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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 #176

Raising rabbits brings success

Our first story comes from the recent Global Youth Innovation Workshop in Benin, which brought together 60 young entrepreneurs. One young farmer describes his experiences raising rabbits. He started his business with only four animals, but now employs ten young people.

Ongoing conflict in Sudan has prevented some farmers in the Nuba Mountains from planting their crops this year. Read more about their situation below.

Better news from Malawi in our third story this week, where farmers report increased maize yields after using mulch.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Benin: Young entrepreneurs touted as the future of agriculture (IPS)

In 2002, Samuel Agossou started his business with three female rabbits and one male. Now he employs ten young people and has bought a house for his family with the profits.

The young rabbit farmer is attending the Global Youth Innovation Workshop in Cotonou, Benin. The event brings together 60 youth entrepreneurs from around the world. They will share their ideas about entrepreneurship and innovation in the agricultural sector.  The theme of the fair is “Young Entrepreneurs − Agents of Change.”

Samuel Agossou believes that governments should build the capacity of young people, so that they can create their own jobs. He says this is especially important in rural areas where there are no schools or businesses.

Mr. Agossou has a stand at the workshop where he is exhibiting some of his rabbits in hutches. Seven years after starting with only four rabbits, his business had expanded to 700,000 rabbits. He reinvests some of his profits in the business. His ten young staff feed the rabbits, clean their cages, and give them medical care. Mr. Agossou pays his staff an average of 25 dollars per month.

Ratoejanahary Mirado is president of an association called Vonona, based in Madagascar. Her view is that youth do not need international action plans, especially if they are not getting support from their own governments. She adds, “I worked a whole year with my aunt in her studio making products from raffia. Every month I saved half of my salary.”

After a year, Ms. Mirado had saved 150 US dollars and decided to set out on her own. She continues, “Six years later, my raffia products are sold worldwide and I have capital of 3,300 US dollars.” She still runs the business and employs 10 young people.

Feridjini Charles is president of a delegation of youths from Benin who are attending the workshop. He believes it is possible to overcome poverty, if, in his words, “Our governments actually use the knowledge, expertise and ability to create that is held by young, especially in rural areas.”

Mr. Samuel Agossou and his rabbits are living proof of what young people can achieve. This workshop allows him and his young colleagues to share and learn.

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Sudan: Farmers fear to plant amid continued conflict (AlertNet)

Deep in Sudan’s troubled Nuba Mountains, Mukwar Salob, a 65-year-old farmer, has been unable to plant crops to feed himself and his family. Like many in this area bordering the newly independent South Sudan, Mr. Salob spends his days trying to evade the Sudanese army’s attacks, and his nights seeking refuge in caves. He says, “Life is awful in the caves. There are snakes, mosquitoes and it is cold at night. But it is safer than at home.”

Mr. Salob climbs over the boulders just above his cave and points to the horizon. He says: “There is the enemy, just 10 kilometres away from here. We have hardly gone a day without violence.” Fighting broke out in June between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) and government forces.

The Nuba community living in this mountain range in South Kordofan province mostly share the Islamic faith of the Sudanese government. But they say they have more in common with the mainly Christian population in South Sudan. Many in the Nuba community fought alongside the south during the two-decade civil war against the north.

Last month, SPLA-N accused the Sudanese government of using food as a weapon against the Nuba community. The government denied this, saying SPLA-N had closed roads and prevented aid from reaching people.

In late September, the United Nations received reports of continued air attacks. Humanitarian organizations were still not permitted to enter areas of conflict.

The valleys in South Kordofan are fertile. Five months of good rains normally produce a bumper harvest. But the start of this conflict coincided with the planting season. Mr. Salob says, “We fear the bombardments … we did not plant. We will go hungry soon.”

Mr. Salob and other Nubans are now eating last year’s harvest. Their next harvest will come in November, but will not be enough. Many people already eat only one meal a day.

The Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization, or NRRDO, is a local NGO working in this region. The organization estimates that 220,000 people live in the western part of the mountains. There are some 70,000 internally displaced persons. They need shelter, medical attention and food.

Commissioner Tia Tutu is an official from Lagawa County, South Kordofan. But he can do little to help the displaced people in his area. He says, “The only thing we can offer is shelter in schools.”

The primary school in the town of Tulushi is filled with displaced women and children. Miriam Samir holds her baby in her arms. The little boy is covered in sores from a skin disease. He cries all day and refuses to eat. Mrs. Samir says, “We get one meal a day from the population here. They also have not much. But what they have, they share it with us.”

Hassan Abdallah works with NRRDO in Julud. He says the Nuba feel abandoned by the international community. “Since June, you are the first white face we have seen. It’s easier to access the eastern part [of the country] and people there get international attention. Here, we feel forgotten.”

The NRRDO gathers people together and explains what to do during an air attack. They teach people where to find wild fruit and how to prepare them. Herbalists travel by bicycle from village to village to explain the alternative medicines that people can find in the bush.

Mr. Abdallah says, “We are experienced in surviving. Most of us remember our struggle from the last war … We were forgotten for a long time until the hunger almost made us Nuba extinct.”

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Notes to broadcasters on youth and agriculture workshop

The Global Youth Innovation Workshop-Fair was held in Cotonou, Benin from October 10-13, 2011. It was organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, in collaboration with Phelps Stokes, CTA, the Songhai Centre, Palmares (Brazil), ACUA (Colombia), and the Government of Benin. For more details about the workshop, visit: http://www.fidafrique.net/article3035.html or http://www.gyin.org/

For stories and reporting from the workshop, visit:


Twitter users can use the hashtag  #gyin to search for news and updates.

For a backgrounder on the potential of youth in agriculture, visit: http://www.ifad.org/media/events/2011/youth.htm

Farm Radio Weekly recently marked International Youth Day with a special edition and three stories focusing on youth and agriculture, in FRW 167. Read it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/issue-167/

For further links, news and scripts, please refer to the Notes to broadcasters for the International Youth Day issue: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/08/08/notes-to-broadcasters-on-international-youth-day/

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Notes to broadcasters on Sudan

The Nuba Mountains are located in South Kordofan province, Sudan, which borders the newly independent country of South Sudan. Fighting erupted here in June. Aid agencies have been unable to operate in the region.

For further news items related to the continued unrest in this region, see:

-“UN mission accuses Sudan of shelling and torturing civilians in Nuba war” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/16/sudan-secret-un-reports-nuba

-“Sudan rebel chief urges govt to stop bombing civilians” http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE79901320111010

-“Sudan rebels say Khartoum using food as a weapon” http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/sudan-rebels-say-khartoum-using-food-as-a-weapon/

These websites for and about the Nuba people may be of interest:

Nuba Mountains homepage http://www.occasionalwitness.com/

Nuba Survival Foundation http://www.nubasurvival.com/

This website provides a lot of information and resources for radio stations involved in building peace: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/index.cfm?lang=en

Farm Radio International has produced scripts which discuss conflict and its aftermath.

Scripts in package 67, distributed in June 2003, deal with the themes of conflict and rebuilding lives after conflict. The feature article in the June 2003 edition of Voices, available at http://www.farmradio.org/english/partners/voices/v2003jun.asp, provides good background information for creating programming on these themes.

Here are some examples of scripts on the theme:

-Rebuilding Local Seed Supplies After Armed Conflict or Other Emergency Situations (Package 67, Script 1, June 2003). http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-1script_en.asp

-Women Face Many Challenges After Conflict (Package 67, Script 8, June 2003). http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-8script_en.asp

-Mummy Tiger and Her Babies: How Children Experience Conflict (Package 67, Script 10, June 2003). http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/67-10script_en.asp

This website provides a lot of useful information and resources on how radio can contribute to building peace: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/index.cfm?lang=en

If you broadcast to a region which is affected by conflict, you might consider looking for stories which feature positive examples people, especially farmers, successfully coping with conflict. These may be difficult to find, but can be inspiring and supportive for listeners. If you have examples to share with other Farm Radio Weekly readers, please let us know: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

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Notes to broadcasters on mulch

Mulch is any material (such as decaying leaves, compost or grasses) that is spread on the soil or around a plant to enrich or protect the soil. Many different materials can be used for mulching. Farmers use mulch for various purposes: to protect soils from erosion, to add nutrients, to suppress weeds, to preserve soil moisture, or to add organic matter to soils. Used carefully, mulch can provide many of these benefits, often at the same time. There are, however, situations where mulching is not appropriate. In humid areas, for example, moist and warm conditions can encourage the crop to rot, or mould to flourish.

For background information on mulching, you can visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulch

Previous Farm Radio Weekly stories on conserving soils include:

-Malawi: Vetiver grass is a tool for soil and water management (FRW 67, May 2009)


Soil health was the topic of scripts in package 91, July 2010. Browse the scripts at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/numerical.asp and read more about mulching and soils in the Issue pack: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/91-9script_en.asp

These scripts dealing with mulch may inspire you:

-Are burning crop residues and grass good for soil health and fertility? Views from a farmer and an agricultural researcher (Package 91, Script 1, July 2010) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/91-1script_en.asp

-Nature is never naked: The importance of mulch (Package 75, Script 1, June 2005) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/75-1script_en.asp

Mulching is a simple and normally inexpensive technique that can be used to improve degraded soils under many conditions. It would be a good topic to consider as part of a program on practical and low-cost farming practices. Find out more about the use of mulching in your broadcast area by talking to agricultural extension workers or NGO staff. Ask them to participate in an interview or show, and ask them to provide technical information. Make sure they explain advantages and disadvantages which are relevant to local farming conditions. If possible, ask farmers to call in with questions or to share experiences.

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New Agriculturist website

New Agriculturist website The New Agriculturist website covers a range of stories and issues, keeping you up to date with the latest in agriculture and rural development across the globe. Visit the website here. It has recently launched a French site.

You can subscribe and receive notifications of new issues six times a year by clicking here.

If you have ideas or stories you wish to submit, contact the English editor: s.thorp@wrenmedia.co.uk

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Ugunja Community Resource Centre involved in farmer trainings

The Ugunja Community Resource Centre in Kenya is one of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners. They have been writing stories and producing audio, and are in the process of setting up a community radio station. They were recently involved in the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3 Farmers) program. The L3 Farmers program in Kenya enables farmers to gain knowledge and access financing, leading to significant improvements in livelihoods.

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization which helps developing nations access quality education and training. The following story is summarized from the June 2011 issue of Connections, COL’s newsletter, and was originally published in the January-February 2011 issue of the Ugunja Community Resource Centre newsletter.

“After Mrs. Immaculate Awino Ouma and her husband were displaced by civil unrest in Kenya’s Central Province in 2008, Mrs. Ouma got involved with L3 Farmers and joined Juakali Women’s Group or JWG, a self-help farming organization. She received various trainings from Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) and Siaya Seed Sacco, a community banking co-operative. Two months later, Mrs. Ouma applied for a business start-up loan and launched a poultry business with 200 birds.

“I’m very grateful to Siaya for training members of JWG on poultry keeping and management,” she said. “Now, I’m able to sustain myself economically by selling my birds to the nearby market, and I’m now eyeing the bigger market.”

Mrs. Ouma had little previous classroom education. Helped by the trainings, she is now thriving in her new venture. Mrs. Ouma sold 180 of her first stock – 20 of them were lost to disease and other problems en route from the supplier. After buying the birds for 100 Kenyan shillings each and selling them for 350, Mrs. Ouma declares, “I’m a happy woman now.”

She advises more farmers to embrace the booming poultry business. Her farming organization has constructed 16 poultry houses to prepare for implementation of large-scale poultry keeping. They have asked UCRC to continue with training and support to ensure a sustainable and stable community. Thanks to L3F and partners, Mrs. Ouma has quickly made the transition from displaced person to entrepreneur.”

For the full story in Connections, visit: http://www.col.org/news/Connections/2011jun/Pages/inAction.aspx

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Raising Rabbits for Meat and Profit: Part Two

We link with our story from Benin by choosing a script of the week from Nigeria on raising rabbits. With careful attention, rabbits are not difficult to raise. They provide a source of both meat and income. This script features a dialogue between a famous rabbit farmer and a retired agricultural extension worker. The two men touch on the most important things to remember in order to effectively raise, feed and house rabbits. There are two parts to this script, both of which can be found in Script Package 80. Here is the link to Part Two:


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