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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 #210

Bee products take the sting out of poverty for Zimbabwean families

Garikai Samaita grew up afraid of bees. But now the 36-year-old Zimbabwean farmer is making a living by selling honey from his own hives. An NGO project is helping him and 5,000 other families in drought-stricken areas of the country gain extra income from honey and other bee products such as propolis and beeswax.

In Cameroon, a different group of animal farmers is not faring so well. African swine fever has been spreading through the country since April. To halt the spread of the virus, authorities are checking farms and slaughtering infected swine. As the price of pig meat plummets, farmers are desperate and hope for government aid.

Our final story comes from Guinea-Conakry. A group of women have established a successful market gardening business. They sell their wares at the farm gate and through a community wholesaler. The women are facing a number of challenges, including access to land and increasing urbanization. But for now, the business is flourishing, and members are enjoying the benefits of increased income.

Don’t forget to read our other items this week. Our Action section is a reminder that fifteen of Farm Radio International’s most popular scripts are now available online in Kiswahili and Hausa! We’d love your feedback if you use these scripts.

Talk to you next week!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Zimbabwe: Beekeeping brings a sweeter life for rural families (IRIN)

Garikai Samaita is a 36-year-old farmer from Goto village in Wedza district, about 100 kilometres southwest of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Over the last year, he has discovered how to take the sting out of bees and use them to sweeten his life.

In September 2011, a bee swarm settled in a tree near his homestead. They stung his eight-year-old son, so Mr. Samaita decided to try to smoke them off his property.

However, an agricultural extension worker visiting a relative in the village suggested a different course of action. He suggested that Mr. Samaita to approach the international NGO Environment Africa (EA) for advice on producing honey. That advice prompted the start of a beekeeping project, from which Mr. Samaita is now reaping a livelihood.

Mr. Samaita embarked on his beekeeping enterprise about nine months ago with two hives. Since then, regular harvesting of six beehives from a nearby forest has tripled his honey production.

He adds, “I am now managing to get by and have enough money to look after my family, unlike in the past when we used to struggle. Here in Wedza, harvests have been poor for a number of years because of drought … I am one of the few in this area who have enough food in the house.”

It is not only Wedza that has been hit by drought. Southern Zimbabwe has been particularly badly affected. At a national scale, cereal production for the 2011-2012 season is estimated to be only half of the annual requirement of two million tons.

Mr. Samaita earns US$80 a week from selling honey along the highway and to customers in Harare. This is enough to buy food for his family, pay school costs for two of his children, and cover the costs of his ailing mother’s medication and hospital fees.

He takes his honeycombs to a nearby community-owned processing plant, where EA assists by refining the honey and packaging it for sale.

The EA beekeeping project began in early 2011 and involves about 5,000 poor and vulnerable rural families in 23 of Zimbabwe’s 59 districts. Some EA farmers have diversified into selling beeswax. Beeswax is mostly used in candle-making, but also to make soap and hair care products such as shampoo and hair wax.

Other value-added bee products include propolis, with medical applications, royal jelly, in demand by the cosmetic industry, and bee venom, a liquid with anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Barney Mawire is EA’s country manager. He says that, on average, a beekeeper can produce about 60 kilograms of honey per hive in a year. Mr. Mawire says that the producer earns about US$10 a kilogram, making it “a potentially lucrative business.”

Nellia Goromonzi is a 40-year-old widow from Zvimba District, about 90 kilometres northwest of Harare. She bought three cattle with the proceeds from her EA beekeeping enterprise. She says, “My life has changed so fast. We sold all our cattle to meet medical expenses when my husband died four years ago and I never dreamt of owning livestock again.” Ms. Goromonzi is happy that she no longer has problems sending her three children to school. She has joined with three other EA farmers to start a business selling beer.

She employs her cousin to hawk some of her honey along the road, and supplies shops in a nearby business centre. She also receives orders from businesses in a nearby farming town.

Mr. Samaita says, “Bees used to scare me very much, especially after a friend of mine was stung to death by a swarm when I was growing up. We always lit huge fires underneath trees to drive them away, but the bees are very useful friends now.”

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Cameroon: African swine fever measures hit pig farmers hard (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly in Cameroon)

Dieunedort Mouaffo is a hog farmer in Bafoussam, the capital of the Western Region of Cameroon. On July 23, all 38 of his pigs were culled in efforts to halt the African swine fever epidemic that has spread through the country since April. Sitting on a stool near his barn, he mumbled the same phrase over and over: “The credit, I am dead, credit, I’m dead.” Then Mr. Mouaffo fainted and was taken to a health centre.

On awakening, he confided that to start his pig-rearing business, he had mortgaged the land title for his house to get a bank loan. He had devoted all his energy and resources to the operation. He laments, “And at the moment when I had to cover all my expenses, I lost everything. How will I pay off my debts? My house, my children, the new school year approaching … I’m dead.”

Dr. Rene Saleu is a representative of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries in the Western Region. He says that 15,000 pigs have been destroyed in the last four months to prevent African swine fever from spreading to other parts of the country.

An African swine fever alert was announced in April, but some farmers refused to report their sick animals. This increased the spread of the epidemic, causing many casualties. Dr. Saleu established a team of veterinarians who travel through the region, checking each farm and slaughtering sick animals. They visit farmers with small numbers of pigs, as these are the operations without easy access to veterinary services. Thus, their pigs have not been vaccinated. The slaughtered carcasses are trucked outside the city and buried in mass graves.

Roadblocks have been installed on the main routes out of the city to prevent farmers from selling their animals outside the region. On July 22, a truck carrying 80 pigs was stopped trying to leave the city.

Livestock keepers afraid of losing everything are selling off their animals. Etienne Fosso Fokou explains: “Usually, I sell a pig for between 150,000 and 450,000 FCFA (US $275-925), depending on the size. Today, the few customers who are interested offer between 20,000 and 25.000 FCFA, (US $25-35). I am obliged to accept this price; otherwise, I will lose everything.”

Butchers are also affected. One lamented, “In December 2011, a kilogram of pork cost 2500 FCFA (about US $2.50). Today, it is 400 FCFA ($0.75 US).”

The state has trained farmers on hygiene measures and offered them disinfection equipment. But most farmers are hoping for more assistance. Dieunedort Mouaffo says, “It is not enough. As a breeder, I hope for financial aid from the State; otherwise, I’ll have to stop raising animals. ”

Dr. Saleu says he can do nothing about this. He explains, “The question of compensation for farmers is not within my authority. For now, I have been ordered to contain the spread of the epidemic, [and] record and photograph all animals that must be slaughtered.”

For information about African swine fever, visit:  http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Media_Center/docs/pdf/Disease_cards/ASF-EN.pdf

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Guinea: Women profit from urban gardening (IPS)

Market gardening in the peri-urban areas of the Guinean capital Conakry is growing quickly, raising the income of women’s groups and giving them some independence.

A gardening association of 14 women is farming a low-lying parcel of land in Kobaya, just outside Conakry. The women lease the fertile three-hectare plot for 130 US dollars a month.

Most group members grow their own vegetables for home consumption. But in 2007 they joined together to begin commercial gardening.

Fanta Camara is president of the association. She lists the group’s crops as “tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce, peppers and cucumbers.”

The group has a shed to store farm implements − hoes, rakes and watering cans − as well as sacks and boxes for transporting their produce to market. They have two wells that provide water for irrigation.

Moïse Koundouno is an agriculture extension worker in Conakry’s Ratoma district. He says, “Market gardening has both a social and an economic role. It provides jobs and it constitutes a source of income.” Mr. Koundouno says it accounts for more than 50% of the income for half of the peri-urban gardeners.

Dramane Fofana is an extension worker who has worked with the group. He confirms that the group is getting good harvests from each 10 by 10 metre block dedicated to a particular crop. The Kobaya association relies on manure to produce vegetables year round.

The women are making vegetable growing their principal off-season activity. Their vegetables reach the market in the simplest way possible, via direct sales from their farm, or through a community wholesaler.

For market gardeners around Conakry, bringing vegetables to market during the November to April dry season is crucial, particularly in January and February. Vegetable prices vary greatly in the city, with the price of fresh produce three times higher when vegetables are scarce.

Ramatoulaye Touré is the group’s treasurer. She estimates their annual profits at around $10,000 dollars. She says the income is shared after deducting the cost of land rental and inputs.

Many of the group members are happy with the results, including Hawa Dabo, a mother of five. She says, “I got around 500 dollars at the end of 2011. That money’s allowed me to look after my children and support my husband who’s unemployed.”

One challenge for the women is post-harvest losses, with unsold produce rotting and going to waste. Since 2010, the group has addressed this by processing some of their harvest on site, making a puree from peppers and carrots. The puree is preserved and sold in the dry season when vegetables are scarce. It receives twice the price of fresh vegetables alone.

Market gardeners also face challenges accessing land. In outlying areas of the capital, customary law is still in force. Land is generally only acquired through inheritance or as a loan, with outright sale forbidden.

Taliby Sako is a local restaurant manager. He says urbanization is also a threat to vegetable growers. “They are increasingly forced to move further from the capital. The added distance to the fields leads to an increase in the price of fresh produce. A kilo of tomatoes today costs eight times what it cost five years ago.”

The Ministry of Agriculture leads government support for market gardening in Guinea. With assistance from international partners, it is financing projects to support poverty reduction.

Ms. Camara says the group aims to benefit from these programs. “We plan to register ourselves with the Ministry of Agriculture to see what we can gain from this project − or any other program which is interested in promoting market gardening.”

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Notes to broadcasters on beekeeping

As pollinators, honey bees are a critical link in our planet’s biodiversity, and in human diets. It’s hard to overstate the importance of bee pollination. But try imagining a world with few or no cashews, watermelons, kola nuts, cucumbers, squashes, carrots, mangoes, passion fruit, avocadoes, or vanilla. Many other crops would also be hard hit without bee pollination. For more, have a look at the table on this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees

Bees are essential for the environment and for human food. On top of this, beekeeping can help even the poorest and most isolated communities. Beehives can be made of local materials. Beekeeping is not time-consuming and can be done as a supplement to farming. Beekeeping can increase incomes and food security. Bee products such as honey and propolis are used medicinally. Good pollination improves crop yields and farmers’ profits. Selling honey and beeswax can help pay for schooling or hospital bills.

However, like all other enterprises, beekeeping is not always successful. For example, bees may not do well in very dry climates. Beekeepers may be using donated equipment that is not suitable or requires expensive additions or maintenance. Beekeepers need technical assistance like other livestock keepers. Finally, beekeepers may have good production skills, but fail because of poor financial or marketing abilities.

Here is a technical manual called Beekeeping in the tropics: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD32.pdf

And another called Bee products: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD42.pdf

Farm Radio International has published several radio scripts on beekeeping. You can browse our livestock and beekeeping scripts at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/livestock.asp

Farm Radio Weekly has distributed several stories on beekeeping.

Malawi: Adding value sweetens profits for honey producers (FRW #18, April 2008)


South Africa: Ancient brew has Eastern Cape buzzing with employment opportunities (FRW #10, February 2008) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/02/11/south-africa-ancient-brew-has-eastern-cape-buzzing-with-employment-opportunities-various-sources/

You may find these FRW Notes to broadcasters helpful:

Notes to broadcasters on honey products (FRW #18, April 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/04/14/notes-to-broadcasters-on-honey-products/

Ask farmers and extension agents about beekeeping in your listening area. Perhaps there are well-known or expert beekeepers you can interview in the studio or in the field. Do local beekeepers work full-time handling bees, or do they supplement their farming incomes with a few hives? Some areas produce honey that is unique for one reason or another – is your area one of them?

Are there women as well as men beekeepers? If not, why not? How do beekeepers sell their products in your area? Do they sell directly to consumers? Or perhaps through traders who transport their bee products to town markets.

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Notes to broadcasters on urban agriculture

There’s no doubt that urban agriculture is growing, encouraged by factors such as migration to cities and the rising cost of food. Studies consistently show that an increasing number of people rely on food grown in cities. But urban agriculture presents its own difficulties. Farmers in peri-urban areas face challenges of transporting their produce into cities. This story from Guinea shows the threat of urbanization on farming and the difficulty of finding land for agriculture near urban centres.

You can read more about the growing trend of urban agriculture in these past FRW news stories:
“Kenya: Urban agriculture greens metropolis” (Issue #40, October 2008)
“Africa: Wastewater in urban agriculture is harmful to health, but it also ensures subsistence for urban poor” (Issue #34, August 2008)
“Africa: Urban agriculture provides relief from high food prices” (Issue #23, June 2008)

Farm Radio International has also produced a number of scripts on urban agriculture, many of which offer suggestions for growing food in small spaces: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/urban.asp

Finally, here are some ideas for a call-in/text-in show to further explore this issue:
-Have members of your audience grown food in an urban or peri-urban area for a long period of time? How much food do they produce and what impact does this have on their family’s food security?

-What materials (such as organic fertilizer or planters) do they use to make the cultivation of food possible in very small spaces?

-Which crops grow best with the limited space and resources they have available?

-What tips or innovations can they share?
-Have urban farmers found their land reduced or threatened by urban development? If their growing space was reduced, how did they cope? If their land is threatened by urban development, what steps have they taken to protect it?

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African Green Revolution Forum: Media competition

The African Green Revolution Forum 2012 is an international conference to discuss and plan for sustainable agricultural growth. AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, is supporting a competition as part of the conference. Young and early career journalists are encouraged to submit stories about investments needed for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth. Submissions should showcase success stories and best practices that can be replicated.

Original print or audio pieces must match one of the three themes: women in agriculture, youth entrepreneurs, and innovation and technology in smallholder agriculture. The report must be submitted by Sunday, August 19.

For more information on the contest guidelines, visit: http://community.eldis.org/.5b06e811

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Speak Up, Speak Out: A Toolkit for Reporting on Human Rights Issues

This toolkit from Internews is both a human rights reference guide and a workbook for journalists who want to improve their ability to report on human rights issues in a fair, accurate, and sensitive way. It covers the basics of human rights and how the media should cover them. It also provides resources on conducting interviews with victims of human rights abuses, activists and NGO workers, and anonymous sources.

To read the full toolkit, visit: http://www.comminit.com/community-radio-africa/content/speak-speak-out-toolkit-reporting-human-rights-issues

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Farm Radio International scripts now available in Swahili and Hausa!

Farm Radio International has for a long time wished to provide scripts in languages other than English and French. We are now pleased to announce that some of our most popular scripts are available in Swahili and Hausa!

Using feedback from broadcasters, and focusing on scripts that were particularly relevant to the regions where each language is spoken, we chose fifteen scripts to be translated into each language. Some scripts are available in both Hausa and Swahili. Others are only available in one of the languages, depending on content and regional relevance.

For example, you can now read script 86.1 Local water committee helps villagers, but especially women and children

in Swahili: 86.1 Kamati za maji zinasaidia wanavijiji, hususan wanawake na watoto;

and in Hausa: 86.1 Kwamitin ruwa na gida na taimaka wa yan kyauye, samma ma mata da yara.

Visit these links to view and download all the translated scripts:

We would love to hear your response to these scripts. If the languages are relevant to your broadcast area, are you more likely to use them on-air now? Will it be easier for you to use the scripts to create your own programs? Which other languages would you like to see? Please send any comments, questions or examples of how you use these new translations to: farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

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The Beekeepers of Shewula

This week’s script is based on the experiences of a beekeeping project in Shewula, Swaziland. There are not many ways to make a living in Shewula, a community of about 3,000 people in the Lubombo Mountains in the northeast of the country. It was thought that beekeeping would help local people earn income, and would not require expensive equipment, or a lot of space.

Ten people from the community took a year-long training course on beekeeping. This script is about some of the problems faced and the creative ways that the project participants found to solve them.


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