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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 #62

Welcome to all!

This week we welcome newest subscribers Sarah Grant, from Engineers Without Borders in Ghana; George Wambiya, from the Kenya Red Cross Society; N’Tossama Diarra, from the NGO AJE-Mali; Oskwuaku Afamefuna, from FACOGROUP in Nigeria; and Suleiman Matojo, from Radio West in Uganda. We hope you enjoy this week’s FRW and welcome your feedback at any time.

South Africa will hold its presidential election on Wednesday, April 22. Our top news story shows how women farm workers used the occasion to draw attention to the inequalities they face. Our second news story comes from Uganda, where farmers have been battling banana bacterial wilt and bunchy top virus. You’ll find out how a cell phone can hold the key to stopping these diseases.

Scrolling down to our Upcoming Events section, you’ll find information on award opportunities. This week’s Radio Resource Bank provides information on an exciting new way to connect online with other community media organizations.

As a final note, we apologize for FRW looking a little different this week. We are working through some technical difficulties that prevent us from publishing in our familiar format.

Happy reading!

-The FRW Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. South Africa: Women farm workers say ‘no justice, no vote’ (Inter Press Service)

2. Uganda: Text messages are new weapon in fight against banana disease (Inter Press Service)

Upcoming Events

April 30, 2009: Don’t miss this deadline to apply for awards

Radio Resource Bank

Community Media space on WikiEducator

Farm Radio Action

Planning an international seminar on the media’s role in agriculture and rural development (by Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator)

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Developing cotton organizations in Mali: From Village Association to cooperative

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South Africa: Women farm workers say ‘no justice, no vote’ (Inter Press Service)

When Diane Hlathe reaches to harvest fruit, she sometimes feels the pain of arthritis. But she also feels the sting of injustice.

Ms. Hlathe works on a farm in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. According to Ms. Lathe, farm owners get rich while farm workers get survival wages. And women farm workers make less than men. Ms. Hlathe’s wage does not cover her medical costs.

She wants the government to step in and correct this injustice. If the government doesn’t act, Ms. Hlathe says she won’t vote in this Wednesday’s presidential election.

Three weeks ago, women farm workers from three Cape provinces marched to the national parliament. Waving placards, they denounced the unequal treatment of women in agriculture – unequal payment for their work and unequal access to redistributed land.

Isa Jacobs is an organizer for the farm worker rights organization, Sikhula Sonke. She says local and national governments have rejected their appeals for better access to land.

Ms. Jacobs declares that women farm workers are not going to vote because the government has turned its back on them.

Maria Pieterson was one of the farm workers waving a placard in protest. She has been trying to obtain land through the redistribution program. According to her, local government has only stood in the way. She says this struggle is not only for her, but also for her children’s future.

The African National Congress was elected in 1994 with a promise to restore illegally expropriated land to black farmers. So far, only about five per cent of agricultural land has been transferred.

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Uganda: Text messages are new weapon in fight against banana disease (Inter Press Service)

The first symptoms of banana disease are subtle. Dark green streaks suggest that aphids have been crawling on the leaves, spreading bunchy top virus. Yellowing leaves are a sign that banana bacterial wilt has struck. When farmers see these signs, it means just one thing: they need to act fast or risk losing their entire crop.

Banana disease has been spreading across Uganda for the past seven years. Banana bunchy top virus stunts the growth of fruit while banana wilt causes it to rot.

Farmers in the Mbale and Mbusheni districts have seen the destruction these diseases can cause. But now they know how to stop banana disease in its tracks. And it’s all thanks to a project that uses new cell phone technology.

Whitney Gantt is a program officer with the Grameen Foundation. She explains that the project links farmers and community knowledge workers through text messages. Knowledge workers are locals who are trained to deliver information to farmers. They use their phones to type messages on how to combat disease. In fields across a district, farmers read the messages on their cell phone screens. If they have questions, they can text back and wait for a reply.

The effort has yielded impressive results. Farmers in Mbale and Mbusheni halted the spread of banana wilt and bunchy top virus. They are also armed with information on how to keep disease out of their fields in the future. They know where to buy disease-free planting material and how to discourage disease by caring for the soil.

Ms. Gantt says the Grameen Foundation will expand the project to other parts of Uganda.

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Notes to broadcasters on women’s protest:

This news story raises issues of gender equality, land rights, and farm workers’ rights that you may wish to explore through programs at your station. The following FRW stories and Farm Radio scripts provide more information and program ideas:

-“Women seek shared control of family assets” (FRW#51, January 2009):

Women fight for equal land rights” (FRW#50, January 2009)

Some progress towards defending farm workers’ rights” (FRW#33, August 2008)
-“Group advocates for women farmers’ rights” (FRW#17, April 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/04/07/1-nigeria-group-advocates-for-women-farmers%e2%80%99-rights-by-greg-modestus-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-nigeria/
-The Grim Fate of Farm Labourers in the Western Cape, South Africa (Package 81, Script 5, August 2007): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-5script_en.asp
-Women, Property, and Inheritance (Package 73, Script 4, January 2005): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/73-4script_en.asp

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Notes to broadcasters on text messaging:

The potential for cell phones to help farmers is just starting to be realized. The following FRW news stories show how cell phones are being used to share good agricultural practices and facilitate marketing. You may wish to research how farmers in your listening audience are using cell phones.

-“Dialling up farm info” (FRW#23, June 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/06/02/2-africa-dialling-up-farm-info-farm-radio-weekly-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/
-“Cell phones help farmers and traders do business more efficiently” (FRW#7, January 2008): (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/01/21/4-africa-cell-phones-help-farmers-and-traders-do-business-more-efficiently-farm-radio-weekly-africanewscom/

For more information on banana diseases, see the following Farm Radio International resources:

-“Farmers learn to fight banana bacterial wilt” (FRW#58, March 2009): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/03/16/3-uganda-farmers-learn-to-fight-banana-bacterial-wilt-new-vision-un-food-and-agriculture-organization/
-“Indigenous technology fights banana diseases” (FRW#42, November 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/03/kenya-indigenous-technology-fights-banana-diseases-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-mombasa-kenya/
– Farmers Try to Beat a Virulent Disease (Package 81, Script 6, August 2007):
– Managing the Banana Weevil (Package 72, Script 8
September 2004): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/72-8script_en.asp

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April 30, 2009: Don’t miss this deadline to apply for awards

CJFE International Press Freedom Awards

The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) awards this prize to two journalists or media organizations that have overcome enormous odds to report on human rights and have demonstrated a commitment to human rights by reporting without bias or discrimination. Each award consists of a framed plaque and cash prize of 3,000 Canadian dollars (about 2,500 America dollars or 1,900 Euros.)

For more information, go to: http://cjfe.org/releases/2009/11032009award.html.


John Humphrey Freedom Award

Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) presents this award to an organization or individual from any country in recognition of exceptional achievement in the promotion of human rights and democratic development. The award consists of a grant of 30,000 Canadian dollars (about 25,000 America dollars or 19,000 Euros) and a speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness of the recipient’s human rights work.

For more information, go to: http://www.dd-rd.ca/site/humphrey_award/index.php?lang=en.

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Community Media space on WikiEducator

The Community Media space on WikiEducator (http://www.wikieducator.org/Community_Media) brings together 40 organizations and 100 people from around the world working in community media. The space is for sharing ideas and resources on strengthening media organizations and using media for learning about farming, skills development, health, secondary schooling, etc.
WikiEducator (http://www.wikieducator.org) is an open source, global education project, in the top one per cent of the world’s websites, with more than 7,500 registered users and 7,500 unique visits per month.

How is it unique?
The Community Media space is a site for Community Media/Radio practitioners to collaboratively develop, share, remix and reuse Open Education Resources (OERs). These are materials directly relevant to the work done in communities around the world, and developed by people who are actually doing the work. The OERs include: radio scripts, case studies, training curricula and manuals, workshop materials, learning programmes, pilot projects, and more. It’s also a networking space, linking members and sharing community events.

Free Wiki Skills Training:
WikiEducator provides free wiki skills training on a monthly basis, through an innovative program funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). People who participate in the online course can receive certification. Learning outcomes focus on knowledge of the mediawiki language (or “syntax”) and practical applications which allow users to put their materials on the wiki. COL offers additional training support for special projects.

For more information or to join:
You can join the Community Media space by visiting: http://groups.google.com/group/community-media, and by following the instructions to “Join this group.” You will need to enter a Gmail email address. If you don’t have one, you can create one at https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount. Alternatively, you may email Ian Pringle at ipringle@col.org, and he will subscribe you, using your regular email address.

– Community Media space – http://www.wikieducator.org/Community_Media
-Community of Practice – http://groups.google.com/group/community-media
-Free Wiki Skills Training – http://www.wikieducator.org/Learning4Content

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Planning an international seminar on the media’s role in agriculture and rural development (by Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator)

Earlier this month, I joined peers from Africa, Europe, and the Pacific to plan an exciting international seminar that will take place from October 12-16, 2009. The event will take place in Brussels, bringing together more than 120 people involved in media and agriculture/rural development in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. The aim of the seminar will be to discuss successes and challenges, and determine how to increase the effectiveness of media in supporting agriculture and rural development.

Please stay tuned to Farm Radio Weekly for more information about this event. We will be announcing a call for presentation proposals in the coming weeks!

Participants in the steering committee for the upcoming international seminar are pictured below (from left to right): Blythe McKay, Development Communication Coordinator for Farm Radio International; Helène Michaud, Director of BARN; Abibatou Diop-Boaré, Associate Director of CIRES, Université Abidjan; Riccardo del Castello, Communication Officer for FAO, Research and Extension Division; Louis Amede, Secretary General of Fraternité Matin; Stephen Hazelman, Coordinator of SPC; Oumy Ndiaye, Head of Department for CTA; Sarah Bel, Communications Officer for Microinsurance Innovation Facility, International Labour Organization; Souleymane Ouattara, journalist for Jade Productions; José Filipe Fonseca, Senior Programme Coordinator for CTA; Helen Hambly Odame, Associate Professor at the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph; Paul Onana, intern at CTA; André Vugayabagabo, Senior Progamme Coordinator for CTA; and translator.

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Developing cotton organizations in Mali: From Village Association to cooperative

Many farmers across Africa have discovered the benefits of working together as part of a cooperative. In Mali, cotton farmers work in cooperatives to share useful information, gain access to credit, and improve marketing opportunities. This script provides details about how Malian cotton cooperatives are formed and how they operate.

This script, along with nine others on the work of farming, was generously supported by the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). The other scripts can be found online, as follows:

-Market News from MEGA FM (Package 83, Script 3, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-3script_en.asp
-Radio Spots: Protect Your Health And The Community From Agricultural Pesticides And Fertilizers (Package 83, Script 4, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-4script_en.asp
-Seeing The Difference: Project Makes Farming More Attractive By Improving Farming Methods And Income (Package 83, Script 5, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-5script_en.asp
-Cooperative Farm Labour: Many Hands Make Work Easier (Package 83, Script 6, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-6script_en.asp
-Forming An Effective Farmers’ Cooperative (Package 83, Script 7, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-7script_en.asp
-Farmers’ Cooperatives Help Zambian Farmers Survive And Thrive (Package 83, Script 8, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-8script_en.asp
-Financial Management For Smallholder Farmers (Package 83, Script 10, March 2008): http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-10script_en.asp
-Sekedo, a drought resistant sorghum for Karamoja (Package 84, Script 1, August 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-1script_en.asp
-Orange sweetpotatoes (Package 86, Script 12, December 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/86-12script_en.asp


Notes to broadcaster

Cotton growing, which is coordinated by the Compagnie Malienne de Développement de Textiles (CMDT), covers an area of more than one hundred and thirty thousand square kilometres, extending over the entire southern part of Mali. This area includes more than six thousand villages and more than three million people, which is more than one quarter of the country’s population. Cotton growing and marketing which are managed by the CMDT are a major part of agriculture in Mali. However, the weakness of the local textile processing industry means that most Malian cotton is exported as a raw material.

In 1974, the year the CMDT was created, cotton growers in Mali began to organize in order to take control of their own destiny. With the support of the CMDT, they established goals to increase cotton yields and to work towards the participation of farmers in all aspects of the cotton supply chain. It was a matter of increasing cotton growers’ involvement in developing seasonal production plans, managing farm credit, strengthening the trust and collaboration between growers and the CMDT, and transferring certain technical skills to the growers.

Through their involvement in literacy training programs initiated by the CMDT for farmers, village leaders suggested that Village Associations be established. These groups gave villages a single spokesperson in their dealings with the CMDT.

The Village Associations began to take on some functions that were formerly reserved for the CMDT’s technical officers. Among other duties, Village Associations took inventories of growing areas, supplied growers with seeds and other inputs, managed farm credit, and were responsible for the marketing of products and the literacy training of growers.

By 2000, almost all of the six thousand villages in the cotton growing region had their own Village Associations. At this time, the Village Associations were experiencing a growth crisis similar to that in the cotton growing industry. There was a need for a new, more flexible farmer organization with its own legal status. This change was carried out in two stages: first, the establishment of the cotton producers’ associations, and second, the establishment of the cotton growers’ cooperatives. This radio script shows this transformation and illustrates the advantages of these changes for cotton growers in Mali.

This script is a mini-drama, based on information gathered and interviews conducted in Mali. Thus, the characters do not represent real people, but are simply characters in a drama. You may choose to present this drama as it is, explaining that the information is from Mali. After you broadcast the mini-drama, a local farmer or cooperative expert could talk about farmers’ cooperative groups in your local area, and any national regulation of these groups. Or, you could simply use this script as a starting place to write a script about farmers’ cooperatives in your own area.


Increase in volume of theme music, then fade out

Host: Good morning dear listeners, and welcome to (insert name of program). Today, we present a program produced by the Mali Association pour le Développement Actif et Participatif or ADAP, which explains everything you need to know about cotton cooperatives in Mali. (Pause) The story takes place in Signè, a small village located about 20 kilometres from the town of Koutiala in the Sikasso region of southern Mali. A man by the name of Baba, a fairly influential personality in Signè and a member of a cotton growers’ cooperative, often goes to town on his motorcycle. He has been contacted by Moussa, a leader in a neighbouring village. Because of rumours, Moussa is confused and wants to better understand how a cooperative works. For example, what is the difference between a cooperative and the Village Association that everyone knows about?

Village noises – conversations, the rumble of vehicles, sounds of cattle and other animals. Fade out under the dialogue. The noise of a motorcycle increases, lasts a few seconds, then disappears when the engine stops.

Moussa: Baba, i ni sogoma (Good morning, Baba).

Baba: Umbaaa!!!! Musa ini sogoma. (Thank you. Good morning, Moussa).

Moussa: Baba, please explain something to me. I’ve just found out that you have left the Village Association in order to establish a cooperative. What’s that all about?

Baba: Nobody knows the problems with growing, selling and processing cotton better than small cotton growers. Do you remember the workshop on Village Associations that was held in Ségou in December 1998? The participants encouraged farmers in the cotton growing regions to refocus on the Village Association’s purpose of improving production and to be inspired by the Village Association model, as well as bringing more professionalism and independence to the groups. Here in Signè, after several meetings, we decided to form a cooperative. I am not alone. All the cotton growers in our Village Association came together to create this cotton and food crop producers’ cooperative.

Moussa: Can you explain it to me a little more?

Baba: Certainly. I’ll begin by reassuring you that the members of the new cooperative are all cotton producers from the Village Association. The difference is that we have created a better relationship with farmers who grow other food crops such as corn, millet and sorghum with cotton. As a result of problems in the Village Associations, we decided to create our own organization, which is this cooperative.

Moussa: How many cotton growers can join together to form a cotton growers cooperative?

Baba: You have the legal right to form a cooperative with as few as five members, but the more members a cooperative has, the stronger it will be. In some places, all the members of a Village Association joined together in a single cooperative because, according to the saying “kono kulu jèlen de bè bii fo” – united we stand, divided we fall!

Moussa: What steps have to be followed to create a cotton growers’ cooperative?

Baba: It’s really easy. It is simply a matter of holding a general meeting of the members of the cooperative to approve the statutes and by-laws, electing a managing body, and registering the cooperative with the authorities. Creating a cooperative is free. To belong to a cooperative, you must be of Malian nationality, agree to the management principles, share the same vision, and establish a decision-making strategy based on consensus and full participation.

Moussa: That does not sound difficult. Anything else?

Baba: Each member must buy a share in the cooperative. This helps build the group’s capital. The members of a cooperative must be from the same village. The cooperative can be made up only of men, only of women, or it can have a mixed membership. After drawing up and adopting the statutes and by-laws at a general assembly, these documents must be sent to the authorities. The authorities verify that they comply with legal requirements and then accredit the cooperative.

Moussa: Tell me, Baba, how does your cooperative work?

Baba: All cooperatives operate through a management body called the Board of Directors and a monitoring body called the Supervisory Board. The members of these Boards report to the annual general meeting with a policy report and a certified financial report.

Moussa: Perfect. That seems clear enough to me. What are the advantages to growers of being members of a cooperative?

Baba: There are many advantages. First of all, the cooperative can call on the services of various kinds of experts to help its members benefit from useful information and support. Cooperatives can support and advise their members in their dealings with technical and financial partners, including guaranteeing loans for them with the banks. Cooperatives also help their members access farm credit, help them purchase inputs and agricultural equipment, ensure the collection and marketing of cotton seed, and offer training in literacy. Cotton growers are now full players in the Malian cotton sector.

Moussa: Ah! Baba, cooperatives have benefits, but it seems to me that it’s complicated to establish them.

Baba: Don’t worry about it. There are NGOs that can help you set up your cooperative.

Moussa: Which ones?

Baba: We benefited from the support of ADAP, or the Association pour le Développement Actif et Participatif. Its contact information is: NGO ADAP: Tel/Fax: (00223) 20640 828 – e-mail: ongadap@yahoo.fr – Quartier Darsalan II – Rue 336 Porte 46 – Carré Gautier on the Ségou highway. It is based in Koutiala. ADAP’s agents visit us here in Signè several times a month. Perhaps with a little luck you will meet an agent today, because they announced this morning on Koutiala radio that ADAP’s head organizer is supposed to come here today.

Moussa: Well then, I will wait for him.

Baba: Let’s go to my place and listen to the radio while we’re waiting.

Increase in village noises and fade out


Host: That is how the cotton growers’ cooperatives in Mali operate. Do you have cooperatives in your region? How do they differ from the ones in Mali? Send your reactions to (Editor’s note: broadcasters should insert the contact information for the pertinent organizations in their region). Bye for now.


-Contributed by: Mr. Boureima Guindo, President of the Association pour le Développement Actif et Participatif (ADAP), an NGO.
-“Notes for broadcaster” and the “further information” section contributed by: Mme. Tata Coulibaly, head of CMDT’s Service Appui aux Organisations Paysannes, and Modibo G. Coulibaly, National Research Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali.
-Reviewed by: Mme. Tata Coulibaly.


Further information

The Association pour le Développement Actif et Participatif (ADAP) is a development organization in Mali that aims to improve the lives of rural people by helping them to form organizations or interest groups, re-establish their self-esteem, support them to select desired trades and better manage their activities, and help to finance development projects for the entire community. On the strength of this experience, ADAP was directed by the Programme d’Amélioration des Systèmes d’Exploitation (PASE) to help farmers in the Koutiala region organize themselves into cotton growers’ cooperatives. Among other strategies, ADAP has used local theatre performances to help teach the farmers about cooperatives.

The Compagnie malienne pour le développement des textiles (CMDT) is in charge of managing Mali’s cotton growing industry. The government of Mali owns 60% of the company’s capital of 32.5 billion CFA francs and a French partner owns 40%.

CMDT has several tasks: providing agricultural advice to cotton farmers; collecting, marketing, and ginning cottonseed; and overseeing the sale of cotton fibre to textile industries in Mali and for export.

It is organized into several departments, including the department in charge of supporting farmers’ organizations in the CMDT region. Through this department, the CMDT has helped farmers to organize themselves into Village Associations. As a result of the dynamic relationship between the farmers’ organizations and the CMDT, the first country doctor has come to N’Tossoni. This initiative began the establishment of community health centres in Mali.

Other results of the partnership between the CMDT and farmers’ organizations include technical training and mechanization of growers, literacy education, the management of village land, the improvement of the environment in rural communities, specific projects for women, and recognition of women in all development programs and projects. However, serious social crises are appearing in the Village Associations. The CMDT initiated workshops and studies to identify these crises. This led in December 1998 to a workshop in Ségou about Village Associations in order to identify and analyze the problems.

The report of this workshop defined several major problems, including:
– the regulatory vacuum and the lack of appropriate regulatory procedures;
– technical weaknesses related to the poor operation of village truck stops;
– the concentration of Village Association powers in the hands of a minority;
– the ambiguity of the Village Associations’ goals and mission;
– the involvement of certain extremely zealous CMDT agents in the management of Village Associations activities;
– the chaotic granting of credit; and
– growers’ over-indebtedness.

The first cotton growers’ associations were formed in 2001/2002. These pre-cooperative structures were quickly replaced by cotton growers’ cooperatives. In March 2007, there were 6,176 cotton growers’ cooperatives and 225 Village Associations in the CMDT region.

The most important goals assigned to cooperatives by their members are to:
– promote cotton growing in a sustainable and intensive way and look after members’ interests;
– promote access to farm credit for their members;
– facilitate the acquisition of agricultural inputs, and ensure the gathering and marketing of seed and cotton harvests;
– promote literacy education and professional training for their members.

In March 2007, the government of Mali transferred authority for procurement of cotton inputs, cereal grains and equipment to the Union Nationale des Sociétés Coopératives de Producteurs de Coton (UN-SCPC). This national umbrella organization represents cotton growers within the Interprofession du Coton.

In October 2008, cotton growers, under the leadership of UN-SCPC, held a national forum on improving cotton production in Mali. The growers hope that the recommendations and the commitments made will enable Mali to regain its status as a major African cotton producer.


Special thanks to the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) for supporting the production of this script.

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

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