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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 #246

Good advice changes fortunes: but is it always taken?

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #246. This issue has an East African theme, with stories and news from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Many farmers in central Tanzania are suffering the effects of drought. Crops have failed for lack of water, and many people are affected by the resulting rise in food prices. Did the government not try hard enough to change farmers’ cropping habits in light of decreasing rainfall, or are farmers to blame for not taking government advice?

Ugandan farmer Josephine Acen started growing on land owned by her uncle. After attending courses run by Uganda’s National Agricultural Advisory Services, she discovered that growing cash crops helped her boost her income, providing extra money for housing and her children’s education.

Kenyan farmer Joshua Nyaruri decided five years ago to switch from his drought-affected wheat to a new variety of beans. The beans are ready to harvest in half the time and yield twice as much as traditional bean varieties, with a much lower requirement for water.

Search for Common Ground has published the fifth module in its series of guidebooks intended to build the capacity of independent rural radio stations in Africa. Find out how to get your copy in the resource section.

Keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Tanzania: Farmers and officials exchange blame for drought-battered crops (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Editor’s note: Ugali is a stiff porridge-like food, made from maize flour, and popular in East Africa)

In recent years, drought has become a fact of life for Tanzanian farmers. The village of Misigiri is in the Iramba district of Singida Region, in Tanzania’s central plateau. This year, the worsening drought has pushed its farmers to the edge of disaster.

Data from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency show that Singida received 580 millimetres of rain last season, the lowest the region has ever recorded. During the recent long dry spell, maize, a staple food in the area, was particularly hard hit. Thousands of farmers will need food handouts until the next harvest.

Majaliwa Mrisho lost his entire maize crop to the drought, despite having access to a borehole. He says: “I am very shocked. This is a completely new phenomenon. The rain is usually enough to bring us good harvests, but that is not the case this season.”

He believes that farmers on Tanzania’s central plateau must adapt to changing weather patterns to survive.

Maize prices have doubled in the last year, and rice and beans have seen similar increases in central Tanzania. Many people now struggle to afford cereals.

The Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives Ministry says that over 16,000 households in Iramba are unable to feed themselves. Dr. Parseko Kone is the Singida regional commissioner. He says food distributions will fill the gap until the next harvest.

Local officials say they have been trying to persuade farmers to grow drought-tolerant crops. Farmers argue that the government should have made contingency plans.

Boniphace Temba is an official from the Singida regional government. He says: “We have tried our best to advise farmers to change their mindset and start growing resilient crops, but the response is not that good.”

Mwajuma Zakayo is a farmer from Misigiri. He says, “We did not cause this situation … we need assistance to support our families and keep hunger at bay.”

Some farmers admit they have failed to heed government calls to grow crops such as cassava, sorghum and millet to cushion their families from the threat of drought and hunger.

Most Tanzanian families prefer eating maize. Several farmers said that they did not want to grow and eat unfamiliar foods. Jaka Naligia is a 47-year- old farmer in Iramba. He says: “My children like ugali more than anything else because it gives them a lot of energy. How on earth can I give them ugali made of millet?”

Dr. Honest Prosper Ngowi is an economist and lecturer at Mzumbe University in Dar es Salaam. He says, “There are several varieties of drought–resistant maize which could be of great help to farmers in times of drought.” Last year, farmers in Makutupora village in Dodoma – also in the central plateau –increased yields by up to 50 per cent by using drought-resistant maize. Dr. Ngowi suggests that these varieties could be introduced more widely so that farmers don’t need to grow and eat unfamiliar crops.

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Uganda: Woman farmer improves her income with pineapples and soya (by Jasper Dan Okello, for Farm Radio Weekly in Uganda)

Ms. Josephine Acen made a meagre living by making and selling pancakes and growing a few crops. She operated her small business for several years, but never earned enough. Her life changed when she received new land and new knowledge.

Ms. Acen lives in Aboke sub-county, in the Kole district of northern Uganda. She often earned less than 100,000 Ugandan Shillings (less than $40 US) a month from her work. This was not enough to allow her to pay for her family’s basic necessities, and further her four children’s education.

Although the government provides free primary education for all, Ms. Acen could pay for only one of her children to attend secondary school.

Her uncle allowed her to move her family onto his land. Ms. Acen says: “My earning has increased since I moved in here to stay at [my uncle’s] place because I now have enough land.”

The Ugandan government operates the National Agricultural Advisory Services, or NAADS. After attending workshops run by NAADS, Ms. Acen harvested 15 bags of soya beans from one and a half hectares of land. At 750 Ugandan shillings per kilo, she earned one and a half million shillings (approximately $600 US). The money helped pay for her son’s university tuition.

Extension workers introduced her to new crops and techniques, including composting, intercropping and crop rotation. Ms. Acen applied her new knowledge immediately. She says, “The following season, I planted maize on the same land and earned about 900,000 Shillings ($350 US) extra.”

Denis Oyap is the NAADS coordinator for Aboke sub-county. He taught Ms. Acen to make her own compost from whatever raw materials were available on her small farm. She uses maize stalks and leaves, and the compost has helped her pineapples grow well. This year, she expects to earn about three million shillings ($1,175 US) from selling the fruit. With this income, she plans to build a permanent house.

Ms. Acen thinks that growing more than one cash crop works because it protects farmers against fluctuating prices. If one crop drops in price, farmers have a second option.

Her success has inspired her neighbours. They now visit her for advice on how growing more than one crop can make the most of their land. They, too, have learned to leave enough space in their fields to grow more food crops for their families.

Ms. Acen knows she was fortunate to move onto her uncle’s land and attend trainings through NAADS. She says, “If I had not moved to stay with my uncle, I couldn’t afford to pay school fees for my children and get more food.”

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Kenya: As wheat yields fall, farmers turn to beans (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

For many years, wheat fed Joshua Nyaruri‘s family and kept his income healthy. But lately he has been growing beans, a once-snubbed crop. Throughout the Rift Valley region, beans are growing in popularity.

Mr. Nyaruri has lived in Ole Leshua village in southwest Kenya for 60 years. He grew wheat, one of the most valued cereals in Kenya. But the unpredictable weather, possibly because of climate change, has led to a decline in wheat’s popularity.

He says: “When we expect rain, the dry season continues. When we need the sun to ripen the crop, continuous rains ensure the remaining grain wastes away in the [fields].”

A few farmers still grow wheat in this part of the Rift Valley. Charles Ngare has been growing the crop for almost three decades. He explains that at this time of year, wheat is normally blooming with fresh kernels. He says, “I think the slow maturity is because the rains [are] delayed.”

According to Mr. Nyaruri, many farmers are now switching to crops that can withstand the pressures of climate change, pests and disease. He thinks growing wheat is a waste of effort.

Mr. Nyaruri gave up on wheat five years ago and has no regrets. He is now threshing his bean harvest. He says, “I planted the beans in mid-December last year, and by early March I was harvesting.” He planted two kilograms of a new bean variety, which yielded a harvest of 65 kilograms. The crop took just two-and-a-half months to mature.

The new varieties were developed by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, also known as KARI. Animal pests appear to dislike them, which means that farmers face fewer pre-harvest losses. KARI scientists say the beans also need much less rainfall.

David Karanja is the coordinator of the green legume project at KARI. He explains that the new varieties need only 30 days from germination to flowering. Older varieties took 90 days. According to Mr. Karanja, the new varieties can yield twice as much as traditional legumes.

The new varieties also cook faster and are more nutritious. These factors endear them to people like Beatrice Kirui. She thinks they are a boost for her family’s diet. The 26-year-old mother of four cradles her four-month-old son and gently feeds him bean porridge outside her shop in Olereut village. She says, “I grind the beans into flour to make porridge. I use less firewood because this type cooks faster than the traditional one.”

As the climate changes in this area, new varieties offer hope for the future. With the beans proving popular with growers and consumers alike, farmers now have a crop which may give them a reliable source of income.

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Notes to broadcasters: Drought and drought-tolerance

The frequency and severity of drought is likely an effect of climate change (http://phys.org/news/2013-03-devastating-east-african-drought-climate.html ), and scientists are trying to determine whether this trend will continue (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118145354.htm). Whatever the cause of the weather events associated with the changing climate, it is undeniable that farmers will have to deal with changing and unpredictable weather patterns. It’s important to consider how to engage with your listeners on this subject.

The Kenyan farmer featured in this week’s story selected a new variety of beans to offset the diminishing yield and income from wheat. A recent story about new varieties of beans, “Cameroon: Bean farmer increases production with new variety,” can be found in FRW issue #241 through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/08/cameroon-bean-farmer-increases-production-with-new-variety-by-anne-mireille-nzouankeu-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-cameroon/. An accompanying Notes to broadcasters is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/08/notes-to-broadcasters-new-varieties/

In the story from Tanzania, Dr. Ngowi refers to drought-tolerant maize varieties grown in Dodoma. Notes to broadcasters on this subject are available, with stories and scripts, from issue #128 (September 20th, 2010) at this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/09/20/notes-to-broadcasters-on-new-drought-tolerant-maize-varieties/

Tanzanian authorities tried to encourage drought-stricken farmers to grow sorghum, millet and cassava. Notes to broadcasters on sorghum and millet were produced recently (issue #245, May 2013) and can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/05/06/notes-to-broadcasters-sorghum-and-millet/

A story from June 2011 (“Kenya: Re-discovering cassava during drought, issue #160) describes how a Kenyan farmer coped with drought by growing cassava instead of maize. It is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/20/kenya-re-discovering-cassava-during-drought-ips-daily-nation/. You can read Notes to broadcasters about the 2011 Kenyan drought here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/20/notes-to-broadcasters-on-drought-in-kenya-2/.  Information on the 2011-12 East African drought is also available through Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_East_Africa_drought

Kenyan farmers, along with their Tanzanian counterparts, favour maize because they prefer its taste to the taste of drought-resistant sorghum or millet. Read a story from issue #114 (“Kenya: Farmers use drought-resistant crops and improved access to water to adapt to climate change,” June 2010) here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/06/07/2-kenya-farmers-use-drought-resistant-crops-and-improved-access-to-water-to-adapt-to-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly-scientific-american/. The accompanying Notes to broadcasters are here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/06/07/notes-to-broadcasters-on-farmers-adapting-to-drought/

It is not just crops that are affected by droughts. A Notes to broadcasters on droughts and cattle from issue #211 can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/06/notes-to-broadcasters-on-drought-and-cattle/

Farmers can sometimes lessen the effects of drought though water harvesting systems. There are Notes to broadcasters on good harvests and water management available through this link: http://www.barzaradio.com/content/notes-broadcasters-good-harvests-and-water-management. It contains some suggestions on how to raise the subject of drought-preparedness on the radio.

For more information and resources on coping with climate change, consider the following Farm Radio International scripts:
Choosing crops for drought prone areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
Supply water directly to plant roots with pitcher and drip irrigation (Package 71, Script 10, June 2004)
Farmer Phiri uses infiltration pits to combat drought (Package 64, Script 6, July 2002)
The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002)
Dr. Compost talks about compost piles (Package 61, Script 6, October 2001)
A farmer practices zero grazing (Package 51, Script 3, February 1999)

You might also consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story, on one or both of the following topics:

1) Local climate change observations:
-What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
-Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than in previous decades?
-What differences in soil properties have been seen in recent decades?
-What changes in vegetation, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?

2) Local adaptation techniques:
-What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well suited to these new conditions?
-What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
-What steps have farmers used to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
-What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security when facing severe drought or floods?

The articles on which the stories from Kenya and Tanzania were based can be found through these links: Kenya – http://www.trust.org/item/20130425101036-z1ild/?source=nlexpr&utm_source=MailingList&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Expresso+25+April+2013; and Tanzania – http://www.trust.org/item/20130429131304-iuzfn/?source=hptop&utm_source=MailingList&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Expresso+30+April+2013

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Notes to broadcasters: Choosing to grow a greater range of crops

In this week’s story from Uganda, Ms. Acen decided to grow a wider range of crops. She is earning more income because she now produces goods for the market at different times of the year.

The following stories from previous editions of FRW also deal with crop choice:

-“Comoros: Farmer switches from growing luxury good to staple crops (FRW #238, March 2013) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/11/comoros-farmer-switches-from-growing-luxury-good-to-staple-crops-by-ahmed-bacar-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-comoros/

-“Congo-Brazzaville: Cassava scarce as farmers turn to growing pineapple” (FRW #219, October 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/10/09/congo-brazzaville-cassava-scarce-as-farmers-turn-to-growing-pineapple-by-john-ndinga-ngoma-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo-brazzaville/

-“Niger: Onion producers suffer from market glut” (FRW #202, May 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/05/28/niger-onion-producers-suffer-from-market-glut-ips/

-“Uganda: Organic certification allows farmers to tap export market” (FRW #68, June 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/01/2-uganda-organic-certification-allows-farmers-to-tap-export-market-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

-“Nigeria: Cassava waste is good food for goats” (FRW #54, February 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/02/02/nigeria-cassava-%E2%80%9Cwaste%E2%80%9D-is-good-food-for-goats-voa-news/

Issue #239 (March 2013) contained three stories about how farmers adapted their crops or their marketing in order to supply the market. You can find that issue here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/issue-239/

Many farmers frequently rethink the mix of crops they grow for reasons such as market changes, climate change, or promotion by NGOs. What sorts of choices and changes are farmers in your listening area making? Here are a couple of program ideas on the topic:

1) Host a call-in/text-in program inviting farmers to discuss their crop choices. If they’ve switched or introduced new crops in the past, what were their reasons and what were their results? If they have maintained the same crops while nearby farmers have made changes, what were their reasons and are they happy with their decision?

2) If you see a trend of farmers increasingly growing a new crop, interview some of the farmers about their decision. What do their farms look like now (for example, have they devoted some or all of their farms to the new crop or crops)? What have been the benefits and challenges of making the change? If some or all of their crops are non-food crops (such as coffee or cotton) what steps are they taking to ensure their family’s food security? While visiting areas where many farmers have made a change, see if you can find some farmers who have opted against change, and add their voices to the program.

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German Development Media Awards open for entries

African journalists are invited to participate in a contest organized by The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, in collaboration with Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster. The contest honours journalists reporting on human rights and development issues.

Entries must have been published or broadcast in print, radio, television or online media between January 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013. Works must be written in one of the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian or Spanish. An entry will also be accepted if written in another language broadcast by Deutsche Welle, but must then include a translation in one of the seven core languages.

The seven winners will receive cash prizes of EUR€2,000 (US$2,575) each. In addition, the contest will cover the costs of the winners to attend the awards ceremony on August 14, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.

The deadline is May 31.

For more information, as well as how to apply, visit: http://www.dw.de/top-stories/submit-an-entry/s-32303

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Training guide: Sustainability of community radios – Module 5

Search for Common Ground has published the fifth in a series of ten modules that provide guidance on various aspects of managing and operating community radio stations. The modules are intended to build the capacity of independent rural radio stations in Africa.

Module 5 is now available in English and French. The guidebooks provide practical advice to help improve administrative management, increase resource generation, use financial tools, and improve marketing strategies. They also provide guidelines for programming.

Module 5 continues the theme of the preceding module and elaborates on ways of involving community members in production and programming – a central feature of community radios.

It presents the notion of “public programming,” highlights the advantages of listeners’ clubs, and offers practical guidance to make programs genuinely participatory and community-oriented.

You may need to register for this site, but it is simple, fast and free to do so. You can download module 5 through this link:

http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/assets/texts/pdf/2013-manual-sustain-mod5-color-en.pdf. Or visit http://radiopeaceafrica.org and click the Guidebooks link on the left.

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Farmers get SMART through Farm Radio International

Farm Radio International is one of eight international and local organizations which have teamed up in northern Tanzania. The group has established an initiative that hopes to transform the lives of 3000 small-scale farmers in four northern Tanzanian districts by turning them into exporters.

Coordinated by World Vision Tanzania, the “Sustainable Market-Led Agriculture and Resource Management” initiative, or SMART, was launched in April. The project is designed to fit in with Tanzania’s new green revolution initiative, “Kilimo Kwanza!” or “Agriculture First!

Zelote Loilang’akaki is a manager for World Vision Tanzania. He says that, in addition to securing overseas markets for Tanzanian vegetables, SMART will work to ensure that the four districts will be food secure.

Farm Radio International will be training local radio stations to produce broadcasts which are directly relevant to farmers. These programs will back up the work of extension agents and make market information directly available to listeners.

For more information, follow this link: http://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/local-news/16266-eight-ngos-seek-to-boost-horticulture

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Farmers have important knowledge about weather and environmental change: Parts I and II

Today, much of the world depends on technologies such as satellites to predict the weather, and to provide warnings of drought, flooding, or extreme weather events. But there is also a place for traditional knowledge which has been handed down through generations to help people monitor changes in the weather. Some call these traditional early warning signs “old wives’ tales” and are quick to discredit them. But farmers in dry areas have ways of reading signs in their environment that predict weather patterns such as drought. These signs have helped them make decisions to ensure their own food security and survival.

You might wish to find out about traditional weather and climate indicators which are used in your region as early warnings for low rainfall and drought. You could share these with your listeners in creative formats. This week’s script is a two-part drama that shares information about traditional ways of forecasting drought.

http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?rscript=75-5script_en and http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?rscript=75-6script_en

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