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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 #3

Hello to all!

Welcome to Issue 3 of Farm Radio Weekly. We hope that you are enjoying this new service of the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network – and hope that it is helping you in your efforts to keep the airwaves filled with interesting programs.

One of our main goals is to bring you news stories that are relevant to small-scale farmers. In recent weeks, we noticed many reports from African newspapers about rising cereal prices, especially in West Africa. So we asked reporter Idy Sy Diop in Dakar, Senegal to speak to farmers and find out how they are affected by this trend. We are pleased to bring you his special report.

As the UN wrapped up its conference on climate change, the past week also brought much debate over the opportunities and potential threats posed by the growing demand for biofuels. In this edition of FRW, we offer a report that reflects some of the new developments and new voices in this debate. In the coming weeks and months, we plan to bring you more stories on issues related to agriculture and climate change. Please take a moment to visit FRW’s online site: http://weekly.farmradio.org/ to take our poll about climate change (you will find it on the left hand side of the page under the weekly poll heading) and tell us which of the issues listed interests your listeners the most!

We also have a special treat for you in this week’s Radio Resource Bank – a story of how the Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station in Mchinji District, Malawi used an MP3 player to keep their programming on the air when their Studio-to-Transmitter Links failed. If you have a great story you’d like to share with the FRW community, please send an email to farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we will gladly feature it in the next issue!

Finally, we would like to extend a special greeting to all those who will celebrate Eid al-Adha this week. Happy Eid! And happy reading to all!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. West Africa: Rising cereal prices welcomed by farmers, but raise concern among authorities, written by Idy Sy Diop, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Dakar
2. Africa: The promise and potential perils of biofuels (Various Sources)
3. Benin: The Moringa oleifera tree helps people living with HIV regain their strength (Farm Radio Weekly, Agence France Press, and AllAfrica.com)
4. Uganda: Egg shells can be a source of calcium – and profit (The Monitor)

Upcoming Events

-May 18-21, 2008 – Leading Businesswomen of Africa Forum
-September 3-5, 2008 – World Agricultural Forum

Radio Resource Bank

– MP3 player keeps Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station on the air
-Free audio available on FAO website

DCFRN Action

-New script package focuses on rural women’s health issues
-Congratulations to Pacôme Tomètissi of ReJPoD!

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African Farm News in Review

You are welcome to use the news pieces below in any way that suits your radio organization. You may wish to read one or more of the news pieces directly onto the air, adapt them to be more relevant to your audience, or simply use them as ideas for news stories to research locally. However you use the African Farm News in Review, we would like to know! Please post a comment on FRW’s online site or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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1. West Africa: Rising cereal prices welcomed by farmers, but raise concern among authorities, written by Idy Sy Diop, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Dakar

Following a global market trend, grain prices in some West African countries have increased, despite a concurrent increase in production.

Rice producers in the Senegal River Valley who have just started collecting their harvests for 2007-2008 noted the rise in prices with satisfaction.

Djiby Diaw, the head of a farmers’ association in the Senegal River Valley, told Farm Radio Weekly that the trends are promising and the yields are normal. He said that the price of unshelled rice currently varies between 9,000 and 10,000 FCFA (up to 22 US dollars or 15 Euros) per 85 kilogram bag. This is almost twice what farmers were receiving in previous years, when prices ranged between 5,000 and 6,000 FCFA (up to 13 US dollars or 9 Euros).

Mr. Diaw says that farmers in his region do not know all the reasons that grain prices have risen, but they will be happy if the prices stay at the higher level.

Figures provided by the government of Burkina Faso show that prices there have risen more modestly in some provinces: up 22 per cent for white maize, 12 per cent for sorghum, and 11 per cent for millet. However, the authorities state that these price increases have only happened in provinces where production deficits were reported.

Salife Diallo is the Burkinabe Minister of Agriculture. He has accused corrupt traders of being behind increases in provinces where cereal production is sufficient.

The governments of both Senegal and Burkina Faso view these increases as a cause for concern. Higher prices can make locally grown grains inaccessible to the poor, especially at a time when the prices of imported cereals such as rice and wheat are steadily climbing.

The latest figures provided by the Inter-state Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel – whose member states are mostly West African countries – show that approximately 15 million tons of cereals were produced in 2007. This represents an increase of nearly 17 per cent over the average for the past five years.

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2. Africa: The promise and potential perils of biofuels (Various Sources)

As the cost of fossil fuels rises and concern over climate change grows, the demand for biofuels – or fuels made from plant and animal sources – is steadily increasing.Governments and corporations from many African countries are investing in machinery to process crops such as maize, sorghum, sugarcane, and jatropha into fuel, in hopes of generating livelihoods and profits. But serious concerns have been raised about the production of biofuels, particularly that it could lead to food shortages by diverting farmland from food production to fuel production.

The crux of this issue was highlighted recently in South Africa. Citing food security concerns, the South African government announced that it would not allow maize to be used for biofuels. Several days later, the government reversed its position under pressure from maize producers.

Farmers see biofuel processing as a valuable new market for crops. In South Africa, the use of maize for biofuels is seen as a rescue plan for farmers who have struggled to stay profitable as bumper harvests have pushed maize prices to multi-year lows. The government now states that as long as farmers can meet domestic food demand for maize, surplus crops may be sold for biofuels.

It is not clear, however, whether the average farmer will benefit from biofuel production, or whether only corporations or individuals with large plantations will profit. A Mozambican initiative to process coconut meat into biodiesel demonstrated how challenging it can be for small-scale farmers to supply a large-scale fuel processing plant.

A plant equipped to process up to 5,000 litres of biodiesel per hour was opened near the capital city of Maputo this August. But the plant sits idle because local farmers cannot provide enough quality coconut meat. As Anna Lerner, a consultant with the South African Development Community’s Programme for Biomass Energy explains, small farmers often lack the infrastructure to properly harvest and preserve their crops for biofuel processing.

Many concerned parties have even greater fears – worrying that small-scale farmers, unable to participate in the biofuels trend, may actually be forced off of the most fertile lands.

But there is also great hope for an oil seed plant called jatropha. Jatropha has been identified as one of the best plants for biofuel production and it can grow on land unsuitable for most food crops. A pilot project in the eastern provinces of Kenya is testing the potential for jatropha to help farmers generate incomes on semi-arid lands. Some 950 farmers will learn to cultivate and process jatropha as part of this trial.

Meanwhile, analysts looking at global trends in biofuel production frequently conclude that the surge in biofuels demand will inevitably affect food prices. Siwa Msangi is a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. He believes that food and fuel prices will be closely linked in the future, and that when energy prices rise, so will food prices. Mr. Msangi says this situation is detrimental to the poor who, on average, spend more than half of their income on food, but generate little demand for fuel.

Dr. Shem Arungu Olende is the secretary general of the African Academy of Sciences. He cautions that while biofuel production could drive growth in agriculture and rural development, there is no guarantee that the new industry will have a positive impact. Dr. Arungu Olende argues that African governments must develop strong policies that take into account the need for both food and fuel, in order to prevent conflict between the two interests.

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3. Benin: The Moringa oleifera tree helps people living with HIV regain their strength (Farm Radio Weekly, Agence France Press, and AllAfrica.com)

A Paris-based NGO has joined forces with people living with HIV in Benin in a study into the nutritional benefits of food products produced from Moringa oleifera trees.The NGO, Médecins du Monde, provides the Moringa oleifera seeds and support for its harvesting and processing by people in seven communes in southern Benin. People with HIV in these communes are currently growing trees on plots of land given to their associations.

The Moringa tree, also called “kpatima” in the local Fon language, or horseradish tree in English, is a native of India, famed for its exceptional nutritional qualities. For example, Moringa oleifera leaves contain four times more calcium and vitamin A than milk and carrots respectively. Moringa is typically used in the fight against child malnutrition.

Lise Helene Pourteau Adjahi is the coordinator of the Moringa tree project for Médecins du Monde in Benin. She said that growing their own trees allows people with HIV to improve their diets. All parts of the Moringa oleifera tree are edible, and the price of seeds is reasonable. It costs 2,500 CFA, or approximately 5.5 US dollars or 4 Euros, to obtain 100 seeds.

Nicholas Ahouansou is the president of an association of HIV positive people in Comè – one of the municipalities taking part of the project. He said he had never planted a tree in his life, but for many people with HIV who were rejected by their communities and who have lost their livelihoods because they lack strength, this tree provides hope and dignity.

Poor nutrition aggravates the immune deficiency of HIV patients and compromises antiretroviral treatment. Boosting nutrition levels in people living with HIV and AIDS is important in maintaining their health. However, it is important to note that consumption of Moringa, though nutritional, is not a miracle cure and is not a substitute for antiretroviral drugs.

Valerie is one of the farmers living with HIV in the commune of Kpomassé, 35 kilometres from Comè. She said that this plant is wonderful and cultivating her own Moringa oleifera tree makes her more independent. She says she eats everything in the tree from the roots to the leaves and the flowers.

In the future, Médecins du Monde hopes to have HIV positive people generate income by marketing processed Moringa products, thus ensuring the sustainability of such an initiative.

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4. Uganda: Egg shells can be a source of calcium – and profit (The Monitor)

A Ugandan woman has developed a product that could make poultry farming more profitable.

Jessica Nanyunja was studying nutrition at Kyambogo University near Kampala when she wondered why egg shells – a good source of calcium – are thrown away.

She explained her thoughts to a local newspaper: “I realised that poultry farming was on the increase but egg shells were put to waste. I also realised that farmers would get more money for the sale of eggs if the shells were of some economic value. These are among the factors that encouraged me to…establish the best way to promote their use for the benefit of poultry farmers and to tap the rather wasted source of calcium.”

As part of her university project, Ms. Nanyunja prepared a paste of egg shell powder and honey and presented it to a panel of lecturers. The panel enjoyed the nutritious paste and Ms. Nanyunja’s entrepreneurial spirit took off from there.

She began purchasing egg shells from local bakeries. She washes and crushes the shells into a powder, which she markets as a calcium supplement. Ms. Nanyunja sells the powder in 400 gram tins for about 6 US dollars, or 4 Euros, at her nutrition centre in the Kampala suburb of Nateete.

Egg shells are very nutritious because of their high concentration of calcium – a mineral that the body needs to build and maintain strong bones. The calcium from egg shells is particularly beneficial because they contain other nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin D that help the body use calcium.

Ms. Nanyunja says she already has loyal customers for her crushed egg shell supplement, but she is looking to expand her market by establishing healthy supplement levels for different age groups. She is even experimenting with different flavours of crushed egg shells. In their simple state, crushed egg shells can be sprinkled over meals for a nutritional boost.

The nutritionist and entrepreneur believes that this sort of processing and promoting of food products has great potential to improve farmers’ incomes.

She has also experimented with post-harvest processing of some local crops. She purchases and processes pumpkin seeds, which are a good source of the mineral zinc, and katunkuma – tiny bitter tomatoes which are believed to promote healthy blood pressure.

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Notes to Broadcasters

This week’s African Farm News in Review included stories on two very complex issues – global cereal prices and biofuel production – in which research, opinions, and experiences vary widely. As always, we are including additional information and resources on all of the week’s news pieces, which may help you to further explore these issues. We invite you to share any ideas and resources related to this week’s news stories with the FRW community by posting a comment on the FRW website: http://weekly.farmradio.org/.

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Notes to Broadcasters on Cereal Prices:

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global cereal prices are expected to remain high in the coming year. In a recent news release, the FAO cited unfavourable weather, low stocks, and strong demand among the reasons for the trend (http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2007/1000697/index.html). Many news reports have highlighted concerns that rising cereal prices could threaten food security in some areas. But as Idy Sy Diop’s special report shows, the global trend may also be beneficial to small-scale farmers who make their living in cereal production.

You may consider conducting a call-in show or researching a local news story on how farmers in your area have been affected by the cereal price trends:
-As the harvest season begins, how do this year’s cereal prices compare with last year’s cereal prices?
-Are farmers expecting a normal harvest or have factors such as weather patterns or input availability led to an increase or decrease in expected harvests?
-Are higher prices for imported cereals such as rice and wheat causing food security concerns in your area?

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Notes to Broadcasters on Biofuels:

With so many governments and corporations across Africa investing in biofuel processing, we imagine that farmers in many different countries want to learn more about this “hot topic”. In this news piece, we have endeavoured to bring you some of the latest developments and voices in the ongoing debate about biofuel production. As you will see, the picture is not clear, and there are strong opinions on all sides.
Here are some ideas for local news stories you could research:
-What do farmers in your area think about the idea of selling crops for biofuel production?
-If a biofuel processing plant is planned for 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?)

If you have produced a news piece featuring the thoughts or experiences of local farmers with biofuel production – or if you plan to produce a news piece on this topic – we would love to share it with the FRW community! Please e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at: hmiller@farmradio.org to discuss how you may contribute to African Farm News in Review.

Following are some sites that you may wish to visit for more information on biofuels:
The full text of Siwa Msangi’s article: Biofuel Revolution Threatens Food Security for the Poor:
The full text of Dr. Shem Arungu Olende’s article: Biofuels – Benefits and Risks for Developing Countries:
The DCFRN script entitled Jatropha – Not Just a BioFuel Crop! (Package 80, Script 7, March 2007):
The latest edition of Biofuels Supplement – a bi-weekly newsletter produced by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech applications:
The South African Biofuels Association’s resource page:

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Notes to Broadcasters on Moringa oleifera:

As described in the text, Moringa oleifera has multiple uses and can be important for people with HIV. According to Lise Helene Pourteau Adjahi, head of the Médecins du Monde project in Benin, several parts of Moringa oleifera can be consumed. “The leaves can be eaten as a salad for example, or as spinach. You just have to be careful not to over cook them because otherwise you lose some vitamins. The leaves can be dried and turned into powder, which has the advantage of easy storage. The advantage of the powder is that when it is put in the sauce, it is colourless. The Moringa’s flowers can be consumed in the form of fritters, and it seems that it tastes like mushrooms. The roots of the tree can also be fried. Simply remove the bark because the bark is not good to eat as it gives a bitter taste. Everything in this tree is eatable.” Also, in order to get the best nutritional value from Moringa leaves, it is better to boil leaves only once and use the water in which they were boiled as a nutritional beverage. Moringa leaf powder is rich in iron and calcium, so it is recommended that pregnant and lactating women consume it. Also, drying the leaves in the shade helps preserve more than half of the vitamin A it contains.

In addition, the high levels of selenium, a micronutrient in Moringa oleifera leaves, have significant positive impacts on people living with HIV. Studies have shown that people who eat dried Moringa leaf powder have a greater appetite and consequently increase their weight. According to Dr. Pourteau Adjahi , “selenium would have the advantage of strengthening the immune defences of people who use it, especially HIV patients. What we found is that these patients, who are receiving nutritional support, recover their immune, meaning their lymphocytes, faster than others who have no support.”

The Moringa tree has many other benefits beyond the nutritional value mentioned here. You can learn more about the Moringa tree through DCFRN scripts such as The Many Uses of the Moringa Tree (Package 71, Script 3, June 2004), Grow Moringa for Food and Fodder (Package 71, Script 4, June 2004), Use Moringa Seeds to Clean Dirty or Polluted Water (Package 54, Script 11, January 2000).

You can also find more information about the Moringa tree and its leaves on the following websites:

Finally, here is a website that gives you some Moringa recipes:

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Notes to Broadcasters on Egg Shells:

This story provides an interesting example of value-added food processing. As the nutritionist and entrepreneur in this story demonstrates, processing foods can have many economic benefits, not only for the processor, but also for the farmers who enjoy greater demand for their food. Often, it means that a perishable food can be preserved so that it does not have to be eaten immediately, or, as in the case of egg shell powder, that a formerly discarded by-product is given a use and value.

You may wish to research examples of farmers and other entrepreneurs in your community who have found innovative ways to process and market local foods:
-What sort of market research did the entrepreneurs conduct to ensure that consumers, distributors, or retailers would be interested in purchasing their new products?
-Were the entrepreneurs supported by local organizations such as farmers’ cooperatives or micro-credit institutions?
-How have farmers adapted to increased demand for the locally produced food?
-Have local consumers received any particular benefits from this processing and re-sale of the food product (such as improved access to nutritious foods)?

We would love to hear the stories of food processing entrepreneurs from your community, and possibly develop them into news articles for Farm Radio Weekly. If you know of an innovative entrepreneur whose story you would like to share, please e-mail FRW Editor Heather Miller at: hmiller@farmradio.org.

To find DCFRN scripts on food processing and storage, please visit: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp.

If you are interested in further information on the nutritional benefits of egg shells and pumpkin seeds, you may visit the following sites:
Nourished Magazine’s article on egg shells:
The World’s Healthiest Foods’ article on pumpkin seeds:

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Upcoming Events

This section is a place to share information about events or opportunities that may interest radio organizations – either to participate in directly, or to pass along to listeners. This week, we are passing along information about two events coming up in 2008. If you know of an event or opportunity that may interest other radio organizations, please share it by posting a comment on FRW’s website or e-mailing the details to: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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May 18-21, 2008 – Leading Businesswomen of Africa Forum

A forum designed to promote networking and joint business ventures among African businesswomen will be held in Cape Town, South Africa next May. The Feminar Business Network is organizing the 1st Annual Leading Businesswomen of Africa Forum, which will include experts from international and local institutions speaking on issues affecting African businesswomen. For more information about this event, visit: www.leadingwomenofafrica.com or e-mail: madelein@leadingwomenofafrica.com.

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September 3-5, 2008 – World Agricultural Forum

Representatives from governments, food producers, corporations, academia, and non-governmental organizations will gather in Kampala, Uganda next September for the 10th World Agricultural Forum. The theme of the event is Africa Meets the World: Creating Prosperity by Investing in Agriculture. According to Raymond Cesca, the president of the forum, as quoted in the New Vision newspaper in Kampala, the focus will be “the need for changes in world trade policy to enable farmers in developing countries to have fair access to world markets.” More information about the event is available online at: http://www.worldagforum.org/.

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Radio Resource Bank

A special thanks to George Jobe, Director of Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station, for sharing the fascinating case study below! If you have had an experience with new technology that you would like to share with other broadcasters, or if you have found a new resource that may be of interest, please post a comment on FRW’s website or e-mail us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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MP3 player keeps Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station on the air

With innovation, determination, and the help of some new technology, the Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station in Mchinji District, Malawi kept their listeners informed and entertained even when their Studio-To-Transmitter Links (STL) were disrupted. This community station has been on the air for almost two years, and counts about 90 per cent of Mchinji residents, or 300,000 people, as listeners. The attached case study describes how station staff and volunteers used an MP3 player connected directly to the transmitter (and their own feet!) to continue programming until a new STL link was received and installed. Click here to read the full story: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2007/12/17/new-technology-saves-mudziwathu-community-radio-station-in-mchinji/

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Free audio available on FAO website

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s website offers free audio files related to their events and programs. The latest audio file was produced around World AIDS Day, in an effort to highlight the issues of land grabbing and land reform, particularly in areas with high HIV and AIDS prevalence. It is an interview with Flavia Kyomukama, an HIV positive woman from Uganda who, unlike many widows or separated women, survived land and property grabbing from her husband. This and other audio files can be found online at: http://www.fao.org/audiocatalogue/index.jsp.

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DCFRN Action

This section is devoted to news about DCFRN and the many partners in our network. We look forward to hearing news about your radio organization so that we can share it with the FRW community! If you would like to tell us about a new program, successful event, or any other news about your organization, please post a comment on the FRW website, or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we will post your story in the next issue.

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New script package focuses on rural women’s health issues

The newest DCFRN script package (Package 82) has been mailed to all of our partners who receive this service, and is available to everyone online. The package addresses a range of rural women’s health issues, including those related to HIV and AIDS, traditional practices, and the use of farm tools. Scripts in the package also describe how women are working together to improve their lives and the lives of their daughters. You can find the scripts, along with the latest Voices newsletter, online here: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/.

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