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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 #65

Hello readers!

We welcome all of our readers, and especially our new subscribers: Léonce Ntakirutimana, from Star FM in Burundi; Boko Felly, from Land Resource in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Fredrick Mariwa, from Radio Maendeleo in Kenya; and Choice Nawe, from Moutse Community Radio in South Africa. We love seeing FRW grow. So, if you have a friend or colleague who would be interested in our service, please invite them to apply for a free subscription by filling out this form: http://farmradio.org/english/partners/fr_weekly_subscribe.asp.

This week, we explore the subject of farmer crop choice. Why do farmers choose one crop over another at planting time? We learn that farmers in Cameroon face a dilemma because, although cassava is popular, it is sometimes difficult to sell. At the same time, more Zambian farmers are choosing cassava because it is more reliable than maize and less expensive to grow.

We also bring you a story from Kenya, where farmers are now cultivating a particular medicinal plant instead of harvesting it from the forest. This story illustrates how farmers can use forest products without damaging the forest – a subject elaborated on in our Script of the Week.

Look in the Radio Resource Bank for a link to a comprehensive guide to African radio broadcasting, and check out Farm Radio Action for a review of the recent Pan African AMARC conference.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Cameroon: Farmers face crop choice (by Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)

2. Zambia: More farmers selecting cassava as the staple of choice (United Nations Intergrated Regional Information Service)

3. Kenya: Medicinal crop cultivation generates income while saving forest (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Upcoming events

May 25-29, 2009: Seminar on essentials of broadcast
May 23, 2009: Deadline to apply for Investigative Reporting Grant

Radio Resource Bank

Live from Africa: A Handbook for African Radio Journalists

Farm Radio Action

Farm Radio International at 4th Pan African AMARC conference in Côte d’Ivoire (By Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator)

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Forest communities generate income while conserving their environment

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1. Cameroon: Farmers face crop choice (by Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)

It’s planting season in the village of Souza. In this small community in western Cameroon, women bustle about their fields. Since the middle of March, they have been seeding or planting various crops: cassava, maize, peanuts, and peas.Cassava comes first on Rosalie Ngo Titih’s small parcel of land. She calls cassava the plant that never fails and never lets you down. It’s an important part of her diet. She enjoys it as a tuber, in cakes, and in couscous. No part of the cassava plant goes unused: the leaves serve as vegetables and even the stems are used for firewood.

But Ms. Ngo Titih also has business reasons for making cassava the top crop on her farm. She processes cassava into tapioca for sale. Seated in front of her house next to a 50 kilogram sack of tapioca, Ms. Ngo Titih explains that cassava is her only source of revenue. But it’s not always easy to find buyers. Since cassava is such a popular crop in Souza, supply is often greater than demand.

While Ms. Ngo Titih stayed with cassava, Florette Mbanze made a different decision on her nearby farm. This year, Ms. Mbanze planted very little cassava. Instead, she planted groundnuts.

Compared to crops like cassava, groundnuts produce little food for the amount of farming effort involved. But Ms. Mbanze remains confident in her crop choice. At least groundnuts sell quickly, she adds with pride.
Still, Ms. Mbanze knows there’s risk involved in trying a new crop. Groundnuts require a lot of work and are vulnerable to theft. To compensate for this risk, she decided to dedicate equal parts of her land to a local vegetable called pistache. Like cassava, pistache requires less energy to manage and costs less to grow.

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2. Zambia: More farmers selecting cassava as the staple of choice (United Nations Intergrated Regional Information Service)

Justina Kalunga’s family doesn’t go to sleep hungry anymore. And it’s all thanks to the cassava growing near her home in the Samfya District of northern Zambia.Ms. Kalunga explains that cassava provides food without requiring purchased inputs. She doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers to make it grow. She doesn’t even need to buy seed, since stem cuttings do the trick.

Cassava is becoming the staple food of choice for more Zambian farmers. The country’s maize stocks are falling. Maize prices are soaring. Recent floods have contributed to food scarcity.

But Ruth Chalwe is not concerned. She has cassava to eat and cassava to sell. Ms. Chalwe sells a 25 kilogram bag of cassava meal for 70,000 Zambian kwatcha (about 14 American dollars or 10 Euros). The same sized bag of maize meal now sells for about 100,000 Zambian kwatcha (about 20 American dollars or 15 Euros).

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3. Kenya: Medicinal crop cultivation generates income while saving forest (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

For generations, people searching for a hangover cure or a boost of energy have headed for the Kakamega forest in western Kenya. They have searched for a plant with creamy yellow buds, bright red petals, and a root that can lift your spirits. But until recently, it was becoming harder to find.The Kakamega forest is one of few places in Kenya where Mondia whytei grows. Locals collect and sell mondia roots from the forest. Over time, the popular revitalizer became endangered from over-harvesting.
The fate of mondia and local communities changed a few years ago, when farmers started cultivating the plant in their fields.

James Ligare administers the Mondia Community Enterprise. The project started with 30 farmers domesticating the mondia plant. Now the plant is grown by many farmers in communities surrounding the Kakamega forest. Mondia roots are processed at a local factory and packaged for sale.

The enterprise has been profitable for farmers. Mr. Ligare says that most farmers earn more from mondia than from crops such as tea or maize. With higher incomes, farmers are renovating their homes. Some are seeking computer and business management skills in efforts to improve production.

A steady cash flow for locals lessens their dependence on the forest. They no longer have to venture into the forest for mondia. They also have less need to collect firewood or building materials from the forest for sale.
Wilber Lwande heads the program that supports mondia cultivation near Kakamega forest. He says the effort is a model for forest conservation and biodiversity protection.

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Notes to broadcasters on crop choice:

Many factors influence a farmer’s choice of crops to grow, including the farmer’s knowledge, local climate, and local market. In recent years, climate change and concerns that the world is facing a “food crisis” have become important factors to consider.

You may wish to host a call in show and invite farmers to explain which crops they grow and why. Or you could research a news story on crop choice during the planting season. Some questions to ask include:
-Which crops are traditionally planted in your area? Are these crops favoured because of their suitability to the local climate, because they earn good prices at market, or for other reasons? What are the most important considerations? Do women and men grow different crops? Why?
-What new crops have farmers tried in recent years? What reasons do farmers give for trying them? Do these new crops produce good yields? Are they difficult to manage? If they are grown for sale, do they fetch a good price at market?
-Have farmers made different crop choices this year based on concerns or experiences with climate change or food shortages?

The following Farm Radio International scripts look at the subject of crop choice:
Choosing crops for drought-prone areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
Comparing crop varieties: Start small, go slowly (Package 68, Script 8, September 2003)
Which farmer would you rather be? A story about diversification (Package 65, Script 8, October 2002)

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Notes to broadcasters on forest products:

This story provides an example of how farmers can earn an income from forest products without endangering the forest itself. In fact, many livelihood activities can provide communities with an economic incentive to conserve woodlands. The following stories from past issues of FRW offer other examples:

“Butterfly farming takes wing” (FRW#17, April 2008)
“Conservations groups save trees, earn profits” (FRW#16, March 2008)

For more examples, see the Script of the Week: Forest communities generate income while conserving the environment.

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May 25-29, 2009: Seminar on essentials of broadcast management

Rhodes University’s Sol Plaatje Media Leadership Institute in Grahamstown, South Africa invites managers of radio stations and television channels to participate in a five day seminar, “Essentials of Broadcast Management,” from May 25-29. This seminar will teach key management strategies, and explore topics such as: managing the budget, marketing and advertising, human resource management, editorial independence and ethics. The seminar is open to new broadcast managers, as well as veterans in the field. The cost of the course is 6,500 South African Rand (approximately 770 American dollars or 575 Euros).

For more information, or to register, go to: http://www.spiml.co.za/site-subpage.php?sid=13.

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May 23, 2009: Deadline to apply for Investigative Reporting Grant

The Washington, DC-based Fund for Investigative Journalism is now accepting applications for grants ranging from 500 to 10,000 American dollars (approximately 370 to 7,400 Euros). These grants are open to freelancers and journalists working outside major media organizations who seek to pursue stories in investigative journalism. The story topics should fall under the general categories of corruption, incompetence and societal ills, as well as investigative media criticism.

Grant applications are considered four times per year. The deadline for the next round of grants is May 23, 2009. For more information and to apply, go to: http://fij.org/ or email Cheryl Arvidson at fundfij@gmail.com.

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Live from Africa: A Handbook for African Radio Journalists

This resource was originally entered in the FRW Radio Resource Bank for FRW Issue #2 (December 2007), but we wanted to call attention to it again, for the benefit of those who have joined the FRW community in the past 18 months.

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting has produced this extensive guide to radio journalism, which includes discussion on the role of journalism and practical information on preparing and airing new stories. The full handbook is available online at: http://iwpr.net/pdf/LiveFromAfricaPart1.pdf.

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Farm Radio International at 4th Pan African AMARC conference in Côte d’Ivoire (By Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator)

Two representatives from Farm Radio International had the pleasure of participating in the recent AMARC conference in Cote d’Ivoire. Blythe McKay shares her story below, while Modibo Coulibaly’s story will be shared in next week’s FRW.

If you or a member of your radio organization participated in the conference, we would love to hear your reflections on the event and share them with our readers. You may e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org to submit an article about your experience. Or, to share a shorter anecdote, visit the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/) and click on the “Post a Comment” link at the end of this article.

For the fourth time ever more than 100 community radio broadcasters from 28 countries across sub-Saharan Africa came together to share successes, discuss challenges, and plan for sustainability at the Pan African AMARC conference in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, from April 27-30.

Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali, and I represented Farm Radio International at the conference. Many of the community radio stations at the event were Farm Radio International broadcasting partners, meaning that they produce programs on agricultural and rural development topics of relevance to their audiences, receive and/or contribute to script packages, and/or participate in AFRRI. Stations such as Radio Maendeleo in Kenya, Mama FM in Uganda, and Radio Flambeau in Cameroon took advantage of the occasion to become Farm Radio International broadcasting partners.

The third day of the conference presented an opportunity for participants to build capacity on areas such as programming on HIV and AIDS and climate change adaptation. Modibo and I facilitated a three-hour workshop for more than 20 broadcasters on how to write introductions for radio programs (for an overview of the workshop visit http://africa.amarc.org/index.php?p=Pan_African_Conferences&l=EN).

On day four, I had the chance to visit Radio Paix Sanwi, a longtime broadcasting partner of Farm Radio International. I returned to the conference in time to see the new AMARC Africa board voted in (see http://africa.amarc.org/index.php?p=Pan_African_Conferences&l=EN to find out who was elected).

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Forest communities generate income while conserving their environment

This week’s featured script expands on the theme of our news story from Kenya. It shows how communities can earn income from forest products without damaging the forest itself. The script is based on interviews conducted in three villages from a forested area in Cameroon’s South West Region. It introduces listeners to Ngol’epie, a former hunter who breeds an unusual kind of livestock; Pa Atabe, who learned how to harvest highly-prized forest honey without destroying trees; and Mbonteh, who now breeds snails close to home instead of searching for them in the forest.

This script is part of Farm Radio International’s latest script package on the theme, “The benefits of caring for the environment,” which has been mailed to partners and will be posted online soon. For a preview of two other scripts from this package, follow these links:

Women are actively involved in planting jatropha in Malian village
Paying farmers for environmental services


Notes to broadcaster

Populations of many wild animals and plants are declining. For example, it is thought that there were three to five million African elephants in the 1930s and 1940s. Their number is probably less than half a million today. In the past, illegal trade in ivory posed the greatest threat, but since the 1989 ban on the ivory trade, the biggest problem is loss of habitat from expansion of logging and agriculture. For some other species, bushmeat hunting is the most immediate threat.

Some communities experience serious damage to crops and even loss of human life from conflicts with wild species. These situations are largely due to expansion of human populations into wildlife habitat. But villagers must find food and generate an income. How are wild species and human populations to live harmoniously side-by-side?

In many cases, governments and NGOs are working with communities to find sustainable ways of interacting with and preserving their natural environment. In other cases, communities themselves have found ways to preserve their environment while feeding themselves and generating an income.

This script profiles a project in the South West Region of Cameroon. A large international NGO – World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – is helping forest communities to develop enterprises which generate income from wild species without destroying the forest. If you research what is happening in your own area, you may find similar projects operated by WWF and other organizations.

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: Good morning, dear listeners. Did you know that you can help protect nature? Well, today’s program will help you to understand how. The program talks about the experiences of three villagers in a forest region located in the South West Region of Cameroon, and how they were supported by an organization called World Wild Fund for Nature or WWF.


Host: Wherever they live, people rely on their immediate environment to produce food and generate income. In forested areas, people cut down trees to use wood or bark for various purposes, or simply to harvest honey. They kill animals for food or for sale. Forest products are very popular. But whether it is for medicinal plants or animals, people often destroy the animals and plants of the forest to generate income and to satisfy their daily needs.

The destruction of the forest has had many negative impacts both on the immediate environment and on the Earth as a whole. For example, forest destruction contributes to the rising temperatures that come with climate change. Destroying the forest also causes the extinction of many species of animals and plants.

Many organizations are working to preserve the forest. One is the World Wild Fund for Nature or WWF, an international organization founded in 1961. The organization’s mission is to stop the degradation of the natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by conserving the world’s biological diversity, promoting the reduction of pollution and waste, and ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable.

WWF has been working in Cameroon since 1989 and manages four programs, including the WWF Coastal Forests Programmme in the South West and Littoral Regions of Cameroon. The interviews you will hear were conducted in one of the programme sites in the Kupe Muanenguba Division, in the South West Region of Cameroon. Among the many biodiversity hotspots in the South West where WWF works, the Kupe Muanenguba area stands out as special.

Sounds of the forest – birds chirping and other animal sounds

Kupe is a mountainous area with peaks that reach over 2,000 metres above sea level. It is largely forested, and its forests are some of the oldest in Africa. In addition to rare plants that grow only in this region, there are also many endangered animal and plant species: primates such as the drill, rare species such as the chameleon, and over 300 species of birds.

Faced with the growing threat of environmental destruction in this region, WWF has been active since the late 1990s. WWF’s activities complement and strengthen the work begun by other organizations such as Birdlife International and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, which organized a campaign in 1999-2000 urging people not to kill endangered animals or cut trees illegally in the forest.

WWF works with communities living in the region. It educates and trains them to generate income without destroying the forest, supporting them with funds, materials and training to conduct their activities and help them find buyers for their products. In this way, WWF is helping to reduce poverty in the local communities and helping them to practice sustainable forest management.

Here are the stories of Ngol’epie, Pa Atabe, and Mbonteh, three people from Kupe Muanenguba Division, who, with the help of the WWF, are contributing to the sustainable management of the forest.


Host: We will first hear from Ngol’epie, who lives in Nyasoso, a small village near the forest of Kupe.

Host: Hi Mr. Ngol’epie, how are you?

Ngol’epie: Hello. I am fine.

Host: Can you tell the listeners how and why you have decided to change from being a hunter to a farmer?

Ngol’epie: Of course. I live in Nyasoso with my family. As a hunter, I would go into the forest daily to kill game for sale, and to harvest tree bark for use in traditional medicine.

I have also worked as a guide for NGOs who work in the forest. But through my relationship with WWF, I learned that my hunting activities were helping to destroy the forest.

One day, when I was in the forest searching for medicinal plants, I saw a palm rat coming out of a hole. I grabbed it. With the help of my dogs, who enlarged the hole, I captured more palm rats in my bag. With my wife, I decided to try breeding these rats. First, I made a wooden cage, but it was unfortunately chewed away by the rats. But thanks to advice and support from WWF, I will make a new cage and continue breeding rats. I feed them with dried fish, bananas, tubers, nuts, field grasses such as sissongo (Editor’s note: also known as bush sugar cane or elephant grass), and potato leaves.

To encourage me, WWF bought me a rickshaw to help carry the feed for the rats. WWF also gives me ongoing advice which helps me not to put pressure on forest animals or the forest in general.

After a year of breeding, the rats have matured and I’m happy to say that I can sell them and can make a good profit.

Because of this, I am convinced that livestock will allow me to earn a living. I used the money from my first sale to buy pigs.

Host: Mr. Ngol’epie, what have you done so that others may benefit from your experience?

Ngol’epie: Following the advice of WWF, I created a group of seven people to jointly manage the livestock. The group is known in my local Bakossi dialect as “Dion de Dienge.” The business is so profitable that we are building a large cage made of aluminum. I now understand that I can live near the forest and make money without having to kill animals in the forest.

Host: Thank you, Mr. Ngol’epie.


Host: After hearing about Mr. Ngol’epie’s experience, we will now hear Pa Atabe’s story. He is a retired civil servant living in Tombel, a village next to the great forest of Kupe. He is involved in honey making.

Forest honey has a particular taste and is very expensive when it is sold in the cities. To harvest forest honey, people cut down trees that hold the hives, thereby destroying the trees.

Let’s hear about Pa Atabe’s experience.

Host: Hello, Pa Atabe.

Pa Atabe: Hello, and hello to all your listeners.

Host: Can you tell us about your experience with honey making and with WWF?

Pa Atabe: Thank you! With support from WWF, I have attended trainings on honey making in the UK and in Cameroon. Here in Tombel, I will train others and together we will create a Common Initiative Group or CIG. It will be called the Tombel-Bangem Bee Farmers Association or TOBA. With the support of WWF, we will learn how to make wooden hives and we will receive protective clothing, tables, bottles, wax, cloth filters and a nursery.

To attract bees in July, August and September, TOBA members burn beeswax at the hive entrance. The smell of the burning wax attracts the bees. We will also plant caliandra nurseries near the hive, because caliandra is a tree which bees seek out. Once attracted to the caliandra tree, the bees gradually settle and build their hives. Several months later – in March, April and May – the honey is harvested and each member brings their harvest to the headquarters of the CIG. The sale is centralized and many local consumers and those from adjacent towns will come.

Host: What kind of benefits can you make from honey making?

Pa Atabe: There are several kinds of benefits. TOBA produces about 2,000 litres of honey each year, which generates approximately 9,000 US dollars in gross income. The incomes of TOBA members have increased and we have created employment for young people. The pressure on the forest from cutting trees to harvest honey has been eliminated.

Host: Finally, our third story is that of Mbonteh, who lives in Tombel.

Host: Hello, Mr. Mbonteh. How are you today?

Mr. Mbonteh: Hello. I am fine, thank you.

Host: You are responsible for an association that contributes to the preservation of the forest through snail breeding. Snail meat is highly valued and sought after in urban centres.
Tell us about your experience.

M. Mbonteh: Bakossi people living in other forested areas collect snails in the forest. Then they sell the snails. But they were destroying other species in the forest. For example, if a hare crossed their path, it would be shot. Although the Bakossis went to the forest to collect snails, they would hunt any other small animal they saw.

Following the campaigns organized by WWF in 2001 with the former Mt. Kupe Forest project, I and other villagers were interested in raising snails at home.

WWF supported us to organize ourselves into groups to raise snails. That is how the group called Community Action for Development or CADEV was formed. WWF trained us in management and writing project proposals.

Snail breeding is very delicate work. It takes three to four months from the time when an egg is laid until maturity. Breeders change snail cages three times during this period. The cages must be carefully managed to control humidity and ventilation. The snails’ food is made from papaya, cocoyam, green leafy vegetables, and bananas.

Throughout this process, WWF supported the group with materials, advice, and trainings conducted in Cameroon and elsewhere. I had the opportunity to participate in training workshops in Nigeria, Chile and South Africa. WWF is also helping CADEV to transport the snails to retail stores and even to negotiate with foreign markets which value snail flesh. Orders from Nigeria and Italy arrive regularly.

The collaboration with WWF has significantly improved the incomes of group members. CADEV’s business generates a monthly profit of about 210 US dollars for the entire group. I became an expert, and was able to train other groups. Several families are raising snails and improving their incomes and living standards. Because snails are no longer harvested in the forest, but rather obtained from snail farms, the pressures on the forest have decreased.


Host: Dear listeners, in conclusion, by focusing on helping communities to sustainably manage natural resources in the South West Region of Cameroon, WWF has been able to support more than 33 community-based organizations which are engaged in various income-generating activities such as beekeeping, snail farming, raising of pigs, cane rats and giant pouched rats. These groups have operated environmentally friendly activities while gradually improving their standard of living.


Contributed by: Serge Kuate, PROTEGE QV, Cameroon, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Janet Molisa, Communication Officer, WWF Coastal Forests Programme, Cameroon and Peter Ngea, Communications Manager, WWF Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO), Yaounde, Cameroon.
Thanks to Ngwene Theophilus, Socio-economic Officer, WWF Coastal Forests Programme, Cameroon; Dr. Atanga Ekobo, Programme Coordinator WWF Coastal Forests Programme Cameroon; and Sylvie Siyam, President of PROTEGE QV.

Information sources
Interviews took place on February 11, 2009.

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

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