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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 #206

Farmers’ group benefits by building their own marketplace

The National Federation of Women and Comoros Farmers has taken the unusual step of building their own market. Inspired by their president, Mohamed Soilih, the farmers’ group has established a market which, because of the minimal selling fee passed on to customers by the Federation, can sell produce cheaply while paying farmers well enough to earn a good living.

Our second story comes from Congo-Brazzaville, where coastal farmers are being hurt by the changing climate. Cassava, groundnut and maize harvests are particularly affected. Some farmers are considering relocating to escape the effects of increased heat and decreased rainfall.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 20-22. Farm Radio Weekly’s Nelly Bassilly was there and brings us her perspective on the atmosphere at the conference.

Check out this week’s Action section, where we profile the work of our broadcasting partner, Radio Bison a Biso. This station’s programs are aimed at improving relations between two groups of people with different cultures – Bantus and indigenous people. Its success is seen in the fact that conflicts in this forested region of the Republic of the Congo are now few.

Enjoy!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Comoros Islands: Farmers’ group creates their own market (Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly, in the Comoros Islands)

Mohamed Soilih is president of the National Federation of Women and Comoros Farmers, or FNAC-FA. Known to his friends as Momo, one of the first things he did as president was to create a marketplace. He says, “In August 2011, I committed myself to building a market where farmers can sell their products by weight.”

The market is located north of Moroni, the capital. Mr. Soilih hopes that the market will help local people by selling fresh, good quality produce at a reasonable cost. All kinds of fruits and vegetables are for sale, including banana, cassava, sweet potato, green beans, tomatoes, oranges and chilies.

FNAC-FA members asked for this market to be created, and President Momo workhed to make it happen. The Federation’s main challenge was solved when the government provided them with a building in a good location. Now the market is a great success, and the Federation is already looking for a bigger space. Mr. Soilih says, “Since the opening of this market, we have found that many farmers are regular customers, coming to buy or sell products.”

The Federation buys farmers’ produce at an attractive price and resells it to customers for a small profit. For example, it buys a kilogram of bananas at 200 Comorian francs, or 50 cents, and sells it for 250 francs, which is around 65 cents..

The market also saves consumers money. For example, the price of green beans is half what it would be in other local markets.

Most people who sell to the Federation are members. Ousseine Ahamada regularly sells to the Federation’s market, which has been of great benefit to him. He says, “Each quarter I can pocket around US $370. This money allows me to pay my for children’s education and cover my daily expenses.”

Another farmer, Rafiki Ali Said, has a different reason for selling to this market. He explains, “Rather than spend five hours at Volo Volo market, I sell in much less time at the FNAC-FA market. I have made a lot of money.” In one trip, Rafiki Ali Said can make up to US $250.

Customers are also satisfied. One customer, Celine Bernard, says: “Every day we can buy quality products and at prices that defy competition.”

However, while some farmers appreciate the way the market functions, others complain when they cannot sell their produce because of the quota system. Market leaders set a quota for certain products, and refuse to buy more.

Maoulida Ibrahim is a farmer and member of FNAC-FA. He says, “When there is overproduction, they do not buy our products. We are forced to sell them elsewhere and often lose money. This is unacceptable.”

Hakimdine Abdalla is also a member of the Federation. He agrees, saying, “I know the lawsof supply and demand, but this should not prevent the market leaders from buying our products. We are their main customers.”

Despite these growing pains, Mohamed Soilih is very proud of the success of the market. He wants to develop it into a centre which supplies all the major markets of the capital city.

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Congo-Brazzaville: Changing climate affects farmers on the Congolese coast (by John Ndinga-Goma, for Farm Radio Weekly in Congo-Brazzaville)

Mireille Mbouaki farms in the village of Mboubissi, sixty kilometres southeast of Pointe-Noire, capital city of the Congolese department of Kouilou. This year the rains have been poor and irregular. Ms. Mbouaki is very worried. She says, “My impression is that I am weeding for nothing. I might have a very poor cassava crop this year.”

She has good reason to worry. In many coastal towns, cassava plants are suffering. Leaves are wrinkled and shriveled, plants are stunted, and roots are rotting. The changing climate has not been kind to Congolese farmers.

Crops like groundnuts and maize are also struggling. Ms. Mbouaki says, “Last year I produced three 50-kilogram bags of maize and twelve bags of peanuts. But this March, I’ve only had seven bags of peanuts and a bag of maize.”

The authorities are aware of the problem. Emmanuel Aime Bassafoula is with the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture in Kouilou. He says there has been a drop in agricultural production over the past two years. The most affected crops are groundnuts, maize and cassava.

Mr. Bassafoula says that, while other factors play a part, the main reason for the decline in yields is the changing climate. He explains, “It seldom rains in recent times and it is very hot. When the soil warms and there is not enough water, crops are likely to die. ”

Local farmers are aware that the climate is changing. A farmer in the neighbouring village of Ndembouanou says, “From noon onwards, you feel the warmth underfoot. Things are heating up even underground, [and] it did not rain as much this year as usual.”

According to climate experts, 2011 and 2012 were the warmest years on record in the area. Jean Pierre Makaya is a climatologist and meteorologist. He says, “During the rainy season, the average monthly minimum is usually 25°. But the past two years, it has been 27°. And the trend is increasing.” Mr. Makaya believes that, while weather data may vary from one place to place, the climate has already warmed.

There is also less rain. In the first quarter of 2012, the Pointe-Noire area received only about a third as much rain as in 2011.

Experts believe that climate change will result in a decline in crop production in Kouilou. Producers are struggling to find methods to adapt.

Ms. Tsingui is a farmer in the village of Tchissoko. Saddened by the situation, she says, “Since our ancestors’ [time], we have cultivated the soil with the help of rain. Now that it is scarce, the best solution is to move.” Other farmers will also move in the coming days. Despite the poor situation, Ms. Tsingui is confident that relocating will result in success.

But with the global climate changing, moving is at best a temporary solution. Climatologist Mr. Makaya says that it’s time for environmentalists, agronomists and climatologists to work together.

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World: Rio+20 and sustainable agriculture (Various sources)

Last week in Brazil, world leaders, civil society and representatives of the private sector attended the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known this year as Rio+20 (http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.html).

Many observers were disappointed with the outcomes, saying that discussions did not go far enough. Barbara Stocking is the Chief Executive of Oxfam GB. She said at the end of the conference: “They came, they talked, but they failed to act.”

One day of the conference was called “Agriculture Day” and dedicated to sustainable agriculture (http://www.agricultureday.org/). Key speakers from international agricultural policy and research institutions took the opportunity to call for agriculture, as the single largest employer in the world, to be at the heart of the green economy. Read the discussion summary here: http://www.agricultureday.org/final-communique

Nelly Bassily, Farm Radio Weekly’s Research and Production Officer, attended the conference. She commented on the atmosphere at the meeting: “On the one hand, heads of states and government officials were patting themselves on the back for simply saying the words ‘green economy’ in their plenary interventions inside Rio Centro. On the other hand, major groups, like the ones for NGOs, children and youth, women, and farmers were really frustrated and dissatisfied with the wording of the final outcome document, calling it The Future We DON’T Want.”

Ms. Bassily felt that Henry Saragih, international coordinator of La Via Campesina, summarized opposition to the final outcome best when he stated, “The pathway to a more sustainable future must move towards socially responsible and sustainable markets and finance; balancing human needs with those of the ecosystems upon which all life depends.” Read more statements from La Via Campesina at: http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1293:rio20-opening-statement-of-the-farmers-major-group&catid=48:-climate-change-and-agrofuels&Itemid=75

To read the final outcome document, titled “The Future We Want,” click here: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/381/64/PDF/N1238164.pdf?OpenElement

Other global institutions made calls for action at the conference:

IFAD: http://www.ifad.org/events/rio/resources/statement.htm

CGIAR: http://www.cgiar.org/consortium-news/cgiar-calls-for-action-at-rio20/

At this link, you can view a video (47 minutes) of a discussion with key speakers from Rio+20, “How Agriculture will Address the Rio+20 Challenges”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwlI_ndQ9nc

For other analysis and reports from around the world, see:

-Rio+20 Earth Summit talks: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/20/rio20-earth-summit-talks

-Women’s group disappointed at Rio+20: http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/womens-major-group-disappointed-and-outraged-at-the-rio20-outcomes/

-Rio+20: The landscape approach: http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95670/RIO-20-The-landscape-approach

-Africa After Rio: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/muhammad-yunus/rio20-africa_b_1619492.html

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Notes to broadcasters on markets

Farm Radio Weekly often carries stories on marketing because it is such an important element in farmers’ livelihoods. In this story, a farmer’s organization takes a bold step and sets up their own market. The government of the Comoros Islands allocated a building which the organization now administers. While this may not be an option in all communities, it is certainly food for thought.

Here are some previous FRW stories related to marketing:

-Malawi: Farmer moves closer to market (FRW 204, June 2012) http://www.barzaradio.com/content/malawi-farmer-moves-closer-market-sells-pumpkins-cash-crop-norman-fulatira-farm-radio-week-1

-Kenya: Bertha Ambundo: How one woman farmer inspired a community to improve their lives (#191, March 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/03/05/kenya-bertha-ambundo-how-one-woman-farmer-inspired-a-community-to-improve-their-lives-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/

-Congo: The ‘motorcycle-wheelbarrow’ prevents harvest loss (FRW 145, February 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/21/1-congo-the-%E2%80%98motorcycle-wheelbarrow%E2%80%99-prevents-harvest-loss-by-privat-tiburce-martin-massanga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo/

Farm Radio International has published a number of scripts on marketing. You can browse scripts on small-scale enterprise – including marketing and related issues – at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/enterprise.asp

This week’s story might make a good discussion or phone-in program. You could invite one or two guests, read the story and then pose some questions:

-Would it be possible in your region for a farmer’s organization to set up their own market?

-How would farmers go about this?

-Would it work well in urban areas or is it best suited to rural areas?

-What kinds of administration or policies would be needed?

-What conditions in your area might contribute to the success of such a market? What conditions might act as challenges?

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Notes to broadcasters on climate change and agriculture

The changing climate is affecting farmers in every part of Africa, and across the globe. Increased heat, a greater number of extreme weather events, and unpredictable rainy seasons present a variety of challenges for farmers.

There have been many news stories on this phenomenon. Here are a few recent ones:

Uganda: Cassava Key to Food Security, Say Scientists http://allafrica.com/stories/201206210835.html

Tanzania: Drought Drives Tanzanian Herders Into Conflict With Farmers http://allafrica.com/stories/201206121085.html

Kenya: As Rains Change, Citizens Turn to Planting Indigenous Trees http://allafrica.com/stories/201205291171.html

The website of the organization Sci.dev.net has a webpage devoted to climate change in Africa, with news stories and features, analysis, policy briefs, reports, and more: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/climate-change-in-africa/

Farm Radio International has distributed many scripts on climate change and farmers. You can browse these scripts at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/climate.asp. Included in this list of scripts related to climate change are three issue packs, which provide more detailed information on awareness of climate change, soil fertility and climate change, and water harvesting.

Farm Radio Weekly has published many stories which highlight the challenges of a changing climate on small-scale farmers. Here are a few of the more recent FRW stories:

Kenya: Traditional weather predictions used in official weather forecasts (FRW #195, April 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/04/02/kenya-traditional-weather-predictions-used-in-official-weather-forecasts-alertnet/

Zimbabwe: Erratic rains and long dry spell worry farmers (by Zenzele Ndebele for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe) (FRW #190, February 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/02/27/zimbabwe-erratic-rains-and-long-dry-spell-worry-farmers-by-zenzele-ndebele-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-zimbabwe/

Kenya: Home-grown solutions help pastoralists adapt to changing climate (IPS) (#FRW 183, December 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/12/19/kenya-home-grown-solutions-help-pastoralists-adapt-to-changing-climate-ips/

There are many ways to develop radio programming on climate change. Remember that your programming will be more effective if it responds to the information needs of your audience. Ask what weather-related challenges farmers in your listening audience are facing.

Try connecting farmers to extension workers and government or NGO experts on climate change by hosting a panel discussion, having farmers phone in comments and questions to experts in the studio, or hosting (and recording) a meeting between government, NGO representatives and farmers in the village.

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The African News Innovation Challenge

The African News Innovation Challenge seeks innovative ideas on how journalists gather news, engage with audiences or tell stories. The contest aims to develop the way media operates on the continent, and promotes new digital media products and processes. Winners will receive grants of between $12,500 to $100,000 for projects designed to strengthen and transform African news media.

Proposals may be submitted from anywhere in the world, but entries must have an African media partner who will help develop and test the innovation. Projects that are designed for Africa will stand a better chance of receiving support.

Entries should be submitted online by July 10, 2012.

Full details at: http://africannewschallenge.org/

http://africannewschallenge.org/fr

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Community radio and climate change resources

The Eldis website hosts a huge number of resources related to development policy, practice and research. Their climate change pages include a key issues guide called “Community Radio and Climate Change.” The page contains a number of links to case studies, examples and documents on how radio can be used to address local impacts of climate change. Visit and be inspired!

http://eldis.org/go/topics/resource-guides/climate-change/key-issues/community-radio-and-climate-change

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Community radio promotes understanding in Congo-Brazzaville

Radio Biso na Biso, based in Pokola, 800 kilometres north of Brazzaville, is an example of how radio can bring communities together and promote peace and mutual understanding. Station staff include both Bantu people and the indigenous community, sometimes referred to as Pygmies. Its programs are aimed at improving relations between the two groups, and its success is seen in the fact that conflicts in this forested region of the Republic of the Congo are now few. To learn more Radio Biso na Biso, read this recent news item:

http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95689/CONGO-Community-radio-promotes-Bantu-Pygmy-understanding

The station is a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner, and we are proud to have published stories from this region by a former Biso na Biso staff member, Privat Massanga, including:

Congo-Brazzaville: Radio Biso na Biso changes the lives of indigenous women (FRW 188, February 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/02/13/congo-radio-biso-na-biso-changes-the-lives-of-indigenous-women-by-privat-tiburce-massanga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo/

Congo-Brazzaville: Yvonne Nsayi: a rural entrepreneur who inspires her community (FRW 191, March 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/03/05/congo-brazzaville-yvonne-nsayi-a-rural-entrepreneur-who-inspires-her-community-by-privat-tiburce-martin-massanga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo-brazzaville/

Congo: The ‘motorcycle-wheelbarrow’ prevents harvest loss (FRW 145, February 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/21/1-congo-the-%E2%80%98motorcycle-wheelbarrow%E2%80%99-prevents-harvest-loss-by-privat-tiburce-martin-massanga-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo/

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To Market, To Market – Episode 2: A Glut in the Market: How Supply and Demand Affect Prices

This week’s script is the second of a five-part series on understanding and using market information, published in 2003. With the benefit of accurate market information, farmers can decide what crops to grow, and where and when to sell in order to get the best prices.

In this week’s story from the Comoros Islands, a farmers’ group builds their own market. Yet there are complaints from some farmers that the quota system adopted at the market does not allow them to sell their goods when there is an oversupply.

This script illustrates the laws of supply and demand. If there are large quantities of a certain product in the market – more supply than people can or will buy – then prices usually decrease. On the other hand, if demand is high or supply is low – if people want more of a product than is available – the price frequently goes up. Prices are often determined by how much of a product is on sale at any given time.

http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/66-7script_en.asp

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