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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 #145

Burkina Faso: Farmers find ancient seed selection practices still relevant (by Adama Zongo, for Farm Radio Weekly in Burkina Faso)

Hadarou Déné farms in Tanama V2, a village about one hundred and forty kilometres from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Mr. Déné grows maize, sorghum and cotton. For the last five years, the local agricultural extension service has offered improved seed varieties.  Mr. Déné says, “We receive improved maize and cotton seed from the county department of agriculture. We have seen good yields with these seeds.”

Seeds are a central concern for farmers. They represent farmers’ hopes for full granaries, for the next planting season, and for food security.  As Mr. Déné says, “Where will we be tomorrow? What use are our granaries if we have no seeds?”

But the extension service does not distribute sorghum seeds. Like other farmers in the village, Mr. Déné saves and plants local sorghum seeds. He says, “The sorghum seeds are the ones passed on from our parents. Each year, we use these seeds.” Mr. Déné carefully selects these local seeds at harvest time. Smiling, he explains, “Before harvesting sorghum, I go through my field and I choose the big ears that are ripe and dry. I cut them very carefully to avoid losing the grain.”

Every year, Mr. Déné stores his seeds in the granary. He says, “I keep them carefully in the granary, above the grain which we use as food.” Mr. Déné is aware that pests can attack the granary, but he believes they cannot reach the stored seeds. The granary is not treated, nor does it use any type of protection from pest attack. But Mr. Déné is quite confident. He says, “It is true that we do not use any treatments or protection measures. Pests could get in, but they only destroy a small amount of grain.”

Salfo Dabré is another farmer from the same village. After harvest, he selects the best ears of sorghum. He is careful to choose sorghum which is free of contamination. He ties the ears of sorghum together and hangs them in a tree in the middle of his yard. He has done this for years and never worries about losing the seed he has so carefully selected. With confidence, he says, “I do this to keep my seeds. They have never been destroyed by weevils or other pests. My parents did this. Today, I do the same as they did.”

Like Mr. Déné, Mr. Dabré stores his crops in granaries. But Mr. Dabré says that building a granary is a lot of work. He explains, “It takes wood, water, clay bricks, straw and all sorts of other materials to build a granary. It is a lot of materials to assemble!”

The farmers in Tanama V2 continue to plant local sorghum varieties. Their selection and storage methods are traditional, tried and tested, and they work. These ancient practices continue to provide villagers with a secure supply of seeds.

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Congo: The ‘motorcycle-wheelbarrow’ prevents harvest loss (by Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga for Farm Radio Weekly in Congo)

2. Madagascar: New granaries guarantee food security (by Patrick A. Andriamihaja, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Madagascar)

Upcoming Events

-Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Awards 2011

Radio Resource Bank

-Message-in-a-box

Farm Radio Action

-Radio stations facing the crisis in Ivory Coast

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Water is life. Share it.

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1. Congo: The ‘motorcycle-wheelbarrow’ prevents harvest loss (by Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga for Farm Radio Weekly in Congo)

Over the last two years, a small vehicle known as the “motorcycle-wheelbarrow” has changed the lives of farmers in Pokola. The vehicle has three wheels and features a large bucket on the back. Before the motorcycle-wheelbarrows arrived, many producers abandoned their fields because they were unable to get their produce to market. But with its help, farmers now lose fewer of their crops after harvest. Many farmers have increased their productivity.

It is seven o’clock in the morning. Fog envelops nearby houses. A small crowd gathers at the crossroads. Women carry empty baskets on their backs, and men have hoes and machetes. Young men stand near plastic jerry cans filled with water. They are waiting for the motorcycle-wheelbarrows which will take them to the fields. These people will spend the day working on the land. They will then take their produce to town to sell: manioc, bananas, yams, vegetables, tarot, corn, peppers and sweet potatoes.

Jean Paul Kamana is a farmer. He is well-known in Pokola, a town which grew around the timber industry in the tropical forests of the northern Congo. Mr. Kamana was among the first to own a motorcycle-wheelbarrow. It is the only type of transport used by farmers here. Its special place and value in local farmers’ lives is explained by the large bucket on its back.. The motorcycle-wheelbarrow carries people as well as agricultural products. Farmers now easily reach fields several kilometres away.

Mr. Kamana first saw the vehicle being used by a nearby timber company, carrying construction workers’ tools. He realized that it was very convenient, and thought it might be useful for him. He says, “It inspired me to carry my tools this way, and to use it to take my produce to market.”

He thinks the motorcycle-wheelbarrow offers several advantages. For example, it can easily move large volumes of agricultural products. It saves a lot of travelling time, and Mr. Kamana no longer has to physically carry his produce. The vehicle can carry two or three labourers at a time to help him work in his field. He says, “It is a very useful machine. But there is no shop selling these bikes here. You have to order it from dealers who go to Douala in Cameroon, more than 1500 miles from here.”

According to Mr. Kamana, the main problem with the vehicle is the supply of spare parts. Everything must come from Douala. If it breaks down, the owner may wait several weeks for repairs.

Mr. Kamana remembers the difficulties before the motorcycle-wheelbarrow arrived. He says, “We were carrying our crops in wheelbarrows and pushing them on sand or mud for several miles. Or we would carry produce in baskets on our backs, sometimes under a scorching sun or in the rain. It was too painful to carry.” But today, he says, “You can even go to a field 20 kilometres away without worrying.”

Mr. Kamana bought the motorcycle-wheelbarrow primarily for his own use. But he also loans his vehicle to other farmers so that they too can take their products to market in Pokola. Women traders also take the vehicle to the fields to buy goods from farmers. They return immediately to the market to quickly resell the produce.

Today, a number of producers and co-operatives are using motorcycle-wheelbarrows. As a result, more and more agricultural products from the forest zones reach the market. Thanks to this strange-looking vehicle, farmers no longer lose so much of their harvest.

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2. Madagascar: New granaries guarantee food security (by Patrick A. Andriamihaja, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Madagascar)

Over the last two years, a small vehicle known as the “motorcycle-wheelbarrow” has changed the lives of farmers in Pokola. The vehicle has three wheels and features a large bucket on the back. Before the motorcycle-wheelbarrows arrived, many producers abandoned their fields because they were unable to get their produce to market. But with its help, farmers now lose fewer of their crops after harvest. Many farmers have increased their productivity.

It is seven o’clock in the morning. Fog envelops nearby houses. A small crowd gathers at the crossroads. Women carry empty baskets on their backs, and men have hoes and machetes. Young men stand near plastic jerry cans filled with water. They are waiting for the motorcycle-wheelbarrows which will take them to the fields. These people will spend the day working on the land. They will then take their produce to town to sell: manioc, bananas, yams, vegetables, tarot, corn, peppers and sweet potatoes.

Jean Paul Kamana is a farmer. He is well-known in Pokola, a town which grew around the timber industry in the tropical forests of the northern Congo. Mr. Kamana was among the first to own a motorcycle-wheelbarrow. It is the only type of transport used by farmers here. Its special place and value in local farmers’ lives is explained by the large bucket on its back.. The motorcycle-wheelbarrow carries people as well as agricultural products. Farmers now easily reach fields several kilometres away.

Mr. Kamana first saw the vehicle being used by a nearby timber company, carrying construction workers’ tools. He realized that it was very convenient, and thought it might be useful for him. He says, “It inspired me to carry my tools this way, and to use it to take my produce to market.”

He thinks the motorcycle-wheelbarrow offers several advantages. For example, it can easily move large volumes of agricultural products. It saves a lot of travelling time, and Mr. Kamana no longer has to physically carry his produce. The vehicle can carry two or three labourers at a time to help him work in his field. He says, “It is a very useful machine. But there is no shop selling these bikes here. You have to order it from dealers who go to Douala in Cameroon, more than 1500 miles from here.”

According to Mr. Kamana, the main problem with the vehicle is the supply of spare parts. Everything must come from Douala. If it breaks down, the owner may wait several weeks for repairs.

Mr. Kamana remembers the difficulties before the motorcycle-wheelbarrow arrived. He says, “We were carrying our crops in wheelbarrows and pushing them on sand or mud for several miles. Or we would carry produce in baskets on our backs, sometimes under a scorching sun or in the rain. It was too painful to carry.” But today, he says, “You can even go to a field 20 kilometres away without worrying.”

Mr. Kamana bought the motorcycle-wheelbarrow primarily for his own use. But he also loans his vehicle to other farmers so that they too can take their products to market in Pokola. Women traders also take the vehicle to the fields to buy goods from farmers. They return immediately to the market to quickly resell the produce.

Today, a number of producers and co-operatives are using motorcycle-wheelbarrows. As a result, more and more agricultural products from the forest zones reach the market. Thanks to this strange-looking vehicle, farmers no longer lose so much of their harvest.

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Notes to Broadcasters on transport to market

Accessing markets is vital for farmers who sell crops to maintain or increase their income. This story explains that, for some farmers in this forested region of Congo-Brazzaville, getting goods to market was the main barrier to increasing their incomes. When an unusual form of transport called the “motorcycle-wheelbarrow” was introduced, this problem was overcome, and farmers and traders are both reaping the benefits.

Jacques Diouf is the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He recently stated that higher investments in Africa are needed, mentioning irrigation, storage, and farm-to-market roads as key improvements to help Africa guard against rising food prices and famine. For an in-depth report entitled “African Agriculture Partners Focus on Mitigating Rise in Food Prices, Supporting Farmers,” go to: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/0,,contentMDK:22823303~menuPK:2246551~pagePK:2865106~piPK:2865128~theSitePK:258644,00.html?cid=ISG_E_WBWeeklyUpdate_NL.

Farm Radio International has produced scripts on market information and crop production, many of which are relevant to this subject. You can browse these scripts here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/market.asp
http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/crop.asp

Farm Radio Weekly has previously published news stories about farm-to-market roads, for example:
DRC: Marketing by motorcycle (Issue 140, January 2011). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/10/dr-congo-marketing-by-motorcycle-syfia-grands-lacs/

DRC: Where roads go, farmers will follow (Issue 133, November 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/01/drc-where-roads-go-farmers-will-follow-syfia-grands-lacs/

Republic of Congo: Farmers solve rural road problem with their own hands (Issue 94, January 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/01/11/1-republic-of-congo-farmers-solve-rural-road-problem-with-their-own-hands-ips/

Côte d’Ivoire: Banana farmers and traders seek regional markets (Issue 98, February 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/02/08/1-cote-d%E2%80%99ivoire-banana-farmers-and-traders-seek-regional-markets-ips/

You might want to explore this topic further, especially if you broadcast to a remote area. Here are some questions to inspire your programming:
-Are there rural communities in your listening area that have good transportation access to markets? Have the roads always been good? If not, who improved the roads? How are the roads maintained?
-Are there rural communities in your listening area that are isolated due to poor road conditions or a lack of roads? Have the roads always been in poor condition, or have they deteriorated or been damaged in recent years?
-What kind of transport is common in your broadcast area? Do many farmers use bicycles? Are scooters or motorcycles common? What difference does the form of transport make to a farmer’s livelihood?
-Is public transport available to farmers in isolated communities? Is it convenient and affordable?

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Notes to Broadcasters on granaries

Once farmers have succeeded in producing a good harvest, they naturally want to make the most of it. Post-harvest losses are a waste, and threaten a family’s food security. Losses can occur from pests, climatic conditions, or simply a bumper harvest of perishable crops. Options for reducing post-harvest losses include better storage facilities (such as improved granaries), storage techniques (such as treating crops with ash or chili), and agro-processing – drying crops, or transforming them into processed products.

These websites may help with program research:
The African Post-harvest Losses Information System: http://www.aphlis.net/

Prevention of post-harvest food losses: fruits, vegetables and root crops. A training manual – online training manual from UN Food and Agriculture Organization. http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0073e/t0073e00.htm

FAO has also produced a “compendium” on post-harvest operations. Click on the small pictures of each crop for more information: http://www.fao.org/inpho/content/compend/toc_main.htm
There are many scripts on food processing and storage in Farm Radio International’s archive. Browse them here:
http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp

Here are some previous Farm Radio Weekly stories on storage issues:
Mozambique: A farmer builds a silo with local materials to reduce post-harvest losses (Issue 120, July 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/19/1-mozambique-a-farmer-builds-a-silo-with-local-materials-to-reduce-post-harvest-losses-helvetas-mozambique-farm-radio-weekly/
Burundi: Seed banks are the answer to chronic seed shortages (Issue 80, September 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/09/07/2-burundi-seed-banks-are-the-answer-to-chronic-seed-shortages-syfia-grands-lacs/
Nigeria: Triple bagging an alternative to ‘killer beans’ (Issue 83, October 2009).
http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/10/05/2-nigeria-triple-bagging-an-alternative-to-%E2%80%98killer-beans%E2%80%99-daily-trust/

You might consider producing radio spots on storage and post-harvest processing. Interview farmers and ask them to describe the problems they face, what they estimate their post-harvest losses to be, and what attempts they have made to reduce their losses. You could highlight one farmer per day as a theme for the week. Ask a range of questions, for example:

What storage treatments are common?
What experience do farmers have with processing crops?
Are there ready markets for dried or processed products?
What type of information is available to inspire farmers to use innovative storage ideas?
Is crop storage the responsibility of men or women? Is processing done by men or women? Could these roles be changed or shared?

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Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Awards 2011

The Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Awards 2011 are now open for submissions!

The RFPA Awards recognize radio programs that contribute to peace in Africa. The awards particularly celebrate programs that help to reduce group and community tensions, that enhance and give value to shared interests, that break down listener stereotypes, and/or that provide positive role models.

The 2011 awards are open to all African radio broadcasters, both men and women. Prizes will be awarded in these categories:

  • RFPA Gender Award;

  • RFPA Youth Award; and
  • RFPA Jury’s Special Award.

Three prizes will be awarded in each category. The first prize is 500 Euros, the second 250, and the third 100 Euros. The winning recipients will be honoured at an award ceremony.

Programs submitted can be in any language spoken on the African continent, but must be accompanied by a translation in either English or French. Radio programs must have been broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2010.

All entries must be received by midnight GMT, March 25, 2011.

Download the entry form, and read more details at this link: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/index.cfm?lang=en&context_id=2&context=events&action=oneEvent&content_id=196.

For more information, contact the RFPA Team: rfpa@sfcg.org

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Message-in-a-box

Message-in-a-box is a website full of resources to help you make and distribute your own content. It features a section with strategies for making your own audio, as well as tips and tools on images, print and mobile phones.

The Creating Audio section is full of tips, links, suggestions and downloads for creating audio. It describes the range of equipment you can use on a tight budget, and provides examples of how to use audio, not just in radio, but also on CDs, in public spaces and on the internet. Read how to create an audio piece, publish it as a podcast, and then publicize it to ensure you reach a range of listeners.

http://www.messageinabox.tacticaltech.org/creatingaudio

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Radio stations facing the crisis in Ivory Coast (by Serge Adams Diakité for Farm Radio Weekly in Ivory Coast)

After being announced and reported several times, the presidential election finally happened in Ivory Coast, on 31 October 2010. And the second round took place on 28 November 2010. This vote has not brought peace to Ivorians and other people leaving in Ivory Coast, as they had wished. Seventy-two hours after the election, Ivory Coast slipped into a severe legal, political and diplomatic crisis. Farm Radio Weekly emailed one of our contacts who works in radio in Ivory Coast to see how the crisis has affected radio in the country, and what role radio is playing in the situation.

Currently, there are several different types of radio stations in Ivory Coast. There are two public stations (Radio Côte d’Ivoire and Fréquence 2) that belong to the national Ivorian Radio and Television network (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Ivoirienne, or RTI). These stations remained loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and to the LMP, the group of political parties who supported Laurent Gbagbo’s candidacy. In addition, there are two commercial channels (Nostalgie and Jam FM), three school radios (Elit ‘FM, Radio BLM and Atlantic FM); six religious stations (for example Fréquence Vie, Radio Nationale Catholique, Radio Espoir and Radio Al Bayane), close to 130 privately-owned community stations, an institutional radio (ONUCI FM, managed by the United Nations in Ivory Coast), and various international radio broadcasts such as Voice of America, BBC and RFI. Radio Canada International and the Deutsche Welle do have local relays but no programming in frequency modulation (FM).

The newest radio station is ”Radio Côte d’Ivoire, The Voice of the Rally.” It currently operates without permission. The station supports the RDPH (the Association of Houphouétists for Democracy and Peace, the opposition coalition, made of the party of Alassane Ouattara, of Henri Konan Bedie and many others, the Association of Houphouétists for Democracy and Peace (Rassemblement des Houphouétistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix -RHDP). The station was launched in December 2010, to, in the station’s own words, bring some balance to the domination of the media by pro-Gbagbo voices.

The mission of these radio stations varies according to their category – information-sharing, raising awareness, educating, advertising, entertaining, or broadcasting religious content. Today, it is obvious that apart from religious radios, commercial radios, radio schools and community radios, radio stations are ignoring their mission statements in order to support their chosen political cause. This means that the airwaves are brimming with disinformation, calls for civil disobedience, brain wash, propaganda, appeals for resistance, etc. The two public channels are working together to support Laurent Gbagbo and “The Republic”. As far as Alassane Ouattara is concerned, he is supported by the RHDP station -broadcasting from the Golf Hotel- and by Ivoir’ FM, which broadcasts from Bouaké, the stronghold of the Forces Nouvelles or “New Forces,” a coalition of rebel movements.

International channels and ONUCI are said to be one-sided or professional by either side, depending on the nature of the information they deliver.

Community radio stations are not allowed to take part in political debate. They have complied. Besides broadcasting music programs and shows about development issues, most promote peace and social cohesion. During the post-election crisis though, one community radio station was set on fire, while one was ransacked and another one was looted.

Since Farm Radio Weekly received this news from the Ivory Coast, the National Council for Audiovisual Communication has cancelled ONUCI FM’s licence (the United Nations’ radio in Ivory Coast), although ONUCI FM was continuing to broadcast. You can read more at: http://www.mediafrica.net/News_Popup.php?Id=4465 and http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/ivory-coast-cancels-un-radios-broadcasting-licence.

For more information on radio in Ivory Coast, see “News from the Field: Media’s Role in Peacebuilding: A Case Study in Côte d’Ivoire”: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/index.cfm?lang=en&context_id=2&context=events&action=oneEvent&content_id=195

IRIN has compiled some briefings on the situation in Ivory Coast: http://www.irinnews.org/Country.aspx?Country=CI

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Water is life. Share it.

The script of the week is from our latest script package on water integrity. It tells the story of a village in Malawi. Residents had been suffering from hunger, but came up with the idea of beginning an irrigation scheme. In the first years of the project, only a few community members benefited. The villagers struggled to find ways to share the water equally, and ensure that everyone could benefit. But they persevered with the project and succeeded. The script is a fictionalized account of how the villagers discussed their issues and made agreements on how to proceed.

Read the full script here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/92-5script_en.asp.

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