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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.


Warm greetings to all!

We are pleased that word about the Farm Radio Weekly service is travelling around the African continent. This week, we welcome five new subscribers from five different countries: Zira Kwaghe Bunye from the Teaching Service Board in Nigeria, Alachu Davies from Voice of Teso in Uganda, Augustus Fallah from the Institute for Media Development & Dignity in Liberia, Moses Ruai Lat from EDC/Sudan Radio Service in Kenya, and Zongo Daouda from Radio Municipale de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. If you have a colleague who may be interested in FRW, please let them know that subscribing is as easy as completing this simple online form: http://farmradio.org/english/partners/fr_weekly_subscribe.asp.

This week, we shine a light on one member of a segment of society that is often neglected by the media. From Niger, we have the profile of a woman with a disability whose garden has improved her family’s nutrition and produces vegetables that attract customers from up to 20 kilometres away. We also pass on some tips for disability-conscious journalism, from the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities.

From Uganda, we have a story about a simple trap that may be the answer to a pest that plagues cotton growers. Be sure to check out the Notes to Broadcasters on this script, as well as this week’s Script of the Week, for resources and ideas for pest management programs.

On a final note, we thank those who, in our recent survey, told us about their favourite FRW stories and which topics they’d like to see covered in future issues. We will continue to seek out stories on favoured topics such as coping with climate change, improved seeds and traditional crops, alternative fertilizers, and women in agriculture. We will also work to address your interest in topics such as animal husbandry, soil fertility, food processing and value addition, and youth in agriculture.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Niger: Woman with disability proves her productivity through gardening (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

2. Uganda: Simple trap could save cotton crops (New Vision, Fibre2fashion News Desk, SciDev.Net)

Upcoming Events

October 13-15, 2008: MobileActive08 event in Johannesburg, South Africa

Radio Resource Bank

Key principles for the disability conscious journalist

Farm Radio Action

Farm Radio partners raise awareness of women and girls’ health issues

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Radio Spots: Can you control pests without pesticides?

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Niger: Woman with disability proves her productivity through gardening (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Oumou’s day starts much like any other Nigerien gardener’s. She wakes up at 5:00 am. The slight, forty-year-old woman eats breakfast, then heads to her field. There, she tends to manioc and mandarins, peppers and potatoes. She says watering is the hardest part. There always seems to be another row of plants.

After five hours in the garden, the desert sun is blistering and it’s time for Oumou to put away her watering pail. Dragging herself forward with outstretched hands, knees swinging in a semi-circle, she propels herself forward with the near-empty pail balanced on her head. Leaving the pail at the edge of the well, her gardening is done for the day.

Oumou was paralyzed by polio at a young age. She has always been industrious, but used to rely on her family who loaned her money to buy straw so that she could weave mats. She never imagined that she could grow her own food.

A local community-based organization called Re-adaptation for the Blind and Other Handicapped Persons, or PRAHN, gave her a start. PRAHN provided wood for a fence, materials for a well, tools, fertilizer, and seeds. Over time, she will have to pay back the equivalent of 500 American dollars (about 350 Euros).

With the support of PRAHN, people with disabilities run 40 year-round gardens in the western regions of Dosso and Tillaberi.

Claudio Rini is the West Africa director of Handicap International. He says that, generally, disabled West Africans are seen as unproductive and are pushed aside by their families and communities. In times of economic hardship, a disabled family member can be perceived as a burden.

But ever since Oumou started gardening two years ago, her produce and her income are highly valued. Previously, her family could rarely afford to add vegetables to their daily millet meal. Now, they regularly enjoy fresh zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, and cabbage from the garden.

Oumou’s tasty harvests attract customers from up to 20 kilometres away. She sells leafy greens for 25 Nigerien francs (about 5 American cents or 0.03 Euros) a handful. Altogether, she earns the equivalent of 300 American dollars (or about 210 Euros) each year. Oumou is also proud to say that this income pays the school and clothing expenses for her nieces and nephews.

But Oumou doesn’t like to part with much of her produce. She says it’s so delicious – she prefers to keep it for herself and her family or share it with her neighbours.

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Uganda: Simple trap could save cotton crops (New Vision, Fibre2fashion News Desk, SciDev.Net)

Used cooking oil containers lined with watered-down molasses may be the key to managing a pest that plagues cotton growers. The colour yellow and the sweet scent of molasses are irresistible to bollworm moths. But when they dive in for a snack, they get snagged by the sticky molasses, ensuring that they can’t lay eggs in the cotton field.

This simple but effective device was developed by Ugandan scientist Dr. Ben Ssekamatte. He first tested it on organic cotton fields in Zambia. Recently, he trialed the device at experimental gardens in the Lira and Pader districts of Uganda’s Northern Region.

Bollworms can destroy up to 40 per cent of a cotton crop. The moths lay their eggs on the cotton plant and the larvae attack the plant’s bolls, chewing holes and leaving them open to bacteria and rot. The squares, or fruit buds, of the cotton plant are also affected.

Bollworms are such a concern that, earlier this year, the Ugandan government approved confined field trials of a genetically modified cotton variety that resists bollworms. But Dr. Ssekamatte believes that farmers can fight bollworm and increase their yields with organic techniques. He says the bollworm trap is particularly suited to small-scale cotton farmers.

The materials for the trap are inexpensive and readily available. Three-litre yellow cooking oil containers are usually discarded after use, but they are well-suited to form the base of the trap. A mixture of 20 per cent molasses and water is poured inside. Holes in the sides of the container help bollworm moths find their way to the molasses. Dr. Ssekamatte explains that the trap should be placed three centimetres above the tops of the cotton plants, ready to lure moths away from the crop.

Uganda’s level of cotton production has fluctuated tremendously in past decades. During the colonial period, Uganda was a world leader in cotton production. Now, it produces less than one per cent of the world’s cotton. Many cotton growers have become interested in organic production because of the promise of premium prices.

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Notes to broadcaster on disabled gardener:

The secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (1999-2009) lists two reasons why it’s important for persons with disabilities to be in the media:
1. It can help the 80 million persons with disabilities in Africa who often experience discrimination to become more visible in their societies. Inequities will become more widely known, as will the positive changes that take place with regards to the rights of persons with disabilities.
2. Persons with disabilities will get the information that they need about services available to them and improvements in national policies and programs. Awareness of services and opportunities are an important first step to actively taking part in society.

You may wish to profile a person with a disability, or a group of disabled persons who work together, on a farm or other business venture. Here are some points to consider:
-Even if a person is well known to the community, an interview can bring out details of their life story that can make an interesting profile. Alternatively, you may be able to introduce your listeners to “invisible people” working in your community.
-If you’re not sure where to find a person or group to profile, try contacting a local disabled persons’ organization for leads.
-Plan your interview as you would any other, asking background questions, details about the person or group’s work, and information on challenges and how they were overcome. Additional interviews (for example, with a long-time customer or a co-worker) can add interest to a story, but be sure that your profile-subject’s own words stay in focus.
-For more information on sensitively portraying disabled people in the media, see this week’s Radio Resource.

The following web resources may also be of interest:
-The secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2000-2009) – an initiative geared toward ensuring full participation, equality, and empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa: http://www.secretariat.disabilityafrica.org/
-Pan African Federation for the Disabled (PAFOD) – a continental organization of disabled peoples’ organizations: http://www.dpiafro.mr/. PAFOD is organized within five sub-regional federations –WAFOD, SAFOD, CAFOD, EAFOD, and NAFOD – representing West, South, Central, East, and North Africa. The Southern African Federation for the Disabled (SAFOD) has its own website: http://www.safod.org/
-Handicap International: http://www.handicap-international.org/
-African Union for the Blind: http://www.afub-uafa.org/
-Enabling Education Network: http://www.eenet.org.uk/

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Notes to broadcaster on bollworm trap:

As this story mentions, bollworms are a serious problem for cotton farmers and can causes crop losses of up to 40 per cent. The economic threat is so severe that the Ugandan government recently gave the green light to controlled field trials of a genetically modified cotton variety designed to resist bollworm. (Uganda has only allowed field trials for one other genetically modified crop – a banana variety designed to resist black sigatoka.)

But Dr. Ben Ssekamatte, the director of Bio-Consult Uganda, says the bollworm problem can be solved with “basic insect science.” His invention was inspired by farmers who planted sunflowers around their cotton crops, realizing that the colour yellow attracts bollworm moths. However, Dr. Ssekamatte explains that, while sunflowers only attract moths for the time they are in bloom, a yellow-container lined with molasses can be used to attract and trap moths throughout the growing season. As an important bonus, farmers who successfully practice organic farming may be able to access the growing organic cotton market, in which they can earn premiums of up to 35 per cent over non-organic cotton.

For more information on the cotton sector in Uganda, visit:
“Uganda approves Bt cotton trials,” a news story by Sci.Dev.Net
“Organic cotton: Uganda case study,” prepared by the Pesticide Action Network UK in 2002

These past FRW news stories may also be of interest:
“Cotton and shea producers satisfy western taste for organic products” (Issue #9, February 2008), talks about how Burkinabe farmers are benefitting from organic premiums
“Low cost white fly traps save mango crops” (Issue #1, December 2007), looks at a simple attract-and-trap technique used by Senegalese farmers

There are plenty of scripts about pest management in the Farm Radio International archives. The following scripts describe simple yet effective techniques developed by African farmers:
“The speaking scarecrows” (Package 81, Script 3, August 2007)
“Powder of little pepper protects stored rice” (Package 81, Script 2, August 2007)
“A local plant prevents pest damage to stored seeds” (Package 81, Script 1, August 2007)
To browse through more scripts on pest management, visit: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/pest.asp.

Perhaps you’d like to host a phone-in/text-in show inviting farmers to share the innovative methods they use for managing pests in their fields. Questions to ask farmers include:
-What pest did they target and how much damage was it causing?
-Have they tried other techniques in the past, and if so, how is the new technique better (cheaper, more effective, etc)?
-How did they come up with the pest management idea or hear about the new technique?
-What tests did they conduct to determine that the technique would work in their field, for their crop?
-What is the cost of using the pest management technique?
-By what amount has the technique reduced pest damage?
-Describe in detail how to make/use the technique, including where to get the materials.

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October 13-15, 2008: MobileActive08 event in Johannesburg, South Africa

“Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact” is the theme of MobileActive08, a three-day event to be held from October 13-15, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event will explore how mobile phones are used to advance civil society work, assess the current state of knowledge in the use and effectiveness of mobile technology to advance social action, and investigate trends, needs, and investment opportunities. Specific attention will be given to the role of mobile technology in health, human rights, environment, economic development, advocacy, citizen journalism, and democratic participation.

To view the event agenda, visit: http://mobileactive08.confabb.com/conferences/MobileActive08/sessions. For more information, go to: http://mobileactive08.confabb.com/conferences/MobileActive08. You can also register online at: http://www.mobileactive08.org/register-for-mobileactive08.

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Key principles for the disability conscious journalist

The following principles are adapted from a section of The Invisible People: A Practical Guide for Journalists on How to Include Persons with Disabilities.This guide was developed by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities to provide guidelines for journalists who wish to support and promote the human rights of people with disabilities.

The full guide includes background information on disability in Africa, looks at disability as a rights issue, and provides information on the main issues affecting persons with disabilities, such as employment, poverty, and access to buildings. A list of correct terminology with regard to disability is also provided, to ensure that journalists use words that do not offend or discriminate. The full guide can be found online, here: http://www.africandecade.org/trainingmaterials/journalist-training-manual.

1. Put the person at centre stage, not the disability Portray persons with disabilities as you would anyone else, with both human strengths and weaknesses. Do not focus on disabilities, unless they are crucial to a story. If you want to report on disability issues, focus instead on issues that affect the quality of life for those individuals, such as accessible transportation, housing, affordable health care, employment opportunities, and discrimination.
2. Show persons with disabilities as active members of society Try to show persons with disabilities as providers of expertise, services and assistance to break through the stereotype of presenting persons with disabilities only as recipients of charity, services and goodwill. Show or describe individuals with disabilities in the same everyday situations in which you would describe other people.
3. Show persons with disabilities as part of the general public Make an effort to seek out persons with disabilities when you report on issues that are important in your community. If you do not know how to find or contact a disabled person where you work, call a local disabled persons’ organization and ask for assistance.
4. Let people have their own voice Let everybody have their own voice and use their own words. When talking with a person with a disability, speak directly to that person rather than to a companion or interpreter. If you offer assistance to the person you are interviewing, wait until the offer is accepted before acting. Then listen to or ask for instructions on how you can help.
5. Avoid common stereotypes: the superhero and the victim Do not portray successful people with disabilities as superhuman or heroes. Also, do not imply that persons whose disability results from a prior disease episode as if they are still suffering from a disease. Do not imply disease with people whose disability has resulted from anatomical or physiological damage (e.g., person with spina bifida or cerebral palsy). Reference to disease associated with a disability is acceptable only with chronic diseases such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis. People with disabilities should never be referred to as “patients” or “cases” unless their relationship with their doctor is under discussion.
6. Support the human rights approach If you make an effort to treat persons with disabilities as citizens with a right to participate in all sectors of society, you support the human rights model of disability. It is all about inclusion and respect.
7. Work with journalists with disabilities Unless persons with disabilities are able to be the makers of their own images, their lives will constantly be depicted on the basis of the assumptions made by others about them.
8. Communicate with disability organizations If persons with disabilities are not contacting you or bringing their ideas and opinions to your attention, you can pick up the phone and call a local disabled persons’ organization and ask for an interview or a comment. If you build a relationship with an organization, it may generate a lot of good ideas and contacts that will benefit you in future work.
9. Persons with disabilities are not only interested in disability issues There are persons with disabilities in all sectors of society, and in all sorts of professions. Do not miss out on their knowledge and expertise.
10. Be honest It is all right to be insecure, and want to learn. Ask the person that you are interviewing about things that you do not understand.

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Farm Radio partners raise awareness of women and girls’ health issues

In November 2007, Farm Radio sent out a package of radio scripts on the distinctive health issues of rural women and girls. Our partners wasted no time in determining which scripts would suit their audience, translating them into local languages, and putting them on the air. A partner survey completed by 38 partners from 18 African countries revealed that the following two scripts were the most popular:
“Violence against women and HIV/AIDS,” used by 89 per cent of respondents
“Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers,” used by 71 per cent of respondents
All of the scripts from this package (Package 82) can be found online at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/numerical.asp

Dominic Mutua Maweu from Mang’elete Community Radio in Kenya wrote to tell us how the scripts became a starting point for community discussion. He wrote: “As for the November package, we have used script no. 9, about widow cleansing. The issue is somehow different in our community: if there is a woman with her period the funeral process cannot go on until the woman is given to a man who is not from that community to sleep with her. So we had two live call-in discussion programmes at the Studio for one hour each, about this topic and about women taking the body of the dead to the tomb, which is also against the culture. The other programmes were from script no.2 [Selenium can help people living with HIV and AIDS] and script no 5 [When parents die of AIDS, farming knowledge often dies too] of which I conducted interviews from the PLWHA [People Living with HIV/AIDS] in the area who have formed support groups and the agricultural officers in the area.”

The names of all Farm Radio partners who responded to the Package 82 survey were placed in a draw. George Atabong, president of the Lebialem Community Radio in Cameroon, was picked in the draw, winning a high-quality digital audio recorder for his station. Don’t forget to fill out your Package 83 survey, on the work of farming, for a chance to win a digital recorder for your radio organization!

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Radio Spots: Can you control pests without pesticides?

Integrated Pest Management is a pest control strategy that uses an array of complementary crop protection techniques such as rotating crops, fertilizing the soil, hand-picking insects, and intercropping. The approach emphasizes pro-active measures to protect crops, as well as understanding pest life cycles and behaviours. A primary goal is to reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides.

In researching this week’s news story about the organic cotton bollworm trap, we discovered that many cotton farmers practice an Integrated Pest Management approach. Intercropping with nitrogen-fixing plants is common, and some farmers are reluctant to use pesticides to control bollworms because they know these chemicals will also kill beneficial insects.

So this week we are highlighting a package of radio spots on Integrated Pest Management. We hope that it gives you some ideas for programming, and gives the farmers in your audience some ideas for their field. You can also find this script online at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/72-3script_en.asp.

Notes to Broadcaster
Farmers who use only chemicals for pest management run the risk of starting a cycle of new problems. For example, pesticides become less effective with time, as insects develop resistance. In addition, pesticides kill “good” insects. To avoid these problems, advise farmers to use alternatives to pesticides and to implement more than one practice at a time. Methods such as crop rotation, intercropping, and hand-picking insects, are all effective techniques in crop protection. If one method fails, others will keep working. The following spots highlight some of the problems of using chemical pesticides, and offer possible alternatives.

Spot #1: Problems with pesticides
Many farmers will tell you that pesticides are their first choice for pest control. At first, pesticides appear to get the job done. There are fewer pests and higher crop yields. But after a while, you’ll notice that pesticides don’t only kill pests. They also kill many of the good insects – those friendly insects that help you by eating insect pests. Before you spend money on pesticides, be aware that pesticides kill beneficial insects too.
– END –

Spot #2: Insects develop resistance to pesticides
Do you use chemicals to control pests? If you use only pesticides for pest management, here’s something to consider… Over time, pests can become resistant to pesticides. This means that the pests are no longer killed by the chemicals. What happens is that the chemicals kill the weakest insects. This leaves the strongest insects to breed a new and stronger generation of pests that are not affected by the pesticide. So the pesticides don’t work any more.
– END –

Spot #3: Use a combination of pest control methods
Many farmers ask themselves how they can possibly protect their crops without pesticides. The best way to control pests is to use several methods at the same time. Rotating crops, fertilizing the soil, hand-picking insects, and intercropping are all good strategies for crop protection. And a combination of three or four of these methods is best. If one method fails for some reason, the other methods will still protect your crop.
– END –

Spot #4: Learn about the life cycle and behaviour of crop pests
If you’re planning a pest control strategy for your next crop, start with learning about the pest. Learn as much as possible. Learn about its life cycle, where it lives, how it behaves, and when it does the most damage to your crop. Find out about its natural enemies, and the relationship between the pest and your crop. You can do this by watching the pest carefully in the field. You may be surprised to know that some insects have three different stages of development, while others have four stages. And some insects have mouths that suck and others have mouths that bite. An agricultural extension agent can help you learn more about the pests in your region.
– END –

Spot #5: When should you control a pest?
Why is it so important to learn about the pests in your field or garden? If you know what a pest looks like at each stage of its development, you can decide when it’s easiest to control. Some pests are easier to control as eggs, some as larvae, and some once they become adults. You also need to know when exactly the insect feeds on the crop. Does it feed in the day or at night? In what season is it a problem? You don’t want to waste time or money trying to control a pest when it’s not even bothering the plant.
– END –

Spot #6: Prevent insects from becoming pests
Good crop management is one of the best ways to reduce the pest population. For example, if you fertilize the soil well, the plants will get all the nutrients they need. If they get all the nutrients they need, they will stay healthy and suffer less damage from pests. Selecting good seeds is another way to make sure crops can resist pests. And rotating crops makes it difficult for pests to survive in the same location year after year. All these practices help prevent insects from becoming a problem in the first place.
– END –

Spot #7: Diversify crops to reduce pest damage
If you plant many different crops and crop varieties together in your garden or field, insects will do less damage to your crops. If you plant a large area with one crop, it’s easy for pests to find the crop. But if you plant many different crops in small areas, or in rows beside other crops, it’s harder for the pests to find the crops they like to eat.
– END –

Spot #8: Experiment with different pest management strategies
When you decide what combination of pest control methods to use, you can always experiment with a few different methods. Find out what combination works best. When you are choosing your methods, you need to be creative and consider the problems carefully. Remember! Insects are not just enemies that will destroy your crops. They are part of the natural environment. In a balanced environment, both insects and people have enough to eat. Using only chemical pesticides changes the balance in nature. But by using several different control methods at one time, you can find a way to work with nature, instead of against it.
– END –

Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, researcher/writer, Thornbury, Canada.
Adapted from Developing Countries Farm Radio Network Package 28, number 3, What is integrated pest management?, and Package 38, number 10, Integrated pest management: radio spots.
Reviewed by Hélène Chiasson, PhD, Codena inc., Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Canada.
Information Sources
Interview with Hermogenes Castillo, P.Agr., Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1992.
Manejo integrado de plagas insectiles. Guatemala City: ALTERTEC, 1992.

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