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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 #32

Warm Greetings to All!

This week we are pleased to welcome a new slate of African subscribers: Akiode Abdullahi Oluwasegun from the farmer’s organization Extra Trading Company in Nigeria, Yusuf Wakili Yola from Kano State Television in Nigeria, Grace Achisah from Radio Afram Plains /Afram Plains Development Organization in Ghana, and Doreen Rukaria from the Kenya Community Media Network in Kenya.

In this week’s FRW, we review an issue that you may have heard about in other news – the breakdown of Doha Development Round talks at the World Trade Organization. We look at different perspectives on why the talks failed and uncover some of the implications for small scale African farmers. We also focus our attention, once again, on Liberian farmers working to rebuild their livelihoods following a 14-year civil war. Our story tells of cocoa farmers who have received support to revive their plantations.

Today you should also receive a survey about Farm Radio Weekly in your inbox. This short survey asks how you use FRW, how useful you find various sections, and your opinion on ideas we have for future issues. Your responses will shape the future of FRW – we look forward to reading them! If you are an FRW subscriber but did not receive the survey, or if you have any difficulty opening or filling out the survey, please contact Nelly Bassily at nbassily@farmradio.org.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Africa: “Death of Doha” – What does it mean for small scale farmers? (The Monitor, Afrik.com, La Via Campesina, Reuters, Inter Press Service)

2. Liberia: Cocoa farmers supported to rebuild livelihoods following civil war (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, The Analyst, Reuters)

Upcoming Events

August 25, 2008: Apply for environmental training course for journalists

Radio Resource Bank

Pambazuka News focuses on “The food crisis and the destruction of African agriculture”

Farm Radio Action

Winning scripts are in the mail

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Rainfall retention protects soil

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1. Africa: “Death of Doha” – What does it mean for small scale farmers? (The Monitor, Afrik.com, La Via Campesina, Reuters, Inter Press Service)

Some are calling it the “Death of Doha.” At the end of July, the latest round of negotiations on world trade – known as the Doha Development Round – broke down. All the ramifications are yet to be known, but it’s already clear that some groups, such as cotton farmers, were disappointed. Advocates for subsistence food farmers, on the other hand, are hailing a victory.

West Africa’s top cotton producers had a strong agenda heading into the meetings, which were held in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali demanded that the United States cut subsidies to its farmers by 80 per cent. In a statement, Africa’s negotiating group said that the huge subsidies given by developed countries to their farmers had depressed world cotton prices, driving African cotton farmers out of production.

The United States reportedly refused such a large cut to its farmers. The reports suggest that clashes over subsidies between the United States and other large players such as the European Union, India, and China, contributed significantly to the breakdown of the talks.

Other commentators suggest that a mechanism designed to protect small scale farmers was the real sticking point. The Special Safeguard Mechanism is meant to prevent “dumping” – that is, the import of subsidised agricultural produce at a price so low that it undercuts local production, thus bankrupting local farmers. The mechanism would allow a country to apply additional tariffs to prevent an import surge and a drop in local market prices. Representatives from developing and developed countries could not agree on the size of a surge that should be allowed before the mechanism kicks in.

Anti-globalization activists celebrated the collapse of the talks. La Via Campesina, an international peasants movement with members in 56 countries worldwide, hailed the breakdown as a victory for those who want to protect the livelihoods of three billion peasants worldwide. In a statement, the organization urged governments not to spend any more time and resources trying to find compromises for the Doha round.

Summing up the negotiations, the Inter Press news service described the talks as a battle between the commercial interests of agricultural exporting countries, and the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. They suggested that, had the proposed deal been agreed upon, African development concerns would have been ignored while exports from the United States and the European Union would have been given preferential treatment.

However, those developing countries seeking to re-negotiate the terms of trade for export crops such as bananas and cotton, still hope for a revival of the Doha Development Round.

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2. Liberia: Cocoa farmers supported to rebuild livelihoods following civil war (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, The Analyst, Reuters)

In the years before the civil war, Kolubah Gayflor grew cocoa on his farm in northern Liberia. Cocoa provided his only income and the means to sustain himself. Now that peace has returned to Liberia, Mr. Gayflor and thousands of other farmers desperately want to re-establish there livelihoods. But several obstacles stand in the way.

Liberia’s 14-year civil war left the country’s agriculture sector and basic infrastructure in ruins. Cocoa trees were left untended. They were occasionally harvested, sometimes by people other than the owner. Farmers returning to their land after the war found their plantations in poor condition and their access to markets even worse. These days, cocoa trees are often valued only as firewood.

Macarthur Pay-Bayee is the manager of the Sustainable Tree Crops Program-Liberia, an initiative to support cocoa farmers and restore value to cocoa trees. He explains that farmers who rehabilitate their cocoa plantations struggle to sell their crops for a good price. Since the road system is poor, farmers usually sell to any traders who show up at their door. In these situations, farmers have little bargaining power.

The Sustainable Tree Crops Program is working to ensure that cocoa farmers have the resources they need to produce good yields and get their product to market. To date, some 900 farmers from Lofa, Nimba, and Bong counties have participated in field schools to brush up on their pest management and quality management skills. These 900 trainees have shared their learning with nearly 2,000 others.

All of the trained farmers will receive access to hybrid cocoa plants – varieties from neighbouring Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer. The hybrids are high yielding and disease resistant. They are also early-maturing and should bear fruit within three years – two years earlier than traditional varieties.

Mr. Pay-Bayee says that farmers are currently harvesting as little as 150 kg of cocoa per hectare. With the new resources and lots of determination, he hopes to see farmers like Mr. Gayflor harvesting up to 800 kg per hectare.

In this post-war period, farmers are also re-establishing cooperative groups. At the community level, farmers’ groups will grow hybrid seedlings in nurseries before moving them to plantations.

The shortage of marketing connections and good roads are challenges that farmers can’t address on their own. The Sustainable Tree Crops Program hopes to create market links for Liberian cocoa. The Liberian government, meanwhile, has expressed a commitment to rebuilding the country’s road network.

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Notes to broadcasters on “Death of Doha”

Through FRW, we endeavour to keep you posted on global decision-making that affects small scale African farmers. This often means following UN conferences or international trade talks. But when ministerial meetings designed to revive the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations broke down in Geneva, Switzerland, at the end of July, the impact on small scale farmers was difficult to discern. As this story indicates, many people have called the talks’ collapse the “Death of Doha” while others believe that the talks are merely stalled. Whether the “death” or stalling of negotiations is positive or negative is also open to interpretation. Ministers representing an countries in Geneva indicated a strong preference for the talks to move forward, as they sought a reduction in developed-country subsidies on export crops, particularly cotton. However, La Via Campesina expressed a view shared by many anti-globalization groups when it stated that “this collapse is a victory in the long struggle against WTO.”

The following links will help you find additional information on the Doha Development Round and the implications of their collapse:
-WTO’s July 30, 2008 press release on the collapse of talks: http://allafrica.com/stories/200807300068.html
-Wikipedia entry on the Doha Development Round with details on the history of the negotiations, including the breakdown of the latest talks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doha_Round
-Inter Press Service’s analytical commentary “Safeguards for small farmers straw that broke Doha”: http://allafrica.com/stories/200808050419.html
-Afrik.com summary of Africa’s role in the talks “Le fiasco de l’OMC laisse l’Afrique sur le carreau” (in French only): http://www.afrik.com/article14896.html

You may wish to further investigate the impact of current WTO trade rules on small scale farmers in your country, as well as what is at stake for local farmers in the Doha Development Round. Good sources of information may include: representatives from trade ministries, leaders of national farm organizations, and NGOs that specialize in agriculture and trade issues. As with all controversial issues, be sure that you hear a number of different perspectives. You could share this information with your audience in the form of a news report or a round-table discussion followed by a call-in/text-in show that allows listeners to ask any questions.

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Notes to broadcasters on post-conflict cocoa farming:

Farm Radio Weekly first looked at the struggles and tenacity of Liberian farmers when we published the story “Farmers rebuild agriculture sector against all odds” in Issue 9, February 2008. We learned that as more than one million Liberians return to their homeland following the civil war that ended in 2003, farmers are facing an uphill battle to re-establish their livelihoods.

In this story we see the particular challenges of cocoa farmers, a group with special concerns because most of their crop is produced for export. Cocoa farmers in Lofa, Nimba, and Bong counties have benefitted from the Sustainable Tree Crops Program, which has helped to ensure that farmers have the skills and genetic resources (hybrid seedlings on par with those used by Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer) needed to rehabilitate their cocoa plantations. To learn more about Sustainable Tree Crops Program initiatives in West and Central Africa, visit: http://www.treecrops.org/.

Readers in other areas recovering from conflict may recognize some of the challenges faced by Liberian farmers, such as the need to rehabilitate untended fields and rebuild seed supplies, all without the support infrastructure such as roads and credit systems they may have enjoyed prior to the conflict. The following Farm Radio International scripts provide information and ideas for farmers working to re-establish their livelihoods following a conflict:
“Rebuilding local seed supplies after armed conflict or other emergency situations” (Package 67, Script 1, June 2003)
“Sharing the load after conflict: Villagers start a revolving loan fund” (Package 67, Script 4, June 2003)

If you broadcast to an area that is recovering from conflict, your farmers will surely have many stories to tell. You may consider hosting a phone-in show to ask farmers questions such as:
-When you returned to your farm, what were the first steps you took to begin providing food for your family?
-Have you altered your farming practices since your return (for example, does the farmer now plant “survival” crops to provide food in difficult times)?
-What challenges have you faced – and what challenges do you continue to face – in rebuilding your farm and farming business?
-How has your community and/or farmers’ association worked together to overcome these challenges?

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August 25, 2008: Apply for environmental training course for journalists

Journalists from Kenya, Tanzania, and the Seychelles are invited to apply for a training course on environmental issues to be held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, from November 3-14, 2008, and April 27-May 1, 2009. The course is offered by the Institute for Further Education of Journalists (Fojo) of Sweden, in cooperation with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association. It will include methods of reporting and planning, accessing and analyzing scientific information, and how to make information interesting to audiences. Participants will have an opportunity to talk to scientists and experts about the region’s environmental and coastal challenges.

Selected participants will receive financial support to cover travel and accommodation expenses. Participants must attend both parts of the course, in November 2008 and April-May 2009. Journalists interested in participating should e-mail Ingemo Johannson of Fojo at: ingemo.johansson@hik.se. The application deadline is August 25, 2008. Fojo’s website can be found at: http://fojointernational.fo.hik.se/index.php/fojo_international/fojo.

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Pambazuka News focuses on “The food crisis and the destruction of African agriculture”

Pambazuka News describes itself as “the authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa.” It provides commentary and analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues, and culture in Africa. The current issue (Issue 392) focuses on African agriculture. Features include an analytical opinion piece on the World Trade Organization’s role in the current food crisis, a collection of first-hand accounts of how the food crisis is affecting people around the world, and a call for an African strategy for coping with the crisis. Pambazuka News Issue 392 can be viewed online, here: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/392.

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Winning scripts are in the mail

For months, we’ve been telling you about the Farm Radio International-CTA scriptwriting competition: “African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change.” Soon, our partners will receive the 15 winning scripts in the mail, and everyone will have access to them online, as Farm Radio International script package 84.

Each script was written by an African broadcaster with the input of local people, especially farmers, and highlights a different African innovation for coping with the effects of climate change. The scripts offer advice on how to retain moisture in soil and prevent deforestation, good seed and fertilizer choices in the face of drought, and managing the changing threats to livestock.

You won’t want to miss these scripts written by Farm Radio Weekly subscribers:
-“Fissel farmers don’t pick up straw after harvesting, a method that protects land from heat,” by Mariama Sy Coulibaly from Afia FM in Senegal
-“Mangoes to the rescue: A local response to climate change,” by Kwabena Agyei from Classic FM in Ghana
-“New rice variety for Africa to save wetlands in Uganda,” by Joshua Kyalimpa from Opsett Media/African Farm Radio Bureau in Uganda

There are also five winning scripts from organizations where there is at least one FRW subscriber:
-“Rainfall retention protects soil,” by Jean-Paul Ntezimana from Radio Salus in Rwanda
-“Manure the magic worker,” by Gladson Makowa from The Story Workshop in Malawi -“Endangered raffia palm groves (Raphiales): An environmental threat, a danger for the culture and the economy of the Grassfields,” by Frederic Takang from Abakwa FM in Cameroon
 -“Sekedo, a drought resistant sorghum for Karamoja,” by Pius Sawa Murefu from Radio Sapientia in Uganda
-“Drip irrigation,” by Dominic Mutua from Radio Mangelete in Kenya

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Rainfall retention protects soil

While script package 84 will be posted online and reach our partners by mail soon, we have a sneak preview for our FRW readers right here. Below you’ll find the full text of the grand prize winning script from the competition on “African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change,” written by Jean-Paul Ntezimana from Radio Salus in Rwanda.

This script explains ways that farmers can cope with drought and flooding, two phenomena that have become more frequent as a result of climate change. The host interviews Alexandre Rutikanga, president of an organization called GRAD (Gate for Rwandan Agricultural Development). Mr. Rutikanga says, “Water shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a solution.” He explains that low-cost collection techniques can store water from heavy rains and make it available for irrigation during the dry season, watering animals, and domestic use.

Notes to Broadcaster

The climate change the world is experiencing today is caused mostly by human activity. Climate change includes global warming that is caused by greenhouse gases produced on earth. These gases, including carbon dioxide, are produced when fossil fuels are burned and by other activities on earth, including deforestation. The consequences of climate change are many and unfortunate, especially in under-developed countries where most of the population depend on the products of their fields for survival. These fields are extremely vulnerable to flooding and drought, two situations which are becoming more common with climate change.

This text will help farmers in developing countries to learn methods that they can use to better manage rainwater in order to protect their soil. This script will also help farmers to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Cue in signature tune to begin the broadcast. The signature tune fades after 20 seconds and dissolves under the voice of the program host.

Program host: Good morning, dear friends and listeners of Radio Salus. Welcome to today’s broadcast, whose theme is “Rainfall retention protects soil.” We are going to talk about some of the things that farmers in Rwanda’s southern province do to deal with the changing climate, especially how they manage water and protect soil from erosion. Our guest is Alexandre Rutikanga, the president of GRAD, an association of professional farmers. This broadcast is prepared and presented by Jean Paul Ntezimana. Stay tuned!

Ten second musical interlude that fades and dissolves under the voice of the program host

Program host: For a number of years, we have noticed the evolution of the effects of climate change that occur and affect both agricultural seasons in Rwanda: season A is from September to December and season B is from February to June.

Since our country is very hilly, climate change shows itself either through the heavy rains that wreak havoc on the fields and erode the fertile soil, or through the droughts that hinder plant growth. Each year in Rwanda, a huge quantity of high quality soil – more than 14 million metric tons – is carried away by water erosion. Then, after several months of heavy rains, drought takes over and paralyzes work in the fields. The weeding hoe can no longer penetrate the soil, and the plant that was thriving in the cool air and rainfall stops growing under the drying heat of the sun.

In Rwanda, climate change results in local droughts, floods and other effects that affect agriculture and cause or worsen misery and poverty, especially among vulnerable farmers such as widows and the elderly. In order to confront the problem, farmers have organized themselves in associations. GRAD is an association of concerned farmers who have started to collect rainwater for future use, to fight against erosion and to protect farmland. A GRAD representative gives us an update on the situation.

Alexandre: (Low and measured tone of voice) My name is Alexandre Rutikanga. I represent an organization called GRAD, which stands for “Gate For Rwandan Agricultural Development.” In French, it stands for “La Porte pour le Développement Agricole au Rwanda.” Our goal is to promote professional agriculture through the protection of the environment, especially the soil and water that are our most valuable resources. Climate change is a problem for our country. Our farmers do not know how to best manage the water from heavy rainfalls or the drought that follows the rains.

Program host: Dear farmers, managing runoff water is a big problem for the most vulnerable farmers. Even if we put aside the problem of erosion in the fields, rainwater also damages houses. Mr. Alexandre, isn’t that why GRAD began examining ways to manage roof water in Sahera in the south of the country, where a number of widows of the genocide live?

Alexandre: (A raised tone of voice) Yes, yes. Widows of the 1994 genocide live in this community. Sahera is built on a steep hill. Runoff water not only threatens farmers’ fields but threatens their houses as well. When I visited Sahera, a heavy rain had fallen the night before. We found a widow of about fifty years of age, completely soaked, who was removing mud from her house. It was a nice morning, but she seemed exhausted. She said she hadn’t slept. She had spent the night fighting the rainwater, trying to prevent it from washing away her home. After seeing that the community of Sahera was threatened by erosion from rainwater on the one hand and poor methods of cultivation on the other, we took some steps to help manage water and soil in this town.

Ten second musical interlude that fades and dissolves under the guest’s voice

Alexandre: (Strong tone of voice) We organized a work camp of more than one hundred young people. The young people dug anti-erosion trenches about 800 metres in length, planted pasparum grass and multipurpose trees to retain the soil, and installed gutters on the houses to collect rainwater. I can tell you right now that this is just a temporary solution. We should be collecting the runoff water to use for farming. Water shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a solution! However, it causes damage when it is badly managed or when it exceeds the capacity of our farmers, especially anti-erosive infrastructures. We must change this problem into a solution.

Program host: Mr. Alexandre, let’s return to the topic of managing and protecting soil in the fields. You say that GRAD must transform the problem of runoff water into a solution. But how are you going to do this?

Alexandre: With the local farmers, we are going to collect runoff water for three purposes: to irrigate after the rainy season, to water animals, and for domestic use. Our water collection techniques are not expensive and will help us to store water and protect the soil against erosion. We will use three techniques: we will build retention dikes for irrigation, we will construct tanks to collect water from the rooftops of houses, and we will build valley dams where possible. To protect soils on steep slopes, we will also build terraces to slow down runoff water and help crop production in the terraced fields.

Ten second musical interlude that fades and dissolves under the voice of the program host

Program host: Dear listeners, rice growers use techniques that resemble those of GRAD, as Joseph Rwagasana, president of the Union des Coopératives des Riziculteurs de Butare explained to us. I met him in the Agasasa valley. A short but strong man of about forty years of age, his forehead covered in sweat and his feet in boots, I asked him if rice growers have techniques for managing water and soil. Here is the answer he gave me:

Rwagasana: (Sharp voice, strong tone) Yes, certainly. To protect the soil in the valleys, we fight against erosion on the slopes of the hills that surround our valleys. To conserve water, we build dams that hold back the water and create artificial lakes. This isn’t done in all of our valleys, but it is very useful where these dams have been built.

Program host: Joseph Rwagasana, president of the Union des coopératives des riziculteurs de Butare.

Ten-second musical interlude that fades and dissolves under the program host’s voice

Program host:
Dear farmers, let’s return to our studios and continue our broadcast with our guest, Mr. Alexandre Rutikanga. As we know, fieldwork can run into problems. Has the GRAD association faced any problems with its work on water and soil management?

Alexandre: The problems are linked mostly to a lack of financing. You all know that agricultural works needs efforts that sometimes exceed the financial capacity of farmers. Farmers should not give up, but organize themselves to seek funding. There is also the problem of organization since GRAD is made up primarily of students. We are therefore organizing our association in order to qualify for national funding.

Ten second musical interlude that fades and dissolves under the program host’s voice

Program host: Dear listeners and dear farmers, we hope that you have learned about some techniques for managing water and protecting the soil. Remember that in today’s broadcast we have talked about the consequences of climate change such as drought and flooding. We have also talked about ways to manage rainfall and protect soil that is threatened by erosion. We have discussed methods used by the GRAD association. These methods are also used by the rice growers of Butare. Thank you, Mr. Alexandre, for speaking with us today. Thank you, dear listeners, for your attention, and until next time.

Increase in the volume of the signature tune to end the program

Contributed by: Jean Paul Ntezimana, Radio Salus journalist.
Review: John Stone, Visiting Fellow, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Jean Fichery Dukurizimana, Radio Salus journalist.

Information sources
Vincent Ngarambe, 2004. Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda: Water and Soil Management and Use. Groupe d’Expertise, de Conseil et d’Appui au Développement (GECAD). Kigali, October 2004.
Charles Uramutse, 2006. Water resources in Rwanda / Ressources en eau en Rwanda. Presentation at UNFCC regional workshop on adaptation, Accra, Ghana, September 21-23, 2006. http://unfccc.int/files/adaptation/adverse_effects_and_response_measures_art_48/application/pdf/200609_rwanda_water.pdf

Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

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