Logo: Farm Radio Weekly

1404 Scott Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4M8

Tel: 613-761-3650
Fax: 613-798-0990
Toll-Free: 1-888-773-7717
Email: info@farmradio.org
Web Site: http://farmradio.org/

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 #63

Hello to all!

This week, we welcome two new subscribers from the NGO community – Donne Danso, from Community Aid International, in Ghana, and Yacouba Ballo, from the NGO AMASSA Afrique Verte Mali. We invite you, and all of our readers, to participate in the FRW community by posting your thoughts on this week’s news stories. Simply visit the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/) and click on the « Post a Comment » link to discuss any story that captures your interest.

We hope that this week’s news stories will become fodder for discussion. They deal with two issues of great interest to farmers and non-farmers alike – genetically-modified (GM) crops and seed patenting.

Our first story comes from South Africa, where 280 farmers who planted genetically modified (GM) maize seeds were shocked to see the results. Our second story turns to West Africa, where small-scale farmers are fighting to maintain control over a traditional onion variety worth billions of CFA (millions of American dollars or Euros) annually.

This week’s Script of the Week provides a sneak peek at Farm Radio Intenrational’s latest script package, which looks at a variety of environmental topics. For more support in reporting on environmental issues, turn to the Radio Resource Bank, where you’ll find links to a Media Toolkit on communicating climate change research.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

Post your comment »

In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review
1. South Africa: GM crop problems called ‘failure of biotechnology’ (Digital Journal, Cape Times, Biotech Kenya)

2. West Africa: Farmers and civil society say ‘no’ to seed privatization (SYFIA, Farm Radio Weekly)

Upcoming Events

Don’t miss the May 1 2009 deadline to apply for fellowships

Radio Resource Bank

PANOS Media Toolkit on communicating climate change research

Farm Radio Action

Farm Radio International calls on Canadian government to support long-term food security

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Paying Farmers for Environmental Services


Post your comment »

1. South Africa: GM crop problems called ‘failure of biotechnology’ (Digital Journal, Cape Times, Biotech Kenya)

Kobus van Coller’s maize looked lush and healthy on the outside. The stalks grew tall and the cobs seemed full. But when he opened the cob leaves he was in for a surprise – there was no corn inside.
Mr. van Coller wasn’t alone in his discovery. Some 280 South African farmers had the same problem. Their maize produced few if any kernels of corn.
According to some, such crop failures should be expected. That’s because they were all grown with genetically modified, or GM, seeds.

Mariam Mayet is the director of the African Centre for Biosafety. Her group has been raising concerns about genetically modified crops for several years. Ms. Mayet declares the recent crop failures the most significant development in the debate over GM food. She says biotechnology has failed.

The seeds in question were developed by biotech giant Monsanto. They were genetically altered to resist weed killers and produce high yields.

Ms. Mayet is calling for the South African government to ban all GM foods and investigate the crop failures.
Monsanto maintains that the maize seeds failed due to a simple labratory error. In a statement, Monsanto said the seeds were underfertilized and produced less pollen than expected.

More than 80,000 hectares of maize were affected. Monsanto is compensating farmers who lost crops.
Despite the recent problems, farmers told reporters that they will continue to grow GM seeds. Nico Hawkins is spokesperson for the local farmers’ cooperative, Grains-SA. His cooperative is assessing maize losses. Mr. Hawkins says they still support any technology that boosts maize production.

South Africa is one of a handful of countries that allows GM crops. Some other African countries are considering the technology. Kenya recently began trials of a maize variety genetically altered to resist stem borers.

1 Comment - Post your comment »

2. West Africa: Farmers and civil society say ‘no’ to seed privatization (SYFIA, Farm Radio Weekly)

On a farm in Senegal, Lamine Biaye sows Violet de Galmi. In just two weeks, it will be time to harvest the onions. With a flat, thick bulb and a pale purple colour, the variety will be obvious. Violet de Galmi are a distinctive variety that originates in the Nigerien village of Galmi. For centuries, Nigerien farmers shared their traditional seeds with other farmers in West Africa, until the variety eventually made its way to Mr.Biaye’s farm.Violet de Galmi is a cash crop of great importance to West Africa’s small scale farmers. Trade in the onion totaled almost 15 billion CFA francs (about 30 million American dollars or 23 million Euros) last year.

At an agricultural fair held in Djimini, Senegal, last month, West African farmers were shocked to learn that a Senegalese seed company is trying to patent this traditional seed.

Three years ago, a Senegalese company called Tropicasem applied for a patent from the African Intellectual Property Oganization. If their application is accepted, farmers could lose their right to save and use Violet de Galmi seeds. They may risk paying the company a penalty if they do continue to use them.

In addition to being a farmer, Mr. Biaye is president of the Senegalese Association For Farmers of Peasant Seeds. He finds it outrageous that Tropicasem made the patent application without first consulting farmers.

Jeanne Zoundjihékpon is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage, or COPAGEN. She says that COPAGEN Niger is calling on the Nigerien government to prepare a response to Tropicasem’s patent application before the deadline this August. COPAGEN will meet with the secretariat of the African Intellectual Property Association next month in Cameroon,speaking on behalf of Africa’s communities and small scale farmers.

Mr. Biaye promises that farmers and civil society organizations will do everything they can to fight Tropicasem’s patent application. But even if the company is granted a patent, Mr. Biaye insists that farmers won’t stop growing Violet de Galmi seeds.

Mr. Biaye states that no African seed varieties are safe. He notes that patent applications have been filed for okra, sesame, cotton, and sorghum.

Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters on GM crop failure:

This news story has attracted worldwide attention due to its potential implications for the safety and usefulness of genetically modified (GM) crops. A New Zealand author wrote that farmers should take it as a warning not to get involved with GM seeds (http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?l=1&t=0&id=35742), while a biotechnology consultant produced an article maintaining that genetic modification had nothing to do with the recent crop failure (http://www.molplantbreed.org/News/news_view.asp?newsID=445).
At your radio station, it could serve as a launching point for an on-air discussion about the value and risks of GM crops. If your country is considering legislation to allow GM crop production, you could invite advocates for and against to GM crops to an on-air debate. Or, if GM crops are being tested or used in your country, try to interview farmers who have used GM crops about their experience. Be sure to allow time for farmers from your listening audience to call in and share their views.
The following resources provide more information on the topic:
-A report by the NGO GRAIN on the consequences of genetically modified crops for small-scale African farmers: http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=12
The new weapons of genetic engineering:
-A policy paper written by the International Food Policy Research Institute,
Governing the GM Crop Revolution: Policy Choices for Developing Countries:
These links will connect you with organizations mentioned in this article:
-African Centre for Biosafety: http://www.biosafetyafrica.net/index.html/
-Monsanto: http://www.monsanto.com/

Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters on traditional seeds:

As this news story demonstrates, the interests of small scale farmers differ greatly from the interests of seed companies when it comes to traditional seed varieties. The following press release by COPAGEN Niger in response to Tropicasem’s patent application (dated April 16, 2009 and available in French only) further highlights these differences: http://www.semencespaysannes.org/coalition_protectio_patrimoine_genetique_afri_115-actu_73.php.

The United Nations has declared May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity.
-To learn more about this designated day, visit: http://www.cbd.int/idb/.
-To read the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, go to: http://www.cbd.int/convention/convention.shtml

The following documents were prepared by advocacy organizations and discuss the issues of biosecurity and seed patents:
– From Amis de le Terre, Brevets sur les semences, paysans sous dépendance (in French only): http://www.amisdelaterre.org/Brevets-sur-les-semences-paysans.html
-From GRAIN, Semences paysannes fondement de la souveraineté alimentaire en Afrique de l’Ouest (in French only): http://www.grain.org/semences/?id=73

The following Farm Radio International scripts discuss the importance of community seed banks:
Starting a community seed bank (Package 56, Script 6, July 2000)
Collecting seeds for a community seed bank (Package 56, Script 7, July 2000)
Starting a community seed bank: Part 1 – A good idea? (Package 33, Script 3, July 1994)
Starting a community seed bank: Part 2 – Organizing workers, collecting seed (Package 33, Script 4, July 1994)
Starting a community seed bank: Part 3 – Keeping records, storing seeds (Package 33, Script 5, July 1994)
Starting a community seed bank: Part 4 – Planting and restocking the seed (Package 33, Script 6, July 1994)

Finally, here are some questions that you can pose to your listeners in order to learn how farmers in your region use and manage traditional seeds:
-What traditional seed varieties do you use on your farm?
-How did you obtain these traditional seeds?
-How do these seeds help you to ensure your family’s food security?
-Is there a community seed bank in your region? Which seed varieties are kept in the bank?

Post your comment »

Don’t miss the May 1 2009 deadline to apply for fellowships

The University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) is offering a one year research and reporting fellowship for two skilled African journalists. http://www.journalism.berkeley.edu/press/african_journalists/.

The chosen candidates will participate in a new journalism training initiative aimed at covering agricultural development in Africa. They will also enroll at UC Berkeley in courses that deal with the global food crisis, while contributing their knowledge about Africa and journalism to their peers. Courses begin in late August 2009.

For more information, visit:

Post your comment »

PANOS Media Toolkit on communicating climate change research

Climate change is having a profound effect on the environment. For millions of people, climate change will bring higher temperatures, drought, and floods, as well as an increased risk of natural disasters. Radio broadcasters can help tackle the problem by providing the public with quality information.http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=22221.

The Climate Change edition of the PANOS Media Toolkit on Communicating Research brings together academic research findings on climate change in a way that is easy to understand. The document presents the main issues and features a number of impact statements, fact sheets, resources and tips for journalists who wish to pursue climate change-related stories.

This publication can be downloaded free at:

Post your comment »

Farm Radio International calls on Canadian government to support long-term food security

Farm Radio International works in Canada to help Canadians understand global food challenges, and encourage the Canadian government to take action on global food insecurity. As part of a coalition known as the Food Security Policy Group, Farm Radio International recently signed a letter to the Canadian government asking for action on long-term solutions to the food crisis. Farm Radio International called on the government to make agricultural and rural development a high priority for international aid, to support rural men and women in developing countries to sustainably strengthen their livelihoods, and to promote international trade laws that protect small-scale farmers.

You can see the full letter paster below.

27 April 2009

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

The Food Security Policy Group would like to reiterate our congratulations to the Canadian government for its swift response toward meeting the immediate needs of those most affected by the global food price crisis. The April 2008 announcement of an additional $50 million for food assistance and the untying of all future food aid were very positive steps in addressing the immediate needs of those affected by the food crisis in the short-term.

Recent events, however, including the rapid onset of the global economic crisis, underscore the urgent need for the Government of Canada to build on its good work in this area to address the fundamental causes of the global food crisis in a more comprehensive way. We therefore urge your government to fulfill its promise to deliver a whole-of-government strategy to address the global food crisis in the medium- to long-term, based on the fundamental principle that access to adequate and nutritious food is a basic human right for all men, women, and children.

The Food Security Policy Group is a coalition of Canadian development organizations and farmers’ groups promoting approaches to development and international trade that protect and enhance livelihoods and food/nutrition security for poor men, women and children in developing countries. We believe that Canada has an obligation to support the progressive realization of the right to food, both at home and abroad. We also believe many Canadians are deeply concerned about food insecurity and poverty in the world.

In 2008, the rapid rise in food prices led to significant hardship and social unrest in dozens of countries across the world. In addition to the food crisis, developing countries are now suffering enormously from the global economic crisis. Slowdowns in the economy of wealthy nations have rapidly led to reduced demand for manufactured products (many from factories in the South) and shrinking remittances (from Southerners working in Northern countries). A recent report from the World Bank (Swimming Against the Tide, March 8th 2009) stressed that “Falling real wages and employment impede households’ ability to provide adequate food and necessities particularly given their already stretched coping mechanisms from the 2008 food and fuel crises”. Estimates are that an additional 46 million people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty in 2009 alone.

In 2008, the government demonstrated a commitment to reducing global food insecurity through your call for an Interdepartmental Task Force to chart Canada’s way forward on this issue. The Minister of International Cooperation also committed to “…working with the international donor community to find a longer-term approach to food aid, including the question of food security.” (April 2008). Internationally, at the 2008 G8 Summit, the Canadian government signed on to a Statement on Global Food Security which expressed a deep concern over the steep rise in global food prices and committed signatories to support food aid, nutrition interventions, social protection activities, and measures to increase agriculture output.

These commitments by the government built upon momentum created in 2007 by an all-party resolution of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The resolution recommended that “ … the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) establish agriculture as a priority sector using the strategies and policies developed in the CIDA policy document entitled ‘Promoting Sustainable Rural Development’ focusing on sustainability and the reduction of poverty and hunger.” In addition, the Overseas Development Assistance Accountability Act, passed by Parliament in 2008, further obligates the government to make poverty reduction, consistent with international human rights standards, a focus of its overseas development programmes.

To follow-up on these commitments, the Food Security Policy Group asks the government of Canada to urgently complete the work of the Interdepartmental Task Force and deliver a comprehensive whole-of-government strategy on food security. Given the complex nature of the solutions required, the strategy should include an important role for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), but not be limited to that department alone.

Specifically, the Food Security Policy Group asks that such a strategy:
1. Designate agriculture and rural development as a priority sector for CIDA.
2. Strengthen the resilience of those hardest hit by the combined effects of the economic, climate and food crises to successfully adapt to current volatility. In particular, CIDA’s new priority should focus on providing support to rural men and women to sustainably strengthen their livelihoods; improve food and nutrition security; and build their capacity to adapt to climate change.
3. Strengthen the rights and participation of rural women in all interventions supported.
4. Ensure that Canada continues to meet its obligations under the Food Aid Convention.
5. Continue Canada’s political commitment to reform of the Multilateral Food/Agriculture Institutions [United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nation World Food Programme(WFP), International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD), Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)] in order to improve their relevance to small holder agriculture and rural development. Specific measures would include support for an enlarged UN/FAO Committee on World Food Security to harmonize the work of those institutions.
6. Promote international trade rules and loan conditions that allow developing countries’ governments to support sustainable local food production and protect small-holder producers and consumers from price volatility and unfair trade.

We urge the government of Canada to play a leading role on these issues at upcoming opportunities such as: the G8 meeting of Agricultural Ministers, the G8 meeting of Development Ministers, and the G8 Leader’s Summit at La Maddalena 2009. This would set the stage for Canada to make food security, rural development, and the international realization of the human right to food, a priority for 2010, when Canadian will host the next G8 Summit in Huntsville, ON.
We look forward to further collaboration and dialogue on these issues.


Paul Hagerman, Chair of the Food Security Policy Group, on behalf of the following organizations:
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Council for International Cooperation
Canadian Foodgrains Bank
CARE Canada
CHF – partners in rural development
ETC Group
Farm Radio International
Food Secure Canada
Inter Pares
Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Plan Canada
United Church of Canada
UPA Développement international
USC Canada
World Vision Canada

CC: Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation
Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Post your comment »

Paying Farmers for Environmental Services

Communities depend on the environment for energy, food, medicine, and a variety of other basic needs. In short, the environment makes life possible. Quality of life as well as the simple ability to sustain life are both strongly linked to how communities and individuals interact with the world around them. This week’s script offers a first look at Farm Radio International Script Package 87, which focuses on ways that communities can live and grow in harmony with their surrounding environment. Topics range from renewable energy to sustainable interactions with wildlife, along with scripts on the general theme of protecting the environment.

This week’s script of the week examines a partnership between a number of organizations, including the World Agroforestry Centre, Harvard University, and the government of Malawi, to grow trees for carbon storage. Farmers benefit by harvesting timber and firewood, and are paid to compensate for lost income from crop production. The script is based on interviews with farmers involved in the project as well project managers.

This script, along with the seven others in package 87 has been mailed to Farm Radio International’s partners and will be available on the Farm Radio website in the coming weeks.

Notes to broadcaster

Land is a resource farmers need to invest in. The benefits come after a certain period of time, depending on the type of crop planted, and how long it takes to mature. In this script, farmers will learn how the World Agroforestry Centre, the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University in the United States, and the Government of Malawi’s Forestry Department are training farmers to invest in their land by growing trees which will store carbon, as well as providing the farmers with timber and firewood. The timber and firewood benefits come only after a number of years. Since the farmers will not personally benefit for some years, the trainers pay them a certain amount of money for this use of their land, and for their labour and proper management of the trees. The amount of the first payment will depend on the number of trees planted, while subsequent payments will depend on the number of trees that survive.

There will be an assessment at the end of the 3-year project to find out if the payments made any impact on farming practices, and how farmers used the money. The collaborating institutions will also find out if there are farmers who dropped out of the project before it came to an end. What were their problems? They will look at the characteristics of farmers who dropped out of the project and of those who managed their trees well. They will find out if women are better managers of trees than men. They will find out whether households with more members managed their trees better than those with fewer members, and if this tree planting affects the farmers’ maize production?

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Host: Hello everyone. Today you will hear how a partnership between the World Agroforestry Centre or ICRAF, the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University in the United States, and the Government of Malawi is teaching Malawian farmers the importance of dedicating a piece of land to tree planting for carbon sequestration or storage, and for timber and firewood. In this project, farmers will be paid for dedicating a piece of their land, and for their time and energy. For the remainder of this program, I will refer to the project partners as ICRAF and its collaborators. Stay tuned. I am your host, Andrew Mahiyu.

Music for 10 seconds and fade

Host: I am speaking with Dr. Oluyede Ajayi, ICRAF’s Senior Scientist in Malawi. Dr. Ajayi, we have heard that ICRAF and its collaborators are running a project in Ntchisi, a town in central Malawi. Can you tell us what the project is all about?

Oluyede Ajayi: ICRAF has been working in Malawi for about a decade. We use trees for various purposes. We have trees that can fix nitrogen or fertilizer trees; we have fodder trees, trees that farmers plant and feed to their animals; and we have fuel wood trees, trees that farmers can plant, and after three to four years they can be used as timber or firewood. Instead of destroying the forest, people then have their own trees for firewood. ICRAF has developed all these technologies over a number of years. We now feel that there is a potential for farmers to also take advantage of the new phenomena of planting trees so they can sequester carbon. When I say that they “sequester” carbon, it simply means that the trees store carbon. By sequestering carbon, trees remove carbon from the atmosphere. Removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in trees reduces global warming, which is a global benefit. Farmers will plant M’bawa trees (Khaya nyasica) on a piece of land, and they will be paid a certain amount of money for their energy, land and time. M’bawa is an indigenous tree, native to the area, and it produces valuable timber after a number of years.

Host: On whose land is this project being tried?

Oluyede Ajayi: It is actually the farmers’ own land. We explained the project to the farmers, and we work with the forestry and agriculture officers in the district, and the Director of Agricultural Extension Services headquarters. We also linked up with the Directors of the Forestry Department at their headquarters.

After we explained the project to farmers, we said we wanted farmers who might be interested. There were many farmers who showed interest. We explained to them what we wanted them to do, and told them that we could not take all of them. We used a fair sampling process and signed contracts with 176 farmers. We wanted farmers who had at least half an acre of land to devote to this project.

Host: So, once you had chosen the farmers, what is it that these farmers had to do?

Oluyede Ajayi: We provided them with seedlings and gave them the necessary training through the District Forestry Officers and the District Agricultural Training Officers. They were asked to plant these trees and take care of them. In return, they will be paid the amount of money that we agreed on every year. In the first year, farmers will be paid the full amount agreed in the contract, and in the second and third years they will be paid based on the proportion of trees that survive in their field.

Host: So these farmers will not be paid every month. Is that correct?

Oluyede Ajayi: That’s correct. Payment will be made four times. After the first six months, farmers will be paid the full amount agreed in the contract. After the second six months, they will be paid based on the survival of the trees on their plots. So, within the first year they will be paid twice, in the second year once, and the third year once.

Host: Can you tell us the amount of money one farmer will be paid?

Oluyede Ajayi: We will pay them up to 12,000 Malawian kwacha (Editor’s note: US $85 or 66 Euros) for the full contract, so 3,000 during each of the four periods. The first payment happens after six months. How much we pay after a year will depend on the rate of survival of the trees.

Host: It sounds as if the farmers are the ones who are going to benefit from the project. Why then are you paying them when you know the trees will belong to them?

Oluyede Ajayi: I will explain. Let us take maize as an example. If farmers plant maize today, after four to five months they can see the benefits of maize; they can sell the maize and enjoy the benefits. But when farmers invest their money in planting trees, and in managing the trees, it costs them money but the benefits come only after 15-20 years, when the trees mature into timber. So we are trying to bridge that gap. We train them and give them some money for dedicating their land and labour. In the long run, they will learn to appreciate the importance of investing in projects like this one. After year three, year four, and year five, the cost of managing these trees will go down, but initially the cost of managing these trees is higher.

The benefit will go to every individual farmer who participates. Any trees that survive will go back to the farmers, who will use them for timber. After the project is finished, we will evaluate it. We will look at the impact of the payments made to the farmers, and how they used the money they were paid for managing the trees. We will also find out if there are farmers who dropped out of the project before it came to an end. What were their problems? Are there certain characteristics of farmers who dropped out of the project? Are there characteristics of farmers who managed the trees well? Did women manage the trees better than men? Do households with more members manage the trees better than those with fewer members? Those are the kinds of questions which we are going to answer at the end of the project. We will collaborate with our partners from the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University in the United States to evaluate the project. But, for now, our interest is in training the farmers to manage trees, and making sure that they know they own the trees. It’s their land, and the trees are theirs.

Host: Have you tried this project elsewhere? If so, how has it worked?

Oluyede Ajayi: We tried it in Asia, in Vietnam, and it worked very well. By planting and managing trees, farmers are providing services to the global community. Apart from providing timber for farmers, trees provide other services like absorbing or sequestering carbon. This carbon sequestration doesn’t only benefit the farmers; it is a benefit to the global community, the whole world. So you can see this project as a way for the global community to give some kind of reward or compensation for all the efforts farmers are making.

Host: What did you learn from working on tree projects in Malawi?

Oluyede Ajayi: We found that the first three years, when the trees are still young, are the most critical, and that’s when farmers need the greatest assistance. That is the time when farmers need to put more money into managing the trees, fertilizing them, and watering them if there is little or no rain. But after four or five years, the trees will have strong roots, and the amount of resources needed to manage the trees will be reduced. At that time, the trees will be fully formed and have some access to carbon in the atmosphere.

Host: Why are you so concerned about carbon?

Oluyede Ajayi: Everyone should be concerned about carbon, because the increasing amount of carbon in the atmosphere is what is causing climate change. Climate change is a big issue worldwide, not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. Africa and the developing world will be the most affected by climate change. So it is in the interest of everyone to do what they can to adapt to the changing conditions caused by climate change, as well as trying to reduce or mitigate climate change. This project is one way to reduce climate change.

Host: (Pause, then speaking to the audience) I visited the Agricultural office where the project is taking place, and met with Andrew Msosa, who is the Land Resource Conservation Officer in Ntchisi district.

Andrew Msosa: It’s true that we have this project in Ntchisi. The project will run for four years. Farmers will plant M’bawa trees to sequester carbon. They have welcomed the project, because of the benefits that they will get. More fertile soils will improve food security and provide timber as well as sequester carbon.

Host: I understand that farmers will be paid after six months, and every year thereafter. Is this true?

Andrew Msosa: Yes, this is quite true. We need to understand that land is a valuable resource. If a farmer sacrifices a piece of land to grow trees, that land will not be used for annual crops for the next fifteen to twenty years. Because the farmer will not get anything from that land for a long period of time, it may be counted as a loss to their farming business. So we will be paying farmers to encourage them to make the choice to grow trees.

Host: (Pause, and then speaking to the audience) Michael Saulosi Kankondo is a farmer who is participating in the project and is happy to have received tree seedlings. (Speaking to Mr. Kankondo) Mr. Kankondo, tell us how you came to receive these tree seedlings. How did it start?

Michael Saulosi Kankondo: We were told that ICRAF would give us M’bawa trees. We have received them wholeheartedly. We know our children will benefit from these trees. Everybody was told to set aside part of his or her land to plant these trees. In the long run, we will have nowhere to get timber or firewood if we don’t plant trees now.

We also heard that there is air pollution as a result of factory work and other substances that release carbon fumes. These have a negative impact on the climate. I did not know this before. It scared me a lot. We are told that if these trees grow ? and as you know M’bawa trees grow very tall ? they will be removing carbon from the air, for our own health, and that is very good.

Host: I have heard that farmers participating in this project will be paid for the work. Why is it like that?

Michael Saulosi Kankondo: Indeed, I heard them saying that everybody who takes care of his or her trees will receive something. This is not different from what happens in a classroom. When a child does well in a certain subject, that child is applauded. But as for me, I am extra happy that I have found gold that will assist my children in the future. Of course they will give me money, but having an acre of trees these days is no joke. In this village, or the village next to us, how many farmers have an acre of M’bawa trees? None. That is why I am saying this is my gold. I am assuring ICRAF and its collaborators that we, as a family, will put much effort into the project, to make sure that most of the trees survive, not for the prize, but for my children. The prize comes second. I am targeting 100% survival. I am only praying for good rains.

Host: How do you plan to use the first payment?

Michael Saulosi Kankondo: The first thing I will do is assist my children with school necessities like notebooks, pencils, soap, skin oil, and other small things needed for them to go to school happily. If the money is enough to buy a goat, I will definitely do that.

Host: What will you do if your trees are not growing well after all your efforts?

Michael Saulosi Kankondo: We have advisers from the Department of Forestry, and from Agriculture extension, and they will definitely assist us. Since this is my first time growing M’bawa trees, at every stage of operations I will not be doing it alone. I will be requesting help from extension staff.

Musical break

Host: One of the villages where this project is taking place is headed by a woman, Chinkhota. She is also one of the beneficiaries of the project. Chinkhota starts by saluting ICRAF and its collaborators for the gift of trees.

V.H. Chinkhota: We are happy to have this project running in our village. We were given 50 seedlings of M’bawa trees each. With this, we know we will be self-reliant for timber and firewood in the future.

Host: You are the head of this village, and in that capacity you are supposed to influence development. What role will you have in this project?

V.H. Chinkhota: I started playing my role the day they briefed us about the project. I mobilized people to take this seriously. I asked them to identify part of their fields and dig planting holes. They responded positively. And I will not rest; I will be monitoring every stage of the management of these trees.
Host: I understand you will be paid at certain stages of the project. What if another project comes next time, but without any money attached to it ? are you going to welcome the project?

V.H. Chinkhota: Yes, as a leader I am supposed to explain to my people the benefits of the project. In this village, we mould bricks for schools, hospitals, and other structures, but we do not receive anything. We know that this is for our development. Why should we deny development?

Host: (Speaking to audience) Village headwoman Chinkhota says that she will make sure that any development project will be welcome in her area, even if people are not paid for it. Farmers in her area will know how to invest in tree planting and management, and with patience they will benefit after 15 to 20 years, at the same time that the trees are doing the work for the whole world of sequestering carbon to reduce climate change.

This is all I have for you today. Till next time, good bye.

Contributed by: Andrew Mahiyu, National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Oluyede Ajayi of ICRAF Malawi and Kelsey Jack of Harvard University.

Special thanks to Oluyede Ajayi of ICRAF Malawi, Kelsey Jack of Harvard University, Andrew Msosa from the Ministry of Agriculture, based in Ntchisi district, Dr. Brent Swallow of ICRAF Nairobi, and Dr. Festus Akinnifesi of ICRAF in Malawi.

The financial grant provided by the European Union, the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University in United Sates, and Irish Aid to support some of the activities of the project in Ntchisi and Malawi is gratefully acknowledged.

Common names for Khaya nyasica include:
Bemba: mululu, mushikishichulu
Chichewa: M’bawa
English: African mahogany, East African mahogany, Mozambique mahogany, Nyasaland mahogany, red mahogany
Français: acajou africain, acajou d’Afrique, acajou de Côte d’Ivoire, acajou du Mozambique
Hausa: madachi
Igbo: ono
Kiswahili: mkangazi
Mozambique: umbaua, mbaua
Nyanja: mbawa, mlulu
Yoruba: oganwo

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

1 Comment - Post your comment »