for other farmers to realize that animal dung, previously thought to be good only for trash, is a real alternative to increasingly expensive chemical fertilizers.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on manure fertilizer

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Notes to broadcasters on manure fertilizer

A couple of months ago, Lilianne Nyatcha brought us a story about farmers in the Moungo Region of Cameroon who were suffering as a result of high fertilizer prices (“Farmers say financial support is needed to boost production”) The farmers she spoke with could no longer afford the quantity or quality of chemical fertilizer that they were accustomed to using. As a result, they produced, or expected to produce, lower yields.

This week’s story from Ms. Nyatcha proves that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The farmers she spoke with in the agricultural town of Nkongsmba, Cameroon, were initially frustrated by soaring chemical fertilizer prices, but soon discovered they could meet their fertilizer needs with less expensive manure. It is interesting to note that, while manure is a traditional fertilizer, many farmers in this town had dismissed it until chemical alternatives became unaffordable. There is evidence that farmers in other parts of the continent are also coping with high chemical fertilizer prices by using less expensive, organic alternatives (“Rice bran can substitute for chemical fertilizer.”)

Farm Radio International has produced a number of articles on soil fertility, which you can find online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/fertilization.asp. If you broadcast this story, you may wish to complement it with one of the following scripts, which talk about producing the best quality compost using manure and other organic materials, and selling compost.
-“Make compost as your vegetables grow” (Package 47, Script 1, January 1998)
-“You can make compost in two to three weeks” (Package 47, Script 2, January 1998)
-“Improve manure to make better fertilizer” (Package 48, Script 9, April 1998)
-“Farmers can earn income producing compost” (Package 80, Script 3, March 2007)

You could also follow up with a news story or call-in/text-in show about how farmers in your area are coping with increased chemical fertilizer prices. Here are some questions to consider:
-What percentage of farmers in your area typically relies on chemical fertilizer? What other strategies do they normally use to ensure the fertility of their soils?
-How has the price of chemical fertilizer in your area changed in the past year or so?
-Are there farmers in your area who produced lower yields because they could not afford the quantity or quality of chemical fertilizer that they normally use?
-What alternative fertilization techniques are farmers in your area using following the hike in chemical fertilizer prices?

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Notes to broadcasters on improved seeds

In researching this story, we found reports that commercial seed distributors do not reach most of the rural parts of Uganda, and that commercial seed is usually too expensive for small-scale farmers. This is one of the reasons why the success of Bakusekamajja Women’s Development Farmers’ Association in the Iganga District of eastern Uganda has generated a great deal of interest and donor support. As this story explains, members of the group were dissatisfied with the yields produced with traditional maize varieties, and found that these varieties were more susceptible to disease. By using and producing improved seeds, they increased family food security and income, and also made improved seeds more accessible in their area.

While many farmers swear by the effectiveness of improved seeds, and many major development organizations promote their use, not everyone agrees with this approach. There are also farmers and development organizations that believe traditional crops, which have adapted to local conditions over decades or centuries, are more consistently reliable than improved varieties.

To read additional profiles of Bakusekamajja Women’s Development Farmers’ Association in reports on development approaches, visit:
-International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) article “Seed production: Can farmers supply themselves and earn a profit?”: http://www.cimmyt.org/english/docs/ann_report/recent_ar/D_Support/community.htm
-Report to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation “The good seed initiative: Field activities with food insecure farmers in South Asia and East Africa”: http://www.cabi.org/pdf/GSITechnicalReport.pdf

Past FRW stories have looked at the value of both improved and traditional crop varieties. Below are links to a story about Nigerian farmers experimenting with improved millet varieties, and a story about Malian women seed traders who ensure the availability of locally adapted, traditional millet and sorghum varieties:
-“Farmers test best millet varieties for dry conditions” (Issue #6, January 2008)
-“Women traders play crucial role in providing locally adapted seeds” (Issue #9, February 2008)

You may wish to research and report on the experiences of farmers in your area who use improved seed varieties:
-What made the farmers decide to try improved seed varieties? Were they struggling with a pest or disease, or hope to achieve higher yields?
-How do farmers in your area obtain improved seeds? Is it difficult to reach sellers? Are the improved seeds expensive relative to traditional seeds?
-How did they decide which seed variety was best for their farm? Did they carry out field tests, consult local extension officers, etc?
-Do the improved seeds require more or different care or inputs than varieties they used in the past?
-What was the result of using improved varieties, in terms of yield, percentage of loss, return relative to cost of seed, etc?
-Did the farmers experience any unexpected problems with the improved seeds? What did they do to ensure family food security while trying the improved seeds?

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July 10, 2008: Deadline to apply for investigative journalism workshop at University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

The University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa is offering an eight-day investigative journalism training workshop from July to September 2008. Workshop sessions will aim to provide participants with basic investigative reporting skills and encourage the production of post-course investigative work. Workshop sessions will be conducted by experienced trainers and will be highly interactive and practical.

At the end of the eight-day training, participants are expected to produce an investigative story. The best stories will be presented as case studies at the 2008 Power Reporting Workshop which will take place from October 27-29, 2008, in Johannesburg.

Journalists from all media are welcome to attend, but participation will be limited to a maximum of 15 investigative reporters. Workshop fees are 960 South African Rand (124 American Dollars of 79 Euros) for the entire eight-day series. Fees should be paid in advance in order to secure a space. Full bursaries, including transport and accommodation, can be applied for.

Please send applications to sibongile.msimanga@wits.ac.za with a portfolio of your work, your CV, a written commitment to attend all three workshops, and a letter of support from your editor. The deadline to apply is Thursday, July 10, 2008. For more information, please visit: http://www.journalism.co.za/opportunities/investigations-training.html.

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Illuminating voices – audio stories available for free download

Journalists know the power of personal accounts. The story of one person, well told, can reveal the complexities of a problem, provide inspiration to overcome it, and remind us of our common humanity. The NGO Panos London aims to promote “dialogue, debate, and change.” Its ongoing series of interviews called “Illuminating Voices” brings forward the stories of individuals on the forefront of major social issues. Topics covered by these interviews include living with extreme poverty, desertification, and HIV and AIDS.

Illuminating Voices is told through written and audio stories. You may find audio stories that you want to air directly, or you may find inspiration for a local story. To view all available audio stories, go to: http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=20785.
Audio stories are available for free download by registered users of Panos London’s website. To register, go to: http://www.panos.org.uk/register.

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Scriptwriting winners to participate in climate change seminar

There is more good news for the first and second place winners of the Farm Radio International-CTA scriptwriting competition: “African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change.” The top two winners have been invited to participate in an international seminar on climate change and agriculture.

The Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) will bring together 200 participants from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, for the seminar: “Implications of Global Climate Change for Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems in ACP countries.” There, our script winners will be able to contribute their expertise on questions such as: What impact does climate change have on production systems? What integrated solutions are being put forward and are they effective? What information and communication strategies are appropriate and how can they best be implemented?

Jean-Paul Ntezimana from Radio Salus in Rwanda won first place in the scriptwriting competition for his script “Rainfall retention protects soil.” Gladson Makowa from The Story Workshop in Malawi took second place for “Effect of manure in crops during erratic rain season.” You can learn more about the seminar that Mr. Ntezimana and Mr. Makowa have been invited to attend at: http://ctaseminar2008.cta.int/about.html.
Scripts by all 15 of the scriptwriting competition winners will be sent to Farm Radio partners in August and posted online as part of the next script package!

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Improve manure to make better fertilizer

As the price of chemical fertilizer has risen dramatically in most African countries, it makes sense that more and more farmers are looking for less expensive alternatives. Compost – which can be made from plant materials, animal manure, or both – is an attractive option since it can be made from waste products found in the home and on the farm. This may be the perfect time to share this week’s script with your audience! It describes a method of quickly producing high quality compost.

You can also view this script online at:
http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/48-9script_en.asp.

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