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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 #144

Hello!

Greetings and welcome to this week’s new subscribers: Susan Macharia, from Sense International in Kenya; Frank Kibukamusoke from Tina Holdings Ltd in Uganda; Godwin Garpiya Gabriel from  ABU Zaria in Nigeria; Prosper Libande Atianga from Radio Communautaire Mabele, Pamoja Kambale from Radio Rurale de Kanyabayonga, and Rodrigue Batenaye all from DRC; and Georges Timotes, an agronomist from Haiti.

Rising food prices have been in the news again recently. But how are small-scale farmers affected? In a story written especially for Farm Radio Weekly, we bring you the reaction of a farmer in Zambia.

Teachers in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo are farming to supplement their income. But it is not always easy to find the time. In our second story this week, read how teachers in two regions have different approaches to ensuring that farm work gets done.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari, in Botswana, have struggled in recent years to retain legal access to their ancestral lands. In a recent ruling, they were granted access to a traditional borehole from which they had been excluded by a previous judgment. With their water source secured, they can return to their land.

We are delighted to present a new script this week, written exclusively for Farm Radio Weekly. A farmer from central Benin, Mr. Adjèxwé, describes his innovative method for storing yams. Because his yams last for up to ten months in storage, he can sell them when the market price is higher. His yams no longer rot in storage, and he earns enough to provide for his family.

We are taking a one-week publishing break. We will be back on 22 February.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Zambia: Small-scale farmer worries about rising food prices (by Brian Moonga, for Farm Radio Weekly in Zambia)

2.DR Congo: Teachers take up farming to supplement their salaries (Syfia Grands Lacs)

3.Botswana: Bushmen granted water rights (Mail & Guardian, Survival International, OSISA)

Upcoming Events

-International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Awards

Radio Resource Bank

-Videos from International Journalists Network on YouTube

Farm Radio Action

-Farm Radio International’s work highlighted in WHO bulletin

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Farmer uses good yam storage practices and improves his life

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Zambia: Small-scale farmer worries about rising food prices (by Brian Moonga, for Farm Radio Weekly in Zambia)

Jason Mumbi has been farming for nearly a decade in Kabwe’s Chamuuka area, north of Lusaka. When asked about increasing food prices, he replies, “High food prices are … a challenge for me as a cash crop grower.”

Mr. Mumbi operates a small maize mill as a family business, and is thinking of expanding. But the persistent increases in food prices are the main stumbling block for him. He spends most of the family’s earnings on food and school fees for his three children. Instead of growing more cash crops, he has had to reduce the size of land he cultivates as he cannot afford seed.

He says, “I grow mostly vegetables and I used to use my profits from my mill business towards buying seed and chemicals to help me grow my cash crops. But now it’s becoming difficult. I have reduced my farm from growing on an acre to half the area.”

According to Mr. Mumbi, the high food prices are not beneficial for small-scale farmers. He explains that, despite profiting from the booming demand for vegetables and the increased price of food, he eventually incurs the same high costs. He buys food which is not grown on his farm, and has to purchase non-food items which are increasing in price.

To add to his woes, electricity prices in Zambia are set to increase by 14 percent this year. The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation needs to expand the country’s main power generation station to keep up with domestic demand. As Zambia’s economy grows, so does the need for electricity.

Mr. Mumbi and the farmers who use his maize mill live on a tight budget. They are simply trying to make ends meet. Mr. Mumbi says some small-scale farmers are already reducing the amount of maize they bring for milling. Soon he will be forced to double the milling fee to meet the increased cost of electricity. He fears many farmers will not be able to afford this.

Zambia’s staple food is maize. Households commonly buy 25-kilogram bags, which now cost about 15 US dollars. Mr. Mumbi fears that an increase in electricity costs will mean higher food prices and the loss of his milling business. His livelihood is under threat.

He says, “Because I grow my own veggies, it’s easier and cheaper [for me] compared to other farmers. I grind my own maize meal in the back yard and we can eat it with the vegetables from my gardens. It’s a little easier; but I know very soon it will be difficult to even grow my own maize and mill it.”

Zambia’s agriculture sector has grown in recent years. Close to 90 per cent of the sector’s production comes from subsistence farmers. But critics say the high costs of production and of doing business are likely to block small-scale farmers from growing into commercial farmers.

Mulambo Hachima is a consulting economist. He says, “Unless small-scale farmers are given vast tax concessions as in the mining sector, where [small] scale operators have recently become medium entities, we expect farmers to continue incurring high costs of production as fertilizer prices, fuel and even other essential goods go up.”

Mr. Mumbi calls on the Zambian government to take measures to protect small-scale farmers against soaring food prices. He says, “It’s essential that they introduce a recommended retail price for food because energy costs will keep increasing, and at one point we will be unable to feed our families or even buy seed and other inputs to continue farming.”

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DR Congo: Teachers take up farming to supplement their salaries (Syfia Grands Lacs)

Oscar Semivumbi walks to school each morning with his satchel in hand and a hoe over his shoulder. Mr. Semivumbi is a teacher at the Institute of Matanda in Masisi, North Kivu province, eastern DR Congo. He explains, “I go to school early in the morning. After school, depending on the time of day, I join my wife to work on the farm.” He says he needs to farm because his teaching salary won’t get him through the month.

He is not the only teacher to practice two trades. Manabi Francis is a history teacher. He explains how he survives: “I harvested four bags of beans. I sold three bags for 36 dollars and kept one bag as seed for next season.” Some parents bring him gifts of food, such as beans, potatoes, bananas, and chickens. “But these provisions do not cover all our needs,” he adds.

Farmers displaced by wars have recently returned to the region. Many schools resumed classes in 2008. But many parents cannot afford to send their children to school in this agricultural area. Previously, those with livestock sold milk or cheese. But many animals have been stolen.

Unable to earn a living, teachers are leaving rural schools in North Kivu for the city. With fewer qualified teachers, the quality of education suffers, and student numbers have dropped.

In Katanga province in the south of the country, teachers have tackled similar problems by getting their students to work for them. In Kanyama, students work for two days a week in their teachers’ fields. Neither students nor parents are happy with this arrangement. Daniel Ruben Tchibanga is a 12-year-old student. He says, “Our teacher requires us to work in his field every Friday and Saturday from 6 am to 4 pm. The other days of the week, we do not study enough. Because the most important thing for him is his field of cassava and maize, not our studies.”

Parents are angry. They say is it exploitation. The local parents’ association complains that teachers are getting students to do “common chores.”  But the kids cannot say no. They are afraid to fail. Mamba Sango is a student. He says, “Our teacher keeps a register to note who is working in his field. I don’t like this. I came to study, not to do chores!”

One teacher, who gave his name only as KW, does not deny these facts. Instead he tries to justify his actions. “With my low salary (20 000 Francs, or 22 dollars a month),” he explains, “I’m unmotivated. My students help me grow crops on my two acres of land. This is my main source of income.”

It is forbidden for teachers to use students’ time  in this way. Legally, students can be asked only to do light work such as cleaning classrooms. Placide Ngandu is Head of the Sub-Division of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education in Kanyama. He announced that he will open a disciplinary file against teachers who compel pupils to work on their fields.

The Security Committee of Kanyama even addressed this issue during a meeting. But they made no recommendation. Local groups are calling for authorities to improve teachers’ wages and working conditions, and stop the exploitation of students.

Meanwhile, teachers try to find the time to work in their fields to make ends meet.

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Botswana: Bushmen granted water rights (Mail & Guardian, Survival International, OSISA)

In late January, Botswana’s Court of Appeal granted Kalahari Bushmen access to water on their ancestral land. This overturned an earlier high court judgment that prevented them from using a borehole on which they rely.

The Kalahari has been the Basarwa Bushmen’s home for tens of thousands of years. The Bushmen are traditionally hunter-gatherers. Since the 1990s, the Botswana government has tried to move the Bushmen from their ancestral land into newly created reserves.

The appeal court judges found that the Bushmen have the right to use their established borehole, and to sink new boreholes. Ordering the government to pay legal costs, the judges also found that the government’s conduct towards the Bushmen amounted to “degrading treatment.”

The government argued that the Basarwa’s presence in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is not compatible with preserving wildlife. However, new wells have been drilled for wildlife, while luxury tourist lodges have been built in the disputed territory. Botswana’s government also approved a 3 billion dollar diamond mine in a Bushmen community.

Basarwa activist and resident Amohelang Segotsane says, “I am happy with the judgment but not completely happy. Government was supposed to give us water without going through the legal process.” Mr. Segotsane said they want to be treated as citizens and enjoy the same rights as others in Botswana.

Jeff Ramsay is a coordinator for the Botswana Government Communications and Information System. He says the government will respect the appeal court’s decision: “We are a nation that is governed by the rule of law and always have been. Of course we will respect the decision of the courts.”

In 2002, the Bushmen were forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by the Botswana government. The Bushmen took the government to court. In 2006, another court allowed the Bushmen to return to their desert-like homelands. However, the government reacted by banning the Bushmen from using a well which it had capped during the eviction. This forced them to travel outside the reserve to access water.

Despite the lack of water, some Bushmen remained, surviving off rainwater and melons, and fetching water from outside the reserve.

Stephen Corry is the director of Survival International, a UK-based NGO which has supported the Bushmen through the legal process. He says, “This is a great victory for the Bushmen and also for Botswana as a whole. We hope it will be embraced as such by the authorities and not be seen as just an obstacle to their attempts to get the Bushmen off their lands for diamond mining.”

Read more about the Appeal Court ruling at these two sites:

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2011-01-28-kalahari-bushmen-win-appeal

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/6925

The Bushmen have their own website: http://www.iwant2gohome.org/index.htm

Read more about the Bushmen here: http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/bushmen

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Notes to broadcasters on rising food prices

In January of this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization released statistics showing that food prices are at their highest since the 2008 food price crisis. The figures triggered a broad range of reactions from around the world. Farm Radio Weekly asked its readers how rising food prices might affect small-scale farmers, and the first response we received was from Zambia. Food prices in Zambia have been relatively stable in recent years due to good harvests, but the prices of non-food items are rising sharply. The cost of electricity is set to increase by 14 percent. This cost will be passed on to the consumer. In this week’s story, a farmer tells us how this will affect his livelihood.

We’d like to share more stories on how food prices affect small-scale farmers. If you have a story to tell, let us know at farmradio@farmradioweekly.org, and we will contact you.

Here is the site of the FAO Food Price Index, where prices of staple commodities are tracked monthly: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/.

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/50519/icode/

Here are some recent reports on rising food prices:

Gambia: http://allafrica.com/stories/201101110674.html

Uganda: http://allafrica.com/stories/201101060027.html and  http://allafrica.com/stories/201101030190.html

Prices highest since 2008: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=91539

Food prices soaring in African markets: http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/food-prices-soaring-african-markets

In May 2008, Farm Radio Weekly ran a number of stories on the food crisis. You can view these in our archive at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/05/.

Here are some other Farm Radio Weekly stories on the food crisis:

Cameroon: Four-day crisis causes long-term disruption in poultry industry (Issue 19, April 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/04/21/1-four-day-crisis-causes-long-term-disruption-in-poultry-industry-by-lilianne-nyatcha-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-douala-cameroon/

Africa: Urban agriculture provides relief from high food prices (Issue 23, June 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/06/02/1-africa-urban-agriculture-provides-relief-from-high-food-prices-canadian-broadcasting-corporation-the-herald-new-era/

Africa: Food sovereignty is solution to “food crisis,” says La Via Campesina (Issue 41, October 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/27/2-africa-food-sovereignty-is-solution-to-%E2%80%9Cfood-crisis%E2%80%9D-says-la-via-campesina-farm-radio-weekly/

This week’s news stories may remind you of situations in your area or other parts of your country. Perhaps food prices are a hot topic of conversation, or there have been protests. Maybe you have heard that people cannot afford to buy as much food as they used to, or that farmers cannot afford to grow as much food as they would like. Here are some suggestions for investigating the impact of food price hikes in your area, and what people are doing about it.

Effects on consumers:
-Find out which foods have been affected and by what amount. How much does it cost to purchase staple foods compared to a month ago, two months ago, or a year ago?
-What are consumers doing to cope? Are there alternative foods (other than staples) that are available at a lower price? Can you find examples of people working together to pool financial and food resources? What support is available for people who cannot meet their food needs?

Effects on farmers:
-What changes have farmers seen in the cost of inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, and the price they receive for their crops? Has this changed their profit margin or the amount of food they can afford to produce?
-In what ways are farmers working together, through co-operatives or other groups, to access inputs, share labour, obtain good prices, etc.? What do farmers say would help them to produce more food?

Response by civil society:
-Have there been protests against rising food prices or the increased cost of living? Which groups (consumers, farmers, other workers, students, etc.) have participated? Have peaceful demonstrators been free to gather and express themselves? If there was a violent protest or a violent response, what was the impact?
-What are civil society groups asking the government or citizens to do? What is their response to actions taken by their government so far?

Response by government:
-Has your government taken any action, such as subsidizing food or reducing taxes on food, to reduce prices or support people who cannot afford food? What is the time frame for this action?
-Has your government called upon farmers, traders, retailers, or others to take action on this issue? Do these groups feel that the government’s suggestions will be effective, and if so, do they have the resources to carry them out?

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Notes to broadcasters on supplementing incomes through farming

Teacher’s salaries are low in many countries. Growing your own food is one way to supplement income when a salaried job is not making ends meet. This is true not just in Africa. Yet finding time to grow food can be difficult, as the teachers in this story discovered. Some teachers try to survive by compelling pupils to work on their fields instead of studying. While this is not the best use of a pupil’s time, it is a reflection of the difficult situation in which teachers find themselves. Urban agriculture and gardening are becoming popular as a way of supplementing incomes, and in response to rising food prices, and the need to feed growing urban populations.

Here is some further reading on urban agriculture:

The RUAF Foundation is a network of resource centres on urban agriculture and food security. They also publish a magazine on urban agriculture. Read more here: http://www.ruaf.org/node/512.

Here you can download a pdf of a technical document on growing vegetables in cities: www.agromisa.org/displayblob.php?ForeignKey=274&Id=115

You can read more about the growing trend of urban agriculture in these past Farm Radio Weekly news stories:
-Kenya: Urban agriculture greens metropolis (Issue 40, October 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/13/2-kenya-urban-agriculture-greens-metropolis-the-east-african-un-integrated-regional-information-network/
-Africa: Wastewater in urban agriculture is harmful to health, but it also ensures subsistence for urban poor (Issue 34, August 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/08/25/2-africa-wastewater-in-urban-agriculture-is-harmful-to-health-but-it-also-ensures-subsistence-for-urban-poor-iwmi-cbc-dispatches-le-monde-one-world/
-Africa: Urban agriculture provides relief from high food prices (Issue 23, June 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/06/02/1-africa-urban-agriculture-provides-relief-from-high-food-prices-canadian-broadcasting-corporation-the-herald-new-era/

Uganda: Urban farmers fight eviction (Issue 72, June 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/29/1-uganda-urban-farmers-fight-eviction-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

Farm Radio International has also produced a number of scripts on urban agriculture, many of which offer suggestions for growing food in small spaces: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/urban.asp.

Finally, here are some ideas for a call-in/text-in show to further explore this issue:
-Have members of your audience grown food in an urban area?

-How much food do they produce and what impact does this have on their family’s food security?

-What materials (such as organic fertilizer or planters) do they use to make food production possible in very small spaces?

-Which crops grow best with the limited space and resources they have available? What tips or innovations can they share?

-How much time do they devote to their urban gardens?

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International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Awards

Each year the International Women’s Media Foundation recognizes outstanding women journalists with awards in two categories: Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement.

For both awards, candidates must be full-time, part-time or freelance women journalists currently working in print, broadcast or online media in any country. For the Courage Awards, candidates employed by organizations whose main objective is not journalism will not be considered. Candidates for the Lifetime Achievement award can be working or retired.

Candidates may be nominated by colleagues, employers, journalists or others. Self-nominations are not accepted. Nominations must be submitted in English.

The deadline for nominations is March 4, 2011. Winners will be announced in May 2011.

For further details on the awards, and how to nominate a journalist, visit: http://iwmf.org/honoring-courage.aspx.

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Videos from International Journalists Network on YouTube

The International Journalists Network, IJNet, has a video channel on YouTube. A number of short videos are available. They cover a range of topics, from “Maintaining a healthy broadcast voice” to “Backpack journalism,” plus videos of journalists giving recommendations on finding further online resources.

Browse the videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/IJNetVideo?refer=hh20090609#p/u/4/q_XMP_feu5E.

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Farm Radio International’s work highlighted in WHO bulletin

“Tuning in to secure food” is the title of a two-page article in the February 2011 issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The article features the work of Farm Radio International in Uganda.

The article addresses progress in achieving Millennium Development Goal One: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. It suggests that new thinking and new technologies are needed. It gives the example of Farm Radio International’s work in helping to create interactive and entertaining radio programs on agriculture themes selected by local farmers. These shows are generated by radio station staff, rooted in the local agricultural context, and broadcast in the local language.

Read the full article online:

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/2/11-020211/en/index.html

Or download the pdf version:

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/2/11-020211.pdf

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Farmer uses good yam storage practices and improves his life

Notes to broadcaster

Yams are one of the most popular foods worldwide. They are a staple in several countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, the yam is an agricultural treasure. It plays an important role in nutrition and the economic well-being of rural people.

However, yam can be difficult to store. Indeed, because it is vulnerable to pests, it suffers significant losses. To ensure that families have enough to eat and to improve farmers’ incomes, finding and promoting post-harvest management solutions for yams is urgent, so that they can be made available over a much longer period after harvest.

The script below tells the story of a farmer who changes his life by adopting good practices for yam storage. He is also a positive influence on other farmers. These storage methods can be implemented by farmers to reduce post-harvest losses and maximize their income.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

Characters:

Host

Interviewer

The innovative farmer, Adjèxwé

1st farmer, Agossou

2nd farmer, Gbiglo

Fade in signature tune to begin the show and cross fade under the host’s voice

Host: Greetings, dear local FM radio listeners! In today’s show, we are going to talk about good storage practices for yam tubers. In that regard, I invite you now to listen to a farmer who successfully stores his yams for a very long time, which allows him to improve his income. He explains in our interviewer’s mic the secret of his success.

Birds singing and miscellaneous nature noises. Cross fade under farmer’s voice.

Adjèxwé: My name is Adjèxwé. I am a yam producer here in Tchogodo, a village in Savalou, in central Benin. I’m married and have twelve children. My two spouses are over there, working in the fields.

Interviewer: I notice that your yam field extends very far. Apparently, you like growing yam much more than other crops. Is it because yam farming is easier than the other crops?

Adjèxwé: No, it is not so easy! Yam is difficult both to grow and to store, but it is more profitable if well taken care of.

Interviewer: Profitable, because it is more expensive to buy than other produce?

Adjèxwé: Yes, the price of yam rises a few months after harvest.

Interviewer: Why does yam get more expensive at that time?

Adjèxwé: Yams that are stored improperly turn bad quickly. Because they are afraid to lose them, many farmers prefer to sell yams right after harvest. Consequently, the amount of good quality tubers offered on the market goes down soon after harvest, and there is often a shortage. With high demand and little supply, yam prices go up significantly before the new harvest.

Interviewer: Despite the fact that yams are difficult to store, you grow yams on a large scale. Do you store them in order to sell them at a higher price, or do you sell them at a very low price right after harvest?

Adjèxwé: In the past, I was not able to store my yams properly, so I used to sell them at a very low price right after harvest. It was really not a good deal for me because I lost money. I worked very hard under sun and under rain to maintain the yam field. I invested a lot of money in it. And at harvest time, I used to sell the yams at a very low price. It was really a loss! And I was not able to meet my family’s needs.

Interviewer: What about now?

Adjèxwé: You know, farmers’ first concern is to find solutions to our problems in order to improve our income. So when bad storage conditions were affecting my income and my spirits, I started experimenting with different practices. Slowly but surely, I ended up discovering that several good practices should be used in combination.

Interviewer: What practices? Tell us about these, Mr. Adjèxwé.

Adjèxwé: Among other things, I use a storage hut with shelves.

Interviewer: What is the purpose of the hut with shelves?

Adjèxwé: The hut with shelves here helps me store my yam tubers well. Before building this hut, I first looked for a flat location, as you can see here. The site that will host such a storage hut must be flat and slightly elevated.

Interviewer: Why must the site be flat and elevated?

Adjèxwé: This is to avoid flooding and erosion in rainy periods.

Interviewer: After choosing the site, what else did you do?

Adjèxwé: I built the walls of the hut with mud brick. The hut can be rectangular or circular. As you can see, mine is rectangular. Then I covered the top of the hut with straw. Let’s go inside through the entrance door (A few seconds of silence, then sound of footsteps) As you can see, I built wooden shelves along the walls. There are three levels

Interviewer: What are the dimensions of this hut?

Adjèxwé: The hut is six metres long, four metres wide and almost two metres high. Each shelf is about three-quarters of a metre high. The hut has three shelves. The shelves are almost one metre apart.

Interviewer: What is the function of those openings in the wall?

Adjèxwé: They bring fresh air into the storage room. Each of these ventilation openings is 15 centimetres wide and 15 centimetres high, and is covered with a net to prevent rodents from getting in. This helps maintain freshness. Ventilation openings must be made all around the hut, in the side walls, one metre apart.

Interviewer: After building the hut, what else do you do to ensure good storage?

Adjèxwé: After building the hut with shelves, I take particular care with the yam tubers I want to store.

Interviewer: By doing what?

Adjèxwé: I harvest the tubers as soon as the vines and leaves have fully turned yellow. This reduces the damage caused by diseases or pests in the field. Also, I avoid scratching the tubers during harvest. I systematically set aside all the damaged tubers. My family and I eat them. So, I store only yams that are in a good state.

Inside the hut, I place the tubers on the shelves so it’s easy to remove potential shoots as soon as they appear. I separate the small and big tubers. I put small yams in hundred kilo batches, and big tubers in two hundred and fifty kilo batches. I do not mix tubers of different varieties. I make sure that each batch has tubers from the same variety.

Interviewer: What other practices do you follow to improve production and storage?

Adjèxwé: Yes. Taking care of yam tubers starts well before sowing. First of all, before I plant yam, I select only healthy seed yams. These seeds must come from medium-sized, regular-shaped tubers. Once I have selected the seeds, I plant them on fertile soils that are not infested with small worms called nematodes, termites or other pests that may be harmful to tubers. To avoid soil infestation by nematodes, I grow yams in rotation with cowpea, peanuts and corn.

Interviewer: Once you take those precautions, do you have a good harvest at the end?

Adjèxwé: Yes, absolutely! Before placing the harvested yams on the shelves, I sprinkle some kitchen ash on the shelves. I first sift the ash through an empty perforated tin of milk or of tomatoes. I use that ash to cover the yams.

Interviewer: What is the role of the kitchen ash?

Adjèxwé: The kitchen ash protects against pests. The smell and the taste of the ash prevent rodents from attacking stored yams.

Interviewer: Perfect! After you have taken all these precautions, how long can you store your tubers?

Adjèxwé: The time from one harvest to the next, which is about ten months.

Interviewer: And when you combined all these good practices, did it work well?

Adjèxwé: Yes, it was very good! I got a clear improvement. I had no more rotting yams in my storage area. Rodents cannot cause any damage any more to my yams. These practices allow me to store my yams for at least ten months. Since that time, I have continued these good storage practices.

Interviewer: Did this improve your income?

Adjèxwé: Of course! Thanks to this storage system, I am able to sell my yams when the price goes up. During that period, yams are in short supply. Thus, I benefit a lot from the storage system, which allows me to better meet my family’s vital needs.

I can find money to pay my children’s school fees. They are taken care of at the dispensary when they are sick. Thanks to these improvements, I rebuilt my house with bricks. I covered it with sheet metal. I also bought this motorcycle for personal transportation. Seeing the benefits that I enjoy motivates the other farmers in the village, and they are starting to adopt good yam storage practices.

Interviewer: Many farmers in the village are inspired by Adjèxwé’s experience and are starting to adopt good practices of yam storage like Adjèxwé. One of those farmers is right here. His name is Agossou. He explains why he decided to give up the other methods of yam storage and follow Adjèxwé’s practices.

Agossou: There are many storage methods. Farmers sometimes store yams in various kinds of silos or stockpile them in the fields. But those methods do not effectively protect tubers against losses. With those methods, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to continuously monitor the tubers once they are stored. As a consequence, it is only after you remove the yams from storage that you notice the damage.

Interviewer: But with the hut with shelves, it is easy for you to inspect and manage your yams, isn’t it?

Agossou: Absolutely! This is precisely why I came to see Adjèxwé and receive his advice and improve the construction of my hut with shelves.

Interviewer: Beside Agossou, there is another farmer who has some experience with adopting good storage practices for yams. His name is Gbiglo. By following Adjèxwé’s advice, he has made a profit from his harvest. He explains to us why one should regularly inspect the hut with shelves.

Gbiglo: The inspection allows the farmer to control the state of the hut’s roof, and to check whether some yams have started rotting. If there happens to be rotten yams, you should immediately remove them to avoid further contamination. You must also remove partially damaged tubers, as well as the shoots before they reach 50 centimetres long. Regular inspection is an opportunity to maintain good hygiene inside the hut.

During the inspection, you should clean the inside of the hut and the area near the hut. Weeds are gathered and swept away.  If necessary, one can set up drainage trenches all around the hut, in order to avoid erosion or flooding during the rainy season.

Interviewer: How often do you do this inspection?

Gbiglo: Every two weeks.

Interviewer: Isn’t it difficult for you to do all that just to store yams?

Gbiglo: Even though it is difficult, it is worthwhile for me to use a storage system which is designed to lengthen the period during which I can sell yams. This allows me to increase my income by offering healthy yams as long as possible.

Fade in closing signature tune and hold under host’s voice

Host: Dear farmer friends, you too can use good yam storage practices like Mr. Adjèxwé and farmers from Tchogodo. Carefully apply these good practices to take care of your yams throughout the year. This way, you will be able to sell them when the price is high. This will help you improve your income.

This brings today’s show to an end. Thank you for joining us. Good bye and talk to you next time.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Felix Houinsou, farm radio show host, Radio Immaculée. Conception, Benin, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.

Reviewed by: Peter Golob, post-harvest consultant

Information sources

Interview with Mr. Adjèxwé, farmer based in Savalou, in central Benin, September 26, 2010.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), 1999. Stockage de l’Igname axé sur les besoins du marché, GTZ. http://www.fao.org/inpho/content/documents/vlibrary/move_rep/x0292f/X0292f00.htm

Mathias Kpanou, undated. Conservation des tubercules d’igname.  http://www.runetwork.de/html/fr/index.html?article_id=2631

Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

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