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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 186

Notes to broadcasters on bartering

Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using money. As mentioned in this week’s story from Kenya, it’s an age-old practice that is still very useful in some contexts as an alternative to cash-based markets.

You may be interested in this article published by the International Institute for Environment and Development which looks at agricultural barter markets in the Andes, South America, and describes how these markets sustain people and preserve biodiversity in parts of South America: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/14518IIED.pdf

To read about another form of agricultural bartering in Kenya – specifically, farmers trading animal manure in order to avoid the cost of chemical fertilizers – see this article from Farm Biz Africa: http://farmbizafrica.com/index.php/hopemenu4/366-farmers-re-invent-barter-trade-with-manure

The following are Farm Radio Weekly articles from the past year looking at different ways farmers have marketed their products in order to achieve good prices:
-“Cameroon: Pascaline Ndongo profits at seasonal market” (FRW #231, January 2013) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/01/14/cameroon-pascaline-ndongo-profits-at-seasonal-market-by-anne-mireille-nzouankeu-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-cameroon/
-“Ethiopia: Getting a better deal for coffee farmers” (FRW #215, September 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/03/ethiopia-getting-a-better-deal-for-coffee-farmers-irin/
-“Mauritius: Sugar farmers turn to fair trade” (FRW #207, July 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/07/09/mauritius-sugar-farmers-turn-to-fair-trade-ips/
-“Comoros Islands: Farmers’ group creates their own market” (FRW #206, July 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/07/02/comoros-islands-farmers%e2%80%99-group-creates-their-own-market-ahmed-bacar-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-the-comoros-islands/
-“Malawi: Farmer moves closer to market, sells pumpkins as cash crop” (FRW #204, June 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/06/11/malawi-farmer-moves-closer-to-market-sells-pumpkins-as-cash-crop-by-norman-fulatira-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-malawi/
-“South Africa: Small-scale farmers defend traditional seed systems” (FRW #198, April 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/04/30/south-africa-small-scale-farmers-defend-traditional-seed-systems-ips/

Are there farmers in your area who take an innovative approach to marketing their produce (such as bartering, selling through co-operatives, or through a special market)? You may wish to prepare a report featuring participants/members in these marketing initiatives. Ask questions such as: Why did they take this approach to marketing? How do they make it work? What sorts of benefits to members/participants enjoy?

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Fertilizer trees boost yields in Malawi

Farmers in Malawi are turning to fertilizer trees to boost yields of maize. Species such as Gliricidia sepium and Tephrosia vogelii are increasing yields by improving soil fertility and helping retain moisture in the soil. Scientists estimate that 150,000 Malawian farmers are using fertilizer tree systems.

Our second story comes from Burundi, where residents of northeastern Kirundo province had been moving away because of difficulties accessing water. Read how a two-year-old rainwater harvesting program is bringing water back to the area – and starting to bring back the migrants. The rainwater collection systems are saving residents time, money and energy.

A brief from Somalia reports on the decision by the International Committee for the Red Cross to suspend food aid operations in southern and central Somalia. Officials are working to quickly resume food aid to 1.1 million Somalis, but worry that, unless the blockage can be quickly resolved, the food in the blocked trucks will deteriorate.

Our Action section features a piece from Cameroon that illustrates the value of listener feedback for radio stations. Based on listener feedback received through research conducted by Farm Radio International, CRTV Littoral has expanded its broadcasting services to cover three new language groups in the west region of Cameroon.

We hope you find these pieces interesting, and that they inspire you to create engaging and radio programs.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Malawi: Farmers boost maize yields with fertilizer trees (Alertnet)

Small-scale farmers in this southeast African nation are turning to trees to help their crops grow. Killar Kawelama is a farmer from Balaka in southern Malawi. He explains, “These trees have the potential not only to enrich the soils, but also to help keep moisture in my field even if the rains rarely come.”

Many farmers intercrop trees with maize to provide moisture-preserving shade for the growing maize. Others bury tree leaves in the ground to make the soil more fertile and help retain moisture at planting time.

Between April and June, Mr. Kawelama digs planting holes. In them, he places fresh or dried leaves from Gliricidia sepium trees. The fast-growing trees grow close to his house, and do well in a wide range of conditions. When the rains come around September and October, he opens part of each hole and plants his seeds.

The leaves decompose in the ground, and the resulting compost boosts the soil’s fertility and traps moisture around the maize plants like a sponge, helping the crop grow more vigorously.

Kufasi Shela is with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. She says, “Plants growing in such an environment are more likely to give a farmer a better yield as they don’t wither easily because of (lack of) moisture.”

Bettie Lungu of Mzimba in northern Malawi plants Tephrosia vogelii trees amongst her maize. These trees increase the amount of fertilizing nitrogen in the soil. They do not grow taller than the maize plants, so they don’t over shade and stifle their growth, according to Mahara Nyirenda, an agriculture coordinator for the Development Fund of Norway.

Nyirenda says, “The leaves falling from the trees cover the ground. When it rains, this layer traps the raindrops, preventing them from accumulating into runoff. They also aid percolation into the soil.” He adds that the tree canopies shade the ground in sunny weather and the fallen leaves help keep moisture in the soil.

According to the World Agroforestry Centre, nearly 150,000 small-scale farmers in Malawi are using fertilizer tree systems. Several species are used, though the most popular is Gliricidia sepium.

Killar Kawelama is very happy with the results. When he used chemical fertilizers, Kawelama harvested 20 sacks of maize, each weighing 50 kilograms. Since switching to tree fertilizers, his yields have declined slightly to 18 sacks.

“But I am better off now because I am saving over 24,000 Malawian Kwacha (about $150), which I used to spend on chemical fertilizers,” he explains.

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Burundi: Rainwater: storing a precious liquid (Syfia Grands Lacs)

A rainwater harvesting program launched two years ago in Burundi has made life easier for residents, and even tempted people to return to the area. Rosalie Nyambere and her family of five have benefitted. She says, “We have enough water for all our needs without walking for miles.”

Residents of Kirundo Province, in northeastern Burundi, had been facing a growing water shortage. The region has low rainfall and frequent droughts. Marcien Nzoia is a local community development officer. He says, “There are no water sources, no drinking water points, and people had to travel more than 15 kilometres in search of water.” Local resident Martha Kankindi adds, “Since we were very young, water has always cost us a lot, both in time and energy.”

The new program is called “Drinking water for all.” It has reforested bare land, and set up systems to collect water for household purposes and for farming.

The program was set up by the residents of Kirundo province, with the support of the state, and funding from a German aid organization, Welthungerhilfe. The residents received 45,000 Euros to develop systems for collecting rainwater.

According to a Welthungerhilfe representative, the program aims to collect rainwater, but also to encourage greater water infiltration in soils. This is why reforestation is an important component of the program. Reforestation helps to prevent runoff and soil erosion.

As residents benefit from the program, they are realizing the value of forested land and making efforts to protect it. Alphonse Marimbu is a local resident. He learned how to install plastic tanks to catch rainwater. He welcomes the tanks because he no longer has to carry water from distant sources. Also, the water quality is generally better than water from streams and creeks.

In the collection system, water from rooftops is piped into collection tanks. This works best with tiled roofs. Residents simply open a tap on the tank when they want water.

The tanks are easy to install, especially because residents bring stones and sand to help build them. A domestic tank costs about US $110, and stores between 500 and 1000 litres. Larger tanks for communities or schools are available, and hold up to 10,000 litres.

However, misconceptions have hindered the program’s expansion. Some believe that drinking rainwater leads to sterility. Another belief is that girls who drink rainwater will find it hard to find a husband. As part of the program, Welthungerhilfe tries to overcome these misconceptions. They recognize that people who have never lived with running water or sanitation lack basic knowledge of good hygiene practices.

Since 2000, many families have deserted the area because of drought and water supply problems. Through this program, people are gradually returning.

According to resident Martha Muhimbare, the tanks guarantee an independent water supply. Households do not need to depend on community or public suppliers. Her life is easier because the tank saves her time, money and energy.

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Somalia: Red Cross forced to suspend food and seed aid (AllAfrica)

On Thursday, January 12, 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that food distribution to 1.1 million people in central and southern Somalia had been suspended. The main reason given was the continued obstruction of supply routes. The regions in question are largely controlled by the Islamist group Shebab.

In mid-December, 140 trucks of food were intercepted in areas controlled by Shehab. The ICRC is urging a quick release of the convoys, which carry food aid for 240,000 people.

The ICRC is working to restore supplies as quickly as possible. Patrick Vial is head of the ICRC delegation in Somalia. He says, “We are actively seeking the cooperation of local authorities to restore the conditions for a resumption of activities suspended as soon as possible.” ICRC’s deputy head of operations in East Africa, Benjamin Wahren, did not hide his concern: “The longer we wait, the more the food will deteriorate.”

Patrick Vial continues, “The suspension will remain valid until we have received assurance from the authorities controlling these areas that distribution can take place unhindered and reach everyone in need.”

The Red Cross is one of the few organizations distributing aid in the most inaccessible areas of southern Somalia. Since October last year, they have distributed food to more than 1.1 million people and provided seeds and agricultural support to more than 100,000 farmers.

For further news, visit:
-“UN Aid Coordinator: Somalia Still in Crisis” http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/UN-Aid-Coordinator-Somalia-Still-in-Crisis-137292198.html

-“Somalia: ICRC temporarily suspends distributions of food and seed” http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2012/somalia-news-2011-01-12.htm

-“Somalia Islamists force ICRC food aid suspension” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/12/us-somalia-food-redcross-idUSTRE80B1HM20120112

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Notes to broadcasters on fertilizer trees

This story mentions several ways in which farmers can use trees to help their crops. Mixing trees and crops in this way is called agroforestry. Trees help crops in many ways. Some trees, especially leguminous trees such as Gliricidia sepium, add nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil through their roots and leaves. Many trees help keep moisture in the soil, and shade crops from the withering effects of direct sun. Others act as windbreaks. And of course, trees can directly provide farmers with products such as fruit, nuts, firewood, and timber for construction.

For general resources on agroforestry, see:

Agroforester’s Library: http://www.agroforestry.net/aflibr.html

The Overstory: This non-academic, plain language agroforestry journal is no longer published, but 100 issues are freely available on-line at: http://www.agroforestry.net/overstory/osprev.html

FACTnet Fact Sheets on agroforestry species: http://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/factnet.htm

This recent news article talks about Kenyan farmers using fertilizer trees:

Farmers turn to ‘fertiliser tree’ to boost crop production (Business Daily, May 30, 2011) http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/-/539444/1171952/-/122lfrcz/-/index.htm

Here is an overview of the World Agroforestry Centre’s Evergreen agriculture program, which includes fertilizer trees among other projects:


Farm Radio International has published many scripts on forestry and agroforestry. You can browse these scripts here: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/forestry.asp

Here’s a script which shows how reforestation can bring rains back.

Community Reforestation Brings Back the Rains in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana (Package 78, Script, July 2006). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/04/06/community-reforestation-brings-back-the-rains-in-the-brong-ahafo-region-of-ghana/

Here is a recent script which talks about the various benefits that trees offer farmers.

Paying farmers for environmental services (Package 87, Script 5, April 2009).


Two issues of Voices from 2005 talk about the benefits of agroforestry:

Trees Hold Down the Soil and Keep Back the Desert (Voices No. 76, October 2005)


Agroforestry in Africa (Voices No. 74, March 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/english/partners/voices/v2005mar.asp

Farm Radio Weekly has published a number of agroforestry stories. Here are a few:

Ethiopia: Farmers group proves that planting trees can reduce temperatures (FRW 61, April 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/04/06/ethiopia-farmers-group-proves-that-planting-trees-can-reduce-temperatures-daily-monitor-2/

Niger: Farmers plant trees to slow deserts’ advance (FRW 25, June 2008)


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/

This FRW story talks about intercropping to improve fertility

Malawi: Intercropping helps farmer Phiri buy ox-cart (FRW 143, January 2011)


Do farmers in your area grow or keep trees in their fields, or on the perimeter of their fields? Ask farmers how having trees benefits their crops. Do particular species offer specific benefits?

Ask farmers about ‘fertilizer trees.’ Do any farmers keep trees in the fields to boost soil fertility? Do they use particular tree species to shade their crops, to protect them from strong winds, or to retain soil on sloping fields?

If farmers are skeptical about using trees in their fields, find out whether they have reasons for not choosing to grow trees. Have they had negative experience in the past, or are their opinions based on other farmers’ experiences? Or on hearsay?

You could invite an agroforester, a representative from an NGO involved with agroforestry, or an extension agent to speak about how trees and crops can help each other. Invite farmers to phone in with their questions, complaints, comments, and problems. You could also feature a progressive farmer who uses trees in specific ways to help his or her crops.

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Notes to broadcasters on water management

Water resource management is an increasing concern for farmers in rural areas. Last year saw extremes of drought and floods in Africa. Farmers can get better access to water for household or agricultural use by harvesting rainwater, either by collecting water in tanks, or by using soil management techniques.

In 2009, Farm Radio International produced an issue pack on water harvesting, which is full of information, examples and links on different methods of water harvesting: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/89-3script_en.asp

Practical Action is a UK-based NGO. They have produced what they call a “Practical Answer” online technical guide on rainwater harvesting: http://practicalaction.org/docs/technical_information_service/rainwater_harvesting.pdf

And http://practicalaction.org/rainwater-harvesting-drought

CTA produced a Rural Radio Resource Pack – 07/1, Rainwater Harvesting:


Ag Fax recently produced a report from Uganda on rooftop rainwater harvesting for domestic use. You can find an audio file and transcript here: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=469

Farm Radio Weekly published a story last year on collecting rainfall:

-Zimbabwe: Collecting rainfall in the city (FRW 141, January 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/17/zimbabwe-collecting-rainfall-in-the-city-ips/

Here are some scripts from Farm Radio International on collecting and using water:

-Drip Irrigation (Package 84, August 2008)


-Catch rain from your roof (Package 89, Script 6, December 2009) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/89-6script_en.asp

-Irrigated farming improves the income of rural farmers (Package 86, Script 6, December 2008) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/86-6script_en.asp

Or visit the water management script archive at http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/water.asp

You could also invite farmers to call or text your station with their rainwater harvesting experiences and innovations. Or, you could record in-the-field discussions amongst farmers about best practices for catching the rain, then broadcast that discussion.

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CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2012

African journalists are invited to enter the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2012. The awards aim to reinforce the importance of journalists’ role in Africa, and to recognize and develop journalistic talent across all disciplines.

There are 16 award categories, including Radio General News. Entries must have been broadcast or published − in English, French or Portuguese only − between January and December 2011.

An independent judging panel will select a group of finalists. Each finalist will receive a cash prize, with each category winner also receiving a laptop computer and printer. The overall winner will receive an opportunity to participate in the CNN Journalism Fellowship at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. The deadline to apply is January 26, 2012.

For more information and to apply, visit: http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/africa/africanawards/index.html

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Training guide on covering elections

Election campaigns are often tense. Viewpoints may clash, and effective reporting can be challenging. The role of the media is crucial during the election process, when events move fast and there is danger of conflict.

To guide journalists who cover elections, Radio For Peacebuilding Africa has developed a new Training Guide, “Responsible Media Coverage of Elections.” The Guide focuses on situations of extreme tension or post-conflict reconstruction. It draws on African examples, and encourages good journalistic practices at all stages of an election process.

The Guide provides journalists with essential tools to cover elections responsibly and to contribute to strengthening democracy in the countries where they work.

To download this resource, visit: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/assets/texts/pdf/2011-Responsible_Media_Elections_BW_EN.pdf

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Greetings and feedback from Cameroon Link

Following the recent release of our 94th script package, we received some interesting feedback from Cameroon Link, Farm Radio International’s strategic partner in Cameroon, about how our resources are used.

Cameroon Link assists us by distributing hard copies of the script package across the country. As well, some broadcasting partners, like Jeanne Tchakoute of Radio Medumba, collect their package from Cameroon Link’s office. On seeing the scripts, the accompanying issue pack and Voices, Ms. Tchakoute promised to use Voices in her wakeup morning radio show.

Last year, Cameroon Link assisted Farm Radio International to investigate how stations research and produce farm radio programs. Radio Medumba and CRTV Littoral, the government-owned station, were both involved in the research. Ms. Tchakoute, who also works as a consultant for CRTV Littoral, informed us that, as a result of the research and feedback obtained from listeners, CRTV Littoral now broadcasts in seven local languages. The station previously broadcast in four languages only. Now, CRTV Littoral also broadcasts in the Bamoun, Bafang and Yemba languages of the West Region of. This allows for the exchange of local language programs that target farmers, particularly women farmers.

This is a great development. We are happy that more listeners are benefitting from CRTV Littoral’s programs. We are always keen to hear how broadcasters are making use of our resources, and we welcome feedback on how we can improve them. If you would like us to feature your work or your station in this section of Farm Radio Weekly, please write to us at: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

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Radio Spots: Tree planting

This week’s script contains five radio spots that encourage farmers to integrate tree planting into their farming practices. These 30-50 second spots can be used to introduce agroforestry issues, or to promote special radio programs about farming with trees. You could separate the spots by musical interludes, and use them together in a series. Or they can stand alone and be played separately, at different times of the day, week or month.


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