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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 #6

Notes to broadcasters on banana diseases:

According to a recent press release by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, banana bacterial wilt and banana bunchy top disease have destroyed up to 90% of banana crops in areas of Uganda affected by the diseases. These viral diseases have spread to more than half of the banana-growing regions in sub-Saharan Africa, making them a serious threat to all banana producers.

More information on what farmers can do to stop the spread of these banana diseases can be found in the following Farm Radio International scripts and FRW news stories:

Farmers try to beat a virulent disease (Package 81, Script 6, August 2007)
Recommendations for managing bacterial wilt in bananas for Eastern Africa (Package 71, Script 2, June 2004)
-“Kenya: Indigenous technology fights banana diseases” (FRW #42, November 2008)

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Notes to Broadcasters

Each week, we use the Notes to Broadcasters section of FRW to share additional information and resources that we come across while researching the African Farm News in Review. We will also pass along ideas on how you could further explore issues from the news at your radio organization. If you have an idea or resource related to any of this week’s news stories, we invite you to share it by posting a comment on FRW’s website at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/.

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Hello to all!

Welcome to Issue 6 of Farm Radio Weekly! We thank you all for becoming part of the FRW community and hope that you are finding our news stories and resources useful. A special thanks goes out those FRW subscribers who have provided us with feedback in our first weeks of operation. We are listening and working to improve FRW to meet your needs!

Aaron Kah from Radio Aabakwa FM in Bamenda, Cameroon, wrote: “The content is very relevant to agriculture in Africa, though the practices may slightly differ.… Please get stories from the remote areas of Africa, and more from the farmers, as testimonies.” We are working to get more testimonies directly from farmers affected by issues in the news. This week we have a special report from Farm Radio Weekly correspondent Idy Sy Diop in Dakar, Senegal, who spoke with farmers about their concerns over the proposed Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe.

Greg Modes Tus from the African Radio Drama Association, based in Lagos, Nigeria, said that this new DCFRN service is “creating awareness on the latest agricultural and climate change situation across the continent of Africa, in particular, and the world in general.” In the coming weeks and months, we will bring you more stories about how farmers are affected by – and coping with – climate change. Please take a moment to answer the poll on FRW’s website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/): “Which issues related to agriculture and climate change interest your listeners the most?” This will help us decide which issues to research and feature in upcoming editions.

We hope to hear from more of you so that we can continue to improve FRW! We would love to hear how you are using Farm Radio Weekly at your radio organization, and to receive your ideas for stories and resources to include in future issues. Please remember that you can always contact us by e-mail at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

Have a great week!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Senegal: Farmers fear Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe threaten their livelihoods (by Idy Sy Diop, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Dakar)

2. Nigeria: Farmers test best millet varieties for dry conditions (allAfrica.com)

3. Burundi: Toxic pesticides threaten health and environment (Syfia Grands Lacs)

4. Uganda: Groundnut sheller saves time, boosts profits (New Vision and Agroinnovations Podcast)

Upcoming Events

August 11-15, 2008: OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation

Radio Resource Bank

Using Radio to Help Communities Talk

DCFRN Action

FRW Plans Series on Conflict and Food

DCFRN Script of the Week

Comparing Crop Varieties: Start Small, Go Slowly

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African Farm News in Review

You are welcome to use the news stories below in any way that suits your radio organization. You may wish to read one or more of the news stories directly onto the air, adapt them to be more relevant to your audience, or simply use them as ideas for news stories to research locally. However you use the African Farm News in Review, we would like to know! Please post a comment on FRW’s online site or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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1. Senegal: Farmers fear Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe threaten their livelihoods

by: Idy Sy Diop, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Dakar

Senegal is engaged in a national campaign against the Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, proposed by Europe to Africa. Backed by the national government, which refused to sign onto the EPAs by the December 31, 2007 deadline, several Senegalese organizations took to the streets on January 9 to protest.

Amongst the leaders of the anti-EPA fight are farmers, who feel foreign agricultural products will threaten local markets.

Aziz Badji is a farmer in Ziguinchor in the south of Senegal, a region rich in agriculture due to its fertile soils and rainy climate. Like many other farmers, Mr. Badji believes the EPAs are a serious threat to the fruit and rice he grows.

For example, he says that even without EPAs, very little of his mango production can access European markets. However, Mr. Badji says he faces stiff competition from imported European fruit.

The campaigners say the EPAs will give European farmers free access to African markets and overwhelm local production. In the case of Senegal, farmers say the list of threatened produce is long, and includes many varieties of vegetables, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, dairy products, chicken, red meat, and rice.

Baba Ngom is the Secretary General of the Cadre national de Concertation des Ruraux, a national coalition of organizations from rural areas that is also fighting the EPAs. Mr. Ngom explained that while Europe’s farming population is small, it has huge means, better equipment, and benefits from large subsidies. No Senegalese farmer can compete with this, he said. With a real farmer’s sense of humour, Mr. Ngom told Farm Radio Weekly that there can’t be a fair race between a jumping frog and a motorbike – the result is known in advance.

El Hadji Malick Sow raises cattle in Keur Massar, on the outskirts of Dakar. He has the same worries about the threat of meat and dairy imports from Europe. However, he also admits that EPAs may help lower customs taxes and therefore keep prices of certain farm equipment low.

Mamadou Ba raised the same concerns. He grows onions in the Niayes region, near Dakar, which has a high concentration of vegetable and fruit farms. The area produces about 35,000 tons of onions – about one third of Senegal’s annual production.

Mr. Ba complains that Europeans are already competing in this market, and local growers may have to start reducing their production. With EPAs, it will be much worse, he argues.

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2. Nigeria: Farmers test best millet varieties for dry conditions (allAfrica.com)

Farmers in Nigeria’s northern Katsina State have been testing improved millet varieties from across Africa to see which grow best in dry conditions.
Farmers in 40 villages were asked by the Katsina State government to test the new seed varieties. In Sabon Gari Ganu village, for example, farmers divided their plots into 56 rows, which they planted with improved seeds gathered from 16 African countries. They also tried different methods of fertilization and weed control.
The farmers watched through the growing season and found that the new varieties produced higher yields. Later, the farmers – both men and women – voted on which seed varieties they preferred. In the end, four seed varieties were chosen.
A. Kabir R. Charanchi is a chief agricultural officer for the state government. He says the preferred seeds will be multiplied and intensively promoted across the state.
Abdul Malik is a local farmer. He says the improved seeds allowed him to increase his millet production by more than 50 per cent. With the extra income, he was able to purchase two soil-tilling machines.

Sitting on the border with Niger, Katsina State has some of the harshest growing conditions in the country. Climate change has led to higher temperatures and erratic rainfall, and drought is common. Overcultivation has depleted soils, contributing to crop failure, and in the worst cases, desertification.

Dependence on chemical fertilizer is also a problem. The government has a program to provide farmers with fertilizer, but last year, fewer than half received their allotment.

Crops frequently fail in northern communities, where most people make their living on small plots of land. The Katsina State government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development co-funded the seed testing project to help farmers improve yields.

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3. Burundi: Toxic pesticides threaten health and environment (Syfia Grands Lacs)

Nestor Ntangorane is a Burundian farmer. He says that toxic chemicals such as DDT have always helped him to protect his crops and calls those people who want to ban DDT his enemies.

Many small-scale farmers in Burundi use highly toxic pesticides to protect their corn, bean, and pea harvests from weevils, and to treat cotton and coffee plantations. Some view moves by the Burundi government and United Nations to stop the use of DDT and other highly toxic pesticides as a threat to their livelihoods.

Burundi has signed an international treaty to protect human health and the environment from pesticides known as persistent organic pollutants – chemicals that remain in the environment for long periods, accumulate in human and animal tissue, and travel long distances from their original point of use. The government banned the use of DDT in 1984.

However, Burundi still has no laws regulating pesticide sale. Toxic pesticides like DDT are sold in secret locations at the central market in the capital city of Bujumbura.

Amissi Hamimou is an expert with Burundi’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. He says that small-scale farmers choose more toxic pesticides because they are cheaper than modern pesticides that are less dangerous.

L’association burundaise des consommateurs, a Burundian consumers group, is demanding the withdrawal of these products from the black market and the promotion of less toxic pesticides. Burundi’s director of public health has recommended that farmers use pyrethrum, a synthetic version of a chemical naturally produced by some kinds of chrysanthemum flowers.

Salvador Kaboneka is an agronomist with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. He says the FAO will launch a public awareness campaign about the benefits of less-toxic pesticides and work to discourage merchants who sell DDT.

DDT is among the 12 chemicals listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which came into force in 2004.

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4. Uganda: Groundnut sheller saves time, boosts profits (New Vision and Agroinnovations Podcast)

A hand-cranked machine that shells groundnuts is becoming available to small-scale farmers in Uganda. The Universal Nut Sheller is thought to be the first mechanical groundnut crusher simple and affordable enough to be used by small farmers. It does not need any electricity or fuel to operate.Groundnuts are an important source of food and income for many Ugandan families – but shelling groundnuts by hand is a long and tedious process, usually done by women. It is hard on their hands and can cause joint problems over time.

Five women’s farmer groups in remote villages of Iganga District in eastern Uganda recently bought the machines. Each group will be able to shell as much as 120 kilograms of groundnuts per hour with their new machine.

Noah Isanga is the director of Women Alliance and Children Affairs, a group that helped the farmers buy the machines. He explained that farmers earn more money by shelling groundnuts in their community rather than transporting them to a shelling centre.

The Universal Nut Sheller was designed by a Canadian engineer who worked in Mali with the Peace Corps. Originally, aid agencies bought the shellers from an American NGO called the Full Belly Project, and then gave them to farmers in West Africa and Uganda.

But last year, three Ugandan metal workers were taught how to manufacture the shellers, which are constructed out of metal and concrete. They now run a small business making the machines, which they sell for approximately 90 US dollars, or 50 Euros, each.

Henry Masagazi Kato is the executive director of Full Belly Uganda. He explained that the machines are designed to shell groundnuts soon after harvest. Farmers have found that they can be modified to shell other products, including wet coffee berries, shea nuts, neem nuts, and jatropha nuts.

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Notes to Broadcasters

Each week, we use the Notes to Broadcasters section of FRW to share additional information and resources that we come across while researching the African Farm News in Review. We will also pass along ideas on how you could further explore issues from the news at your radio organization. If you have an idea or resource related to any of this week’s news stories, we invite you to share it by posting a comment on FRW’s website at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/.

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Notes to Broadcasters on Economic Parternship Agreements:

Towards the end of 2007, as the December 31 deadline for signing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) loomed, there were many media reports about the trade deals and reasons for and against African countries signing on. As many of you know, the EPAs are a successor to the Lomé Convention – an aid and trade deal signed by 71 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries and Europe in 1975. The Lomé Convention allowed ACP countries duty-free access to European markets, except on a select number of agricultural products, such as sugar and beef, which competed with European producers. But in 2000, the Cotonou Agreement established a framework for EPAs with individual countries, which were to take effect in 2008. EPAs would open ACP country markets to European products.

Many African civil society organizations have voiced major concerns about EPAs and the principle of free trade between Africa and Europe that EPAs promote. In December, the Communauté économique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest and Mauritania declared that they would not meet the December 31 deadline, but would negotiate with the European Union over the next 18 months for a “real instrument for growth and development.” Meanwhile, a number of eastern and southern African countries, as well as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, chose to sign interim EPAs, with special provisions to protect certain products from European competition.

As our featured news story by Idy Sy Diop shows, Senegalese farmers worry that EPAs would allow an influx of low-cost European products to compete with their own produce. You may wish to research the situation in your own country and broadcast area:
-Did your government sign an EPA agreement prior to the December 31 deadline?
-If so, which local products were given special protection and what does that protection entail? Which local products are vulnerable to European competition?
-If not, what are the repercussions for local producers who export to Europe? Does your government plan to negotiate a deal with Europe?
-What do farmers in your area know about EPAs, and what do they need to know?
-What are individual farmers and farmers’ associations doing to cope with the changing trade environment?
Two links that you might find interesting are:
-The European Union’s January 11 press release on the status of the EPAs (includes a list of countries that have signed EPAs and the provisions of these agreements): http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/15&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
-The video for Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi’s anti-EPA song, “On signe pas!”, which includes lyrics in French, English, and Wolof: http://www.awadimusic.com/

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Notes to Broadcasters on Millet testing:

It’s likely that most farmers have had some experience with seed testing – whether simply comparing their crops to those of their neighbours or perhaps trying a new variety promoted by an agricultural extension officer. As this story shows, tests can help farmers discover which seeds grow better in their particular climatic conditions. In the case of Katsina State farmers, the introduction of new millet varieties may help them cope with climate change and soil depletion, which were causing crop failure.

You may consider exploring this issue further with the following types of radio shows:
-An in-studio discussion with farmers’ association leaders and agricultural extension officers on the subject of seed varieties that produce best in your area.
-A call-in show that asks local farmers to describe their experiences with seed testing or improved seeds.

You may also wish to refer to the following DCFRN resources:
-This week’s Script of the Week, from DCFRN Package 68, Script 8 (September 2003), which offers some suggestions on how to compare the performance of different varieties of seeds or plants: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/68-8script_en.asp
-A story from Issue 2 of Farm Radio Weekly about how some farmers are re-discovering traditional seed varieties that are well-adapted to their local climate: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2007/12/10/1-africa-re-discovery-of-traditional-crops-helps-farmers-cope-with-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly/

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Notes to Broadcasters on toxic pesticides:

As this story mentions, many farmers still use highly toxic chemicals such as DDT that they purchase on the black market, despite an international convention against their use. These farmers may not know about less toxic pesticides, or may not be able to afford them – or they simply may not know how dangerous DDT can be.

DDT, or Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, is one of the 12 persistent organic pollutants banned or severely restricted under the Stockholm Treaty. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), DDT can remain in the environment long after it is applied. Over time, DDT and its by-products can accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and can contaminate the food chain. Although the WHO does not believe that DDT has a long-term impact on human health, more and more data suggests that the pesticide may disrupt endocrine and reproductive functions. Countries that have ratified the Convention may continue to use DDT to control mosquitoes that spread malaria, provided that they follow WHO guidelines which stipulate safe and effective application methods. DDT is not a permanent solution to control malaria, thus the Convention encourages ratifying countries to consider safe and affordable alternatives to DDT.

You may wish to find out what your audience thinks about pesticide use by asking questions such as:
-What sorts of pesticides do farmers in your area use to protect their crops? Do they use methods other than pesticide application to manage pests?
-Have any farmers in your area noted negative health or environmental effects that they believe were caused by pesticide use? If so, what did they do to improve the situation?

You may also wish to refer to the following DCFRN scripts on the subject of the harmful effects of some pesticides and the alternatives to chemical pesticides:
Pesticide Safety: Radio Spots (Package 50, Script 9, November 1998)
Radio Spots: Can you control pests without pesticides? (Package 72, Script 3, September 2004)
Biological pest control: Reduce pests naturally (Package 36, Script 6, April 1995)

You may also find these web resources useful:
-An easy-to-read guide to the international conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes: http://www.pic.int/ResourceKit/A_General%20information/d.3Convention%20brochure/UNEP_threeConventions_engV4.pdf
-A list of the 12 persistent organic pollutants named in the Stockholm Convention: http://www.pops.int/documents/pops/default.htm

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Notes to Broadcasters on Universal Nut Shellers:

Whether preventing post-harvest losses, preparing crops for the market, or cooking meals, women are often responsible for processing harvests. These labour intensive processes – like shelling groundnuts – are essential to turning crops into food and income for rural families. But as this story demonstrates, the work can sometimes be made easier when women pool their resources and try new processing methods or technologies.

You may consider researching a story about women and post-harvest processing in your area, by seeking to answer questions such as:
-What sorts of post-harvest food processing work are commonly carried out by women in your area?
-Has anyone in your area developed a new technology or production process to make processing more efficient? Have agriculture extension workers or NGOs introduced any such technologies or methods to your area; if so, have farmers found them useful?
-In what ways do women on your area work together to make food processing more efficient?

You may also consider using one of these scripts from DCFRN’s most recent package, on women working together to process crops:
Fonio (Package 82, Script 6 November 2007) describes how women combine their time, money, and cooking knowledge to prepare nutritious meals
Rural women process and sell shea butter (Package 82, Script 8, November 2007) describes how a women’s association shares the time-consuming work of turning shea nuts into shea butter

These scripts discuss issues of appropriate technology and women:
Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers (Package 82, Script 7
November 2007)
Improved cookstoves make life easier for women (Package 73, Script 2, January 2005)

Finally, you can find video and audio clips on the Universal Nut Sheller and the Full Belly Project here:
-Video (9 minutes):-Audio (28 minutes):

The Full Belly Project

Upcoming Events

This section is a place to share information about events and training opportunities related to agriculture, rural development, radio broadcasting, or other topics of interest. If you know of an event or training opportunity that may interest other radio organizations, please post a comment on FRW’s website http://weekly.farmradio.org/ or e-mail the details to farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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August 11-15, 2008: OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation

OURMedia has issued a Call for Proposals for a conference, community radio forum, and festival that will be held in Accra, Ghana, this August 11-15. OURMedia describes itself as a global network with the goal of facilitating long-term dialogue between academics, activists, practitioners, and policy experts around citizens’ media initiatives. The theme of OURMedia7 is Identity, Inclusion, Innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalized World. Organizers say that the OURMedia 7 event will explore the relationship between the dimensions of alternative communication and dominant patterns of communications, and is expected to offer new perspectives and highlight effective experiences with respect to communication in relation to development, education, human rights, peace building, and conflict resolution.

Presentations to the conference, forum, and festival may be made in a variety of forms, including creative writing, performance, research or theoretical paper, and symbolic, visual, or other media such as cartoons and street art. The deadline for submitting a proposal for a presentation to OurMedia7 is February 29, 2008. Information on OURMedia 7 and how to submit a proposal can be found here: our_media71-2.doc
OURMedia’s website is: http://www.ourmedianet.org/

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Radio Resource Bank

When we hear about a resource that may help you in your radio work, we will post it here in the Radio Resource Bank. This is a great place to share your best tips and favourite online resources with the FRW community. Please post a comment on the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/), or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we’ll share it in the next Radio Resource Bank.

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Using Radio to Help Communities Talk

A Ugandan NGO called the Straight Talk Foundation has created a guide to using radio to encourage community dialogue. The manual includes advice on all stages of producing a radio show – from preparing to go into the field, through interviewing, writing a script, and using voice and sound clips. Practical tips on using audio equipment and working with community members are included. The manual can be downloaded here: http://www.straight-talk.or.ug/downloads/Radiocommunitydialogue.pdf .

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DCFRN Action

This section is devoted to news about DCFRN and the many partners in our network. We look forward to hearing news about your radio organization so that we can share it with the FRW community! If you would like to tell us about a new program, successful event, or any other news about your organization, please post a comment on the FRW website, or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we will post your story in the next issue.

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FRW Plans Series on Conflict and Food

Farm Radio Weekly plans a series of feature articles to explore the ways in which conflict affects food production and access to food. In recent weeks, there have been many news reports about the post-election violence in Kenya and its impact on the region. We want to discuss how food is affected by this conflict, as well as other ongoing conflicts. We will also explore the challenges of farmers who return to their fields following a conflict. The first instalment of this four-part series will be featured in next week’s Farm Radio Weekly (Issue 7). If you would like to share the experiences of farmers in your area coping with conflict, or the after effects of conflict, please e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org to discuss your ideas.

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