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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 #49

Greetings to all!

As we come to the end of 2008, we would like to thank all of you for being part of the FRW community this past year. It was a pleasure to work with you to bring news about small-scale farmers to small-scale farmers across Africa. We also extend a warm welcome to our newest subscribers, Josphat Wachira from Trans World Radio in Kenya, Cisse Abdoulaye from Radio Tahanint in Mali, Asikadi Edwin from the agricultural department of the Federal College of Agriculture in Nigeria, and Ndiaye Abdel Kader from GIE La Rizière in Senegal.

This week we bring you a news story from Ethiopia that spotlights a growing trend which is raising concerns about food security in African countries. The Ethiopian government has given 7,000 hectares of farmland to Djibouti’s president and is seeking foreign investment for hundreds of thousands of hectares more. In the Notes to Broadcasters section, you’ll find background information and links to opinion pieces on this issue.

Our second story focuses on the resettlement of the San, or Bushmen, people of Namibia, to their ancestral homeland. This story raises issues of land rights for displaced peoples, as well as the tension between traditional and “modern” land uses.

In the Radio Resource and Farm Radio Action sections, we are pleased to offer you an update on the African Farm Radio Research Initiative. Be sure to check out Step 1 of the eight-step guide to story-based farm radio programming, a series that we will continue in the new year.

Finally, we extend a special greeting to all those who will celebrate Christmas this week. Merry Christmas! Please note that, due to the holidays, there will be no FRW next week. But, rest assured that will be back on January 5th!

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Ethiopia: Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land available for foreign investment, prime minister says (Inter Press Service, Arab News, The Guardian, Reuters, New Scientist)

2. Namibia: Bushmen return to ancestral lands (Agence France Presse)

Upcoming Events

April 1, 2009: Deadline to apply for human rights journalism fellowship

Radio Resource Bank

Steps for story-based farm radio programming – Step 1: Topical thinking

Farm Radio Action

AFRRI Update – Radio practitioners participate in training

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Late Blight of Potato

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1. Ethiopia: Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land available for foreign investment, prime minister says (Inter Press Service, Arab News, The Guardian, Reuters, New Scientist)

Shashe Dima says that nature seems to be at odds with her family. Last year, lack of rain caused her family’s crops to fail. This season, they had high hopes for their small plot of land in central Ethiopia. They looked forward to a bumper harvest of teff, a native grain. But in late October, too much rain destroyed their crops. Now Ms. Dima’s husband, Tola Melka, is interested in another way of providing food for his family. Melka says he would like to obtain work on a foreign-owned industrial farm – a type of operation that the Ethiopian government would like to see more of.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi welcomed a Saudi Arabian delegation to his country earlier this year. Following the visit, he told Arab News that Ethiopia is “very eager to provide [the Saudis] hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land for investment.”

Saudi Arabia is one of several Middle Eastern and Asian countries seeking to lease or buy farmland in Africa. In this case, the Saudi government is seeking land for cereal production.

Jacques Diouf is Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. He cautions that such land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism.” Mr. Diouf warns that developing countries could end up producing food for rich ones, at the expense of their own people.

But the Ethiopian government is keen to pursue more land deals. It argues that food produced by foreign investors would be available to local markets as well as for export. Government officials also suggest that investors would bring new farming technology and knowledge, which could be imitated by locals.

So far, the government has identified some two million hectares of land in the regions of Oromia and Amhara, where most of Ethiopia’s grain is grown. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Zenawi gave 7,000 hectares of land to Djibouti’s president for wheat farming.

Pundits argue that this strategy has many risks. Anthropologist Marco Bassi of the University of Oxford says that leasing Ethiopia’s communal lands to foreign investors puts pastoralists at risk. There is further concern that such land is unsuitable for intensive cultivation, and that foreign investors could extract all of the soil and water resources.

There are also doubts that locals would see any of the food produced on these lands. Analysts say that almost all of the food will leave the country, since Ethiopians cannot compete with prices offered by foreign consumers.

With six children to feed, Mr. Melka says it is too risky to rely on one’s own farm for a living. He is interested in the immediate employment opportunities that foreign-owned farms could offer. This would be an additional source of income for his family at a difficult time.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on foreign-owned farmland

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2. Namibia: Bushmen return to ancestral lands (Agence France Presse)

An elderly woman slowly looks around her new farmland, her wrinkled face lighting up with a shy smile as she suddenly claps her hands. She proclaims that her ancestors are happy that she is closer to home.

Hira Khamuxas was born about 60 kilometres from her new farm in northwestern Namibia. She spent a free and happy childhood there until she was 14. At that time, as she describes it, “the South Africans put up a veterinary control fence nearby and told us to get out.”

In the 1970s, the apartheid regime forced the San, or Bushmen, out of their ancestral lands in Etosha National Park. Some ethnic groups among the San people were given designated homelands within the park. Ms. Khamuxas’ tribe, the Haikom, was excluded from this scheme.

In 2007, the Haikom won a court ruling allowing them to return to their traditional lands. The Namibian government purchased land on the southern boundary of Etosha. Seventy-eight Haikom families, including Ms. Khamuxas’, were given a plot.

Even as Ms. Khamuxas delights in her return, the question remains of how her people will make their livelihood. Like many Haikom, Ms. Khamuxas spent most of her working life wandering from farm to farm, labouring for minimal wages. Since 1990, when Namibia gained independence and people were allowed to move freely, some Haikom have worked in Etosha National Park as trackers and game guards.

Libertine Amathila is deputy prime minister of Namibia. She says that some of the land given to the Haikom will be used for agriculture. The government will bring in wild animals to roam in other parts, creating the potential for tourism activities.

The Haikom people lived in the region for millennia prior to their displacement by apartheid. Traditionally, they hunted wild animals and gathered plants for food and medicinal uses. Ms. Khamuxas’ birthplace within the park, at Ombika watering hole, is now a popular destination for tourists. In her new home, she plans to teach her grandchildren the traditional uses of trees and plants.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on return to anscestral lands

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Notes to broadcasters on foreign-owned farmland:

In November, the issue of foreign ownership of African farmland captured headlines around the world. At the time, it was reported that a South Korean company, Daewoo Logistics, planned to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land, with the intention of growing maize and palm for palm oil for shipment back to South Korea. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/24/madagascar-half-of-country%E2%80%99s-arable-land-leased-to-south-korea-for-99-years-financial-times-bbc/) It is now unclear whether the land deal between Daewoo and the Malagasy government will proceed. (http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1122-madagascar.html) Whatever the outcome, the proposed deal generated considerable public debate, much of it focusing on the issue of local and global food security. Other examples of African governments offering land to foreign investors have been brought to light.

The following articles shed more light on the Ethiopian land deals and the issue of foreign ownership of African farmland:
-This Arab News interview with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, reprinted in the Ethiopian Review, illustrates how dependence on oil imports may be influencing the Ethiopian government’s decision to lease farmland to Saudi Arabia: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/3072
-This Reuters news story suggests that Ethiopian reliance on Djibouti’s ports influenced Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles’ decision to give 7,000 hectares of land to Djiboutian President Omar Ismail Guelleh: http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=ethiopia_gives_djibouti_s_guelleh_farmla&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

These articles offer an overview and discussion on the issue of foreign corporations and governments seeking African land:

These articles explore issues related to African land being pursued for biofuel crops:

You may wish to investigate whether your national government has expressed interest in selling or leasing farmland to a foreign company or government. Questions to look at include:
-Who are the potential buyers or lease holders?
-What crops would be grown on the land?
-What would happen to the crop? (For example, would it be exported in raw form? Would any portion of the crop be processed locally? Would part of the crop be sold locally?)
-At what stage are the negotiations?
-If an agreement has been reached or proposed, what are the proposed terms of the agreement?
-What may happen to farmers or herders who live on or use the area?
-Are there any proposed benefits to locals (such as new roads or employment opportunities)?
-Are any groups advocating on behalf of locals in the negotiation process?

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Notes to broadcasters on return to ancestral lands:

This articlepresents the story of a group of people returning to ancestral lands from which they were displaced as a result of apartheid policies carried out during Namibia’s occupation by South African forces. It raises issues about land rights and land use that may be relevant to people in your listening area. Here are some ideas for related local stories:Land rights
-Are there peoples in your country who were displaced by former regimes and who are now resettled, or wish to resettle, back on ancestral lands?
-Are there national laws, policies and procedures to return land to those who have been displaced? If so, are they being implemented? If not, why not?
-If peoples have been resettled, through what process did they obtain the right to return to the land?
-What challenges did the people face after resettlement and how did they overcome them?
-If people have been resettled on farmland, do they have the skills and financial resources to make a living as farmers? Have any retraining programs been put in place? What national or local organizations – governmental or NGOs – are working on this issue?
-Are resettled people discarding traditional land uses in favour of new uses? If so, why?
-If legal proceedings are underway to resolve a land claim, what are some of the arguments being considered?

Traditional land use
-What are some of the traditional land uses in your area (such and hunting and gathering plants)?
-To what extent are these activities still carried out today?
-What benefits do people gain from these activities (such as food, medicine, income, retention of culture)?
-Do these activities ever come into conflict with modern land use? If so, how are conflicts resolved?

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April 1, 2009: Deadline to apply for human rights journalism fellowship

Women journalists around the world whose work focuses on human rights and social justice are invited to apply for the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship. Recipients spend nine months in a tailor-made academic research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During that time, Neuffer fellows may also work with The Boston Globe or The New York Times. The Neuffer Fellowship includes lodging, meals and health insurance. It does not provide a salary or honoraria.
Full-time, part-time, or freelance journalists working in print, broadcast, or Internet media are eligible. For more information, visit: http://www.iwmf.org/categorydetail.aspx?c=neuffer.

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Steps for story-based farm radio programming – Step 1: Topical thinking

As you’ll read below in the Farm Radio Action section, radio practitioners involved in the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) recently took part in a training session to hone their broadcasting skills. As part of this training, they reviewed eight steps for story-based farm radio programming. These steps will be reprinted in the Radio Resource section of upcoming FRWs. Here is Step 1: Topical thinking:

Topics don’t make for very interesting broadcasting. Good radio is more often found in people talking to people about people. So, you’ll want to break down a broad topic or issue to identify possible angles, and, from there, possible stories. “Free-thinking” (naming all the issues people associate with the main topic) can help you break down a topic into an interesting subject for a story. Try using a mind map, such as the one illustrated below.

Mind map on the subject of hybrid maize (Mangochi, Malawi)

Example: In Malawi, the AFRRI team used the mind map technique to break down the broad topic of “hybrid maize.” The mind map revealed many possible angles they could pursue for a single program, or a series of programs, on the topic. As you can see in the example below, many interesting story ideas arose from their mind map, including: access to hybrid seeds, “poundability,” and storage.

-Select a topic you want to use for a story and create your own mind map. What do you see? ?
-What might make for an interesting program? Explain why your subject might make an interesting story.

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AFRRI Update – Radio practitioners participate in training

As many of our regular readers know, the African Farm Radio Research Initiative is a Farm Radio International project supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This research initiative is aimed at assessing the effectiveness of farm radio in meeting the food security objectives of rural farming households in Africa. Five radio stations in each of five countries – Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Mali – are participating in AFRRI by testing various methods of communicating agricultural information to farmers.Seventy-five radio practitioners from AFRRI stations recently participated in intensive training sessions held in each of the AFRRI countries. Farm Radio International staff and guests from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation led participants through eight steps for producing effective storybased farm radio programs. During this hands-on training, country groups produced radio programs from material gathered during field visits and farmer interviews. The programs used a variety of formats, including panel discussions, vox pops, phone-in and phone-out shows. One group of participants asked farmers to “turn the tables” and interview extension officers. The programs were then played for communities, who then provided feedback on what they liked and disliked about the programs. We will share the results of AFRRI’s research in future editions of FRW.

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Late Blight of Potato

This week’s “script” (Click here to download it) introduces a new type of resource that Farm Radio International will offer to our partners through our regular script packages. It is the first Farm Radio Issue Pack, providing key information, program ideas, and links for research on a single issue of importance to small-scale farmers. This issue pack focuses on Late Blight of Potato (LBP), the most serious potato disease in the world. LPB is a major concern to small-scale farmers who rely on potatoes for food and income, because it can cause losses of up to 80 per cent of the crop. We would like to strongly encourage you to provide feedback on this new info pack. Your feedback will help us improve our programs, and serve you better. Please send feedback to: info@farmradio.org.

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