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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 #174

Innovative chick brooder saves fuel costs

A farmer’s group in Kenya has cut their fuel costs by developing their own chick brooder. It keeps chicks warm by cleverly making use of the heat produced while cooking. Read below how it was developed and how it works.

In our second story, farmers in Burkina Faso are benefiting from caring for their trees in a reforestation project. Read below how an NGO has encouraged farmers to look after their saplings, and increased tree survival rates.

A fishing ban can be bad news for fishers in the short-term. But communities near Lake Albert in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen a positive long-term effect on fish stocks, and are busy supplying local markets once more.

In our Farm Radio Action section, find out how one of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners is raising awareness of women’s health issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Finally, the Farm Radio International team was saddened to hear of the passing of the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Wangari Maathai. We have been reading some of the thousands of online tributes this week. Access some of our favourites at these links:

Green Belt Movement (the organization she founded) http://greenbeltmovement.org/index.php;

National Geographic http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/26/earth-mother-wangari-maathai-dead-at-71/;

Pambazuka News Special Issue http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/550

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: Farmers invent combined cooker/brooder and save on fuel costs (The Organic Farmer)

Joseph Msanii is passionate about raising poultry. But keeping his chicks warm has been a problem. With the rising price of feed, spending money on charcoal or kerosene meant lower profits.

Mr. Msanii lives in Matunda in Kenya’s Rift Valley. A few years ago, he and the members of his farmers’ group heard about the Chepkube. This is a specially modi­fied chamber which keeps food warm after cooking. It is common in the households of Kenya’s Kalenjin community.

The farmers also read about a cookstove which a farmer had adapted to incubate eggs. These innovations fired their imaginations. They decided to combine and improve them, and conceived a design which suited their needs.

Mr. Msanii knew that cookstoves emit a lot of heat. He recalls, “We had to look for a simple way of saving the heat and [using] it later in the chick brooder to provide warmth for the chicks.” He explains the design they came up with. “The frame of the brooding chamber is made of wood … metal bars form the cooking area. Iron sheets on the upper part [cooker] help to trap the heat and transmit it to the lower section [brooder].” The walls are made of bricks, and mud is used as mortar for the top and to hold the bricks together.

When the cooker is used, heat is transferred and held in the brooder. If a farmer cooks three times a day, the cooker produces enough heat to keep the chicks warm the whole night. The entire structure is built against a wall. A hole in the wall allows the chicks to access a small outside area to run. The hole is closed at night to preserve heat. The covered area outside is fenced with wood and wire mesh, with a door at the top. It protects the chicks from preda­tors.

Sabina Ngare is a farmer in Matunda. She says, “Before I acquired this brooder, it was really hectic. I had to heat water and put it in bottles, and then place them in baskets together with the chicks to keep them warm.” Now that she has the new cooker/brooder, Ms. Ngare says that keeping chickens is much easier. She adds, “All I have to worry about is what to feed the chicks.”

The newly improved device also serves as a stove, with three cooking holes. The brooder is meant only for keeping the chicks warm. It is not designed for hatching.

The farmers’ group has built 11 brooders. Farmers using them have drastically reduced the cost of buying charcoal or using elec­tric heaters to keep the chicks warm.

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Burkina Faso: Bonuses boost farmers reforestation efforts (IPS)

Fatimata Koama and her farmers’ group received more than half a million CFA francs this year to plant and maintain 1,200 trees. Ms. Koama says, “Trees are important. We plant mostly exotic species, but also mango, moringa, and pawpaw trees.” Ms. Koama lives in the northern province of Nayala in Burkina Faso. She is the leader of a farmers’ group which calls itself Magoulé, meaning “I believe” in the local San language.

The payout is equivalent to about 1,200 US dollars, or one dollar per tree. It is part of a strategy to strengthen reforestation efforts, according to environmental group SOS Sahel and Burkina Faso’s Ministry of the Environment. A 2010 study by the ministry found that over 110,000 hectares of forest are degraded each year in the country, about four per cent of the total forested area.

Salifou Ouédraogo is SOS Sahel’s executive director. He says the bonus scheme is a response to the failure of classic reforestation programs, in which as many as nine out of every ten saplings die. He notes, “We did some research, and found this method [of paying a bonus] had been used by the colonialists to introduce cocoa and coffee in Côte d’Ivoire.”

The program signs contracts with farmers, providing them with modest rewards when a tree survives. The survival rate of young trees has jumped to about 70 per cent, compared to just 10 per cent in conventional reforestation campaigns.

Mouni Conombo is coordinator of SOS Sahel in Nayala province. He says, “We don’t pay [the farmers] for all the work that goes into tending the sapling.” Rather, as Mr. Conombo explains, “We encourage them, helping them understand how it is better to plant a tree and nurture it. If a [newly-planted] tree survives for 24 months, we reward those who planted it.”

SOS Sahel has been using this strategy since 2001, taking advantage of donor support to pay a cash bonus to farmers. Their success led the environment ministry to adopt the approach as a national policy.

Boureima Dao farms in the village of Ey, in Nayala. He says, “It’s been three years since I signed a contract. I have 11 hectares and I have earned a bonus of 206,000 CFA (around 438 dollars) for my orchard of fruit trees.” In Nayala province alone, more than 170 contracts have been signed with local farmers.

But simply planting saplings is not enough. They need to be protected from livestock, human activities and other natural factors. The strategy of using contracts encourages those who plant trees to take responsibility for them, which gives the trees a better chance of survival.

But the new strategy is not one hundred per cent effective. Mr. Ouédraogo says, “For every ten groups who sign up, only five return for the seedlings the following year, because the others have not respected the terms.”

For those who do honour the contracts, the strategy has transformed attitudes towards planting trees. Mr. Conombo says, “It is different from the traditional programs of reforestation in which one only provides seedlings.” He emphasizes, “What we are trying to encourage is a real commitment to planting a tree and caring for it as one would care for a child.”

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DR Congo: Fishers benefit from fishing ban (Syfia Great Lakes)

Fishermen who make a living on the shores of Lake Albert are relieved and happy. The recent ten-month ban on fishing is bearing fruit – or more accurately, fish. Agenonga Ukerdogo is president of the Lake Albert fishermen’s co-operative. He says, “Now we capture 300 to 350 kilos of fish, whereas before, we would not get more than 150 kilos, mainly small fish.”

Lake Albert lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The lake contains about forty species of fish. It is one of best stocked lakes in DR Congo. Fishing is the second most important source of livelihood for residents, after raising livestock. But in March 2010, Eastern Province authorities introduced a ten-month fishing ban to let fish stocks recover. In addition, there is an ongoing ban on using small mesh nets which capture undersized fish.

Fishermen from lakeside villages such as Tchomia and Kesnyi did not welcome the decision to close the fishery for such a long period. At first, many did not respect it. The provincial Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock and the District Commissioner visited the villages to explain the merits of the ban. The Agriculture Inspectorate for Ituri District notes that since the ban was lifted in January 2011, “We observe the reappearance of species which had disappeared.”

During the closed season, fishermen from neighbouring Uganda supplied the markets in Bunia, a town about 80 kilometres from Lake Albert. On the Ugandan side of the lake, the fishery had remained healthy, thanks to strict regulation. Traditionally, a three-month break in fishing is observed in Ugandan waters, which allows fish to reproduce. During the closure, some Congolese fishermen fished there illegally. Others bought fish in Uganda and resold them in DR Congo.

The good news is that the large fish which had disappeared from Congolese nets and markets have now returned. This pleases everyone, particularly consumers. Prices have dropped. Since the ban was lifted, the market in Bunia has been flooded with fish. Customers now flock to the largest fish shop in Bunia, near the central market. Malosi Mbaraza buys fish in this neighbourhood for his small restaurant. He is pleased he can again serve the fish that his customers request. And fishermen are happy they can supply those fish for the customers’ plates.

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Notes to broadcasters on innovative oven/brooder

Farmers invented this oven/brooder to satisfy a number of needs. It is a great example of using low-cost locally available materials, while making the most of a resource which would otherwise be lost – heat! It is relatively easy to make, saves money and is dual-purpose. For the full story and photos, visit: http://www.organicfarmermagazine.org/a-cheap-brooder-for-your-growing-chicks/

Download the July 2010 issue of The Organic Farmer to read about the locally made incubator which inspired Mr. Msanii and his farmers’ group (scroll down the page to find Issue 62): http://www.organicfarmermagazine.org/tof/all_tofs

Read more about brooders, chicken housing and poultry keeping at: http://www.infonet-biovision.org/default/ct/274/livestockSpecies

This script, written especially for Farm Radio Weekly, describes an invention which has increased poultry production:

Chicken hatchery: Innovative farmer invents large-capacity kerosene egg incubator (FRW 135, November 2010).  http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/15/2921/

Another innovation related to chickens is described in this script:

-A Kenyan farmer uses water hyacinth to feed chickens (Package 90, Script 15, April 2010). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/90-15script_en.asp

This script discusses ways that chickens help in the garden:
-Chickens fertilize and weed the garden (Package 39, Script 4, April 1996). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/39-4script_en.asp

For your reference, here are some previous Farm Radio Weekly stories on chickens:

Tanzania: Farmers improve livelihoods with chickens (FRW 59, March 2009).


Togo: Papaya seeds can cure chicken diseases (FRW 61, April 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/04/06/togo-papaya-seeds-can-cure-chicken-diseases-spore-magazine/

Uganda: Community group turns banana peels into inexpensive animal feed (FRW 91, December 2009).


Kenya: Poultry farmers seek alternatives to maize as shortage persists (FRW 172, September 2011).


You might be inspired to produce a program on raising poultry. There are many aspects to keeping chickens, including disease prevention, feed, housing and markets. You could choose one topic for a focused program or radio spot, or consider making a series of programs covering different aspects. Be sure to interview a number of poultry farmers and be on the lookout for innovations such as this one!

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Notes to broadcasters on trees and reforestation

Trees bring many benefits to communities. They provide shade, maintain soil moisture, prevent soil erosion, and provide fruit, fodder and fuel.

But planting a tree is not enough – trees need to be watered, protected and nourished. Many tree planting or reforestation projects falter through lack of monitoring or maintenance. SOS Sahel and the government of Burkina Faso have come up with an incentive scheme, described in this story, to encourage farmers to take care of their trees.

For more information about the work of SOS Sahel, visit: http://www.sahel.org.uk/

Here are some previous news stories on trees from Farm Radio Weekly:

Southern Africa: Tree is a ‘fertilizer factory in the field’ (FRW 82, September 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/09/28/2-southern-africa-tree-is-a-%E2%80%98fertilizer-factory-in-the-field%E2%80%99-mongabay-unep/

Uganda: Beekeeping and tree planting go hand in hand (FRW 43, November 2008). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/10/uganda-beekeeping-and-tree-planting-go-hand-in-hand-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

Paying farmers for environmental services (Package 87, Script 5, April 2009). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/87-5script_en.asp

You might like to browse some Farm Radio International scripts on trees and forestry at our archive here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/forestry.asp

You may wish to produce a program to raise awareness about the value of trees for farms and farmers. Talk to farmers and farmers’ groups to explore their perceptions of trees. Fruit farmers and livestock farmers may give different opinions, according to their interests and needs. This might make for a lively and informative discussion. Find out if there are any government or NGO projects locally which promote trees, and interview the people involved, or organize a small round table discussion.

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Notes to broadcasters on maintaining fish stocks

Declining fish stocks are a concern in many parts of Africa where people make their living as fishers. Seasonal fishing bans, designed to halt fishing during the season when fish reproduce, aim to ensure healthy fish populations. In this week’s story, a longer ban was put in place, together with regulations prohibiting the use of small-mesh nets. The measures have been successful.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has a wealth of fact sheets and information on fisheries: http://www.fao.org/fishery/factsheets/en

It is interesting to note that preserving fish by smoking and salting allows fishers to maintain their incomes during the non-fishing season (by selling preserved fish). This Farm Radio International script describes a fish preserving technique practiced in West Africa:

-Three fishing ladies with a message about solar dryers (Package 79, Script 6, November 2006). http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/79-6script_en.asp

In recent years, Farm Radio Weekly has published news articles looking at steps that fishing communities can take to ensure they do not deplete local fish stocks. For example, in November 2008, FRW reported on a proposed seasonal fishing ban for Lake Victoria: (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/03/east-africa-fishers-and-scientists-back-seasonal-fishing-ban-for-lake-victoria-new-vision/).

In August 2009, we reported that some of Madagascar’s fishers are learning to use larger-mesh nets to avoid catching very small fish, another technique that helps fish stocks to regenerate. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/08/03/1-madagascar-fishers-reel-in-prizes-while-learning-to-keep-waters-stocked-syfia-info/)

If you broadcast to a fishing community, you may wish to host a panel discussion on the topic of maintaining fish stocks. Invite one or more local fishers and/or representatives from fishers’ organizations, as well as representatives from relevant government agencies or NGOs. Questions for discussion might include:

-How have local fish stocks changed (increased or decreased) in recent years?
-What has caused this change? (For example, has overfishing caused fish stocks to drop, or have management techniques caused the stock to increase?)
-What laws are in place to regulate fishing practices used by local fishers and by offshore vessels (if applicable)?
-Do locals play a role in monitoring the practices of offshore vessels, as fishers in Ghana are now being encouraged to do?
-What fishery management policies and methods, such as seasonal fishing bans or use of larger-mesh nets, do fishers use to promote healthy fish stocks?
-If local fishers observe a seasonal fishing ban, what income-generating activities (such as selling dried fish or producing other products) do fishers pursue in order to sustain themselves during non-fishing seasons?

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Innovation Prize for Africa

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Innovation Foundation recently announced the 2012 Innovation Prize for Africa. Two awards will be given to selected innovators/entrepreneurs. Submissions will be accepted in three categories: ICTs, green technology (energy and water), and health and food security (including agriculture). The first prize will be US$100,000, with a second prize of US$50,000.

The award aims to encourage young entrepreneurs, innovators, and funding bodies to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities.

Though the projects/initiatives can be conducted in any language, including local languages, submissions should be translated into English or French. Entries that do not address projects in Africa and are not undertaken by local African citizens are not eligible.

The deadline for applications is October 31, 2011.

For full details visit: http://aip.uneca.org/aif/

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Journalism Tip Sheet: ‘How to write an article’

Journalism Tip Sheet 4 from Radio for Peacebuilding Africa (http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org) is entitled, “How to write an article.” One page long, it contains short, clear definitions and tips. One of our favourite tips is: “Quotes should add colour to a story.”

The tip sheet mentions the focus statement approach which Farm Radio Weekly tries to follow in all our news stories: “someone doing something for a reason.” See if we have achieved it in this week’s stories!

Download the Journalism Tip Sheet here.

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Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji raises awareness about women’s reproductive health

Only 3.5 per cent of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s national budget is set aside for health. Thus, in a country struggling with diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, there are few resources for women’s reproductive health.

Each year, sexual violence, early marriage or complications in childbirth lead to around 12,000 cases of vaginal fistula – a condition in which a hole develops in the vaginal wall. This condition often leaves women in pain, or as social outcasts. But it is preventable and treatable. One barrier is the lack of awareness and knowledge among both women and men.

One of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners in DR Congo has been working to raise awareness. Modeste Shabani works with Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji (“Voice of the farmers”), a community radio station based in Kasongo, Maniema Province. Modeste says that the station felt obliged to tackle this topic. In an interview with Inter Press Service, he said, “Here in Maniema, there is a practice against which public education can make little headway: early marriage. And once a little girl is married, often as the second or third wife, it is difficult to speak to her about the negative effects of this issue.”

The situation is complicated: even after the condition has been treated by surgery, women can suffer other consequences. Modeste explained to Farm Radio Weekly, “Outside organizations bring … medical specialists to operate [on] women with fistula. But this does not work because it is difficult for the victims to identify themselves … because they are ashamed to say they were raped. Girls risk losing the chance to marry, while women risk losing their marriage, and yet in both cases they suffer.”

We applaud Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji’s efforts to inform and raise awareness about this difficult issue in their broadcast area.

Read more: http://www.ips.org/africa/2011/09/dr-congo-hard-to-save-all-women-suffering-from-fistula/

We are always keen to hear more from our broadcasting partners, and share their stories and experiences. If you would like to be featured in this section, please email Farm Radio Weekly editor Karen at: khampson@farmradio.org

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Chicken hatchery: Innovative farmer invents large-capacity kerosene egg incubator

One of this week’s stories describes an innovative low-cost chicken brooder, designed to keep chicks warm with the heat produced when part of the unit is used for cooking. In November 2010, we published a script in Farm Radio Weekly that presented an egg incubator invented by a poultry farmer. The incubator can hatch 600 eggs in 21 days. Both are interesting innovations, designed by farmers, which other farmers could adapt and use to improve their poultry business.

Read the incubator script here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/15/2921/

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