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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 #161

Co-operatives for change

The United Nations International Day of Cooperatives will be marked on July 2, 2011. There are many examples of farmers benefiting through forming or joining a co-operative. To mark the day and inspire your programs, we present two stories this week about marketing co-operatives. 

In other news this week, two former presidents have been awarded the World Food Prize, former President Kufuor of Ghana, and the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio da Silva. Brazil is now in a position to donate food to Africa, as we read in the third story this week.   

Also making headlines is the meeting of the G20 agriculture ministers. Representatives from the world’s 20 leading economies focused discussions on how to stabilize food prices. You can read some initial highlights here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/jun/23/g20-action-plan-to-curb-food-prices


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Malawi: How making juice can save a forest (IPS)

Tedson Kameta is a member of the Village Hands co-operative in Neno District, southern Malawi. He used to chop down and burn trees to make charcoal. But now, as part of the co-operative, he harvests wild fruit and makes juice for a growing domestic market. Mr. Kameta says, “Until around 2000, people here didn’t know that we could benefit from this forest in a more profitable way while also sustaining it.”

In Malawi, 95 per cent of rural households use firewood for energy. The Zalewa forest in Neno District has long been under pressure from people seeking wood for fuel. Forests in Malawi are disappearing fast.

The tamarind tree is widespread in the Zalewa forest. Tamarind produces a durable charcoal that burns for a long time. Local people have traditionally soaked tamarind and baobab in water to make a beverage. David Zuzanani is operations manager for Village Hands. He says that until a project came to the area in 1996, the villagers had no idea that they could develop that drink into a commercial enterprise.

Mr. Zuzanani says, “As soon as people realized they could make money out of juice and the fruits, they started raising awareness in their areas to protect the forest.”

The co-operative now bottles up to 10,000 litres of juice each month. The beverages have been approved for sale by the Malawi Bureau of Standards. The juice sells for the equivalent of one and a half U.S. dollars in major supermarkets and at service stations. Average sales are two thousand dollars per month. The co-operative employs 11 local workers full-time in its one-room factory.

Production is done by hand. Workers soak fruit in three large containers before pasteurizing it and straining it to remove the pulp. One innovative technique extracts additional nutrients from baobab seeds to give one juice a distinctive taste and brown colour.

The co-operative buys all its fruit from villagers. In 2008, Mr. Kameta made one hundred dollars from selling his baobab fruit. With the money, he bought three goats and feed for his dairy cow. Last year, he harvested 40 bags of baobab fruit and made two hundred dollars profit. He plans to buy an oxcart and start raising guinea fowl.

Village Hands is managed by 14 trustees, including village chiefs. When profits are good, the villages share the returns and finance local projects chosen by the trustees. Mr. Zuzanani says, “Some villages have chosen orphan care centres. We have financed several such small projects. But we intend to grow the business so that we can finance bigger projects such as boreholes and school blocks.”

In spite of progress, charcoal production is still a big problem in the area. Forests close to populated areas are protected, and villagers guard them. But forests further away are still being cut for charcoal. Mr. Zuzanani says, “Those people [who chop down forests] have money and they can corrupt anyone. Chiefs are working hard to stop this, but we also need the forestry department to help us.”

A forestry official confirmed the corruption. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said it was difficult for his department to control the trade. “Government says [charcoal] traders should be arrested. That’s not practical. There is no law for that.” The official also said there are powerful individuals in the trade who would get staff fired if they caused trouble.

The villagers believe the co-operative is the best way to reduce poverty in the area. Belita Ngomano owns a small grocery shop near the juice factory. She and her husband opened the shop in 2009 with capital raised partly from selling tamarind fruits to the factory. She says, “The factory is the best tool to improve living conditions for many people here, if it can grow. So we hope government sees what we’re doing and gets these [charcoal] merchants out.”

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Congo-Brazzaville: Brazil donates maize to DRC refugees in Congo (AllAfrica, ReliefWeb, ICRC)

In October 2009, nearly 115,000 people fled violence in the Equateur province of northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. They crossed the river Oubangui and found refuge in Likouala, on the other side of the border in the Republic of the Congo.

The country called for international assistance with the refugees from DR Congo. Brazil recently responded by donating 200 tonnes of maize, at a cost of approximately $200,000 US dollars. Paulo A.V. Wolowski is the Brazilian ambassador to the Republic of the Congo. He announced, “Through this donation, we want to relieve the suffering of the many refugees in Likouala. Brazil will continue its efforts for these populations in distress.”

Residents of the department of Likouala have received assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross as they struggle to cope with the influx of refugees. Bernard Metraux is head of the Red Cross mission in Congo. He says, “Residents of the region made a remarkable effort to welcome their brothers from the other bank of the Oubangi River.”

The maize was obtained by the World Food Programme (WFP), which purchased it from farmers in the Congo’s southern department of Bouenza. It is ready and waiting to be transported north to Likouala. Mr. Wolowski praised the efforts of WFP and local maize farmers. “It is the first time in the Congo,” he said, “that sufficient maize could be grown in Bouenza for this purpose. This has helped to increase farmers’ incomes.” 

June 20 was the 11th World Refugee Day. Mahamat Ali is head of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. He praised the hospitality of the Congolese people and government, who have always agreed to host foreigners fleeing violence in their countries.

Brazil joins countries such as the USA, Sweden, Canada and France in donating emergency food aid through the WFP. The former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was recently awarded the 2011 World Food Prize for his efforts in alleviating hunger and poverty in Brazil.

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Notes to broadcasters on co-operatives

Two stories this week mark the 17th UN International Day of Cooperatives, to be observed on 2 July, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.copac.coop/idc/2011/index.html

For more information about co-operatives in Africa, visit the website of the International Co-operative Alliance Regional Office for Africa: http://www.ica.coop/africa/index.html

This news item from Rwanda was adapted from an IFAD video posted on YouTube. Bernadette’s story is covered in the first three minutes at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vH_ngiaRH4&feature=youtu.be

For more information about Rwanda: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/rwanda

And Malawi: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/malawi

Farmers’ co-operatives can benefit members in many ways. They can improve access to resources, facilitate knowledge sharing, and boost social status. Co-operatives often focus on the processing and marketing of an agricultural product. The following stories from past FRWs provide some examples:

Zambia: Better incomes through sorghum (FRW 118, July 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/05/2-uganda-drama-and-song-raise-awareness-of-climate-change-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-uganda/[A1] [VJ2] 

Burkina Faso: Women live better thanks to cooperative’s fair trade certification (FRW 68, June 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/01/1-burkina-faso-women-live-better-thanks-to-cooperative%E2%80%99s-fair-trade-certification-farm-radio-weekly/

Uganda: Organic certification allows farmers to tap export market (FRW 68, June 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/01/2-uganda-organic-certification-allows-farmers-to-tap-export-market-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

For Farm Radio International scripts on the subject of co-operatives, go to: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/cooperatives.asp

Do farmers in your area work together to obtain better market prices for their products? You may wish to find a farmers’ group or co-operative and prepare a news story or arrange an on-air interview which profiles the group and their marketing efforts:

-Who are the members of this group? Are they grouped by area, the type of crop they produce, etc.?
-When did they come together? What were individual farmers’ experiences with selling their crop prior to forming the group?
-Ask the members to describe in detail the process they use to identify markets for their crops, gather them together, and sell them. Did they try other methods before determining that one method worked best?
-How much extra income do farmers earn as a result of group marketing? What are the other benefits of working as a group (saving time, learning from each other, etc.)?

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Notes to broadcasters on refugees

The United Nations defines refugees as people who flee their country “to escape persecution, the threat of imprisonment and even threats to their lives. They need a safe haven where they can recover from mental and physical trauma and rebuild their hopes for a better future.” June 20, 2011 marks the United Nations’ World Refugee Day. For more information, visit: http://www.unhcr.ca/wrd/default.htm

Other recent news stories from Congo-Brazzaville (in French only): http://congo-dechaine.info/content/r%C3%A9publique-du-congo-du-mat%C3%A9riel-agricole-pour-plus-pr%C3%A8s-de-100-000-r%C3%A9sidents-de-la-likouala


Latest statistics and discussion about refugees can be accessed here (English only): http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jun/20/refugee-statistics-unhcr-data

Background information on refugees in DR Congo: http://www.refugeesinternational.org/where-we-work/africa/dr-congo 

Here are two stories on refugees published in Farm Radio Weekly:

DRC: Addressing land disputes through decentralization and mediation (FRW 122, August 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/08/02/drc-addressing-land-disputes-through-decentralization-and-mediation-syfia-grands-lacs-irin/

Africa: Farming improves refugees’ food security and self-sufficiency (FRW 11, February 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/02/18/1-africa-farming-improves-refugees%E2%80%99-food-security-and-self-sufficiency-office-of-the-united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees/

For additional broadcast material related to refugees’ health and food security, please consider the following scripts:
Health considerations for refugees. Package 67, Script 9, June 2003. http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-9script_en.asp

Growing vegetables in a refugee camp. Package 67, Script 5, June 2003. http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-5script_en.asp

An innovative farmer grows food for refugees. Package 67, Script 3, June 2003. http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-3script_en.asp

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Course: Making Television News

The Thomson Reuters Foundation will present a five-day course on creative approaches to producing TV news stories. Subjects include research, writing for TV, camera work and editing.

Applicants must be broadcast journalists and currently working as journalists or regular contributors to broadcast media organizations. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to a career in journalism in their country, and have a good level of spoken and written English.

Full and part bursaries are available for journalists from the developing world and countries in political transition who work for organizations with limited or no resources for training.

Deadline for applications: 8 July 2011. The course will take place in September 2011 in London, U.K.

For full details, visit: http://www.trust.org/trustmedia/journalism-training/courses-detail.dot?id=b580d9bf-a915-4e41-9c9f-0e426eb2a1b6

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UN touts new ‘Save and Grow’ farming model

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, recently launched the “Save and Grow” farming model, which they describe as “a major new initiative intended to produce more food for a growing world population in an environmentally sustainable way.” 

The “Save and Grow” approach targets small-scale farmers in developing countries. It draws heavily on an ecosystems approach to agriculture, meaning that nature’s contribution to crop growth is put to best use. In practical terms, this means using techniques such as conservation agriculture, integrated pest management and precision irrigation.

The approach is detailed in a book and factsheets which can be downloaded or viewed online. Broadcasters may find the descriptions of methods and the discussions to be useful background information or inspiration for farm radio programs. All materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

For more details: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/80096/icode/

To access the book: http://www.fao.org/ag/save-and-grow/

Factsheets: http://www.fao.org/ag/save-and-grow/en/factsheets/index.html

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‘We help broadcasters help farmers’ − FRI attends eLearning Africa conference

On May 26, 2011, Mark Leclair of Farm Radio International attended the 6th eLearning Africa conference in Dar es Salaam. This annual event highlights the latest developments in distance education across the continent. Mark joined 1701 participants from over 90 countries in highlighting the importance of eLearning for African youth. Mark’s presentation examined Farm Radio International’s efforts in eLearning since 2007, with a special focus on engaging young broadcasters.

Mark had this to say about the conference:

“Overall, eLearning Africa was a great success and Farm Radio International’s work was well-received by all in attendance. It was interesting to be somewhat of an outsider, not being specifically focused only on eLearning. E-Learning is only one part of our work in sub-Saharan Africa, so coming from a small NGO working in development communication made me stick out in the crowd. Every time I would meet a new person in the halls of the conference centre, I would hear something to the effect of:  ‘Ah yes! You’re with the radio people. I’ve been meaning to talk to you.’ I would inevitably have to explain that, no, we don’t own a radio station, and no, we don’t produce programs for the radio. I would explain that we support broadcasters by training them and supporting them to make better farm radio programs across the continent. We help broadcasters help farmers.

“It was hard not to get lost among the many demos for new e-Learning platforms, distance education schools and government programs, but I was proud to represent our small effort to experts in the field.”  

For more information and highlights from the conference, visit: http://www.elearning-africa.com/

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Talking to teens about unsafe sex

This week’s script of the week was one of the ten prize-winning scripts in our recent script package on healthy communities. It was written by Simon Mukali from Kenya, who based the script on his interviews with teenagers in Nairobi. In many countries, people find it difficult to discuss sex, and may even regard it as a taboo subject. Talking about sex with your teenage children can be especially difficult. This script tells the story of how parents in Nairobi learned to talk to their daughter about sex. 


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