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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 #66

Hello to all!

We extend a warm greeting to this week’s newest subscriber: Sammy Geoffrey, a small-scale farmer who works for Samcom, in Kenya. We hope you enjoy this week’s issue, and look forward to your participation in the FRW community.

Our first story of the week looks at Liberian women who are endeavouring to rebuild their lives and provide for their families following the country’s civil war. They have formed a cooperative, and together they plant both indigenous and NERICA varieties of rice, in hopes of securing a year-round supply of the grain.

Our second story looks at an increasingly popular way to turn trash into treasure – or, in this case, banana waste into fuel. The story describes how to make fuel briquettes using only banana stems, leaves, and peels, while the related Notes to Broadcasters suggests ways to investigate the use of waste materials as sources of fuel in your area.

In this week’s Farm Radio Action section, Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali, tells us what broadcasters learned at the recent AMARC conference in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Script of the Week kicks off a new series that we know you’ll enjoy. It introduces us to a young Maasai couple from Tanzania who will share their hopes and fears, joys and struggles with us as they experience pregnancy and childbirth for the first time.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Liberia: Women mix indigenous and NERICA rice in effort to bridge “hunger gap” (Inter Press Service)

2. East Africa: Handmade banana briquettes could replace firewood (BBC News)

Upcoming Events

June 15, 2009: Deadline to apply for International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award

Radio Resource Bank

Updated manual on HIV and AIDS reporting

Farm Radio Action

4th Pan African AMARC Africa Conference strengthens community radio (by Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali)

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Let’s talk about it: A young couple plans pregnancy and childbirth

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1. Liberia: Women mix indigenous and NERICA rice in effort to bridge “hunger gap” (Inter Press Service)

Three brightly-clothed women enter a clearing strewn with charred trees. Each carries seashells filled with indigenous rice seed. They spend their day hunched over, using small spades to dig in rich soil. Between them, they plant three hectares of rice under a blazing sun. Their indigenous variety of rice will be ready for harvest in about six months.These women are the sole providers for their children. They belong to a local cooperative known as the Women and Children Development Secretariat. Their goal is to keep food on their table year round. In the past, indigenous rice crops have not providedbeen enough. So this year, the women will also plant NERICA rice.
The cooperative’s farm is in eastern Liberia’s Grand Gedha County. They planted the indigenous rice on the upland portion of their field. NERICA will be planted in the swampy lowland.

NERICA is short for New Rice for Africa. It’s a hybrid variety created to produce high yields, tolerate drought, and resist common pests. It is also early maturing, so farmers can get harvest more crops per year. The Liberian government promotes NERICA as an answer to the rainy season hunger gap. A German NGO donated NERICA seed to the cooperative.

Jeanet Gay is a member of the cooperative. She still mourns her husband, mother, father, and brothers, all lost during Liberia’s civil war. She is determined to take care of her children. She hopes that planting both indigenous and NERICA rice will provide enough food and income.

Betty Doh is the founder of the cooperative. She also hopes that the addition of NERICA will boost their rice yields. But she knows NERICA is not a guaranteed solution. She observes that the cooperative lacks fertilizer and effective pest deterrence. These inputs are important to achieving good yields with NERICA. And unlike indigenous rice seed, which can be saved year after year, NERICA seed should be purchased every two years.

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2. East Africa: Handmade banana briquettes could replace firewood (BBC News)

For every banana prepared as a meal or enjoyed as a snack, a lot of waste is produced. Banana peels pile up in the trash heap. Not to mention the banana stems left standing in the field. But people are learning that banana waste isn’t waste at all. With a little effort, it can be turned into fuel.
In the banana-growing countries of east Africa, heaps of banana peels have triggered innovation. The town of Lungujja is just outside of Kampala, Uganda. Ten years ago, a women’s group from Lungujja made a discovery. They mixed chopped banana peels, charcoal dust, and fine sand to make charcoal briquettes.
Today, banana briquettes are gaining international attention, thanks to research at Britain’s Nottingham University. Joel Chaney is a PhD student at Nottingham. His studies took him to Rwanda where he saw the abundance of banana waste. He also witnessed the daily efforts of women to collect firewood.

Back in the university laboratory, Mr. Chaney developed a way to make briquettes by using every kind of banana waste. He makes briquettes from banana stems, leaves, and peels, and nothing else.

He explains that banana briquettes can be made without any mechanical equipment. First, you mash up a pile of rotting skins and leaves. This makes a sticky pulp. Next, you mix the pulp with bits of dried banana stem.

There are two ways of turning this mixture into a briquette. You can form it into a ball with your hands. Or, you can use a press to squeeze the materials together.

After the mixture is pressed into briquettes, leave them outside in the sun for two weeks. When the briquettes are dry, they are ready to be used. They should ignite easily and give off a steady heat.

Mr. Chaney hopes that banana briquettes will replace firewood in more African homes. This would lighten the load for women who traditionally walk long distances to gather firewood.

The more banana briquettes are used as an alternative to firewood, the more forests are saved. When people heat their stoves with banana briquettes, they don’t have to turn to the forest for fuel.

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Notes to broadcasters on NERICA and indigenous rice:

Ten years ago, the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) developed a new hybrid rice, which is a cross between African and Asian varieties. Called New Rice for Africa, or NERICA, the hybrid rice was designed to overcome problems that commonly limit rice yields. It is drought tolerant and pest resistant. With fertilization, it is high yielding. It is also fast-maturing, a feature that interested the Liberian women’s cooperative in our news story.http://www.warda.org/warda/guide-compend.asp.
-For a critique of NERICA produced by the NGO GRAIN, go to: http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=621.

NERICA has raised hopes for increased rice yields in Africa. But, like all crop varieties, it comes with potential benefits and risks. Without inputs such as chemical fertilizer, farmers may not obtain good yields from NERICA. And, since it is a hybrid, NERICA seeds must be purchased (while open-pollinated, indigenous seeds can be saved year after year).

You may consider hosting an on-air panel discussion among experts, including farmers, about traditional crops and the use of hybrids. Allow time for farmers to call or text-in to ask questions or describe their experiences. Some questions for discussion include:
-What are the area’s traditional crops? What are the benefits of these crops, such as adaptation to the land and climate, nutrition, taste, etc? Do many farmers still grow these crops, and on what scale?
-Do farmers in the area use hybrid seeds? Where are they purchased and how much do they cost? Are chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides required to get good yields from these hybrids? What precautions should farmers take to protect their family’s food security when trying a new hybrid variety for the first time?

-For more information on NERICA, visit the WARDA website:Ten years ago, the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) developed a new hybrid rice, which is a cross between African and Asian varieties. Called New Rice for Africa, or NERICA, the hybrid rice was designed to overcome problems that commonly limit rice yields. It is drought tolerant and pest resistant. With fertilization, it is high yielding. It is also fast-maturing, a feature that interested the Liberian women’s cooperative in our news story.

NERICA has raised hopes for increased rice yields in Africa. But, like all crop varieties, it comes with potential benefits and risks. Without inputs such as chemical fertilizer, farmers may not obtain good yields from NERICA. And, since it is a hybrid, NERICA seeds must be purchased (while open-pollinated, indigenous seeds can be saved year after year).

You may consider hosting an on-air panel discussion among experts, including farmers, about traditional crops and the use of hybrids. Allow time for farmers to call or text-in to ask questions or describe their experiences. Some questions for discussion include:
-What are the area’s traditional crops? What are the benefits of these crops, such as adaptation to the land and climate, nutrition, taste, etc? Do many farmers still grow these crops, and on what scale?
-Do farmers in the area use hybrid seeds? Where are they purchased and how much do they cost? Are chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides required to get good yields from these hybrids? What precautions should farmers take to protect their family’s food security when trying a new hybrid variety for the first time?

-For more information on NERICA, visit the WARDA website:

The following scripts about NERICA were produced as part of a CTA-Farm Radio scriptwriting competition African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change:
Growing NERICA is a farming solution for coping with climate change (Package 84, Script 2, August 2008)
New rice variety for Africa to save wetlands in Uganda (Package 84, Script 3, August 2008).
-For a critique of NERICA produced by the NGO GRAIN, go to: http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=621.

The following scripts about NERICA were produced as part of a CTA-Farm Radio scriptwriting competition African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change:
Growing NERICA is a farming solution for coping with climate change (Package 84, Script 2, August 2008)
New rice variety for Africa to save wetlands in Uganda (Package 84, Script 3, August 2008)

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Notes to broadcasters on banana briquettes:

In communities around the world, people are discovering that materials formerly thought of as waste can be transformed into fuel. In some cases, communities have been turning waste products into efficient fuels for years. In other communities, people are just starting to adapt briquette and other fuel technologies to locally available waste.An alternative fuel source: Make charcoal briquettes from banana peels (Package 76, Script 5, October 2005)

While banana briquettes are gaining interest in eastern Africa where bananas are abundant, fuel briquettes can be made from many other materials. Plant materials such as rice straw, sugarcane bagasse (the pulp that remains after the juice is extracted from sugar cane), grass clippings, and dried leaves can all be made into briquettes. Household waste such as paper and cartons can also be used.

You may wish to find out if people in your area make fuel out of waste materials, in the form of briquettes, pellets, or other forms. The following questions may help you investigate a news feature:
-How did local people discover this method of producing fuel?
-What materials do they use to make fuel?
-What is the process of transforming the waste into briquettes or pellets? What are some tips for making the fuel?
-Why do people choose to make this type of fuel (for example, to save time gathering wood, or to conserve the forest)?
-Do people make briquettes only for their own use? Are there individuals or groups who sell briquettes?
-Have the people who use these alternative fuels stopped harvesting firewood from the forest? Do they harvest less from the forest?

-To learn more about how women in Lungujja, Uganda make banana briquettes, see this Farm Radio International script:

-To watch a video of Joel Chaney making banana briquettes, click here: http://www.test-tube.org.uk/videos/pages_joel_bananas.htm. (Note: Since Mr. Chaney is making briquettes at a university laboratory in England, he does not have access to banana stems. Therefore, he substitutes sawdust for banana stems.)

For more examples of briquette production from a variety of waste materials, visit the websites for the following organizations:
-Changemakers (an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public): http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/22779#comment-17403
-The Foundation for Sustainable Technologies in Nepal: http://www.fost-nepal.org/

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June 15, 2009: Deadline to apply for International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award

Celebrated around the world every 1st Sunday in March, International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) is a day for broadcasters to focus on children and youth. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) invites broadcasters who participated in this year’s ICDB to apply for the award. It will be presented to broadcasters who produced the best programs reflecting the 2009 ICDB theme: Unite for Children ? Tune in to Kids, and who demonstrate an overall dedication to youth participation in media. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2009.
For more information on the award and how to apply, go to:
http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/video_18112.html.

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Updated manual on HIV and AIDS reporting

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its HIV and AIDS reporting manual. The manual covers a broad range of subjects, including the unique challenges of reporting on HIV and AIDS, treatment and prevention strategies, key figures in the struggle against HIV and AIDS, and global efforts to finance the campaign against HIV and AIDS. It answers journalists’ questions such as: How can I pitch a story about HIV and AIDS to my editor? How can I find reliable information about HIV and AIDS on the Internet? What are the common stereotypes that slip into HIV and AIDS reporting?
You can find the updated HIV and AIDS reporting manual online: http://www.kff.org/hivaids/upload/7124-05.pdf.

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4th Pan African AMARC Africa Conference strengthens community radio (by Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali)

From April 27-30, 2009, the historic village of Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, was the meeting place for 147 members and supporters of community radio in Africa, who came from across the African continent as well as Europe, North America, and Asia. They were gathered for AMARC Africa’s 4th Pan African Conference.http://africa.amarc.org/index.php?p=Pan_African_Conferences&l=EN.)

AMARC Africa invited participants to reflect on the theme: “Increasing the social impact of community radio for poverty reduction, good governance, and adaption to climate change.” In order to raise the level and quality of reflection, many organizations that support radio answered AMARC’s request to be part of the conference, including: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UNESCO, PANOS Institute, Farm Radio International, Radio Netherlands, and Enda Tiers Monde. Farm Radio International was asked to share its expertise in developing radio programs for farmers.

Farm Radio International’s contribution was to organize a workshop on writing introductions to radio programs. Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator, and I hosted this workshop on April 29. Twenty-five people participated, most of whom were rural radio host and producers. The workshop took a participatory approach, asking participants to identify the criteria for best radio scripts and to put these techniques into practice by drafting an introduction to a radio script.

The workshop participants shared their feelings on what they had learned. Diogo Simplice from Côte d’Ivoire declared, “The most important thing about a script is clear writing.” Olga Ouermi Toumbouli from Radio RCLD in Djibo, Burkina Faso learned that the intro has to provide “the best hook for the audience.” Louis Roland De Paul from Radio Sita FM in Befang, Cameroon found that the workshop “was very enriching,” while Philip Togbé from the Reseau des Radios Communautaires of Togo said, “It reviewed the steps for radio writing,” and Yagui Issagou, president of Reseau des Radios Communautaires of Benin said, “I really appreciated the way the workshop was run.” Adjoa Hanou Adjisseku said, “Given the importance of the introduction, I begin to understand that a good introduction should create an image.” Dja from Ghana concluded that, “The introduction has to be poignant, build suspense, and capture the audience”.
Workshop participants unanimously requested that Farm Radio International hold more workshops for African rural radio stations. They also requested support for the exchange of radio programming among Farm Radio International’s radio partners. At the end of the workshop, Ms. McKay encouraged participation in a scriptwriting competition on local innovation which Farm Radio International is preparing to launch. This competition will include an online training component. (Stay tuned to Farm Radio Weekly for more information on this upcoming scriptwriting competition.)

This Pan African conference also hosted discussions groups and plenaries, which charted a course for community radio action in support of the reduction of conflict and good governance in Africa, women’s rights and equality, engaging civil society in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and climate change adaptation. The conference provided the opportunity to set strategic directions for the strengthening of community radio in Africa, the development of radio program content, the evaluation of the social impact of community radio, and the exercise of freedom of communication.

On the last point, the experience of Farm Radio International‘s radio drama project in Nigeria, and the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) (which takes place in 5 African countries), were cited as examples of successful radio-based participatory communication campaigns.

The general assembly of voting members was brought together to validate the new constitution and elect a new administrative council. (To see the list of new members, click here:

The choice of Côte d’Ivoire to host the 4th Pan African AMARC Conference was “a mark of solidarity with the Ivorian people, as well as testament to the engagement of AMARC radios with Ivorian radios stations.” For this reason, Ivorian authorities at the highest level showed their support for the conference being held in Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivorian Minister of Communication, Ibrahim Sy Savané declared that the role entrusted to community radio is a vision that his department shares.

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Let’s talk about it: A young couple plans pregnancy and childbirth

This week’s script is the first in a special series that is sure to captivate you and your listeners. Through eight interviews conducted over one year, the series tells a story that is both personal and universal – that of a young couple planning for their first child.

In this first installment, we meet the couple in their home in Arusha district, Tanzania. They tell us about their hopes and fears as they plan their family. In the coming weeks, the series will continue in FRW’s Script of the Week section. We will follow the couple through pregnancy and the birth of their child, learning important lessons about how couples can make decisions about maternal health care along the way.

Notes to broadcaster

When couples are expecting a child, many men and women are uncomfortable talking about issues such as child care, pregnancy, delivery, and the role of men and women in these issues. In some cultures, the husband is the primary person with whom a pregnant woman would discuss such matters; neighbours or close friends can also be involved.

In other cultures, female elders, midwives, and the mother-in-law have a special role to play in encouraging discussion and providing advice to the pregnant woman. Today, however, younger women frequently do not want to follow their advice, even when they advise women to go to a health facility for care.

To talk about these issues, we have visited a couple in a village in Arusha district, Tanzania. They were married one year ago, and have made plans, including how they can make their life prosperous and take care of their children.

This script contains eight separate interviews with the couple, spanning a period from before the wife was pregnant until after the child is born. There are several ways to use this script. You could use it as a guide to interviewing an expectant couple in your own area. Read closely through the kinds of questions and issues in the interviews. Find out how couples in your area prepare for childbirth. Who makes the decisions? Do husbands and wives discuss these issues together? You may also choose to air these interviews as they are, making adaptations to your local situation. The eight interviews could be aired for eight days in a row, or once a week for eight weeks.

This script is based on actual interviews. If you choose to use voice actors to represent the couple who are being interviewed, 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 interview, and that the program has been adapted for your local audience, but is based on a real interview.

Also, some of the cultural customs and traditions followed by the couple and their families may be different than those of your listening audience. Feel free to adapt the script to the cultural context of your listening audience. Or you could present the story as occurring in a different culture with different values and traditions.

Characters:
Producer
Husband
Wife

Setting: Rural community

Presenter: It is often difficult for young men and women to discuss issues related to pregnancy and childbirth. Younger women appear to have little information about childbirth before they have their baby, and they do not feel comfortable asking questions. Men often appear uncaring or uninterested in pregnancy and childbirth, and women may be reluctant to tell their husbands that they are pregnant. Our producer visited a young couple aged 23 years and 22 years, living near Arusha, Tanzania. They live a poor life and are self-employed, depending on whatever daily labour they can find. They live just next to the husband’s parents, but depend on their own efforts to survive. The discussion with our producer and the young couple follows.

First interview – before the pregnancy

Signature tune up. Hold 10 seconds and fade out.

Producer: What plans do you have for your family?

Husband: Our first plan is to go out of our poverty.

Producer: How about children? What have you planned?

Husband: Yes, we have planned to have children, if God blesses us with that.

SFX: Barking of a dog

Producer: How many children are you expecting to have?

Husband: We have discussed the issue and we will continue planning until we reach an agreement.

Wife: We had planned during our engagement period to have three. I said two, my husband wants three, but I didn’t agree, and I am still thinking. (Wife, husband and producer laughing)

Producer: Who makes the decision on the number of children?

Wife: I think we are both responsible. But men sometimes want to take control of it.

Producer: It seems that in your family you have agreed that the husband will not take over and decide. Why have you decided to have only two or three children?

Wife: We are poor. Life is not easy. There is no money and it is difficult to make money. If you have ten children and you are poor, you cannot manage them. They would live a difficult life and it is like bringing them into a life of problems. To have a few children is better than having many, because you can show love to them.

Producer: As the father of the family, when do you plan to have these two or three children?

Husband: We thought to have our firstborn after one year, and it is almost that time now. And we are praying to have one.

Producer: Why are you thinking like this instead of having a child immediately after your marriage?

Husband: It is because marriage is like birth. You will be like kids in a marriage in the beginning; you are just married and you expect a child right away. I think that even your economic situation is not good if you have just started married life. You don’t have any direction how life will be. This is a problem for many newly married couples. I advise at least one year, and then you can have a child, instead of immediately and then there are problems. You are facing a new thing you have never faced before.

Producer: How do you plan to chase away poverty?

Husband: Maybe to work hard. It doesn’t matter what job you choose. Even if it’s mopping or cleaning, you must be ready to work hard to reduce poverty and live a good life.

Producer: I can see you have cows, chicken, goats and a farm. This shows at least you can earn something for a living. Did your parents advise you about marriage?

Wife: They have never advised us about anything. They are typical Maasai and they depend on their cultural traditions completely. The father-in-law can’t even come in my house. They are not ready to advise anything. But we have received advice from close friends.

Producer: Perhaps the husband was advised?

Husband: No. None of our parents say, “If you do this, you will be like this, or this will happen.” They advise you to have ten cows, but if you consider this, it does not produce any profit. Now we are farming a small plot intensively, and the one cow we have produces a lot of milk.

Producer: Wife, do you have any worries about marriage?

Wife: Yes. I am afraid of being poor. I am worried about whether I will manage to take care of my children and take them to school. Sometimes I believe I will succeed and have a good life, but sometimes I am afraid.

Producer: Husband, you are planning to have a child after one year of marriage. What are your worries?

Husband: About the neighbours. What are they saying about me? Will I manage to build a good house and take care of my family? To build a modern house takes a lot of money and my salary is very little. I do casual labour and the pay is very little, and as it depends on the work that I can find, I cannot predict how much money I will have. Will I manage? Will I be a good father who cares and gives a chance to my wife to have a good life?

Signature tune up. Hold 10 seconds and fade out.

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