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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 #61

Hello to all!

Our regular readers may notice that Farm Radio Weekly looks a little different this week. Unfortunately, we are still experiencing some technical difficulties, so we are brining you FRW in a simplified format.

We are delighted to see our FRW community grow each week with new subscribers from many different types of organizations. This week, we welcome new subscriber Ikapo Oba Petrous from the NGO Bolingo Ya Mboka, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you have a friend or colleague who may be interested in receiving FRW, please invite them to subscribe online, here: http://www.farmradio.org/english/partners/fr_weekly_subscribe.asp.

This week’s issue takes us all around the African continent. Our first story of the week, from Ethiopia, proves that farmers can take action on drought, one of the most complicated agricultural issues. The story explains how a Farmers’ Research Group in the Great Rift Valley has reduced temperature and increased humidity by strategically planting trees. (A related script is featured as the Script of the Week.) Turning to the other side of the continent, we feature a story from Togo about researchers finding a simple but effective cure for the intestinal diseases that are responsible for 50 per cent of poultry deaths. Our final story shifts to Madagascar and appears to mark the end of a proposed land deal that would have seen half of the country’s arable land leased to a foreign company.

For interesting opportunities to share your work and build upon your journalistic skills, take a look at the Upcoming Events and Radio Resource Bank sections.

Finally, we are pleased to feature Trans World Radio, an organization that has been using Farm Radio International materials since 1989, in our Farm Radio Action section. If you would like to tell the FRW community about your radio organization’s partnership with Farm Radio International, please post a comment on the FRW website, or e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@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) Ethiopia: Farmers group proves that planting trees can reduce temperatures (Daily Monitor)

2) Togo: Papaya seeds can cure chicken diseases (Spore Magazine)

3) Madagascar: New leader cancels South Korean land deal (Telegraph)

Upcoming Event:

Submit your work to the International Museum of Women

Radio Resource Bank:

Learn basic journalism techniques or advanced reporting skills with The News Manual

Farm Radio International Action:

Farm Radio helps Trans World Radio to serve farmers across Kenya (by Heather Miller)

Script of the Week:

Community Reforestation Brings Back the Rains in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana

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Ethiopia: Farmers group proves that planting trees can reduce temperatures (Daily Monitor)

Five years ago, the village of Anano was one of the hottest and driest places in Ethiopia. Droughts were frequent in this agricultural community located in the Great Rift Valley. Farmers ranked the inhospitable climate as the biggest challenge to production and productivity. But since then, the village has proven that sometimes farmers can control the weather.

Farmers in Anano have been planting trees on their homesteads. They are part of a Farmers Research Group investigating the effect of agroforestry on temperature. The results have been dramatic.

Meska Deressa is a researcher at the Adami Tulu Agricultural Research Centre, part of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. He says that when the project was launched, the temperature in Anano was 32 degrees Celsius. Five years later, the temperature inside the agroforestry area has dropped by nine degrees. Relative humidity has also improved – increasing by 40 per cent.

Altogether, more than 50 farmers from four districts in the East Shoa Zone of southern Ethiopia participated in the agroforestry project. Now that the farmers have proven the power of trees to improve climate, there are plans to scale up the project in other parts of the country.

The following links will take you to Farm Radio International scripts on:
-Trees and Forestry: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/forestry.asp
-Desertification: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/desertification.asp
-Climate Change: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/climate.asp
-Protection of the Environment: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/environment.asp

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Togo: Papaya seeds can cure chicken diseases (Spore Magazine)

Researchers have found a simple solution to a problem plaguing Togo’s chicken farmers. According to the country’s agronomic research institute, more than 50 per cent of poultry deaths are caused by intestinal parasites. Now the cure is as close as the nearest papaya tree.

The research institute found that powdered papaya seeds can treat both gastrointestinal worms and the parasite coccidioides. To cure worms, researchers gave chickens three grams of powdered papaya seeds for every kilogram of live weight. This dose was repeated for two days. Treating coccidioides requires a higher dose over a longer period of time. Chickens were cured with 3.5 grams of powdered papaya seeds for every kilogram of live weight, given for six consecutive days.

According to researchers, the papaya seed treatment is 100 per cent effective. Mathieu Koffi is a Togolese poultry farmer. He says the discovery makes him feel safer. The veterinary drugs normally used to treat these parasites are too expensive for most farmers and difficult to source locally.

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Madagascar: New leader cancels South Korean land deal (Telegraph)

Madagascar’s new leader has cancelled a deal to lease half of the country’s arable land. Backed by the military, Andry Rajoelina declared himself leader in mid-February. On March 18, one day after president Marc Ravalomanana’s forced resignation, Mr. Rajoelina announced that a deal with South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics was off.

Reports of an agreement between the Malagasy government and Daewoo surfaced last November. It was reported that Daewoo planned to lease 1.3 million hectares of Malagasy land for corn and oil palm production, to be shipped to South Korea.

The announcement sparked controversy and raised concerns about a new era of colonialism in Africa. According to Daewoo, negotiations ground to a halt after the Malagasy people responded negatively to media reports of the deal.

Mr. Rajoelina says the Malagasy constitution is clear on this matter: Madagascar’s land is not for sale or for rent.

Mr. Ravalomanana’s resignation and Mr. Rajoelina’s position as Madagascar’s leader remain controversial. The African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community both criticized Mr. Ravalomanan’s forced resignation, with the African Union suspending Madagascar’s membership on March 20.

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Notes to broadcasters on land deal:

In previous issues, FRW provided the following coverage of this issue:
-“Half of country’s arable land leased to South Korea for 99 years” (FRW#45, November 2008): 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/
-“Angola land deal announced; Madagascar land deal on hold” (FRW#52, January 2009): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/01/19/africa-angola-land-deal-announced-madagascar-land-deal-on-hold-financial-times-the-daily-telegraph/

You can find maps illustrating the countries which have leased farmland to foreign investors here:
-UNEP: http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/an-increasing-number-of-countries-are-leasing-land-abroad-to-sustain-and-secure-their-food-productio
-GRAIN (scroll down to see maps): http://www.grain.org/landgrab/

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 consider 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 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 local people in the negotiation process?

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Submit your work to the International Museum of Women

If you have produced a journalistic or creative work that reflects the value of women’s lives, the International Museum of Women (I.M.O.W.) welcomes your submission to its new project: Exhibiting You. The I.M.O.W. is a social change museum that aims to inspire global action, connect people across borders, and transform hearts and minds by amplifying the voices of women worldwide. Exhibiting You is an online project leading to an exhibit that will be launched in October 2009. Journalism in audio, video, photographic, and written form, as well as many forms of creative art, are accepted.

-For information on how to submit a piece of work, go to: http://www.imow.org/community/stories/submissions.
-To view the online project, go to: http://www.imow.org/community/stories/index.

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Learn basic journalism techniques or advanced reporting skills with The News Manual

The News Manual is a series of straightforward guides for journalists seeking to improve their skills. The first of three volumes concentrates on the basic skills of journalism. It begins by describing in simple terms what news is, then takes you step-by-step through the process of structuring and writing a news story. The second volume deals with more advanced reporting skills and how they are applied in a number of specialized areas. The third looks at major ethical issues in journalism and at laws that affect how journalists work.

All three volumes of The News Manual can be found online, as follows:
-Volume 1: Basic Techniques: http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume%201/volume1_00intro.htm
-Volume 2: Advanced Reporting: http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume%202/volume2_00intro.htm
-Volume 3: Ethics and the Law: http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume%203/volume3_00intro.htm

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Farm Radio helps Trans World Radio to serve farmers across Kenya (by Heather Miller)

David Angango wears a broad smile when he talks about Farm Radio. His sentences are often punctuated with laughter. Within a few minutes of meeting him, I am convinced that I have met Farm Radio’s biggest fan. But I soon learn that Mr. Angango’s enthusiasm spreads to all of his work with Trans World Radio-Kenya.

Mr. Angango began working with Trans World Radio in 1989. His task was to produce a program called Africa Challenge for shortwave broadcast in Swaziland and South Africa. His problem was lack of information on the program’s themes – agriculture, health, and the environment. The solution came from a somewhat surprising place: Canada. Mr. Angango explains that practical agricultural information was all but impossible to come by in Kenya, except for script packages that arrived regularly from the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network (now Farm Radio International). The scripts became an integral part of Africa Challenge for years to come.

By 2005, Mr. Angango had something to be even more excited about. Trans World Radio had been granted FM licenses for seven communities throughout Kenya and began broadcasting in six. With the expansion came a renewed focus for Trans World Radio-Kenya. Health became their top priority, followed by agriculture and family matters. Mr. Angango was now Programs Manager for Trans World Radio-Kenya. Unfortunately, he had lost touch with Developing Countries Farm Radio Network. But, since his office now had Internet access, he easily found Farm Radio online.

“Now we are able to get the scripts as soon as we want them – as soon as they are posted online,” Mr. Angango says. Improved access to materials is important, since his team now provides content for six stations that broadcast up to six hours of original content each day. He takes advantage of Farm Radio’s online materials, including scripts and Farm Radio Weekly, as they arrive. Mr. Angango downloads interesting materials, and then meets with producers to discuss how they can be incorporated into the station’s various programs.

From there, a team takes over. I visit the Trans World Radio office on a Friday afternoon, but there’s no sign of work winding down. In the recording studio, broadcasters are training to read scripts on the air. In the editing suite, hours of programming are being pieced together. In an office near Mr. Angango’s, CDs of recorded programs are being stuffed into courier envelopes to be sent to community stations.

I ask Mr. Angango how he knows it’s worthwhile, how he knows the programs are relevant to his listeners. His smile widens as he talks about some of the farmers who have responded to Trans World Radio’s agricultural programs. “We do get somebody [who] tells us, ‘what you said here was true, I did this, let me tell you about my experience,’” he says. He recalls a farmer who was losing his stored maize to weevils, and learned how to manage the pest through Farm Radio information broadcast on a Trans World Radio station. He flips through a number of letters, finding one from a farmer in a nearby village who learned that he could intercrop sweet potatoes and beans to improve his yields. Many of Farm Radio’s scripts address the problems and interests of farmers, he assures me.

Almost twenty years after he first started using Farm Radio’s resources, Mr. Angango has just one suggestion for others who work in radio: “If I talked to producers, I would say this is a resource you must [have]. If you have not subscribed, it would be good – you will learn something there, like I have done.”

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Community Reforestation Brings Back the Rains in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana

Weather patterns are a constant concern for farmers, whether they are hoping for rain to germinate their crops or sun so that they can harvest with ease. In recent years, climactic changes have led to higher temperatures and decreased humidity in many parts of Africa, causing problems for countless farmers. Our news story from Ethiopia and the following script from Ghana show that when the local climate is too hot and dry, farmers can do more than hope for better weather – they can take action. In this script, village chief Nana Ackesson describes the hardships that deforestation caused in his community, and how reforestation has improved the weather and restored the forest’s resources.

This script can be found online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/78-6script_en.asp.


Notes to Broadcaster

Disasters such as bush fires, floods, storms, and locust infestations destroy both plant and animal life. As in every other business, farmers need to understand how to revive the land and ensure food security when disasters strike.

The following programme is about a group of farmers in the Abinmma forest range in Ghana. These farmers started to reforest land which had been destroyed by bush fires, clearing land for farming, tree felling and overgrazing. The programme is based on the real experience of a group known as the Asubimma Forestry Group.

You may wish to use the ideas and themes in this script to produce other programmes, for example a radio drama or a discussion piece, to suit the needs and situation in your area.


Introductory music. Fade under host.

Host: Here in Asubimma, in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, bush fires and clearing of the forest for farming have destroyed most of the original forest cover. This has affected rainfall patterns, decreased food crop yields and lessened the yield of other products from the forest. This programme tells what happens when deforestation hurts a community. It also tells what communities can do to revive the land.

Fade up music, then out.

Host: Nana Ackesson is the chief of a village at the fringe of a forest reserve. He is meeting with his community of 600 people to talk about deforestation and the loss of forest products to the community. His people want to know what they can do to revive the forest, to bring it back to the way it used to be.

Birdsong and other forest sounds up, then under the Chief’s speech.

Nana Ackesson: Twenty years ago I used to go to the forest in the morning to pick snails, palm fruits, mushrooms and many other things. I would get rope to mend my house. I relied solely on what I could find in the forest. I set traps for rats, antelopes and other animals. The water pot in my house was full during the rainy season. Rainfall came early in February, and sometimes in January. All year round we were able to find green plants to supplement our diet.

We had nine months of rain and it sometimes rained during the dry season. Days were windy and nights were cool enough for sound sleep. We saw many kinds of butterflies, birds and other animals both day and night. Fruits were abundant.

We didn’t need to take water to the farm since there were so many streams and wells. We got fish from the streams. Working under the shade of the many trees on the farm was pleasant and increased our work output. We walked long distances without facing the scourge of the hot sun. The soil was soft. Uprooting yams, cassava, cocoyam, and ginger was not difficult.

The soft soil made the crops grow large. Maize and millet grew very tall and produced big fruits without fertilizer. Groundnuts and beans could be planted at any time of year. Life as a farmer here was a delight.

Forest sounds up for a few seconds then fade out.

But by five years ago, life had changed. When I went to the forest I didn’t find snails, mushrooms, and palm fruits. I had to walk long distances through the degraded forest to get few and weak ones. I didn’t find rope to mend my home.

I set traps but I didn’t get any animals. The pot in my house had only a little water in the rainy season. The rains started at the earliest in April and lasted for only five months. There was a severe dry season five months long. Green vegetables were almost non-existent. Our nutritious diet was gone.

Days were very hot and sunny without wind to cool us. Nights were also hot and sleeping was difficult. I didn’t see many animals. Fruits that served as food when we went to the farm were also gone. We needed to take food to the farm. We had to carry water in a pot to the farm because the streams had all dried up. The fish we used to get from the streams were all gone.

The soil had become hard so vegetables were small. Maize didn’t grow very tall and fruits were getting smaller and smaller. Fertilizers were used extensively and pests were rife. Rainfall was very inconsistent. (Pause) Life as a farmer was very risky.

Forest sounds slowly fade up, hold a few seconds, then under.

I want to tell you something. For the past five years, the rainfall patterns have been changing again. My pot is now full sometimes.

Do you know why? I will tell you. Because of the trees we have planted over the past few years. The wind has started to blow again and nights are now cool. The birds have started coming back and the streams have started to flow again. The crops have begun to grow bigger. The forest officers tell me that this is due to the changing patterns of the rains.

They say we should plant more trees this year and stop burning the bush. Then the snails, mushrooms, rats, and squirrels will come back. The green plants will be there for us and the rains will come at the right time for our planting season.

(Pause) So I think we must plant more trees. What do you think? Do you agree with my suggestion?

Community: Yes, we will help ourselves by restoring the forest. We understand that depleting the forest is causing all those problems. If it will solve our problems, we will grow more trees and stop burning the bushes.

Fade up music, then out.



Contributed by: Kwabena Agyei, Classic FM, Techiman, Ghana.
Reviewed by: Judith de Wolf, International Centre for Research on Agroforestry, Malawi.

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