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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 #8

Hello to All!

Welcome to Issue 8 of Farm Radio Weekly. This week, we are pleased to feature two stories that demonstrate the creativity and innovation of African farmers. We have a story on East African farmers applying a scientific discovery about special plants that can control unwanted insects. We also have a story about Rwandan coffee farmers improving upon the bicycle – a traditional delivery method – to get the best price for their harvest.

We are also glad to see that FRW readers are using our website, http://weekly.farmradio.org/, to request and share information about Moringa oleifera seeds and Jatropha curcas seeds. If you have not done so already, we invite you to visit the FRW site to chat, or to view some of the photos, video, and audio clips that accompany our stories.

We regret that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the next story of our series on conflict and food will be delayed. We will bring you the next instalment in Issue 9 of Farm Radio Weekly. As always, if you have any story ideas for this series – or any other topic of interest to your rural listeners – please contact FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org.

We hope that you enjoy this issue. Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. East Africa: Small-scale farmers use “push-pull” approach to control pests without chemicals (Africa Science News Service)
2. Rwanda: Farmers boost profits with “coffee bikes” (Edmonton Journal and projectrwanda.com)

Upcoming Events

February 4, 2008 – Deadline to apply for “Soaps & Society” course at RNTC

Radio Resource Bank

Media Resource Pack on Sexual and Reproductive Health

DCFRN Action

Share your opinion about DCFRN’s services!

DCFRN Script of the Week

The “Push-Pull” Approach to Controlling Stem Borers in Maize

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East Africa: Small-scale farmers use “push-pull” approach to control pests without chemicals (Africa Science News Service)

On fields across East Africa, crops are being protected by an invisible barrier. Instead of applying chemical pesticides, farmers are applying a scientific discovery. They are using special plants that actually keep pests away.It’s called the push-pull method of pest control. Farmers plant “push” plants between crop rows to keep pests away. These plants – such as Desmodium – naturally release chemicals that repel unwanted insects.

They also plant “pull” plants around the perimeter of fields where they plant their valuable crops. These plants – such as Napier grass – attract and trap the pests.

The method was developed by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya. Already, thousands of farmers in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya have tried it.

It is a welcome alternative for small-scale farmers who cannot afford commercial pesticides. In fact, they have found it even more effective than pesticides. In trials, the push-pull method has proven very effective in reducing pest damage to maize, as well as helping to control the Striga weed. Compared to traditional methods of pest control, it can triple or quadruple farmers’ yields.

And the push-pull plants don’t go to waste, either. When they have done their job of keeping crops safe, they are also harvested. Most farmers use them to feed cattle.

Researchers have also tried planting traditional crops, like beans, among the push-pull plants.

And there may be more ways to use the push-pull method. Researchers are exploring how the technique could keep unwanted insects away from livestock.

In the future, it may even fight sleeping sickness by keeping the tsetse fly away from people.

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Rwanda: Farmers boost profits with “coffee bikes” (Edmonton Journal and projectrwanda.org)

Célestin grows his coffee in the Kabara region of Rwanda. Like many other coffee farmers, he is only able to transport about 50 kilograms of coffee cherries on an old bicycle. Most of the roads he travels are unpaved. Often, he has to push his old bike through many kilometres of steep hills and valleys to get to a coffee washing station.Célestin was one of the first to try the “coffee bike.” With this new bicycle, he can now transport up to 200 kilograms of coffee cherries. The coffee bike allows him to pedal with ease through Rwanda’s hilly countryside. He says the new bike halves the time it takes him to travel from the field to the washing station.

And this helps him earn more money. The faster the cherries get to the washing station, the better the quality, and the better the price for the farmer. If they can get their cherries to the washing station quickly, farmers can earn 15 US cents per kilogram.According to the organization Sustaining Partnership to Enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development, there are almost half a million small-scale coffee growers in Rwanda. The average plantation has 200 coffee trees. These trees are the main source of income for coffee farmers.

The idea of a coffee bike came from an American NGO called Project Rwanda. An entrepreneur and cyclist from California invented the bikes. They are specially designed with a large carrying platform over the back wheel, making the bike ¾ of meter longer than the average bike and are easy to maintain. As only one in 40 Rwandans can afford a good bicycle, Project Rwanda helps farmers to obtain microcredit loans to purchase coffee bikes.

But it’s not only coffee growers who benefit. Project Rwanda also trains mechanics to assemble and repair the bikes. This ensures the sustainability of the coffee bike project and creates jobs for Rwandans. So far, Project Rwanda has distributed almost 1,000 coffee bikes.

As for Célestin, he figures that his coffee bike cuts one hour off the time he spends transporting his beans to the washing station. What does he do with that hour he has gained? He spends it on other income generating activities.


Celestin riding a Coffee Bike.  source: projectrwanda.org

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Notes to Broadcasters on push-pull pest control:

In this story, we learn how scientists discovered practical uses for chemicals called isoflavones that are naturally created by some plants. Through tests in Eastern Africa, scientists and farmers have learned to use these natural chemicals to assist with the age-old problem of pest damage.
-For visual illustrations of how the push-pull method works, please visit these websites:

-For more details and a full radio script about how the Desmodium legume and Napier weed can “push and pull” pests away from maize, please see our Script of the Week:

You may also wish to talk to farmers in your area about their experiences with alternative pest control methods:
-Have farmers in your area heard of or tried intercropping as a way to control weeds or unwanted insects? Have they tried the push-pull method of pest control?
-Have farmers in your area discovered other alternatives to commercial pesticides? Do they find the alternatives more or less effective in reducing pest damage and increasing yields?

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Notes to Broadcasters on Coffee Bikes:

As demonstrated in this story, the use of “Coffee Bikes” may increase the profits of small-scale coffee farmers. These bright yellow and green coffee bikes were created to be durable and easy to maintain, which is important in countries where road conditions are poor – especially to enable farmers to move quickly and easily to increase the quality of the coffee they deliver to washing stations.

You can get more information on coffee bean processing on the International Coffee Organization’s website: http://www.ico.org/field_processing.asp.

If farmers in your area do not grow coffee, you can also think of investigating how bikes – like the Coffee Bike or other transport innovations – can be useful for farmers in your area. You can adapt this story to highlight the benefits of having good tools and good transportation to bring products to market.

You can use DCFRN radio scripts such as: Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers (Package 82, Script 7, November 2007) or Smartly Designed Animal Cart Helps Sudanese Farmer (Package 80, Script 10, March 2007).

If you want more information on the Coffee Bike, go to Project Rwanda’s website: http://www.projectrwanda.org/.

There are also other projects that use bicycles to better the lives of rural Africans. Here are a few websites that demonstrate such projects:

Finally, here are two videos about the Coffee Bike that may interest you:
-Good Magazine:

-Venuste’s coffee bike (podcast with images):

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February 4, 2008 – Deadline to apply for “Soaps & Society” course at RNTC

The Radio Nederland Training Centre (RNTC) is a Dutch organization that describes itself as a centre of excellence in the field of media, development, and education. It sponsors broadcast professionals from developing countries for intensive training courses held in the Netherlands. The deadline to apply for a full fellowship to the RNTC’s course “Drama for Development: Soaps & Society” has been extended to February 4, 2008. This course will train participants to create dramas that raise awareness and change attitudes on issues affecting specific target groups. The RNTC is also accepting applications for fellowships for courses to be held in 2009, on the topics of: Broadcast Journalism on Social Conflict and Cohesion, Internet for Journalists, and Educational Programme Production. For more information, visit the RNTC’s website: http://www.rnw.nl/rntc/courses/index.php.

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Media Resource Pack on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Panos Media has developed a toolkit designed to help producers and journalists cover the complex issues concerning the right to health and access to sexual and reproductive health services. Good Choice: the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health describes barriers to public discussion on these issues, including stigma, discrimination, legislation, and funding influences that control policy, and how some countries have overcome these barriers. It also provides links to three radio programs available for free download. The programs include interviews on the following issues: illegal abortions (Kenya), men and sexual health services (Zambia), and teen sex (Uganda). The toolkit can be found online at: http://www.panos.org.uk/PDF/reports/relaytoolkit4.pdf.

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Share your opinion about DCFRN’s services!

DCFRN has distributed an online survey to all of our partners with e-mail. The survey asks your opinion on all DCFRN services, including our script packages and Farm Radio Weekly. If you have not done so already, please take a few moments to fill out the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Ky3a7LXnDem7e16uVhw2sg_3d_3d. By telling us how you rate and how you use DCFRN services, you will help us to serve you better, and help us bring you resources on the topics you want, in formats that are easy to use. This survey will also help us prepare a report for DCFRN’s major funder, the Canadian International Development Agency.

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The “Push-Pull” Approach to Controlling Stem Borers in Maize

If your radio organization is in central or eastern Africa, your rural listeners may be particularly interested in this script. It gives further details about the push-pull pesticide control method described in our news story, including some practical information for farmers who may wish to try this technique. The script focuses on how the push-pull method can keep stem borers away from maize.

This script can be found online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/72-10script_en.asp

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