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 #64

Welcome to all!

This week marks a special anniversary for Farm Radio International. Our organization (originally called the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network) traces its roots to 1979, when founder George Atkins mailed the first package of radio scripts to broadcasters in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Thirty years later, we celebrate long-lasting partnerships with radio organizations across Africa, as well as new partnerships made possible by the connecting power of the internet.

We extend a warm welcome to this week’s newest subscribers: Frederic Takang, from Abakwa Communication in Cameroon; Serge Adams Diakite, from Radio Arc-en-ciel in Côte d’Ivoire; Zara Merali, from the Aga Khan Foundation in Mozambique; and Katongo Kaniampi, from The Organisation for Zambian Youth Entrepreneurs in Zambia.

We would also like to share a 30th anniversary greeting from Modibo Coulibaly, who has worked since 2000 with Farm Radio International in Mali, first as a member of a partner radio station and now as an AFRRI staff member. He tells us, “There is a Malian saying that says: ‘At 30 years of age, if you cannot prove your existence by having your place in the sun and your name remembered forever, your life will have served no purpose.’… Recently, land offered by a local government representative in Fana, Mali, to Farm Radio International was named George Atkins.”

We thank all Farm Radio International partners and Farm Radio Weekly subscribers, old and new, for helping to build a network that supports radio broadcasters and serves farmers. We look forward to working with you for many years to come!

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

Post your comment »

In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review
1. Africa: Jatropha – An enlightening crop, but not a miracle (Farm Radio International, Reuters)
2. Southern Africa: Farmers on lookout for ‘feathered locusts’ (Harare Tribune, SADC Quelea Breeding Forecast)
3. Tanzania: Farmers call on government to reject European trade deal (MVIWATA, Farm Radio Weekly)

Upcoming Events

Journalists: Register now to win a trip to cover the Copenhagen Climate Summit!

Radio Resource Bank

Using sound to create memorable radio documentaries and interviews

Farm Radio Action

Reflections on three decades of Farm Radio partnership (by James Achanyi-Fontem, Executive Director, Cameroon Link)

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Women are actively involved in planting jatropha in a Malian village




Post your comment »

1. Africa: Jatropha – An enlightening crop, but not a miracle (Farm Radio International, Reuters)

Saran Sangaré can attest to the power of jatropha. Locally-produced jatropha oil powers streetlights in her community in southern Mali. Students without electricity in their homes gather nightly under the lights to do their homework. The effect has been phenomenal. Since the lights came on, nearly all local students have passed their exams.Ms. Sangaré will also tell you that jatropha is not a miracle crop. Her community’s first jatropha plantation failed. It took good crop management to coax green seed pods from subsequent plantations. And knowledge from the women’s group to process the seeds into oil.

In recent years, jatropha has been touted as a miracle crop. It’s been said that this oilseed plant can thrive in semi-arid lands – in soil inhospitable to other crops. Based on this belief, some have argued that jatropha could be cultivated without displacing food crops. But those who grow the plant say it’s not so easy.

Vincent Volckaert is the Africa regional director for the biofuels company D1 Oils. His company has jatropha plantations in Madagascar, Swaziland, and Zambia. He dismisses the idea that you can get a good crop of jatropha almost anywhere. Mr. Volckaert says that if you grow jatropha in marginal conditions, you should expect marginal yields.

Mr. Volckaert cites many cases in which farmers were given jatropha seeds without information on how to cultivate the crop. If seeds are planted at the wrong time of year or not tended to properly, the crop will fail.

After one unsuccessful harvest, farmers in Ms. Sangaré’s community quickly learned how to tend the crop. Farmers now see the full benefit of jatropha. There’s more money in their pocketbooks. There’s also more energy for streetlights and other community needs.

In order to keep jatropha plants growing, Ms. Sangaré and her women’s group continue to cultivate understanding. Regular meetings keep villagers informed about the crop so they can continue to reap the benefits.

4 Comments - Post your comment »

2. Southern Africa: Farmers on lookout for ‘feathered locusts’ (Harare Tribune, SADC Quelea Breeding Forecast)

Farmers across southern Africa are looking to the skies. It’s breeding season for quelea birds. These birds rove the continent, looking for food. They’re known as feathered locusts because they appear like a swarm and can quickly devour grain. They’re probably the last thing a farmer wants to see darkening the skies.Farmers in the Chiredzi District of southern Zimbabwe saw quelea descend last month. The birds ravaged millet and sorghum crops.

Ephraim Mazawi didn’t wait for them to attack his field. He harvested his crops early, before the quelea could get them.

Remote monitoring is used to track quelea movements in Southern Africa. The latest forecast shows quelea breeding in much of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. The destructive birds are also breeding in Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.


The following websites provide additional information on quelea movement in southern Africa:
-The SADC Quelea Breeding Forecast: http://www.sadc.int/fanr/aims/rrsu/quel/index.htm
-A report by The Cape Argus on the first appearance of quelea birds in South Africa’s Western Cape province: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=143&art_id=vn20090424125035781C270296
While this story focuses on quelea in southern Africa, the birds also cause problems for farmers in eastern and western Africa. The following are links to more general information on the birds:
-The Speaking Scarecrows, a Farm Radio International script that describes a method of deterring pest birds: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-3script_en.asp
-The Wikipedia entry on red-billed quelea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-billed_Quelea

Post your comment »

3. Tanzania: Farmers call on government to reject European trade deal (MVIWATA, Farm Radio Weekly)

Susuma Susuma has seen changes to local markets. The markets in Tanzania’s Morogoro District used to brim with local fabrics. Now they are filled with imported clothing. He doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to the food market.Mr. Susuma is a spokesperson for Tanzania’s National Small-Scale Farmers Network, also known as MVIWATA. Many of the country’s small-scale farmers grow maize to sell locally. But MVIWATA is worried that a proposed trade agreement will open local markets to European food. They fear this will force local maize off the shelves.

Farmers from MVIWATA recently sat down with the parliamentary committee that deals with trade. As part of a larger coalition, they asked the government to reject an Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe. The agreement would remove tariffs on European food entering Tanzania.

In exchange, Tanzania would be free to export food into Europe. But Mr. Susuma says this is not a good deal for Tanzania. He maintains that European farmers are well-subsidized and well-equipped to export food. Tanzania’s farmers cannot produce the quantity or quality of food to compete.

Many African countries are in the process of negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, with Europe. The talks have given rise to protests by farmers and civil society. Mr. Susuma says it’s difficult for farmers to be heard – so they must shout and shout to get the message across.

Now that Tanzania’s parliamentarians have heard the farmers’ message, farmers hope they will say “no” to the European trade deal.

1 Comment - Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters on jatropha:

Over the past couple years, the notion that jatropha is a “miracle crop” has played a large role in the debate over biofuels. The idea that jatropha can grow well in nearly any soil conditions supported the argument that jatropha could be grown on a large scale for biodiesel without displacing food crops. It is for this reason that we felt it important to share this article with you. Africa: “South Africa’s president says biofuel crops must not crowd out food” (FRW#42, November 2008)
Burkina Faso: “Burkinabe farmers say food comes before fuel” (FRW#34, August 2008)
Kenya: “Herders oppose controversial sugarcane project” (FRW#29, July 2008)
Mali: “Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain cautious” (FRW#7, January 2008)
-Africa: “The promise and potential perils of biofuels” (FRW#3, December 2007)

If you would like to research a local story on biofuel production, you may wish to ask some of the following questions:
-Do farmers in your area currently produce biofuels for use on their farms or in the community? If so, who processes the fuel?
-Who benefits from the production and availability of local biofuels?
-If an external company plans to open a biofuel processing plant in your area, how do farmers plan to maintain their food security while also producing crops for the plant?
-If there is already a biofuel processing plant in your area, are small-scale farmers contributing to production? How do they rate their experiences in working with the processing plant (e.g. support for proper harvesting and storage, prices for crops, etc)?

The following articles from past issues of FRW look at how farmers in other parts of the continent are responding to the demand for biofuels:

The following Farm Radio International scripts discuss local uses for jatropha:
Jatropha – Not just a biofuel crop! (Package 80, Script 7, March 2007)

-Women are actively involved in planting jatropha in Malian village (Package 87, Script 4, April 2009): Featured below as this week’s Script of the Week.

Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters on EPAs:

As many of you know, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are a successor to the Lomé Convention – an aid and trade deal signed by 71 ACP countries and Europe in 1975. The Lomé Convention allowed ACP countries duty-free access to European markets, except for 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 between the EU and individual countries, which were to take effect in 2008. EPAs would open ACP country markets to European products.http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/bilateral/regions/acp/regneg_en.htm

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 the government of Mauritania declared that they would not meet the December 31, 2007 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.To learn the status of EPA negotiations in your country (or another country of interest), go to:

The following questions may guide you in your research of the situation in your own country and broadcast area:
-If your government has signed an agreement, 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?
-Are local farmers’ associations or other civil society action groups active in encouraging the government to reject EPAs? What concerns do they have with the EPAs? What action have they taken?

-What are individual farmers and farmers’ associations doing to cope with the changing trade environment?
The following are links to past FRW stories on EPAs:
Ghana: Farmers say EPAs would destroy livelihoods (FRW#39, October 2008)
Senegal: Farmers fear Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe threaten their livelihoods (FRW#6, January 2008)

Post your comment »

Journalists: Register now to win a trip to cover the Copenhagen Climate Summit!

Internews invites journalists from around the world to register now, in order to track progress on the Earth Journalism Awards. These awards encourage high quality, local coverage on climate change, leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, December 7-18, 2009, in Copenhagen (COP15). The competition officially opens on World Environment Day, June 5, 2009, when prizes, award categories, and partners will be announced.http://awards.earthjournalism.org/user/register.

At COP15, nations around the world are scheduled to conclude negotiations on the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Through accurate and high quality reporting on climate change issues, the importance of these negotiations can be emphasized and promoted.

An independent international jury will select the Earth Journalism Award winners, who will be invited to participate in capacity building and reporting activities at COP15.

To register and receive more information about the award, please follow this link:

To date, journalists from sub-Saharan Africa are leading the pack in terms of numbers who have registered for updates!

Post your comment »

Using sound to create memorable radio documentaries and interviews

Sound in the Story is a wonderful guide for broadcasters on using sound to enhance the quality of radio journalism. It’s packed with advice about story development, writing, and gathering sound, and features lots of useful tips on how to conduct a great interview. The guide was prepared by J. Carl Ganter and Eileen E. Ganter for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. You can find it online, here : http://www.visualedge.org/lessons/SoundStory.pdf

Post your comment »

Reflections on three decades of Farm Radio partnership (by James Achanyi-Fontem, Executive Director, Cameroon Link)

As the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, now known as Farm Radio International, celebrates its 30th anniversary, I can only say, “Congratulations for all the achievements in 30 years and Happy Birthday.” I am really proud to have joined the network as an affiliate member and contributor over 25 years ago, especially as my work expanded with the growth of the network. Belonging to Developing Countries Farm Radio Network was seen as a give and take arrangement with positive exchanges and information sharing. Apart from contributing from Cameroon, I assisted staff members of the network who visited Cameroon and other Central African countries with the collection of materials for compiling the radio programs put on radio cassettes when the initiative just started. I was nominated for the George Atkins Communication Award and got it in 1996.

Due to the commitment to serve the communities with the techniques learnt through Farm Radio International, I was exposed to many international networks in various special fields useful to the development of my country. I later on understood that more impact was got through specialization and decided to take health and environmental development as the special target of Cameroon Link.

Specialization and hard work paid off, as I am today the leader of groups at various levels, starting from my own country: Executive Director of Cameroon Link, President of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations (FECABPA), and the International Coordinator of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s (WABA) Men’s Initiative.

At all these levels, I have used the skills learnt through my involvement with Farm Radio International to expand my work. Working and sharing with Farm Radio International is another way of learning about the world we live in.

Once again, Happy Birthday to all connected to Farm Radio International!

1 Comment - Post your comment »

Women are actively involved in planting jatropha in a Malian village

The cultivation and processing of plant materials for liquid fuels (called biofuels) has been popularized as a way to address the need to decrease fossil fuel use. For many small scale farmers, biofuels are a source of affordable, sustainable power that can have a profound effect on village life. These fuels can be used to heat stoves, power schools and vehicles, and provide light on village streets.

This week’s script is based on interviews with Saran Sangaré, president of a women’s group in Mali that promotes the use of jatropha as a source of biofuel. For Ms. Sangaré and the people of her village, the production of jatropha oil has had a number of positive effects on the community.

This script is part of Farm Radio International’s newest script package, on the theme “The benefits of caring for the environment.” The package includes a second script on biofuels called, Biodiesel production: Generating income for small-scale farmers in Kenya. The package has been mailed to Farm Radio International’s partners and will be posted online in the coming weeks.

Notes to broadcaster

For many years, people in Mali have known of the jatropha plant, but it was only used by women to make traditional soap. Lately, knowledge about this plant has been increasing, thanks to development projects such as those coordinated by the Mali Folkecenter that have highlighted the plant’s potential.

We met Saran Sangaré, president of a women’s group for the promotion of jatropha in the rural community of Gralo, in the Bougougouni Prefecture, in the Sikasso Region. Ms. Sangare was attending the National Forum on the Environment held in Bamako on January 28 and 29, 2009. The forum was organized by the Mali Folkecenter.

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.

Aboubacar Camara: My name is Aboubacar Camara. I’m your host at Radio Kayira in Bamako. (Pause, and to Ms. Sangaré) Good morning Madame, you recently participated in the National Forum on the Environment and Climate Change organized by the Mali Folkecenter. Please introduce yourself and tell us what have you learned from this forum?

Saran Sangaré: Hello, my name is Saran Sangaré. I’m from the rural district of Gralo, over 200 kilometres from Bamako, the capital of Mali. This is the third time I have participated in this forum. The first year, I learned that there were people who destroyed our environment. We have since held local meetings to find solutions. We have conducted an awareness session for those who destroy our forests and our fruit trees. For example, some women in different villages in Mali knock the unripe fruit out of the tree using sticks and the fruit falls to the ground. This is not good for the fruit. Women have organized themselves in groups to stop this practice.

Regarding the problem of deforestation, during the forum we discussed improved stoves that use less wood. As for the forum this year, we will report back to our village in order to improve the protection of our environment.

Aboubacar Camara: Ms. Sangaré, you have undertaken an activity in your village to plant jatropha. How is that going?

Saran Sangaré: We have been planting jatropha for the past three years. The first plantations died. At first, people were not interested in the plantation. The plantation was not maintained, because the seeds did not sell. However, today, the sale of seeds and the production of plants has become an income-generating activity for people. The seeds used to remain on the ground where they fell. But now, people collect the seeds twice a year. Jatropha seed collecting has become an economic activity for men, women, young and old. The Mali Folkecenter’s work with women and farmers in promoting and developing the jatropha seed industry, as well as their purchase of seeds to produce oil, has allowed people, especially women, to take full advantage. The seeds are sold for 50 CFA francs per kilogram (Editor’s note: less than 0.10 US dollars) in August. This is a good month for the seeds because it rains a lot in Mali at this time of year. Currently, 40 kilograms of our jatropha seeds can produce ten litres of jatropha oil.

Jatropha has been useful. We not only extract oil from jatropha, but we also use the residues or wastes to make soap.

Aboubacar Camara: Since jatropha oil has been produced in your town, how has it changed your life? In other words, how have women benefited from planting jatropha?

Saran Sangaré: The whole village can testify to the benefits. For example, streetlights powered by jatropha oil have been installed. There is a school with three classrooms and 240 students in each classroom. All of the students except for seven passed their exams, because the students who did not have electricity in their homes could sit beneath the streetlights to do their homework. All of the Grade 6 students passed their exams. So education in schools has greatly improved. This is a great source of pleasure for us.

Aboubacar Camara: Do women who work on jatropha oil production do it individually or as part of an association or group? If the production is done within an association, how long has it existed and how many women work with the association?

Saran Sangaré: Since 2006, we have been working in groups. In 2006, we met with some state officials, and that is when we first planted 20 hectares of jatropha. In our village, each district has more than 200 women who are part of women’s groups. There are five women’s groups and each has four hectares of jatropha. We have also planted other crops in the fields. One of the main lessons that we learned from the jatropha project is the importance of having the support of local elected representatives for the success of the project. We really want to thank them all for their dedication.

Aboubacar Camara: What challenges are you facing?

Saran Sangaré: One difficulty is that not everyone is at the same level of understanding and awareness. When we return to our village after the forum, we will gather the villagers together to make sure that they are all at the same level in terms of information. We will talk more about the advantages of jatropha, but also we want to talk about changing behaviour with regards to protecting the environment. Aside from that, we have not had any other major difficulties.

Aboubacar Camara: What is the name of your association and how many people are members?
Saran Sangaré: Our association is called “Saniya” or “cleanliness.” The association has 500 women members and I am the president.

Aboubacar Camara: Saran Sangaré, thank you for all this information and we wish you good luck and success in your business.

Saran Sangaré: Thank you.

Contributed by: Camara Aboubacar, Journalist, and Siaka Traoré, Head of Communications and ICTs, Radio Kayira, Mali, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Neil Noble, Practical Answers Technical Adviser, Practical Action
We would like to extend a special thanks to the management at Mali Folkecenter who facilitated the interview, and the editorial team at Kayira Network.

Information sources
The interview took place on January 29, 2009 in Bamako.

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

1 Comment - Post your comment »