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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 #200

Uganda: Farmers fear losing all to refinery project (New Vision, Uganda)

Flavia Katusabe depends on her parents’ land to feed her husband and their seven children. She was born 21 years ago in Kitegwa village, Hoima, in western Uganda. But her zeal to start a new garden and grow more food disappeared when she heard rumours that the land was earmarked for the petroleum industry.

Mrs. Katusabe says, “Why waste my energy, knowing the land is going? I don’t know when and if they will pay us because I hear it is a government project for [the] petroleum industry.”

Soon, Mrs. Katusabe and other householders in the area will have to surrender their land to the government to establish an oil refinery.

The project will cover 2900 hectares of land, and include an airport, refinery buildings and staff quarters. The land where Mrs. Katusabe lives was considered suitable because, according to the feasibility study, it was “sparsely populated.” It is claimed that this eases the relocation and compensation process.

The government estimates that 14 villages will be affected, with close to 40,000 households. But the project is already taking a toll on communities. Fred Kasangaki is a local sub-county chief. He sees young boys and men drinking alcohol every morning. He says, “They are on a drinking spree. They have abandoned farming. The danger is [that] food shortages and hunger will hit us terribly.”

There has been no consultation with the community. Confusion and anxiety reign. Little information has been made public.

Oscar Beddi is a local village chief. He says, “The refinery is a good project, but people need to be informed and sensitized.” He believes the compensation issue needs to be handled with care, as it raises expectations. He continues, “It is annoying that we are not updated about the whole process. No agreements have been made. This has caused fears.”

James Isingoma is a resident of Kitegwa village. He fears that he will not be compensated because he has no title for his land. He says, “When I start the process of obtaining the land title, I am stopped. The land board is no longer processing new land titles. We are in darkness.”

Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa is the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. He said “First, we are demarcating the land through a survey. Then we shall enumerate the people who will be affected by the project.”

But before decisions can be taken on compensation or resettlement, several conditions must be assessed or established, including land ownership, properties and loss of economic activities. Mr. Kabagambe-Kaliisa adds, “But now who is stopping them from growing seasonal crops like beans, maize and other cereals which grow fast?”

Women like Mrs. Katusabe have requested that households headed by women and children, the elderly and the disabled receive special provisions. She says, “I request that the Government looks for land and builds a permanent house with iron sheets, gets land titles and connects us to piped water and electricity.”

She adds, “This way I will be sure for my safety and children’s future. Otherwise, my husband will drink all the money. I need land to continue growing food.”

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Meet the team! Celebrating our 200th edition of FRW

Welcome to this special 200th edition of Farm Radio Weekly! As we are celebrating this week, we wanted to try something different and introduce the normally shy team to you! We are based in three time zones, so we often find ourselves meeting online at strange hours of the day and night to bring FRW to you every week. But as you can tell from our profiles below, we find this job very satisfying. We have each chosen our favorite story from the last 200 editions – or four and a half years − together with an explanation of why the story made an impression on us.

Over the last two years, FRW has benefitted from the talents of journalists across Africa who work through our two news bureaus. Our Bureau for francophone Africa is managed by Nourou-Dhine Salouka, at JADE Productions in Burkina Faso. Salouka, as we know him, manages a pool of 11 writers from countries including Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Guinea, Burundi, Madagascar and Burkina Faso. He is a keen young journalist himself, and has also written stories for FRW. Mark Ndipita is our bureau chief for Southern Africa. He is an agricultural communication specialist, having studied both agriculture and journalism. He works with writers from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In this special edition, we profile three of these writers, and hear more about the media in their countries and their experience of writing for FRW. We gratefully acknowledge support from the Canadian Auto Workers-Social Justice Fund which has allowed us to open and operate these bureaus and bring you original stories full of farmers’ voices and experiences.

Farm Radio Weekly’s target audience is African farm radio broadcasters. We now have a little over 2200 African subscribers! But we want to continue to grow, and we welcome subscribers from any background who are interested in reading and sharing our stories about farmers.

Please encourage your colleagues and networks to subscribe to FRW! Use this link http://farmradio.org/english/partners/fr_weekly_subscribe.asp

We hope you enjoy this special edition and we look forward to bringing you many more exciting issues of FRW!

-Karen, Nelly, Vijay and Heather, the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Karen Hampson, Farm Radio Weekly Editor

In January this year, I left a snow-covered Ottawa and relocated to Farm Radio International’s regional office in Arusha, from where I work as Editor of Farm Radio Weekly. My background is in agronomy, and I have worked for many years with farmers in Africa, SE Asia and Brazil, as a volunteer, extension worker or researcher. Some years ago, I made a shift to writing and editing about sustainable agriculture, in the belief that farmers’ experiences and voices need a wider audience.

Farm Radio Weekly sources its stories through our two news bureaus, and from news and development websites online. I was lucky enough to take up the position of Editor just as our African news bureaus for Southern Africa and francophone Africa were opening. Part of the job that I enjoy most is working with the Bureau Chief, Mark Ndipita, who manages a pool of journalists across Southern Africa. Together, we suggest stories, identify topics, comment on story pitches sent in by the journalists, ask more questions, and do the final edit for radio. My main aims when selecting and editing any story for use in the Weekly is to ensure that they feature farmers’ voices, and that they will be interesting and relevant to listeners in different regions.

Using those criteria, the story I have chosen to republish was written by Zenzele Ndebele from Zimbabwe, who is profiled in this special issue. It is a straightforward story which reinforces the value of preserving local seeds. I chose this story because I believe that local (and some underutilized) seed varieties will become increasingly important in our changing climate, and that they are often undervalued and overlooked. In addition, in some regions, farmers’ varieties are under threat as seed companies try to gain a greater market. Yet saving, selecting and sharing seed is something all farmers across Africa can do to develop and vary their farming system.

-Zimbabwe: Farmers preserve local seeds but buy improved maize (by Zenzele Ndebele for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe) FRW 148, March 2011.


Outside of work, I enjoy reading autobiographies and practicing yoga, as well as getting to know Arusha better with my husband and young son. You are welcome to contact me at khampson@farmradio.org

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Nelly Bassily, Research and production officer

When I started at Farm Radio International a little over four and a half years ago, I had a few years of media-related international development work in Africa (specifically in Benin and Egypt) under my belt, but not much in the way of agricultural experience. At that time, Farm Radio Weekly was a pilot project that was about to take off. Two hundred issues later, it’s so exciting to see the Weekly grow into a thriving round-up of features, news, events and opportunities for and by African agricultural broadcasters. Add to that two African news bureaus based in Burkina Faso (for francophone Africa) and Malawi (covering Southern Africa), and it’s easy to understand the richness and diversity of African farmer voices that Farm Radio Weekly strives to bring to your inbox every week.

That diversity shines through in a story written by Inoussa Maïga, a bright young journalist from Burkina Faso (whom I had the pleasure to meet at the JADE offices in Ouagadougou, along with the wonderful and dedicated francophone bureau chief, Nourou-Dhine Salouka). Maïga travelled to the village of Namposséla, Mali to bring you the inspiring story of a group of farmers who, after noticing that their yields were dropping every year, decided to work together to change this. By collaborating to produce compost, they have succeeded in improving their soils and yields. I admire the solidarity of these farmers. Also, as the story concludes, when it comes to farmers, “unity is strength” is not an empty phrase.

Mali: Composting in groups (by Inoussa Maϊga, for Farm Radio Weekly in Mali) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/24/2-mali-composting-in-groups-by-innoussa-ma%CF%8Aga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-mali-2/

On top of Farm Radio Weekly, I have been working on Barza, the online community for African radio broadcasters (www.barzaradio.com). In the months to come, it’s my hope that more and more African broadcasters will be able to interact and share more farmer stories through Barza.

When I’m not working, I keep active by practicing an Afro-Brazilian martial art called capoeira. If you don’t know what capoeira is, I encourage you to check out this video, which gives you an overview of what capoeira is and looks like.

I’m extremely lucky to work with such a devoted and talented team. Here’s to 200 more Farm Radio Weekly issues!!!!

-Nelly (You can reach me at: nbassily@farmradio.org)

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Vijay Cuddeford, editor and writer, Farm Radio Weekly

The first radio script I wrote for Farm Radio International (then called Developing Countries Farm Radio Network or DCFRN), was published in January 1997. For the next decade, I wrote occasional pieces for Farm Radio, while doing research and writing for other organizations, mostly on the environmental impacts of farming. Then, in the fall of 2005, I became the managing editor of Farm Radio International. As managing editor, I coordinate the production of script packages.

I have been involved as an editor and some-time writer for Farm Radio Weekly since its inception. As the main copy editor, you can blame me if you find any typos! I have been fortunate enough to visit many parts of Africa and many different radio stations on six working trips for Farm Radio International over the last six years. Outside of work, my main pastime is distance running. I run three or four times a week with a running club. I run for fun and for my health, but I confess to being ambitious and wanting to run as fast as I can! I just completed my first Boston Marathon a few weeks ago, an accomplishment I’m very proud of!

One of my favourite FRW stories was published in January 2011. It’s from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is called “Marketing by Motorcycle.” I especially enjoy hearing how motorcycle taxi drivers and food traders have responded creatively to a new situation: the increased affordability of motorcycles. This new situation benefits both traders and consumers – who can now buy and sell fresher fish and produce. It also benefits the women who don’t have to carry heavy loads for many kilometres, and the motorcycle taxi driver whose income has doubled. While the new system isn’t perfect, it’s a great example of villagers responding creatively to a new reality.

DR Congo: Marketing by Motorcycle (Syfia Grand Lacs), FRW 140, January 2011.  http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/10/dr-congo-marketing-by-motorcycle-syfia-grands-lacs/

You can reach me at vcuddeford@farmradio.org

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Heather Miller, Communications Officer

I joined Farm Radio International as Farm Radio Weekly Editor in October 2007. At that time, I was fresh from the completion of a Master’s Degree in International Affairs, a course of study I took after deciding to make a career shift away from daily journalism. Farm Radio Weekly was a dream, piggybacking on the spread of internet access in Africa and providing resources to FRI’s broadcasting partners on a more regular basis.

For two and a half years, I was honoured to play a large role in the first 100+ editions of FRW. Our readership grew by leaps and bounds, our format strengthened to include farmer-focused stories written by African freelancers, and my personal knowledge and understanding of small-scale farming issues grew immensely.

Land grabbing was an issue that exploded in scope and importance during my stint as FRW Editor. We wanted to use FRW to inform people about this tremendous threat to food security and we also wanted to find stories of farmers fighting back against the powerful forces of government and industry looking to take over agricultural land. The story that follows was first published in June 2009 and remains rooted in my mind because it’s about an organized – and successful – effort by farmers to resist land grabbing.

-Uganda: Urban farmers fight eviction (by Sawa Pius for Farm Radio Weekly in Uganda, FRW 72, June 2009)


As rewarding as I found my work as FRW Editor, my priorities shifted in May 2010 when my son was born. I took maternity leave and fully embraced “mommyhood.”  I returned to FRI as a part-time Communications Office in 2011, focusing on different types of writing, such as letters to donors. I am excited to rejoin the FRW team in the coming weeks and look forward to supporting FRW’s thousands of subscribers in their efforts to strengthen small-scale farming in Africa.

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Profile of Brian Moonga, Zambian journalist and Farm Radio Weekly contributor

Brian Moonga is a freelance journalist based in Lusaka, Zambia. Brian has worked with Inter Press Service and Radio Netherlands. He is also a correspondent for Reuters and does TV reports. He started writing for FRW just before we opened our Southern Africa bureau, and has been a regular contributor over the last two years. We caught up with him recently to hear more about the media in Zambia, and his work with Farm Radio Weekly.

Brian talked about the media climate in Zambia, and the great potential for community radio:

“With over forty radio stations countrywide … a great leap since the early 1990s when only the State ran the media, it is evident that this sector is surely growing at an impressive pace. Freeing of [the] airwaves and Zambia’s hunger for a liberalised economy has significantly helped enhance a suitable environment for flourishing of not only press freedom, but freedom of expression and promotion of human rights … However … Zambian journalists have suffered gagging at the hands of all five regimes that have been in power.… This said, by regional standards, Zambia’s media development is impressive, with minimal legislative hurdles for establishing community radio, but more challenges accessing finances to set up one …”

Brian also spoke about ICTs in community radio:

“In the case of radio stations, many now do not only have state-of-the-art equipment; they also have great access to internet and mobile phones. ICTs have generally made broadcasting easier for many radio stations, who now have the ability to receive instant feedback from their audiences through electronic mail, social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and news sites, as well as get instant short text messages via cell phone and [the] ability to sustain a two-way communication or conversation …”

We asked Brian about his experience writing for FRW and his experience with agriculture:

“When I started writing for Farm Radio about two years ago, my knowledge of agriculture was very scanty … It was very challenging to gather stories, but my close touch with agriculture-based organisations [helped], and I usually looked out for any farming-related stories whenever I was out in the rural [areas] … Although Zambian farmers, especially small-scale ones, do not take prominence in the news media … I was shocked to learn that 90 per cent of all food production in my country was done by small-scale farmers, peasants and mostly women who had very little access to financing and inputs that would help turn around these 90 per cent peasant farmers into bigger food producers that Zambia needs for domestic consumption and export to get the much needed foreign exchange.”

Brian told us what he likes most about Farm Radio Weekly:

“FRW is really a great effort towards a group of important farmers that in many countries like mine have not had a great voice. I know that many community radio stations, most of them in the rural [areas] and in close touch with farmers, have benefitted from FRW and so have the farmers; information has flowed and lives have been changed.”

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Profile of Zenzele Ndebele, Zimbabwean journalist and Farm Radio Weekly contributor

Zenzele Ndebele is a Zimbabwean journalist based in Bulawayo, in the west of the country. He has written a number of stories for Farm Radio Weekly since our Southern African Bureau opened nearly two years ago. We asked him about the operating conditions for radio broadcasters in Zimbabwe, and how he views working with Farm Radio Weekly. He began by telling us about himself:

“I am a journalist by training, having gained a B.A in Media studies and an MSc in Journalism and media studies. I now lecture part-time in Radio and television studies at the University of Science and Technology. I grew up in rural areas and farming was always part of me. I am a farmer myself; my interest is in livestock farming.

“Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa which does not have independent radio stations. Although the country has been independent for 32 years, it is yet to liberalise the airwaves. Currently, there are only four state-owned radio stations and their signal is very poor, covering only half of the country. The country has one television station. Many rural areas in Zimbabwe do not have access to radio and television and listeners depend on radio stations from other countries or ‘pirate radio stations.’ These are radio stations that are owned by Zimbabweans but are run outside Zimbabwe and broadcast into the country on short wave. Currently there are four ‘pirate’ radio stations, namely Zimbabwe community radio (Zicora), Shortwave radio Africa (SW radio), Voice of the People (VOP), and Voice of America Zimbabwean channel (Studio 7).These broadcast for an hour or two on short wave every day in the evening.

“The technological wave which led to the rise of new media has helped Zimbabweans to bridge the information gap. A number of community radio stations exist in Zimbabwe, but they are not registered. One of them is Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, where I work as a Production Manager. Radio Dialogue is currently using alternative ways of sharing information with the community, mostly using social media platforms. Currently Radio Dialogue runs a citizen media project where people in rural areas send news to the station. We also send information to rural farmers using SMS. This information can be about cattle sales or markets that will be held in their area.

“Although I cover a number of issues as a journalist, I enjoy writing farming stories for Farm Radio Weekly … because in every story that I write there is something I learn from the farmers. There are a lot of things that we take for granted which matter a lot to the farmers − issues like the market to sell their produce, and the publicity so the authorities know that there are issues that affect them.

“Every time I approach a farmer for an interview, they are always cautious because they think I will ask them political issues. They become excited the moment I tell them [I] am writing a story for farm radio and it’s about their farming activities. The response I always get is that most journalists only come to interview them when they want to talk politics. They are not interested in what farmers do.

“Writing for Farm Radio Weekly has made me appreciate the value of a farmer and it has also helped me to put effort in my farming activities. There are a lot of people who want to do farming but they don’t have the information. I am privileged to have all the information I need and I have realized that farming is a very good way to empower local people so that they can support themselves financially and fight poverty.”

Zenzele Ndebele
Production Manager, Radio Dialogue
For more information: www.zicora.com

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Profile of Désiré Nshimirimana, agronomist turned passionate journalist in Burundi (by Nourou-Dhine Salouka, for Farm Radio Weekly)

After only four years in journalism, 38-year-old Désiré Nshimirimana has become a well-known journalist in Burundi and the Great Lakes region. Désiré started out as an agronomist. He says: “I became a journalist by chance; it was not something I planned.”

Jacques Bukuru, a star reporter on the National Radio and Désiré’s friend, first noticed Désiré’s journalistic potential. He told Désiré, “You have lots of ideas, and a good intellect. You would make a great journalist!”

After some persuasion, Désiré agreed. In 2008 he participated in a training for aspiring journalists provided by Syfia International, an association of six African press agencies. He did not regret his choice. The instructor confirmed Désiré’s natural ability for journalism as identified by his friend Jacques. One week later, Désiré published his first article. Other journalists on the course took an average of one month. Soon, professionals were recognizing and rewarding his talent. He says, “After a few months, my bosses decided to appoint me as bureau chief for Burundi, coordinator for Syfia in the Great Lakes region.” This marked the beginning of his commitment to journalism, even though he continues to work in agriculture.

In 2010, Désiré was contacted by Farm Radio Weekly and asked if he would like to become a correspondent. He gladly accepted. Désiré explains that, “Farm Radio Weekly is original, and useful for farmers. The news is well-written and easy to understand. ”

Désiré says that his experience as a journalist has made him a better agronomist. He explains, “Journalism has strengthened my understanding of agriculture, and how it relates to other sectors of community life. It allows me to dig deeper, as I have to take a step back and carefully analyze the agronomic facts.” His training as an agronomist enables him to discuss and write about agricultural topics with ease and depth.

Désiré does not avoid his social responsibilities. Together with colleagues, he created an association called Promomédias to raise awareness about social causes which are important to them. The association regularly publishes a journal titled “Dignity of Women.” This is a forum for the expression and defense of women’s rights. In his fight for a more equal society, Désiré is thinking of his wife and four children. He dreams of seeing his children grow up in a peaceful country where they can fulfil their potential.

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Martin Mwape, farm radio producer and broadcaster, Breeze FM, Zambia

Karen Hampson from Farm Radio Weekly spoke to Martin Mwape recently. He told her that he finds Farm Radio Weekly useful because it inspires him when he is planning his farm radio program called “Weekend Special.” He often searches around for a similar story locally, and tends to use (or adapt) stories which have some relevance to his broadcast region. Breeze FM is a regional station in the Eastern Province of Zambia which has a range of 300 kilometres. Martin uses six to eight farmers’ stories per week, so he would be happy if Farm Radio Weekly produced more! He also told us:

“I must confirm that I am a regular reader of Farm Radio Weekly. I find the stories good because I produce farm [radio] programs and … they assist me to pick up issues that I should address in my programs. I use some of the stories directly, though with some edits because of translation issues. The stories I remember using were from edition #191, ‘Celebrating Successful African rural Women,’ and ‘Fertilizer trees boost yields in Malawi’ [in] edition #186.”

Read more about Breeze FM on their website http://breezefmchipata.com/. You are welcome to connect with Martin Mwape on Barza!

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From Tchetta Meli Evariste, journalist with Radio Batcham, Cameroon

Meli Tchetta Evariste responded to our recent request to readers to tell us something about how they use FRW, to mark its 200th edition. Here is what he wrote to us:

“Hello! I am a Cameroonian journalist and I graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Buea in 1999. On leaving school, I specialized in communication for development and I started with Radio Batcham (a local radio station in the west of Cameroon) in July 2000. Since then I’ve been using the power of radio to communicate on good practices and to get farmers’ voices heard by decision-makers.

“I have been reading FRW for about two years. It is a very useful resource which documents small-scale farmers’ efforts to reduce poverty in Africa. I created a news section in my weekly farm radio program, and with items taken from FRW, I inform my listeners on the techniques applied elsewhere to overcome some of the difficulties in agriculture. Thanks to this, many of my countrymen who also have access to internet are now subscribers to FRW.”

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