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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 #244

Profitable partnerships and dangerous jobs

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #244.

In this issue, as usual, there are stories of everyday agricultural folk. This week we present stories from the Comoros Islands and Niger. Plus, we invite you to recognize World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on May 3.

An elderly farmer from Grande Comoros realized that he could no longer do the heavy work he used to do. He solved this problem by inviting younger farmers, who had too little land to farm profitably, to join him. The group now produces more than the individuals did before linking up, and everyone profits from the new scheme.

In Niger, a group of women joined together to buy a grinding machine. The machine relieves them of some of the hard work involved in making baobab leaf flour. This popular food, also used as a medicine, is sought after in Niger and Nigeria, and the women are happy that their investment has improved their livelihoods.

It’s said that “The truth shall set you free.” But radio and press journalists across Africa and the world face daily threats to their lives. Fifteen reporters have been killed already this year, and many more beaten, threatened or imprisoned because their work has exposed stories that some people would rather not come to light. World Press Freedom Day is your opportunity to highlight the sacrifices that journalists make while gathering the news.

Finally, we offer an update of a script from 2008. The script highlights a successful co-operative in Zambia. The co-op has helped farmers successfully address farming challenges such as difficult weather, expensive inputs, and seasonal income. Note that the whole script is included in this week’s FRW!

Keep broadcasting!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Comoros: Older farmer forges partnership with youth to grow profits (by Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly in Comoros)

Mouigni Hassan was born seventy years ago in Nvouni Ya Bandani, a village 25 kilometres north of Moroni, the capital of Grande Comore. He decided recently that he was getting too old to farm alone, and decided to go into partnership with younger farmers. He explains: “With my age and my energy, everything became difficult. This is why I am associated with these young people.”

He believes that this decision has worked for everyone involved. Mr. Mouigni says: “My associates do not have enough land to build their farming businesses. My proposal allows them to earn more money.” He is happy because he earns more now than he did when farming alone.

In 2011, Mr. Mouigni joined forces with younger farmers to grow tomatoes and chillies, both of which are highly sought after in the local market. His partners are responsible for the physical work which Mr. Mouigni used to do. They plough the ten-hectare field, sow the seeds, carry irrigation water 500 metres from a well, and tend to the plants.

Mr. Mouigni supervises the production. He is also responsible for marketing the harvest to wholesalers and hotels in Moroni. He and his partners share the profits. Mr. Mouigni explains, “I take 40% of revenues for myself, and my partners share 60%.” There are three harvests per year. Each earns the group between 900,000 and one and a half million Comoran francs ($2,400 – 3,950 US).

Mohamed Youssouf is one of the younger farmers. He admits that growing tomatoes and chillies is hard work and requires skill, endurance and long hours. He says: “We leave the house at six in the morning to get to the field at seven … We get back to the village at six in the evening. It’s tiring, but we work as a team so we don’t really feel it.”

Ibrahim Issa is another partner. Like his comrade Mr. Youssouf, he is satisfied with the arrangement. He explains: “It was Mr. Mouigni who decided how to split the profits. I find it normal that old Mouigni takes 40% of the profits because not only is it his field, but he also manages the business.”

Mr. Issa says he benefits from working with Mr. Mouigni. He says: “For good production, not only do you need a large area, but the financial resources to pay for seeds, fertilizers and so on.” Mr. Mouigni had the land and the resources to purchase the inputs. He says the money he earns from the partnership pays for school fees and other family needs. He is also able to take an active role in his neighbourhood rotating savings and credit group.

Mr. Mouigni would like to expand the initiative into the larger community, and encourage other farmers to form groups to improve their businesses. He notes that many farmers in other parts of the Comoros have successfully formed associations.

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Niger: Processing baobab brings profits to women in Miriah (by Souleymane Maâzou, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Hadjara Moussa used to spend a lot of time and energy grinding baobab leaves with a mortar and pestle. She processed up to twenty kilograms of baobab flour every week to sell at the market.

Mrs. Moussa is a member of a women’s group in Miriah, in southern Niger. One year ago, the group purchased a mill to grind baobab leaves. Now, the women no longer grind the leaves by hand. The hard work is now done by machine.

Mrs. Moussa pays the group a yearly membership fee of 3000 FCFA (about $6 US). She says the fee is well worth it. With the mill, she can now produce up to five times more flour.

Baobab flour is very popular in Nigerien kitchens. Cheap and readily available, it is also reputed to have medicinal properties. Mamane Lawal is a traditional medical practitioner. He says, “The sauce made from baobab flour treats haemorrhoids.”

During the winter months between May and September, the women pick baobab leaves on their family plots. The leaves are then dried in the sun and stored in attics. When the dry season starts in December, they are processed into flour.

Every Friday, Mrs. Moussa goes to Miriah’s market to sell her flour. Traders from across Niger and from neighbouring Nigeria come to buy 50-kilogram bags. Selling the flour earns Mrs. Moussa a living, and the mill has helped reduce her workload.

The economic benefits to the flour producers are clear. Mrs. Moussa says: “With this activity, I am not asking too much from my husband. I have furnished my bedroom with quality furniture, and every month I can save more than 20,000 CFA ($40 US).” Since she started making and selling flour, her husband has needed to buy only staple foods. Mrs. Moussa buys all other foods with her own income.

Hadiza Ali is another member of the group who has benefited financially. With a smile on her face, she says: “I have resumed building our family home. I have a herd of goats and sheep. And every year, I pay the tuition for my grandson who is in high school.”

Saley Issoufou is an environmentalist with a local NGO. He is worried that increased demand will lead to the over-exploitation of the baobab trees that abound in Miriah. He says, “We need to emphasize the preservation and conservation of these trees.”

Any thoughts of limiting the production of baobab flour are far from the minds of the women in the group. They share the dream of one day having a small processing plant to maximize their production and income. Mrs. Moussa says, “We already have a group. We just need the authorities and NGOs to help us to develop this activity.”

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World Press Freedom Day

May 3 is recognized around the globe as “World Press Freedom Day.” This year is the 20th anniversary of its inception in December 1993, and an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom.

Focussing on the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media,” World Press Freedom Day 2013 will highlight journalist safety, crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for online safety.

The day is also an occasion to assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the independence of the media, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of work.

Rob Mahoney is the Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ. Presenting CPJ’s annual report in February of this year, he noted that 70 journalists were killed in 2012. He also pointed out that at least 232 journalists were imprisoned, the highest number since the CPJ started compiling statistics in 1992.

CPJ says that 15 journalists have already been killed in 2013. This includes Somali radio journalist Rahma Abdulkadir, who was reportedly shot and killed by unknown attackers in Mogadishu on March 24.

Many more journalists have been violently assaulted. In January, Elisabeth Olofio was severely beaten, and her home in the Central African Republic ransacked. Also in January, Malawian journalist Anthony Masamba was assaulted when his interviewee grabbed the recorder and began punching him. Only a few weeks ago, the chairman of the Tanzania Editors Forum was brutally assaulted outside of his home.

In Tanzania, many believe the media is being threatened by government forces in the lead-up to the 2015 election. The country’s information minister deemed the Swahili-language newspaper, MwanaHalisi, too critical of the government, and suspended its publication under the Newspaper Act, 1976.

MwanaHalisi was previously banned for reporting on a plot to unseat President Kikwete in the 2008 elections. There is concern that the newspaper’s dedication to investigative journalism has made it a prime target of the Tanzanian government. Since 2008, several members of the organization have been attacked in their own newsroom.

Henry Maina is a media reform activist and director of Article 19 Eastern Africa, an NGO which promotes free speech, and citizens’ rights to participate in decision-making and make informed choices about their lives. He says the ban on MwanaHalisi violates the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Press freedom activists and media scholars in Tanzania are calling on the government to lift the ban on MwanaHalisi, and to abolish the Newspaper Act.

On May 3, journalists, press freedom activists and media organizations from across East Africa will meet in Arusha, Tanzania, for a conference to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. The conference organizers − the Coalition of Media Organizations − will highlight gender issues and the need for media reforms throughout Africa. They are especially concerned about the situation in East Africa where, along with rising violence against journalists, there appears to be a growing intolerance of independent journalism.

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Notes to broadcasters: Cooperation and older farmers

“United we stand, divided we fall.” By getting together, people can wield greater power, and more opportunities will arise. In this article, several issues are raised. As broadcasters, you have an opportunity to explore any or all of them. For a basic introduction to farmers’ co-operatives, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_cooperative

You can also revisit a recent Notes to broadcasters on co-operatives: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/06/11/notes-to-broadcasters-on-co-operatives-3/

For World Food Day on October 16, 2012, the United Nations highlighted the role that agricultural co-operatives can play in strengthening farmers’ hands. A short sound bite is available at http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2012/10/world-food-day-highlights-role-of-agricultural-cooperatives-in-fighting-hunger/

A report from Ethiopia states that agricultural co-operatives support small-scale farmers and marginalized groups such as young people and women by pooling their resources: http://allafrica.com/stories/201210190202.html

Co-operatives have also proven to be an effective vehicle for social inclusion, promoting gender equality and encouraging the involvement of youth in agriculture: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?Cr=hunger&Cr1=&NewsID=43299#.UIU_74aLiSo

On this same topic, see this script from our script package 93, December 2011:

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-94-african-farm-radio-research-initiative-afrri/gender-mainstreaming-in-farmers-co-operative-groups-in-ghana-achieve-food-security-for-small-scale-farmers/

Small-scale farmers typically have poor access to markets, a lack of bargaining power, and a lack of access to financial services. Agricultural co-operatives can help small-scale farmers overcome these constraints: http://www.netnewspublisher.com/agricultural-cooperatives-could-expand-and-make-an-even-greater-contribution-against-poverty-and-hunger/

This script focuses on the potential benefits of agricultural co-ops. It can be found at http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/10/%E2%80%98together-we-stand%E2%80%99-agricultural-co-operative-society/

Script 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://www.farmradio.org/script-categories/cooperatives/

A recent story about an elderly South African farmer who continues to profit by carefully choosing suitable crops was featured in FRW issue #240. Read it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/24/south-africa-age-no-challenge-to-productive-woman-by-thuso-khumalo-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-south-africa/ The accompanying Notes to broadcasters can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/24/notes-to-broadcasters-older-farmers-and-their-farming-choices/

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.?

-Is there a mixture of young and old farmers? How do they get along? Who owns the resources? Is there a conflict between “age and experience” and “youth and energy”? If so, how are these issues dealt with?

-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 procedures 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 together as a group (saving time, learning from each other, etc.)?

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Notes to broadcasters on baobabs

Since 2008, there has been increasing interest in developing baobab seeds, leaves or dried fruit powder for consumer products. In 2010, the potential international market was estimated at $1 billion per year. The leaves, eaten fresh or as a powder, are commonly used as a vegetable or a soup ingredient in Africa. For more information, visit the Wikipedia site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia

In 2011, Farm Radio Weekly published a story about baobab and its benefits to human nutrition. In this story, those who use it are also investing in safeguarding the forest environment. You can find the story here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/27/malawi-how-making-juice-can-save-a-forest-ips/. There are also Notes to broadcasters available through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/09/29/notes-to-broadcasters-on-baobab/

In 2012, in partnership with UNEP/CMS, Farm Radio International celebrated The Year of the Bat. Bats are important pollinators of tropical forest plants, some of which flower only at night to attract the flying mammals. Without bats as their main pollinators, the baobab and many other species of trees and plants would cease to exist. Help us spread the word about Africa’s crucial, yet misunderstood, friend of the environment. You can find out more here: http://donate.farmradio.org/. The next issue of Farm Radio Weekly will feature a story about bats in Ghana. You will be able to read it at: http://weekly.farmradio.org

The National Academies Press has published several pages of information about the baobab and other “lost” African vegetables. The baobab pages are accessible through this link: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11763&page=74. Why not read through the document and see if any of the vegetables included are relevant to the country in which you broadcast?

A script from Farm Radio Resource Package 95 (Researching and producing farmer-focused programs)  shows how harvestable commodities can be turned into products which the market desires: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/processing-cereals-into-local-beer-an-income-generating-activity-for-women/

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Notes to broadcasters: World Press Freedom Day

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Achieving freedom of the press is a constant struggle for radio journalists in Africa. Many radio journalists have been attacked during conflicts or simply while doing a regular part of their job. To mark World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), we highlight two cases: one from the Central African Republic and another from Malawi.

Elisabeth Blanche Olofio is a journalist who suffered a tremendous ordeal during civil unrest. Miss Olofio works for Radio Be Oko, in the city of Bambari in the Central African Republic. On January 7, 2013, the Association des radios communautaires de République Centreafricaine published a communiqué, indicating that the journalist had been killed  by rebel forces engaged in an uprising against President Francois Bozizé, during an occupation of Bambari.

Weeks later, news emerged that Miss Olofio was not dead but had been severely beaten and her home ransacked. She had been targeted because of comments that she “talked too much.” To learn more, you can read this report by Reporters Sans Frontière (In French only): http://fr.rsf.org/rca-radios-communautaires-saccagees-10-01-2013,43891.html

In Malawi, journalist Anthony Masamba was simply conducting an interview when he was assaulted by the person he was interviewing. Mr. Masamba is the Bureau Chief of the Malawi Institute of Journalism. He told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he was assaulted while interviewing the head of the Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), Chancellor Kaferapanjira.

In January 2013, Mr. Masamba questioned Mr. Kaferapanjira about news reports that the government had already overspent its budget and that protests against the rising costs of commodities were being planned by John Kapito, head of the Consumer Association of Malawi. Mr. Masamba said that Mr. Kaferapanjira stopped the interview, accused the journalist of being a “Kapito supporter,” grabbed the recorder, and began punching him in the face.

Mr. Masamba was treated for a fractured jaw and bruises at a hospital in Lilongwe. Here’s the full story on The Committee to Protect Journalists’ website: http://www.cpj.org/2013/01/malawian-journalist-assaulted-during-radio-intervi.php#more

For more information on WPFD, go to the UN Press Freedom Day website at: http://www.un.org/en/events/pressfreedomday/. The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board on 12 April 2012, and is available in several languages, including English and French, at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/freedom-of-expression/safety-of-journalists/un-plan-of-action/

More information on the killing of radio journalist Rahma Abdulkadir in Somalia can be found here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44480&Cr=somalia&Cr1=#.UXfQjLWLCSo

In Mali, a newspaper editor was released after four weeks in prison, having been charged with “inciting disobedience” and “publishing false news.” The story is available here: http://www.trust.org/trustmedia/news/mali-newspaper-editor-released-conditionally-after-four-weeks/

It is not just what they say or write; journalists can find themselves in trouble with the authorities when their actions are considered illegal or seditious. As mentioned before in these pages, radio producer, journalist and contributor to Farm Radio Weekly, Zenzele Ndebele, was imprisoned and is now on trial for “possession of smuggled radios.” FRW highlighted his case in issue #238, and you can find that story here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/11/zimbabwean-farm-radio-weekly-freelance-writer-charged-with-%E2%80%98illegal-radio-smuggling%E2%80%99/. For updates on his situation, follow Zenzele’s Twitter feed at: @zenzele

As Zimbabwe heads to the polls later this year, media analysts and journalists are concerned about increasing crackdowns on both the judiciary and the media. Read more here: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/04/no-zimbabwe-media-reforms-just-more-intimidation/

The Reporters Without Borders website, which carries many stories about injustices committed against journalists across Africa, is available through this link: http://en.rsf.org/africa,1.html

A radio article with a statement from Rob Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists (http://www.cpj.org/) is downloadable via: http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2013/02/seventy-journalists-killed-in-2012-cpj/index.html

A newsletter by the UNESCO Future Journalists Newsroom (http://www.highwayafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FJP_UNESCO_Edtion_1.pdf) has story ideas, and is published in English and French.

The Freedom of Expression Toolkit is UNESCO’s contribution to this issue. It is written with upper high school students in mind. The Toolkit covers the major concepts and issues and is written in an easy-to-understand, conversational manner. It can be found here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/publications-and-communication-materials/publications/full-list/freedom-of-expression-toolkit/

Selections from the many websites related to World Press Freedom Day 2013 and its themes can be accessed through this link: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-press-freedom-day/websites/

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World Press Freedom Day materials available for download

“Silence kills democracy … but a free press talks.”

Since 1998 the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has actively monitored cases in which media employees have paid the ultimate price in their efforts to bring us the news.

In 2012, 68 journalists were killed as a result of their professional activities.

To mark World Press Freedom Day, WAN-IFRA has published a bank of resources for journalists. It is available in several languages, including English and French.

To view the materials available for download, follow this link: http://www.wan-ifra.org/articles/2013/03/28/materials-to-download

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Reuters Foundation announces call for participants for global security seminar

The Reuters Foundation is inviting journalists to attend the Seminar on Global Security, September 23-25, 2013 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The seminar will address topics such as: security, terrorism and the media, and sexual violence in conflicts. It will also provide practical training for journalists.

Candidates must be have at least seven years of journalism experience in print, broadcast, or online media, be fluent in English, and demonstrate an interest in covering security issues and conflicts.

Journalists around the world are eligible for this seminar, but those from Egypt, Algeria, Mali and Nigeria are particularly encouraged to apply. The Reuters Foundation will provide grants to cover participants’ travel and accommodation.

The deadline for applications is June 2, 2013.

For more details and how to apply, visit: http://www.trust.org/course/?id=a05D000000FJ1DjIAL

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Farm Radio International ‘sounds-off’!

Farm Radio International is piloting a new participatory information tool in Tanzania. The partner radio stations – Abood FM, Bomba FM and Baraka FM – are in the southern regions of Morogoro and Mbeya.

The new tool, called “Sound-off,” collects information on Internet-enabled mobile phones. Using the Mobenzi research application, farmers can give instant feedback after listening to agricultural radio programmes. “Sound-off” will be used in the future to monitor and adjust radio campaigns which are based on agricultural issues.

Extension officers can use “Sound-off” to collect farmers’ opinions every week. The “Sound-off” tool uses questions based on the “VOICE” standards (Value, Opportunity, Information, Convenience and Entertainment) to rate the quality, content and delivery of the weekly farmer programs broadcast by local community radio stations. Once the opinions are collected and collated via the Internet, an individual report is sent to each participating station. The stations can use these reports to modify and improve future programming.

Feedback collected in this fashion shows farmers’ overall satisfaction with agricultural programming on their local station. The information collected by “Sound-off” can also demonstrate how much knowledge farmers pick up from the programs, and whether they are putting that knowledge into practice.

Farm Radio International will be seeking to scale-up the use of “Sound-off” in radio stations across Africa. More information will be available once the pilot is completed, through Farm Radio Weekly and at FRI’s website, www.farmradio.org

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Farmers’ co-operatives help Zambian farmers survive and thrive

Agriculture in Zambia, and in Africa as a whole, faces several challenges. The climate is becoming harsher, destabilizing crop and livestock production. Farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers are often unaffordable for small-scale farmers. And yields are limited because of small-scale farmers’ dependence on rainfed agriculture. Even when the rains are good, farmers often have insufficient food or income during the months when farm labour is most needed.

In this script, we discuss the practice of forming farmers’ co-operatives, and how these groups can help address these challenges. In the Central Province of Zambia, Mumbwa District, farmers in the Nakabu Co-operative produce maize seed and pigs. They sell these products to sustain both their families and their agricultural businesses. The presenter speaks to a member who has seen the benefits of forming a farmers’ co-operative. The dialogue calls on farmers to unite and form co-operatives to address the challenges they face.

Notes to broadcaster

Agriculture in Zambia, and in Africa as a whole, faces several challenges. The climate is becoming harsher, destabilizing crop and livestock production. Farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers are often unaffordable for small-scale farmers. And yields are limited because of small-scale farmers’ dependence on rainfed agriculture. Even when the rains are good, farmers often have insufficient food or income during the months when farm labour is most needed.

In this script, we discuss the practice of forming farmers’ co-operatives, and how these groups can help address these challenges. In the Central Province of Zambia, Mumbwa District, farmers in the Nakabu Co-operative produce maize seed and pigs. They sell these products to sustain both their families and their agricultural businesses. The presenter speaks to a member who has seen the benefits of forming a farmers’ co-operative. The dialogue calls on farmers to unite and form co-operatives to address the challenges they face.

Farmers’ co-operatives are an effective way to lessen the negative impacts of crises. They provide the following benefits:

  1. Farmers’ requests to government and other stakeholders are met quickly when they speak with one big voice.
  2. Farmers’ co-operatives help keep farmers and their homes food secure, and help to stamp out hunger.
  3. Farmers (including those who cannot read or write) learn new techniques in crop production, as they meet and teach each other.
  4. Farmers gain access to news and information, and thereby become more aware of what is going on around them. This stops buyers from cheating them.
  5. Farmers make better profits.

Other radio programs on farmers’ co-operatives might include:

  • A review of farmers’ co-operatives based on a series of interviews with farmers. Find out what crops they grow for sale, how much money they make per week or month, and what markets they find to sell their products.
  • Programs on the power of unity amongst farmers, and how co-operatives help them learn more about farming and get higher yields.
  • Radio spots or advertisements which show how forming co-operatives can help meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the first MDG of working towards eradicating poverty and hunger in their villages.
  • Examples which show how farmers’ co-operatives can help farmers provide an education for their children.
  • Stories which encourage farmers to diversify crop production so they can feed their families a balanced diet and keep them healthy

The script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

Cue in signature tune, fade under presenter.

Presenter: Good day to all listeners and farmers. I am glad you made a date with me on tonight’s edition of Zambia Today. I am your presenter, Alice Lungu Banda. Tonight we feature a farmer who represents a co-operative in Mumbwa District, Central Province of Zambia. He talks to us about the co-operative he and 48 other farmers formed in order to sustain their agriculture business and, of course, provide their homes with food. Please stay tuned.

Cue in music for 10 seconds. Fade out under presenter.

Presenter: Agriculture in Zambia faces several challenges, including the climate becoming harsher, which destabilizes crop and livestock production. It is predicted that these climatic changes will continue to stress the country. In drought years, the country currently relies on food imports to ensure food security. The fact that farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers are unaffordable also adds to farmers’ difficulties. Relying on rain fed agriculture is also challenging for small-scale farmers. Even when rains are good, farmers often have insufficient food or income between November and March when farm labour is most needed.

There is no doubt that farmers’ co-operatives are effective strategies to lessen the impact of crises in many rural communities in Zambia.

Before we speak with a farmer today, I want to give you a definition of a co-operative. This definition comes from the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture. “A co-operative is any enterprise or organization owned collectively by its members and managed for their joint social and economic benefit, and whose activities are not prohibited by law. A co-operative is a group of people with a common goal to do business and make a profit, and which sets certain rules for its activities and convenes regular meetings to monitor its operations.” According to the international co-operative movement, a co-operative has the following seven characteristics: Co-operatives have a voluntary and open membership; they are democratically controlled by their members; their members participate economically in their activities; they are independent of government or industry control; they offer education, training and information to members; and they are concerned with their local community. The seventh characteristic is that there is co-operation between different co-operatives.

We will be back. Please stay tuned.

Cue in music for 10 seconds. Fade out under presenter.

Presenter: Welcome back. The following program shows farmers working together to produce maize seed and pigs for their families as well as for sale in Mumbwa District, Central Province of Zambia. The name of the co-operative is Nakabu Co-operative. I will be talking to a farmer who is the treasurer of Nakabu Co-operative, Mr. Laban Chiyabuka.

Mr. Chiyabuka, welcome and thank you for accepting our invitation to come and talk about Nakabu Co-operative on Zambia Today.

Farmer: You’re welcome and thank you for having me.

Presenter: Mr. Chiyabuka, why did you form the Nakabu Co-operative?

Farmer: In 2006, I planted two hectares of maize on two hectares of land. I planned to sell it to sustain my family. But, unfortunately, that year Mumbwa District was hit with a drought and I ended up harvesting very little, too little to even eat at home, let alone to sell and get my six children to school. Life became difficult for me and my family.

Because I was not going anywhere with my farming, I sat down with four of my friends who were also farmers in my area. We discussed the idea of forming a farmers’ co-operative in order to do farming seriously and find ways to survive. We had our first meeting at my home, where we discussed what we would grow and sell. At the second meeting, we agreed on the name of the co-operative and the amount of money we each needed to contribute. We also agreed on who we thought could be invited to be part of the co-operative to increase our capital. The amount of money we agreed on was 50,000 Zambian kwacha each (Editor’s note: about US $10.50 in 2008).

Presenter: How many members did you have at first?

Farmer: There were 49 people who were interested in the idea and who registered. After putting our money together, we bought maize from farmers in nearby villages, then travelled to Lusaka and sold the maize to a milling company. It was easy for us to sell the maize because we had a large volume when we combined our harvests. Otherwise, it is not easy to just go to a milling company or any other company to sell something.

With the profit we made, we visited the Zambia National Farmers Union offices. We registered our co-operative and sought advice on what crops to grow with or without rain. We wanted a crop which could give us some profit during the winter season, from May to July. But we did not get what we wanted.

However, around that time, people from an agricultural company called Conservation Farming Unit came to our area to teach farmers to grow crops with conservation farming methods. That is when I and my other friends got the idea to grow maize seeds to sell to other farmers in our village. We spoke to the coordinator of the Conservation Farming Unit about our idea and he seemed pleased with it. We then spoke to his superiors. They were happy with our idea and sent a group of people to train us to grow maize seed. It is important to learn together, especially since we are operating our own businesses, and are not operating under the control of another company or the government.

Presenter: How long did the training take and what exactly did you learn?

Farmer: The training took three months and we learned a lot of things. We learned the right types of soils in which to grow maize seed, how to deal with diseases if there is an outbreak, and the importance of keeping your field weed-free until harvest time.

Presenter: Was the training free of charge?

Farmer: No, we paid some money for the training course. But it was worth it. Also, some farmers were allowed to pay in instalments.

Presenter: When did you put what you learned into practice?

Farmer: Immediately after we completed the training, we invested the money we had made earlier into growing irrigated maize seed. We managed to produce 20 bags of maize seed, which we sold to local farmers. We did not make much profit, because we sold the seeds to local farmers at a lower price. We had just started our business and our product had not yet won the trust that other seed companies had earned. Thus, most farmers opted to buy from ordinary seed companies in town. But the following year we doubled our production and increased the price of the seeds a bit. Thus, we were able to make a little profit.

Presenter: We will be back in a minute to continue our discussion with Mr. Chiyabuka from Nakabu Co-operative.

Cue in signature tune. Cue in presenter with voice over.

Presenter: In case you’ve just tuned in, you’re listening to Zambia Today. On today’s programme, we are talking with a farmer who is also a treasurer of Nakabu Co-operative, Mr. Laban Chiyabuka. He is telling us about the benefits he and 48 other farmers in Mumbwa District have experienced since forming a co-operative in their village, and how their lives have changed for the better.

Cue out signature tune for 5 seconds.

Presenter: Mr. Chiyabuka, why do you think farmers in your village prefer to buy maize seed from your co-operative and not from seed companies in town?

Farmer: I think it is because our seed has proved to be generally good and yields good results for the farmers. Also, it costs less than seeds from seed companies. Our seeds cost 60,000 Zambian kwacha per 10 kilograms (Editor’s note: about US $12.50 in 2008). By comparison, seed companies sell their seed for 70,000 Zambian kwacha per 10 kilograms. Besides, local farmers who need seed in large quantities can buy our seed right in the village. They don’t have to spend time and money booking a vehicle. Most, if not all, seed companies in this country will not deliver to farmers’ doorsteps. So we capitalized on those advantages and, fortunately, we’re growing bigger by the day. Also, since we are from the community and we are the neighbours of the other farmers, they trust us. They know that our profits will benefit the community and not just flow into the city, like when they buy from another company

Presenter: You seem to be doing fine. Do you face any challenges in your seed business?

Farmer: Of course we have challenges. Like you mentioned earlier, the climate has really changed and become harsh on us farmers. Unlike the past when we used to have droughts, we now have too much rain which leads to floods in many parts of our village. Too much rain is causing our crops to grow poorly because the field is waterlogged. This stops us from keeping our fields weed-free. Sometimes the floods carry away our crops with their strong current. So, if the rains continue like this, we are afraid we may not yield anything this coming season.

Presenter: What kinds of things can you do to mitigate these kinds of loss?

Farmer: We do not only grow maize seed – we ventured into raising pigs as well. This has proved to be a very good idea. We have been selling pigs to a company known as Real Meat. As a co-operative, it was again easy for us to enter into a contract with a meat company. We signed a contract with this company to sell our pigs at 10,000 Zambian kwacha (Editor’s note: about US $2 in 2008) per kilogram. Depending on the number of pigs and how big the pigs grow, we are able to cover any losses from the maize seed business. Meanwhile, I am glad to tell the listeners and my fellow farmers that we feed the pigs well and prevent any possible outbreak of disease in pig pens. As a result, when we take them for sale, they weigh at least 35 kilograms each, giving us a good profit.

Also, we are talking with other co-operatives in Zambia. There are so many co-operatives with different skills. We are visiting to learn from one another. As individual farmers, we could not afford to hire an agricultural extension worker. But as a group, we can. So we have learned new techniques to reduce damage from flooding and to conserve water in times of drought.

Presenter: When you sell your pigs to the Real Meat Company, how much money do you make on a good day?

Farmer: We make as much as eight million Zambian kwacha (Editor’s note: about US $1700 in 2008).

Presenter: That is a considerable amount. What do you do with the money?

Farmer: We re-invest some and share the rest amongst ourselves for our families.

Presenter: What differences have you seen in your lives from the time you started this co-operative?

Farmer: There has been a lot of progress in my life as well as in the lives of other members. Speaking for myself, all my six children are in school now. The older ones have even gone as far as university. I used to live in a grass thatched hut, but now I am in a nice big house with roofing sheets on it. My personal business – which is also pigs – is doing extremely well. So I cannot complain.

Presenter: As we come to the end of this interview, what words of encouragement do you have for your fellow farmers who are struggling with their farming businesses?

Farmer: My advice to them is that they should unite as farmers. They should come up with an idea to grow something, and not procrastinate but just do it quickly. I think the government, the Zambian National Farmers Union, or any agriculture company will more readily help a group of farmers than an individual, because the farmers will speak with one big voice. It is almost impossible for them to do business with one person. Nakabu Co-operative is doing fine, even with all the challenges in the agricultural sector in this country, because we are united and because we work together for the future of our families. So all I can say is, farmers and listeners out there – form farmers’ co-operatives and you will never go wrong.

Presenter: Farmers and listeners, you’ve heard for yourselves what Mr. Laban Chiyabuka has said. I hope this edition of Zambia Today has taught you one or two things that will enhance your farming business. For any questions or feedback, you may write a letter to the producer of Zambia Today at P.O. Box 50015, Lusaka. Until next week when we bring you another educational program, on behalf of the production team, I am Alice Lungu Banda saying good night.

Acknowledgements

This script is an update of Package 83, Script 8, which was distributed in March 2008. The original script was written by Alice Lungu Banda and reviewed by Rodd Myers, Senior Programme Manager, International Development, and Agricultural Development Specialist, Canadian Co-operative Association.

The original script was adapted from a program produced on December 20, 2007, on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

Thanks to:

  • Zambia National Farmers Union, Showgrounds, Lusaka, Zambia.
  • Nakabu Co-operative, Mumbwa District, Zambia.
  • Conservation Farming Unit, Plot A30 Palm Drive Road, Lusaka, Zambia.

Special thanks to the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) Social Justice Fund for supporting the original script on the work of farming.

Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

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