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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 # 100

Hello to all!

We are excited to welcome you to the 100th edition of Farm Radio Weekly! On this special occasion, we welcome our newest subscribers: Mathieu Bilgo, from the Association école des citoyens in Burkina Faso; Ficard Ndayimirije, from the Réseau d’actions paisibles des anciens combattants pour le développement intégré de tous au Burundi; Dezai Kemonean from RADIO N4GOWA in Côte d’Ivoire; Marcel Edson Abissa Kobenan, from Lusophilie Côte d’Ivoire; Noël Banimba Gaston, from Urgence d’Afrique in Republic of Congo; Michelle Gomperts, from One Acre Fund in Rwanda; John O’Connell, from Turf-Ag Products in South Africa; and Ahmed Abdel-Azim, a veterinarian from Sudan.

To celebrate this FRW landmark, we are re-publishing some of the best news stories from our first 99 editions. Our first featured story received more web hits than any other in the past year. It was written for FRW by David De Dau, who visited members of a Sudanese community whose land had been taken over or threatened by soldiers and by a petroleum company. It was the first in our special series on land grabbing, which appeared in June and July 2009, and which proved extremely popular among our readers. Other stories in the series came from Malawi, Uganda, and Ghana. Each looked at how farmers have mobilized to protect their communities against land-grab attempts.

Our second featured story was named most often as a favourite in Farm Radio Weekly’s 2009 subscriber survey. FRW Editor Heather Miller prepared this story after visiting the village of Kitete, in eastern Tanzania, with local agricultural radio broadcaster Lilian Manyuka. Many farmers in this village have taken up chicken farming in order to provide protein for their families and to boost their incomes. The story explains how, with the help of Lilian’s radio program, poultry producers are learning to reduce their losses.

We chose other stories for this edition by noting which topics subscribers told us were important to them, and which other stories were named as favourites in our recent subscriber survey. Because climate change was the topic of greatest interest to our readers, we’re featuring two stories that show farmers taking practical steps to adapt. James Ssenabulya, from Nakaseke Community Radio in Uganda, said that a story about Nigerien farmers fighting desertification was his favourite. “If farmers can get the spirit of re-planting or letting trees grow in their fields, this will help conserve the environment and at the same time giving them some revenue,” he wrote. A second climate change adaptation story comes from Zimbabwe, where farmers are discovering techniques to maintain livestock and crops, despite increasingly uncertain weather patterns.

Farm Radio Weekly subscribers also told us they are very interested in stories on farmer innovation, seeds, and women in agriculture. So we’re featuring a story about an innovation by a women’s organization in Burkina Faso, and a story about a traditional seed fair revived by women farmers in Mozambique. Mahoua Hien prepared the story of a Burkinabé women’s cooperative that created a product, and found an export market, after discovering a new use for shea. Lastly, our story from Mozambique was described as a favourite by François Blackye Ngueye-Nze, from the rural development NGO Club de l’Amitié, in Gabon. “This story interested us in particular because we want to do this type of activity where farmers will exchange seeds,” he said.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Sudan: Madi community fights land grab attempts (by David De Dau, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Juba, Southern Sudan)

2. Tanzania: Farmers improve livelihoods with chickens (Farm Radio Weekly)

3. Niger: Farmers plant trees to slow desert’s advance (Various Sources)

4. Zimbabwe: Livestock farmers adapt to new climate (Zimbabwe Standard)

5. Burkina Faso: Women’s group finds new use for ‘green gold’ (by Mahoua Hien, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Burkina Faso)

6. Mozambique: Farmers exchange locally-adapted seeds at seed fairs (LEISA)

Upcoming Events

-AMARC-WIN accepts submissions for International Women’s Day Broadcast Campaign

Radio Resource Bank

-Live from Africa: A handbook for African radio journalists

Farm Radio Action

-Farm Radio International shares favourite stories from the first 99 editions of FRW

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Manure the magic worker and Organic fertilizer within easy reach

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1. Sudan: Madi community fights land grab attempts (by David De Dau, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Juba, Southern Sudan)

Beatrice Okayo is standing near her kitchen hut, preparing to do some farm work. She cleans mud from the blades of her farm tools. Nearby is a small piece of land where she grows cassava and maize. She points to another plot of land. “Are you seeing that piece of land from there to there?” asks Ms. Okayo. A soldier from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, took it from her by force, she explains.

Ms. Okayo lives and farms in Nimule. It is the chief town of the Madi community in Southern Sudan, bordering Uganda. During Sudan’s long civil war, the Madi community hosted SPLA soldiers and people displaced by the violence. Ms. Okayo allowed a soldier from the SPLA to live on a piece of her land.

Sudan’s peace agreement was signed in 2005. Displaced people returned home. But in a hangover of lawlessness, many Southern Sudanese have seen their land illegally seized. The land in Madi is known for being fertile and free from mosquitoes. This made it a prime target for land grabbing.

Ms. Okayo asked the soldier to vacate her land so that she could resume farming. But he refused. He threatened to kill her if she reported him to any authority. She says there is too much grabbing of other people’s land in Nimule.

Another case involves a Somali petroleum company. The company built petrol stations on communal land reserved for farming activities. It is alleged that Major General Wilson Deng, a commander within the SPLA, sold the land to Somali investors.

The Madi community was determined to stop the company. Community elders summoned Mr. Deng, but he refused to make an appearance.

The community formed a group to follow up on the matter, headed by their chief, Alfred Gore. They issued a press release, hoping to encourage the government of Southern Sudan to intervene. The Juba Post published the community’s statement. This provoked Mr. Deng to arrest the journalist, who was later released with the help of media advocates.

Mr. Deng was reached for comment at his home in Juba. He said he fought for the rights of the people of Southern Sudan as part of the SPLA. “How can I again turn my back against the same principles of liberation which I risked my life for?” he asked. Mr. Deng dismissed the accusations against him as ethnic politics meant to taint his name.

At the time of publication (June 2009), Mr. Deng had yet to respond in court to the alleged land grab. It was clear to the Madi community that land grabbing was on the rise, and that the government of Southern Sudan had yet to formulate and enforce policies to stop it.

Chief Alfred Gore did not believe that the legal system would solve the problem. He said the community was prepared to demonstrate if the government of Southern Sudan failed to act on their behalf.

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2. Tanzania: Farmers improve livelihoods with chickens (Farm Radio Weekly)

Omar Msham proudly displays his chicken coop. It’s about half a metre high, so he has to crouch to check on the contents – only four chickens today, since he recently sold the rest. But it’s the coop itself of which Mr. Msham is most proud. Red bricks form three of the coop’s walls and a sturdy wire mesh encloses the front. The coop was a significant investment for the farmer, but he is confident it will pay off.

It was two years ago that Mr. Msham began to raise chickens. At the time, he and his wife were struggling to feed their three children. Their two hectares of maize provided food, and one hectare of sunflower provided income, but the family ate only two meals a day.

Then la year later, Mr. Msham purchased some baby chicks. Some chickens were used for food. Others were sold at maturity. With this operation, Mr. Msham earns about 20,000 Tanzanian shillings (about 15 American dollars or 11 Euros) every six months. The extra food and income means that his family now eats three meals a day.

The venture was not without problems, however. Chickens running loose are vulnerable. Every six months, Mr. Msham lost four or five chickens to disease or collisions with bicycles. Other chicken farmers in his village of Kitete in the Morogoro District of eastern Tanzania had similar problems. Many have invested in raising chickens but lose part of their stock each year to injury, disease, theft, and attack by animals such as birds and cats.

The farmers shared their problems with a local radio station, Radio Maria. This radio station is working with Farm Radio International on the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AFRRI aims to discover the most effective ways of using radio to improve food security. As part of the initiative, Radio Maria asked the farmers of Kitete village about the challenges they face. The farmers confront many issues concerning the production and marketing of crops and livestock, but Radio Maria decided to first address the problem of chicken loss.

Lilian Manyuka has volunteered with Radio Maria for more than five years. She now hosts a weekly program called “Busy Village.” Kitete’s farmers say they always find time to listen to her show on Saturday morning. It has taught them some of the details of building chicken coops, such as what dimensions a coop should be, and how many chickens can be kept in a coop.

Mr. Msham was one of the first in Kitete to construct a chicken coop, at the cost of 50,000 Tanzania shillings (about 38 American dollars or 28 Euros). Other farmers are now building coops to protect their chickens.

Havintishi Salumu started raising livestock last year when she purchased one chicken. She now keeps about 12. It used to be difficult for Ms. Salumu to obtain meat, but now her family eats eggs twice a week and chicken twice a month. The chickens are an important source of protein for her family. Still, she is frustrated with having chickens stolen and baby chicks killed by birds.

Ms. Salumu built the framework of a chicken coop with sticks her oldest son gathered in the forest. She planned to complete the coop within two months. Her hope was that, with fewer chickens lost, she would earn enough money to send her oldest son back to school.

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3. Niger: Farmers plant trees to slow desert’s advance (Various Sources)

Ibrahim Danjimo is a Nigerien farmer in his 40s. He has been working the sandy, rocky soil of his small village since he was a child. Some 20 years ago, Mr. Danjimo began to realize that the trees were disappearing. The Sahelian winds blew strongly across his land. The sand dunes threatened to engulf his hut. His water well dried up.

During the 1970s and 80s, a severe drought combined with a population explosion and destructive agricultural practices stripped bare vast expanses of land. The desert seemed determined to swallow everything.

Mr. Danjimo and some other farmers from Guidan Bakoye village in Niger took a decision that seemed radical at the time. They would no longer rip young trees out of their fields before planting seeds, as their families had done for generations. Instead, they protected the trees, and carefully ploughed around them when sowing millet, sorghum, peanuts, and beans.

Over time, more and more Nigeriens came to value and plant trees, and some of the effects of desertification were reversed. Ibrahim Idy is a Nigerien farmer in the Zinder region. Some 20 baobab trees grow in his field. Mr. Idy sells the leaves and fruit of the baobab, earning about 300 American dollars, or 200 Euros, each year. He used these extra earnings to buy a motorized water pump to irrigate his cabbage and lettuce plants. As a result, his children do not have to gather as much water for the farm, and Mr. Idy can afford to send them to school.

Dr. Mahamane Larwanou is an agroforestry expert at the L’Université de Niamey in Niger. He believes that the more trees are grown in Niger, the better people will be able to adapt to climate change. He says that, by planting trees, farmers can take control and limit the impact of changes on their land. For example, planting trees can help prevent crop destruction and floods because tree roots hold water in the ground, preventing it from running off across rocky, barren fields and creating gullies.

To this end, a company called Tree Nation is asking people to fund the planting of trees in Dosso, Niger. According to the company’s website, it’s as easy as choosing a tree, buying it online, and naming it. The cost? It depends on which tree you buy. A Senegalese acacia tree costs 10 Euros, or about 15 American dollars, while a baobab tree costs 75 Euros, or about 115 American dollars. Tree Nation says it will work closely with local communities, nurseries, and organizations to ensure the best possible environment for the trees to grow. Tree Nation hopes to plant eight million trees in Niger, as part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign. As of February 2010, they’ve planted over 100,000.

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4. Zimbabwe: Livestock farmers adapt to new climate (Zimbabwe Standard)

Raphael Shirto farms in an arid region of Zimbabwe, in western Matabeleland Province. In recent years, the effects of climate change on his dairy farm have become obvious. Pastures are browning and dusty in patches. Thorn scrub is growing where grass used to grow. Boreholes are becoming weaker and weaker.

Mr. Shirto has been forced to make major changes to the way he feeds his animals and grows his crops. He can no longer rely on rain to water pastures or crops.

Standing in one of his several cow pens, Mr. Shirto explains that he now practices zero grazing. Rather than grazing in rain-fed pastures, his livestock are confined to pens and he brings food to them.

Mr. Shirto had never irrigated his fields of sorghum and millet in the past, but now he must. He has learned the technique of drip irrigation. This method delivers water directly to the roots of the plant, making efficient use of scarce water.

Professor Ntombizakhe Mpofu is a livestock specialist researching the effect of climate change in. He says the area has always been dry, but rains are becoming more unpredictable. In early 2008, rains came suddenly as flash floods.

Joseph Ndlovu is also a grain and livestock farmer in Matabeleland. He says the rainy seasons are not the same as before. In 2008, flash floods, followed by drought, destroyed his one acre of maize.

Mr. Ndlovu’s sorghum and finger millet fields survived and promise a good harvest. He says he’s thinking of switching all of his fields to millet and sorghum, because these crops are more resilient. He’s also considering short-season maize varieties.

Mr. Ndlovu’s search for drought-resistant varieties also extends to his beef cattle. He says extension officers have advised him to consider crossing his indigenous breeds with exotic ones to enable them to better cope with dry conditions.

Professor Mpofu has an additional suggestion for livestock farmers coping with the uncertainty of climate change. He says farmers should preserve more stock feed in bales or silos to prepare for poor pastures and poor feed harvests.

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5. Burkina Faso: Women’s group finds new use for ‘green gold’ (by Mahoua Hien, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Burkina Faso)

The shea tree has long been known as “green gold” to women in Western Africa. Many parts of the tree are harvested, but the greatest economic value lies in the shea nut. The butter produced from shea nuts is used in local homes and is now in demand around the world.
Until very recently, though, the green shea fruit had been discarded in the process of making shea butter. Women and their children snacked on the fruit as they worked in the field, but most fruit went to waste. All that changed when a women’s group in Burkina Faso decided to preserve and sell the fruit they enjoyed.

L’Association Songtaab Yalgre has earned worldwide acclaim for being the first to produce and sell shea jam. Sold under the brand name Karidelice – a combination of the French words for “shea” and “delight” – the new product has boosted employment in the highly successful women’s cooperative.
Marceline Ouedraogo is the President of L’Association Songtaab Yalgre, or ASY. She explains that shea fruit was known locally as a seasonal delicacy. By creating Karidelice, ASY found a way to preserve a fruit that grows in abundance for only a short period each year.

The company created two shea jam recipes. One uses honey to bring out the natural flavour of shea, which is similar in taste to a date or fig. Another is sold with no sugar added.

Mass production of shea jam became possible after an industrial engineering student from Canada worked with the women to develop quality control procedures. Karidelice is sold in Europe, and, as of March 2008, ASY was looking to market the product in the United States.

ASY holds the copyright for Karidelice and is still the only organization to process and sell shea jam. The innovation has won the organization numerous awards. Mrs. Ouedraogo explained that the money and fame brought by these awards would allow the organization to pursue other ways to process and market shea products.

ASY began more than 15 years ago, when 30 women got together to learn to read and write. Now, more than 3,000 women work as part of the organization, processing and selling shea jam and shea butter. ASY also operates an information centre aimed at improving women’s health – providing training on maternal health, preventing the spread of HIV, and combating the practice of female genital cutting.

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6. Mozambique: Farmers exchange locally-adapted seeds at seed fairs (LEISA)

Shaded from the sun, farmers gather for a special kind of market. They lay out mats and brightly coloured fabrics to display their goods. But today they are not selling heaps of fresh crops. Instead, they display smaller quantities of dried seeds and cuttings. The farmers are participating in a seed fair in the province of Nampula in northeastern Mozambique. Rather than leaving with money in their pockets, they will take home locally-adapted seed varieties and knowledge of how to grow them.

Ana Leite participated in a fair for the first time in 2009. She took home three new seed varieties. One was a light-skinned cassava. This variety was much sought after because it is not bitter and can be eaten raw. Ms. Leite also purchased a cutting for a kind of sugarcane she had never seen before. The farmer who sold the sugarcane explained how to cultivate it.

Seed fairs expand on a traditional farmer practice. It’s common for neighbouring farmers to exchange seed varieties. At a seed fair, the exchange happens on a larger scale. Seeds and cuttings are sold at a nominal price – much less than they sell for in shops.

In 2002, the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Nampula organized its first seed fair in the province. The union noticed that local people were turning away from local crops such as cassava, sweet potato, sorghum, and millet. They wanted to provide farmers with an opportunity to exchange locally-adapted seeds, as well as knowledge of growing methods. For example, a farmer may find varieties that are known to mature quickly or resist common pests. They may find crops that are suitable to the soil and water conditions on their farm.

Over the years, the seed fair has become very popular and the farmers’ union has grown. Now, the union organizes five fairs simultaneously in different parts of the province. Over 700 members of the farmers’ union participated in the latest fairs.

Margarita Amisse took part in her third seed fair. She brought groundnuts to the market and returned with sesame, cowpea, and rice. She also purchased some maize seeds for her neighbour. Ms. Amisse confirms that seeds at the fair are less expensive and available in much greater variety than those sold in shops.

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Notes to broadcasters on farmland grabbing:

Over the past two years, the growth in commercial demand for farm and forest land has been undeniable. According to Michael Taylor, Programme Manager for Global Policy and Africa at the International Land Coalition (ILC), ILC members are concerned because they see that, as foreign investors express more and more interest in acquiring arable land, African governments are willing to meet their demands. Mr. Taylor adds that, generally, investors do not approach local people who make their livelihoods on the land – and that is the real problem.

However, according to a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), measures could be put in place to ensure that land transactions are beneficial to everyone, including local people. IFPRI recommends the following: transparency in negotiations; respect for existing land rights; equitable sharing of benefits; environmental sustainability; and abidance to national trade policies. The IFPRI report, entitled: “Land grabbing” by foreign investors in developing countries: Risks and opportunities, is available online, here: http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/bp/bp013.asp.

The following questions may serve as a starting point for investigating cases of foreign investment in farmland in your area:

-Who are the investors (company, government, or other) who have leased or bought land (or are interested in leasing or buying land)?
-Did the national government consult local small-scale farmers about the negotiations? If yes, what was the process? If not, what was the outcome?
-What sort of agriculture (e.g. subsistence, commercial) is being practiced on the land in question and what sort of crops are being grown? What type of agriculture do the foreign investors wish to practice?
-Who will control the land? Who will profit?
-Will the local community benefit from the land investment? What guarantees do they have that the investors will deliver any benefits they promise?
-If rural people have been or will be displaced by the land grab, where will they go? How will they meet their food needs?
-Are there alternatives to permitting the sale or lease of local land that would be more beneficial for rural communities?

The following resources may help you in your research into the purchase or lease of arable land in Africa:

-Land grab or development opportunity? Agricultural investment and international land deals in Africa, a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development: http://www.iied.org/pubs/display.php?o=12561IIED.
-Second wave of Colonialism in Africa, an article first published on Znet: http://mostlywater.org/second_wave_colonialism_africa.
-Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security, a report by the NGO GRAIN: http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=212.
-A map produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute indicating countries in which land transactions have taken place: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=100237997621038330776.000468b0a95f89721a96e&ll=18.646245,15.820313&spn=120.933723,198.632813&z=3&output=embed
-A website created by GRAIN to provide daily updates on cases of land grabbing: http://farmlandgrab.org/.

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Notes to broadcasters on chicken farming:

This story demonstrates the power of radio to support farmers in their efforts to maintain household food security. If you have a story about how your radio station has helped farmers (by, for example, increasing production, reducing losses, or improving marketing), please write to FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org.

To learn more about the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, visit: http://www.farmradio.org/english/partners/afrri/.

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Notes to broadcasters on combating desertification:

As this story demonstrates, the battle against desertification has not been lost. Efforts such as afforestation are underway to protect arable land and rehabilitate desertified land. But, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, desertification continues to be one of the environmental changes which pose the greatest threat to the survival of the poor. This suggests that soil conservation efforts must continue. You may view materials related to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification here: http://www.unccd.int/.

In 2008, the United Nations Environment Programme published an atlas which illustrated environmental change on the African continent (http://na.unep.net/AfricaAtlas/). Satellite photos taken of the province of Tahoua, Niger, in 1975 and again in 2005 show that between 10 and 20 times more trees are growing now than in the 1970s. This improvement is the result of tremendous efforts by local farmers to plant and protect trees. You can visit the Tahoua Province page of the atlas to see the increase in green space yourself: http://na.unep.net/digital_atlas2/webatlas.php?id=356.

Here are some other resources that may interest you:

-The NGO SOS Sahel has many projects to fight desertification, operating in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan. One of the organization’s goals is to assist the people of the Sahel to take charge of all aspects of development. According to Blaise Soyir Some, a director of SOS Sahel International Burkina Faso: “A good project to combat desertification has to take into account the region’s socio-cultural factors. The participation of local actors at every stage of a project, from conception to final evaluation, is indispensable.” SOS Sahel offers a plethora of information on desertification, including practical and proven methods to combat desertification, on its website (in French only): http://www.sossahel.org/la_desertification.

One of SOS Sahel’s ongoing projects in Senegal is the planting of strips of trees called filaos (to learn more about the filao tree, visit this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casuarina_equisetifolia). These trees are intended to protect crops from gradual silting, caused by overexploitation of groundwater and destructive horticultural practices by vegetable farmers. To read more about this project (in French only), visit: http://www.sossahel.org/nos_actions/actions_en_cours/filaos_senegal.

-The United Nations Environment Programme has launched the Billion Tree Campaign, with the goal of planting one tree for every person on earth by the end of 2009. The project was launched in 2006, in response to environmental challenges such as global warming, biodiversity loss, and inaccessibility of potable water. To learn more about this project, please visit: http://www.unep.org/BILLIONTREECAMPAIGN/. The company Tree Nation, which was mentioned in this article, and the organization Green Belt Movement (http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/), are both part of this initiative.

Finally, the following Farm Radio International scripts deal with the subject of desertification:
Stop your land from turning to desert (Package 42, Script 6, December 1996)
-A 13-part radio drama entitled The long dry season: A tale of greed and resourcefulness (Package 77, March 2006)
Stone lines reduce erosion (Package 43, Script 8, March 1997)
Make drylands productive with planting pits (Package 41, Script 1, September 1996)

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Notes to broadcasters on farmers adapting to climate change:

In news release issued in June 2008, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reiterated an oft-cited fact: “Although Africa produces only four per cent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions, its inhabitants are poised to suffer disproportionately from the consequences of global climate change.” At the time, UNEP was launching a new atlas of Africa, which features more than 300 satellite photos illustrating environmental change over the past 30 years. The effect of an overall rise in global temperature is dramatically marked by shrinking glaciers atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains.

To see the impact of climate change on everyday life, one need look no further than average farmers, such as those in our story from Zimbabwe. These farmers and countless others have suffered from alternating droughts and floods as rain patterns have become less predictable.

Erratic rainfall patterns are among the greatest challenges that climate change poses to small-scale farmers. Our news story mentions several adaptation techniques that farmers can use to cope with erratic rainfall:

-drip irrigation to use scarce water most effectively
-zero grazing to reduce reliance on natural pastures
-crossing exotic varieties with indigenous animal breeds to enable them to better cope with a dry environment
-switching to more resilient crops, such as sorghum and finger millet
-experimenting with short-season maize varieties
-For more information on the impact of climate change in Zimbabwe, see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200805220560.html

Some of the adaptation techniques discussed in this week’s news story may be useful for farmers in your area. Consider the following Farm Radio International scripts for additional information and resources:

-Choosing crops for drought prone areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
-Supply water directly to plant roots with pitcher and drip irrigation (Package 71, Script 10, June 2004)
-Farmer Phiri uses infiltration pits to combat drought (Package 64, Script 6, July 2002)
-The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002)
-Dr. Compost talks about compost piles (Package 61, Script 6, October 2001)
-A farmer practices zero grazing (Package 51, Script 3, February 1999)

You may also consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story, on one or both of the following topics:

1) Local climate change observations:
-What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
-Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than in previous decades?
-What differences in the properties of soil have been seen in recent decades?
-What differences in vegetation have been seen, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?

2) Local adaptation techniques:

-What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well-suited to these new conditions?
-What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
-What techniques are farmers using to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
-What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security in the case of severe drought or floods?

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Notes to broadcasters on shea jam:

This story provides an exceptional example of the power of women’s co-operatives. The motto of L’Association Songtaab Yalgre is “une femme, un revenue” or “one woman, one income.” By scaling up the traditional practice of processing shea nuts into butter and creating the innovative shea fruit product Karidelice, the organization has created sustainable employment for more than 3,000 Burkinabé women. Their profits have not only improved the lives of women members; they have also been invested in the health of all women in their community. Their co-operative’s information and communications hub – Maison d’Information et de Promotion du Karité – serves the dual purpose of promoting shea products and promoting women’s health.

The website for L’Association Songtaab Yalgre (ASY) can be found here:

More information on ASY’s award-winning product, Karidelice, can be found at the following sites:
-ASY’s newsletter, with an article explaining how the organization became eligible for, and ultimately won, prizes for their innovation: http://www.songtaaba.net/journal/journal_N%203_fr.pdf.
-An article by CECI (Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale) explaining the role of Canadian industrial engineering student Chantal Bernatchez in helping ASY prepare for mass production of Karidelice: http://publication.ceci.ca/fr/bulletin/omni/articles/10925.aspx.
-A feature on ASY and Karidelice in the newsletter L’Evénement: http://www.evenement-bf.net/pages/societe_89.htm.

You may wish to profile a women’s co-operative in your area:

-What sorts of products does the group produce? Do they use these products in their homes, sell them or both?
-What traditional materials and methods does the co-operative use? What new materials or methods have they learned about or discovered?
-Has the group been able to access training or funding programs to support their endeavours? What channels did they go through to obtain this support?
-What direct benefits have members of the co-operative experienced, such as improved income or better access to markets? Has the group been able to support women in the community at large (for example, with women’s health or women’s rights initiatives)?

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Notes to broadcasters on seed fairs:

As our news story points out, seed fairs expand on the common and traditional practice of farmers exchanging seeds with neighbours. Over the past several years there has been growing interest in seed fairs in many African countries. One reason for this is that seed fairs are a way to preserve the diversity of locally-adapted plant materials and promote farmer control of the seed supply. This addresses concerns that large companies are taking control of genetic resources and encouraging a monoculture approach to agriculture.

Our news story from Mozambique was taken from the latest issue of LEISA magazine, a publication dedicated to promoting “Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture.” LEISA also published the following guide to organizing a seed fair, which you may wish to share with your listening community:

How to organize a seed fair

1- Organize the fairs regularly, and avoid the busy time of the growing season. The Nampula fairs are annual and take place about two months before the rainy season.
2- Start with a central fair, but later increase the number of fairs to cover different regions, thus allowing increased participation.
3- Let the regions (i.e. regional organizations) be responsible for organizing their own fair, to allow local farmer leaders to gain experience in organizing activities. In the Nampula case, representatives were selected for the different regions, as well as an organizational committee composed of leaders from each area.
4- When organizing simultaneous events, keep the logistics manageable. The five seed fairs catered to members within a 180 km distance from the UG CAN headquarters in Nampula.
5- Move the location of the fairs within the regions every year.
6- State clearly in the invitations that an equal number of women and men are expected to represent each area at every fair.
7- Also explain in the invitations that diversity and a good quantity of seeds are important, as is information about the seeds (when to plant, preferred type of soil, water needs, etc.).
8- Add some local cultural interest: for the Nampula fairs, local authorities were invited, as well as a drum and dance group. UG CAN members were also asked to prepare songs or a play that highlights the importance of seed.
9- Provide money to the organizational committees, which can also be used for food for the participants and guests. At the end of the fair, a breakdown of the costs should be presented to the participants.
10- Ensure that the seed be exchanged or otherwise sold at a symbolic price (i.e. a nominal or very low price) to keep it accessible to the farmers.
11- Keep out commercial seed companies (authorities inevitably suggest inviting representatives of seed companies, which of course completely negates the idea of the fairs).
12- Award prizes at the end of the fair to the areas that managed to attract the most seeds in terms of diversity and quantity.
13- Afterwards, evaluate the fairs to evaluate possible adaptations for the following year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics have also published guides to organizing community seed fairs, as follows:

-Community diversity seed fairs in Tanzania: Guidelines for seed fairs: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/ag387e/ag387e00.pdf.
-Organizing seed fairs in emergency situations: http://www.icrisat.org/uploads/presentations/18062003163009Organizing%20Seed%20Fairs.pdf.

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AMARC-WIN accepts submissions for International Women’s Day Broadcast Campaign

From March 8-31, 2010, The Women’s International Network of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC-WIN) is organizing the sixth annual International Women’s Day Broadcast Campaign. The campaign will feature programs produced by community radio stations around the world. This year’s theme is: “Empowering and celebrating women as agents of recovery.”

AMARC-WIN welcomes submissions on all topics of importance to women, especially those related to this year’s theme. Programs may be in any language, but must be accompanied by a brief description of content in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese. Submissions should be made by March 4, 2010. For more information on how to make a submission, visit: http://march8.amarc.org/index.php?p=March_8_Material_Submissions&l=EN.

The International Women’s Day Broadcast Campaign will begin at 1:00 GMT on Monday, March 8. The webcast will be available on the following site: http://march8.amarc.org/index.php?p=March8_Program.

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Live from Africa: A handbook for African radio journalists

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting produced this extensive guide to radio journalism. Their handbook includes a discussion of the role of journalism, as well as practical information on preparing and airing news stories, from story sourcing to voicing and presentation. Chapters cover topics such as on-location recording and computer-based audio editing. The guide also provides guidance on safety, security and sensitive reporting in conflict areas, as well as libel issues. Each chapter provides exercises, discussion sections, and references for further reading.

The full handbook is available online at: http://www.iwpr.net/pdf/LiveFromAfrica.pdf.

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Farm Radio International shares favourite stories from the first 99 editions of FRW

In keeping with the theme of this week’s edition, this section is devoted to the favourite stories of people involved in the creation and production of FRW. Doug Ward and Kevin Perkins provided the leadership that got Farm Radio Weekly started. Heather Miller and Nelly Bassily prepare, revise, translate, and publish the news stories and resources for each edition. And Blythe McKay and Vijay Cuddeford provide support in news story selection and editing.

Doug Ward, Chair of the Board

-“Africa: Locusts destroy crops and pastures in Kenya, threaten farm lands in Sudan” (Various UN Sources)
FRW #1, December 3, 2007

No question about my favourite Farm Radio Weekly story. Why? Because it is the first story in the first issue of Farm Radio Weekly!

Farm Radio International has provided important stories for farm broadcasters for three decades. But the script packages, as they are called, only go out three or four time a year.

I’m an ex-broadcaster. I wanted program ideas every week not just every three months! And when we talked to African farm broadcasters, we found out that was what they wanted too.

And so we designed Farm Radio Weekly, and begged and borrowed money to do a test run. And then we asked some African broadcasters to try it. They had ideas to make it better, but most of all, they said to tell everyone and get started. And so we did!

Kevin Perkins, Executive Director

-“Africa: Tiny but powerful – bees and chilies can keep elephants away from crops” (Various Sources)
FRW #1, December 3, 2007

Farm Radio Weekly has produced so many excellent stories that it is hard to select the very best.

However, one of my favourites is a story first published in December 2007 about how the recorded sound of an angry swarm of bees can chase elephants out of a farmer’s field. It is the kind of creative, simple, and effective idea that farmers in one part of Africa can discover and share with other farmers through the Weekly.

Heather Miller, Farm Radio Weekly Editor

-“Cameroon: Farmers find manure a good substitute for expensive chemical fertilizers” (by Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)
FRW# 28, July 7, 2008

The world was in the middle of what we now call the “food crisis” when Lilianne Nyatcha contacted me. She was going to visit her family, who live in an agricultural community, and wondered if we would be interested in a news story. The story that she found was a great example of farmers persevering through great challenge. High chemical fertilizer costs were preventing so many farmers from obtaining their normal yields and driving up food costs across the globe, but these farmers were willing to try an alternative, and found a solution in their own backyards.

Nelly Bassily, Research and Production Officer

-“Nigeria: Group advocates for women farmers’ rights” (by Greg Modestus, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Nigeria)
FRW# 17, April 7, 2008

I like this story because it looks at the importance of empowering women farmers in their quest to obtain equal land rights to men. Land is precious for women farmers. This story illustrates that when women farmers band together, not only do they make their land rights and other rights a reality, they support each other and find constructive ways of bettering their livelihoods.

Blythe McKay, Development Communication Coordinator

-“Uganda: Turning trash into treasure” (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Kampala)
FRW# 58, March 16, 2009

I like this story for several reasons. It is written by one of our stringers, and it demonstrates a local innovation that not only provides additional income for people producing compost, but also helps address a sanitation problem. And the compost can be used to increase crop production!

Vijay Cuddeford, Managing Editor

-“East Africa: Indigenous vegetables make a comeback” (New Vision, New Agriculturalist)
FRW# 22, May 26, 2008

I think this is a great win-win-win story. The indigenous vegetables described in this story are easy-to-grow, incredibly nutritious, earn good income for farmers, are environmentally friendly, and could even strengthen farmers’ pride in their own traditional food cultures.

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Manure the magic worker and Organic fertilizer within easy reach

Because climate change continues to be of paramount importance to our subscribers, we devote this section to two award-winning scripts from the scriptwriting competition on Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for African Farmers. These scripts were produced as audio recordings and distributed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for World Food Day, 2008.

The scripts are: Manure the magic worker, written by Gladson Makowa of the Story Workshop in Malawi, and Organic fertilizer within easy reach, written by Adama Zongo of Radio Rurale in Burkina Faso. You can listen to the audio recordings by clicking on the links above, and read the full text of the scripts below. Although Manure the magic worker is recorded in English only and Organic fertilizer within easy reach is recorded in French only, the text versions of both scripts are available in both languages. Follow along. You may pick up some great ideas on how to transform scripts into entertaining audio productions!

Manure the magic worker

Notes to Broadcaster

Floods and drought are becoming the order of the day. These are significant signs of climate change. Farmers are finding it difficult to choose good varieties of crops to suit these climatic changes. This script gives a general solution for adapting to climatic changes. Manure works for both early-maturing and late-maturing crops. It retains water in the soil when there is drought and removes excess water when there is too much water in the soil, since it makes soil permeable. This script, therefore, can be used in any country and for every crop to reduce the effect of climatic change.


Signature tune

Presenter: Welcome, dear listeners, to Farmers Parade. In this program, we document some of the marvellous discoveries and achievements of smallholder farmers in Africa. Today as usual, you are with me, Gladson Makowa, your presenter.

Signature tune up and out under presenter

Presenter: Do you know that farmers are good researchers? Imagine how useful it can be to you to discover a thing on your own, on your farm. Why don’t you start researching one of the issues you hear on the radio?

Pause. Signature tune up, then fade up under presenter.

Presenter: The Story Workshop, a non governmental media organization in Malawi, in its European Union-funded Project from 2002 to 2006, worked in six villages which were called Radio Research Gardens. Each village chose one research issue to verify what they heard on the radio in the program called Mwana Alirenji (self-sufficiency). This research was broadcast once every month. Today we will hear some of the findings from one of these Radio Research Gardens. Stay tuned to hear all about the magic of manure!

Traditional music recorded in villages

Presenter: For rains to stop when crops like maize still need rain is not a rare scenario these days. Msanjama village, one of the Radio Research Gardens, discovered some wonderful magic to solve this dry spell problem. Msanjama village is located on the western side of Mulanje district in Traditional Authority Juma. Like many villages in Malawi, many villagers are poor. Very few farmers can afford a bag of expensive inorganic fertilizer. To make matters worse, Msanjama lies in the rain shadow of Mulanje Mountain. This is the highest mountain in Malawi and the third highest in Africa. Often, the rains stop early, just when the maize is developing cobs but not yet mature. As if that was not enough, their soils are sandy and lose moisture quickly. But a light appeared at the end of the tunnel when the villagers heard on the radio about a magic substance called manure. A fellow farmer was giving a testimony on how much he yields using only manure. The villagers did not hesitate to start their research comparing manure to inorganic fertilizer. But in the first year of research, manure could not beat fertilizer in yield. It was a flop. (Pause) What went wrong? Do you think manure can beat inorganic fertilizer in the way it helps crops?

Traditional music recorded in villages

FX: Village ambience (sound of goats and chickens in distance)

Village headman: (Angrily, while another man is saying “yes” in the background) Mr. Chairman… it is clear that manure is a useless burden to us farmers. Give me back the plot I rented you to conduct research. I want to use it for other purposes.

Chairman: Wait, wait chief…

Headman: Wait! Wait! Wait for what? Isn’t the difficulty we have gone through enough, Mr. Chairman? Mrs. Jumbe, you wanted to comment. What do you want to say?

Mrs. Jumbe: Yes, chief, that was…

Chairman: (Interrupts her) People, please give me the benefit of the doubt. Let us try manure once more. We need solutions that can help us cope with the changing climate, which dries our crops and hurts our soil! (Protests) Mr. Jumbe, why are you supporting the village headman’s idea of stopping the research? Aren’t you the one who brought this idea?

Mr. Jumbe: Yes, I am the one. I was blinded by the sweet talk of that farmer on the radio.

Mrs. Jumbe: (Calmly and sarcastically) Ehee, manure is very deceiving. At first, we had a very healthy crop, but later it lost energy. But remember how inorganic fertilizer did. After we used the second application, it was just fine until we harvested.

Headman: Mrs. Jumbe, you are right. At first, manure was indeed deceptive, as if it would work. But unfortunately, it gave up on the way.

Chairman: Listen to me first. We applied fertilizer twice, right?

All: Yes.

Chairman: Why can’t we also apply manure twice to level the playing field?

Total silence from the group

Mr. Jumbe: What have you just said, Mr. Chairman?

Mr. Chairman: (Calm and emphatic. People are now interested in what he is saying.) Remember we applied fertilizer twice for maize to do well. Can’t we try to apply manure twice too?

Mrs. Jumbe: I think Mr. Chairman has a good idea. There was indeed a very good crop with manure before it started losing energy. Why can’t we try applying manure twice, the same way we applied fertilizer?

People: (Many agree) Yes, let’s try it twice.

Headman: Well, if it’s everyone’s idea to try once more, then I will leave the garden to the group for this season again.

All: (Some laugh, some clap hands, and some comment) That is our courageous chair…. Make sure it will not fail this time.

Traditional music recorded in villages

Presenter: The villagers agreed to apply manure twice during the next growing season. They made enough composted manure for two applications, like the fertilizer. They divided their land into two plots – the fertilizer side and the manure side. They applied manure and fertilizer for the second time on the same day. People could hardly tell which side had manure and which one had fertilizer.

Then the unthinkable happened. When the maize had just produced tassels and was developing cobs, the rains stopped. The fertilizer side started showing moisture deficiency. It withered and then died. What happened to the manure side? Stay tuned.

Traditional music recorded in villages

FX: Sound of shelled maize being winnowed and put in a pail

Chairman: (Loudly) Come closer everyone. Let’s compare manure and inorganic fertilizer at the end of a fair competition.

FX: Sound of shelled maize under sounds of people admiring one type of maize as compared to the other. Some blame the rains.

Chairman: Let’s count these pails of shelled maize from the area on which we applied fertilizer. Mrs. Jumbe, can you lead us?

All: (FX of maize pouring into pails) One…two…three …four …five.

Mrs. Jumbe: Now let’s count from the area on which we applied manure. One…All: (FX of maize pouring into pails) … two…three…four…five … six … seven … eight. (All laugh and chant) Manure! Manure! (And sing) You have shaken buffalo beans; it is going to irritate you. (Editor’s note: This is a Malawian song about a variety of buffalo beans which irritates people’s skin. It’s a very well known song in Malawi. Please replace with any traditional song which is sung when your football team which was being rated as an underdog has won the match.)

Chairman: (Tries to silence them) Quiet! Quiet!

Mrs. Jumbe: Mr. Jumbe, my husband, look how fat and good looking the maize grains from the manure side are.

All: Laugh and make noise again

Mr. Jumbe: (Shouting at the top of his voice) You are lucky that the rains stopped before the maize had matured. There would have been no difference in harvest between the two sides.

All: (Laugh and shout) Haa, you!

Chairman: (Shouts too) The rains did not stop on the fertilizer side only. It stopped on the manure side too. Isn’t it true?

All people: Yes! (Chant again) Manure! Manure!

Chairman: It means that, although you called manure a burden, it makes better quality soil.

All: (Murmur)

Chairman: Wait, does the village headman have anything to say?

FX: As the chief comes, the people clap hands to honour him.

Headman: (They chant “yes” in the background, agreeing with what he says) I do not have much to say…. Everyone has seen that, as well as improving yield, manure retains moisture too. Do you remember how we applied manure? The first application we just spread in between the ridges before ridging? A gallon-sized pail full of manure spread along the fallow in between the ridges. Then the second application two hands full at the base of the plants and covered with soil after the second weeding. Go do it in your gardens. Chase hunger out of my village!

All: Yeaaaaaa!


Presenter: Manure adds fertility to the soil and keeps moisture. If you have dry spells, manure keeps the crop strong. Beat the side effects of climatic changes by using manure. Remember the side that had manure did not wilt in the same way the other side did. Do not forget that you need to compost the animal manure by mixing it with grass residues. Well-decomposed composted manure does not burn the crops, but releases all the necessary nutrients to our crops and keeps moisture in the soil. Try it. Farmers need to be clever and determined. Remember our friends failed to achieve what they wanted in the first year. They did not give up, but thought of modifying the method. They decided to apply manure twice. Don’t give up.

The facts to remember are that some kinds of manure have more nutrients than others. Composted manure made from a mixture of nitrogen-fixing plants, legumes such as cowpeas, or bean leaves, groundnut leaves, leaves and animal dung is richer in nutrients. Chicken, pig and rabbit dung have higher nitrogen content than dung from cattle and goats. Do not store manure too long uncovered and exposed to rain and sun – like more than two months – before using it, because manure loses some nutrients as time goes by. For more information, ask any agricultural worker or your fellow farmer who uses manure to teach you.

Signature tune

Presenter: We have come to the end of today’s program, Farmers Parade. Until next week at 6:30 pm on Tuesday on your lovely radio station MBC, I Gladson Makowa say … endurance pays! Try manure! Beat climate change.

Signature tune up and out


Contributed by: Gladson Makowa, Story Workshop, Blantyre, Malawi.
Reviewed by: John FitzSimons, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Canada.

Organic fertilizer within easy reach

Notes to Broadcaster
Tinga is a farmer who has just been trained in the construction of a compost ditch. Bila, his cousin who likes to joke around, comes to pay him a visit while he is digging the ditch with a few members of his family. The two farmers from the village of Godin, where soil fertility has become a real concern for the inhabitants, start up a dialogue.

The phenomenon of desertification has been exacerbated by drought during the past three decades. In Sahelian countries, land is considerably degraded and rainfall has decreased. Heat and evaporation are increasingly strong. Indeed, crop yields have noticeably decreased, year after year. Today, to cope with this situation, farmers have developed new techniques. The compost ditch is one of those methods that can help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.


Words and the noise of picks and shovels

Bila: Good morning! (Joking) Don’t tell me you’re digging your grandfather’s grave? When did he leave you?

Tinga: (Joking as well) It’s really for your grandmother who’s a real old fogey. This “grave” as you call it, is going to let me nourish my land and have good harvests. Today, an offering of some chicken and dolo beer (Editor’s note: millet beer) isn’t enough for our ancestors to answer our prayers.

Bila: This looks like a crazy idea. You haven’t even finished feeding your children and you’re busy worrying about the land. Can you tell me how you intend to nourish it?

Tinga: Which one of the two of us is crazy? Our land is worn out after years of production. It has become poor. The crops are getting smaller from year to year. Access to farm inputs is more and more difficult. It rains less and less. Can’t you see what I see? The land is hungry and thirsty and can’t satisfy our needs. It is grateful to us when it is well-nourished. The land needs as much food as we can give it. Do you understand that? The compost can help the soil to better retain water and help crops to resist the droughts that are increasingly frequent.

Bila: Yes, I understand that, but I still want an answer to my question.

Noise of picks and shovels in the background

Tinga: What you think is a grave is actually a compost ditch that I am in the process of building. This ditch is going to provide me with organic fertilizer for the crops in my fields.

Bila: Tinga, I’ve always blamed you for your selfishness. If I hadn’t come by just now, I wouldn’t know anything about this ditch. Why don’t you like to share what you know with others?

Tinga: Come on, be serious. I’m talking to you about it now. And I’m very happy to be doing just that. So, to answer your question, I’m going to repeat the instructions we got from the agricultural technician who trained us. There were 25 farmers who received this training, and we are supposed to share what we learned in our villages. I am going to get everyone in the village together in the next little while and teach the technique to those who want to learn it.

Bila: Go straight to the point. Until now, you have not told me what I expect to hear.

Tinga: So, to get back to your question. To get nutrients for the soil, you dig a hole like the one you see. It has to be three metres long by three metres wide. It should be no more than one and a half metres deep. In other words, the length and width of the ditch is equal to at least three times the length of a long arm and the depth is about one and a half times the length of an arm.

You put millet stems in the hole to form the first layer. Then you add ash, household waste, and animal dung, and water. You repeat the same process until you fill the ditch. The compost must remain moist but not wet. Don’t put material such as plastic that won’t decompose into the ditch. Keep children away from the ditch to keep them safe.

Bila: What does this garbage provide for the earth?

Tinga: This garbage is going to create food for the earth. The millet stems, the household garbage, the animal dung and ash are going to decompose to become nutrients for the soil. This waste material becomes what we call organic compost, and is going to make the soil easy to till. It will allow the soil to recapture the fertility it has lost and to hold lots of water. This way we are going to nourish the earth.

Bila: So what do I get for doing all this work?

Tinga: That’s a foolish question.

Bila: You don’t have to insult me!

Tinga: (Laughter) How can you ask me what you can expect from all this work after the speech I just made? Prick up your ears and listen to me. You will have organic fertilizer in large quantities – 10 tons of it when the ditch is full – and within easy reach. Your farmlands will be more fertile, plants will flourish, and your field will provide you with large ears of maize and good seeds. You will have products with good taste and quality. Your yields will be improved. The organic fertilizer is going to considerably reduce your dependence on chemical fertilizers. It will save you money that can be used for something else. The compost ditch provides us with priceless advantages. Do you understand that?

Bila: I would surely be a fool if I said no. In my opinion, it’s a technique which can save us from a situation that is becoming more and more worrisome: the depletion of our soils. And it isn’t complicated. Tell me, when will you start the training sessions in the village? I’ll be one of the first to sign up.

Tinga: I know you will. May God watch over us!

Bila: Now that you have explained everything to me, you can get back to digging your grave. I’m on my way.

Tinga: Say hello to your grandmother, the old bag. Have a good day.

Bicycle horn


Contributed by: Adama G. Zongo, Head of Editorial Services, Head Office, Radio Rurale du Burkina.
Reviewed by: John FitzSimons, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Canada.
Proofreading: Alexis Télesphore Bagre, retired journalist.
Information sources
Toula Dialla, Head of the 50,000 compost ditches project (Ministère de l’agriculture, de l’hydraulique et des ressources halieutiques, Burkina Faso)
Serge Alfred Sedogo, Executive Secretary of the MARP/BURKINA Network
Bobodo Blaise Sawadogo, Communication on national policies with regard to climate change, January 30, 2008, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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