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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 #209

Fattening sheep project helps Ethiopian families

Our first story comes from the Ethiopian region of Oromiya, where a project is helping families fatten and market sheep. The project includes training on nutrition and veterinary care, and provides access to credit. Many families are seeing big improvements in their income and well-being.

Our second story highlights the achievements of a village youth group in Guinea-Conakry. Motivated by the poor state of social services in the village, the young people banded together and used the profits from selling communally-grown crops to fund the construction of a health clinic, market, school and mosque.

In our final story, another kind of group – a widow’s group – is providing support to Tanzanian women. The women have begun a number of farming projects. Profits are ploughed back into the projects. The widows often meet to cook meals together; thus, the group offers social and emotional support as well as increasing economic well-being.

Finally, another reminder to fill out the Farm Radio Weekly subscriber survey. If you submit the survey by July 29, you will be entered into a draw to receive an MP3 player. Click on this link http://fluidsurveys.com/s/farmradioweeklysurvey/

Your feedback will help us serve you better!

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Ethiopia: Sheep fattening transforms lives (International Livestock Research Institute)

When asked what life was like a decade ago, Misku Abafaris says, “In those days, I was never exposed to any new ideas, any new approaches.”

Ms. Abafaris lives in Gudeta, a small village 30 minutes’ walk from a tarmac road. Until recently, her daily routine was little different from earlier generations of women in Ethiopia’s Oromiya Region. In good years, the coffee harvest was plentiful. In bad years, the coffee failed or droughts shrivelled food crops. But new ideas and new approaches, so lacking in the past, have recently helped to transform lives.

The most obvious differences are in the fields below the village, where half a dozen handsome sheep are being fattened for market. Ms. Abafaris says, “With the profits I’ve made from my sheep, I’ve been able to buy a Boran heifer, which will yield much more milk than our local breed of cow.” She recounts how last year, there was no coffee harvest, but she still made enough money from the sheep to pay all their household expenses. Ms. Abafaris is particularly proud that her sheep-fattening business paid for her eldest daughter, now 21 years old, to live and study in the nearby town of Agora.

Her husband, Abafaris Abamaliky, says, “Misku’s forgotten to tell you about the chairs we’re sitting on. It was the money from the sheep that paid for the timber and the carpentry. And it paid for the wooden box where I now keep my clothes and my private things.” The pride he takes in his wife’s achievements is plain to see.

Ms. Abafaris and her husband are among tens of thousands of farmers to benefit from a project which has helped them improve the productivity of their livestock and crops and market them more effectively. The Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers project was launched in 2006.

Yisehak Baredo is the project’s Research and Development Officer in Goma, one of the districts where the project operates. He explains, “Many farmers were keen to develop sheep fattening, but they didn’t have the knowledge or skills to improve production … it took them up to a year to fatten them.” Ms. Abafaris’ experience was typical. She kept just one sheep, whose only supplement was kitchen food scraps, and she made hardly any money fattening its lambs.

In 2008, the project provided training on sheep fattening for Ms. Abafaris and 119 other farmers. They learned about the importance of providing their animals with protein-rich food supplements and how to keep them in good health. The first training was so successful that it was repeated for 92 farmers a year later.

Without access to credit, provided by a local microfinance institution, none of this would have been possible. Talk to any of the farmers who benefited and they’ll tell you in great detail how they spent their first loans. Ms. Abafaris borrowed 1500 birr ($US 115). She bought five young sheep, a supply of cottonseed meal, life insurance for herself and insurance for her five sheep, plus de-wormers and other veterinary products. Three months later, she sold the fattened sheep and paid back the loan, earning a net profit of 1200 birr ($US 90) – a considerable sum of money in this area. Subsequent fattening cycles have resulted in similar profits for Ms. Abafaris.

The group of 30 small-scale farmers which she chairs was immediately able to repay its loans in full. As a result, the microfinance institution has been happy to provide her with several further loans. Many other farmers have succeeded in fattening their sheep and increasing their income. More than four out of five who received training shortened the fattening period to just three months.

Suchare Abamaliky is one of Ms. Abafaris’ neighbours. She says, “With the profits I’ve made from the sheep, we’ve built an extension to our house and bought a high-yielding Boran cow.” Musa Kadir, who belongs to the same farmers’ association, used his profits to pay school fees for his children. He says, “I’m earning as much money in three months as I used to make in a year from the sale of coffee beans.” He has ambitious plans to expand the number of sheep he fattens, and he’s begun to raise avocado and mango seedlings, having observed the activities of one of his neighbours.

This is the way new ideas spread, across hedges and fields, from farmer to farmer.

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Guinea: Youth group builds clinic, mosque, market and school (by Ibrahima Sory Cissé, for Farm Radio Weekly in Guinea-Conakry)

N’Faly Kaba is the president of a youth group called Koninko. The name is taken from the river that surrounds Morigbèya, a village of 670 people located 600 kilometres east of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Mr. Kaba and the 47 other members of Koninko have taken the fate of the village into their own hands. The group used the profits from farming to finance basic services for the village, including a market. Mr. Kaba talks about the motivation of the group: “We saw that some improvements were needed: there was no school, no clinic or mosque, and no place of entertainment for youth. We were concerned by the condition of our ancestors’ land.”

As Mr. Kaba explains, the group was established in order to use their farming skills to develop the village. The first step was to bring together youth around the project. Then the young people began looking for land. Sidi Kaba, the representative of Morigbèya’s traditional landowner, made 25 hectares of land available to the group. The young people developed a farming plan which took into account their family responsibilities. Ousmane Kaba is chairman of Koninko. He explains that the young farmers devote Sunday to working on their group fields. They divide the rest of their farming week between work on their family farms and work on their individual farms. When there is extra work to do on the group farm, they take time away from their private fields.

The group has changed Morigbèya. Ansoumane Condé is treasurer of Koninko and very proud of its achievements. He says, “Our organization has revolutionized life in the village. Everything you see that’s been done in the village is the work not of one person, but a collective effort. ”

Most of the group’s harvest is sold. A bag of rice sells for 200,000 Guinean francs (about $28), and a bag of peanuts for 250,000 (about $35). But this money is not simply profit for the members to freely use. Every member agrees to invest money in community projects. For example, with the harvest money, the group pays the salary and food for the community health worker. Koninko also supports one of the two teachers who are not supported by the state.

Village residents are grateful to the group. Treasurer and resident Ansoumane Condé says, “The soils are rich and do not need chemical fertilizers for good harvests. Thanks to the earth, our children will not know the same fate as ourselves.”

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Tanzania: Widows support each other with farming projects (by Alex Butler for Farm Radio Weekly in Tanzania)

After losing her husband, it is difficult for a widow to earn money and provide for her family. But widows in Sangananu village, near Arusha in northern Tanzania, have found these difficulties easier when faced together.

Beatrice Mosolo is the chairwoman of the Okombosi Widow’s Group, made up of about 20 widows who work together on agricultural projects. Ms. Mosolo says, “It is hard for widows to do everything alone. They are not powerful and live in a difficult environment.” She explains that the group helps widows support each other: “We have to do things together. We must provide to those women who cannot do it for themselves.”

The group began with a few women sewing and selling clothes. They earned enough money to register as an official group, open a bank account and start some farming projects.

The projects include raising dairy goats and chickens, and growing vegetables. These activities help feed the 20 women and their 50 children.

The group often comes together to prepare meals for the widows and their families. This group mentality creates a supportive community for widows who are grieving. Ms. Mosolo says, “It makes the widows happy to be together.”

The group earns the majority of its money from selling matembere, or sweet potato leaves. Sweet potato leaves are a popular, nutritious food.

Much of their earnings are devoted to buying and raising dairy goats. The women also breed goats and hope to eventually provide each member with her own goat. According to Ms. Mosolo, they also use goat manure to fertilize their gardens.

One of the group’s challenges is that some widows expected to receive money from selling their goods. But produce such as vegetables, eggs and milk are used to provide food for the widows, or are sold in the village. The sales money is then re-invested into the group’s farming projects.

Michael Sarakikya works with the Duluti Initiative Inc., an NGO which supports women’s groups and provided a grant to Okombosi Widow’s Group. Mr. Sarakikya says, “They are a good example because they’ve gotten profits and then used their profits for projects.”

Ms. Mosolo says that being a registered group helps them gain support in other places, like the District Council. She explains, “The District Council assists groups, not individuals.”

The women want to buy a milling machine because their village does not have one. They want to earn as much money as possible from selling vegetables. But if their earnings fall short, they hope to apply for a loan from the District Council.

Though the group has many goals for their gardens, animals and community, Ms. Mosolo knows that they must build their future on the foundations of their existing efforts. She says, “What we’re looking for in the future is improving our projects.”

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Notes to broadcasters on sheep

For more on the project mentioned in the story, see http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/4369

Here is a technical manual on raising sheep and goats from the International Livestock Research Institute: http://agtr.ilri.cgiar.org/documents/Library/docs/srmanno3/srmanno3.pdf

Farmers keep sheep and goats as a source of food (milk and meat), a source of fibre (wool and skins), a source of ready cash, and a form of savings.

Sheep and goats have other benefits:

  • they are adaptable to a broad range of environments;
  • they have short generation cycles and high reproductive rates, leading to high numbers of offspring;
  • some breeds (e.g. Red Maasai sheep and West African Dwarf goats) are tolerant of diseases such as helminthosis, caused by worms; and
  • they are small enough to be consumed by an average rural family in a day or two, and so do not require refrigeration facilities.

Most sheep breeds prefer to graze on grass and other short vegetation, avoiding the taller woody parts of plants eaten by goats. Sheep crop plants very close to the ground and can overgraze an area much more quickly than cattle. For this reason, sheep are sometimes managed by using intensive rotational grazing, where a flock is rotated through multiple areas, giving plants time to recover.

Sudan and Nigeria are two African countries whose sheep populations are amongst the highest in the world, with an estimated 51 and 34 million animals, respectively.

As indicated in this week’s story, high-protein feed supplements such as cottonseed meal greatly aid the fattening process. Other high-protein options are oilseed cakes made from groundnut, sunflower or soybean; and some of the by-products of beer-making and sugar processing. These may not be affordable for many farmers, however. But molasses added to cottonseed cakes or urea-oilseed cakes are a more affordable option. Fodder crops such as the leaves and pods of Faidherbia albida are in West Africa are another source of protein. Many other tree species can be used for fodder, for example,  Sesbania sesban, Calliandra species and Gliricidia sepium.

On a lighter note, sheep have been successfully equipped with cell phones. See:  http://news.yahoo.com/south-african-farmer-equips-sheep-cell-phones-104257765.html

If you live in an area where farmers raise sheep and/or goats, or where the climate and other conditions are favourable for keeping them, you might consider doing a series of programs on the benefits of these animals. Explore how these animals benefit families, who cares for them, how they are fed, and whether they are sold or always consumed by the family. Ensure that you talk to female, male and youth farmers.

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Notes to broadcasters on farmers’ groups

Like farmers’ co-operatives, farmers’ groups can benefit farmers in many ways. They can improve access to farming inputs and other resources, facilitate knowledge sharing, and boost income and social status. Like co-operatives, farmers’ groups often focus on the processing and marketing of an agricultural product. The following stories from past FRWs provide some examples:

Malawi: How making juice can save a forest (FRW #161, June 2011)

Tanzania: Farmer-led irrigation scheme brings bumper harvest (FRW 199, May 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/05/07/tanzania-farmer-led-irrigation-scheme-brings-bumper-harvest-by-paddy-roberts-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-tanzania/

Zambia: Better incomes through sorghum (FRW #118, July 2010)

Burkina Faso: Women’s group finds new use for ‘green gold’ (FRW #100, February 2010)

Rwanda: Ban on plastic bags creates new market for banana bags (FRW #94, January 2010)

Swaziland: Women’s weaving co-operative gives ‘lift’ to communities (FRW #75, August 2009)

Our latest script package, package 94, contains eight scripts and an issue pack on co-operatives. The issue pack gives examples of co-operatives, background information on co-operatives, production ideas for programming on co-operatives, and further resources on co-operatives – organizations, audio files, print documents, and a video. You can find package 94 at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/

For earlier scripts on co-operatives, go to: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/cooperatives.asp

Do farmers in your area work together to obtain better market prices for their products, or purchase inputs as a co-operative? You may wish to find a farmers’ group and prepare a news story or arrange an on-air interview which profiles the group and their efforts:
-Who are the members of this group? Are they grouped by area, the type of crop they produce, etc.?
-When did they come together? What were individual farmers’ experiences with processing and selling their crop prior to forming the group?
-Ask the members to describe in detail the process they use to process their goods, identify markets for their crops, gather them together, and sell them. Did they try other methods before determining that one method worked best?
-How much extra income do farmers earn as a result of group marketing, group processing, or group purchase of inputs? What are the other benefits of working as a group (saving time, learning from each other, etc.)?

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‘She Will Innovate’ competition calls for applications

The “She Will Innovate: Technology Solutions Enriching the Lives of Girls” competition, sponsored by Intel Corporation and Ashoka Changemakers, is a challenge designed to promote information and communication technology solutions that improve the lives of girls and women.

Girls and women in particular face complex challenges that prevent them from reaching their true potential. ICTs can contribute to economic growth and development, and empower women to break through the barriers that prevent them from improving their health, education, and well-being.

Anyone, anywhere, is eligible to enter, especially women aged 18 to 34. Entries must be in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French. Winners will be awarded cash prizes to boost their projects.

Deadline for applications: August 15, 2012.

For more information on eligibility criteria and to apply, visit:   http://www.changemakers.com/girltech

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Manual: Sustainability of Community Radios: Module II

This training guide for community radio stations, prepared by Search for Common Ground, is for projects aiming to build the capacity of rural independent radio stations in Africa. The manual consists of learning modules focused on enhancing the sustainability of the radio stations on all levels: administrative, financial, programmatic and organizational. The manual will be published over the next months, each edition exploring a different aspect of community radio management.

Module II provides insights into good governance and its application within radio stations.

Sustainability of Community Radios: Module 2 is available for download at: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/assets/texts/pdf/2012-manual-sustain-mod2-bw-en.pdf

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Subscribers’ survey

Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to fill out our subscribers’ survey.

If you have not done so, there is still time! We want to hear your opinions so that we can ensure FRW is relevant to our readers’ needs.

The survey should take between 8 – 15 minutes to complete. As a small thank you, all subscribers who complete the survey will be entered into a draw to win an MP3 player. To be eligible for the draw, please complete the survey by July 27. We will publish a summary of the survey results in Farm Radio Weekly.

Click here to take the survey:

English: http://fluidsurveys.com/s/farmradioweeklysurvey/

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Many heads are better than one: The story of Ngolowindo Co-operative

Two of this week’s stories focus on the benefits of joining a farmer group. This week’s script — from our latest script package – talks about a co-operative in Malawi which has struggled, yet continues to survive after 27 years.

The script tells the story of Ngolowindo Co-operative: how it came into being, its achievements and challenges. It highlights the strength and benefits of co-operatives. This script could encourage co-operatives, clubs, associations and individuals to learn how to reduce some of their fears and problems and to maximize their profits while remaining sustainable.


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