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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 #247

Water is life: Collect it, or work with what you have

Welcome to issue #247 of Farm Radio Weekly. This week, we bring you stories from Burundi and Namibia, and news of land grabbing in Mozambique.

May 22 is the annual “International Day for Biological Diversity.” In line with this year’s theme of “water and biodiversity,” our first two stories focus on water.

From Burundi comes the story of Immaculate Mukahigiro, who realized that she could improve her access to water if she built a tank to collect rainfall. Now, she can water her gardens, feed her family and wash her clothes without having to walk to the village water source.

Northern Namibia’s rains are unpredictable. But one farmer has figured out when the rains are likely to start, and learned to plant early to ensure that his millet receives the maximum benefit from the skies.

Land grabbing, whether for commercial gain or conservation, is an issue which will not go away. In rural Mozambique, thousands of small-scale farmers and their families are being moved out of their homes and businesses as large companies move in to the area.

And finally, Farm Radio International’s “Farmers and agricultural value chains” e-discussion starts on June 3. Radio broadcasters can play a vital role by helping farmers be more involved with agricultural value chains. If you’re interested in learning more, read the full announcement in the “Action” section.

Happy reading!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Burundi: Collecting rainwater eases water problems (by Jean de Dieu Ininahazwé, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Immaculate Mukahigiro decided she had had enough of the erratic rainfall. The long drought showed no signs of ending. The 46-year-old farmer, from the village of Nyakizu in northern Burundi, had harvested nothing for three years.

So she decided to set up a system to harvest rainwater. Ms. Mukahigiro explains: “I could not collect more than one basket [of vegetables] per field and I could barely feed my family. In the market, vegetables are expensive. So I had the idea in 2011 to build a cistern to capture rainwater.”

Erratic rainfall is common in northern Burundi. It’s difficult for farmers to find water for household use or to grow food. Farmers struggle to water their kitchen gardens. The village of Nyakizu had only one source of drinking water. More than 600 households used it daily. Ms. Mukahigiro had to walk more than one kilometre to reach it.

Through a project funded by the international NGO, Oxfam-NOVIB, Ms. Mukahigiro built a tank to collect rainwater. The tank allows her to irrigate her vegetables and harvest enough to provide her family with at least two meals a day.

Mrs. Mukahigiro has four vegetable gardens now. She can harvest up to seven baskets from each garden. She adds, happily: “I grow cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants and peppers. The family consumes 70% of the production and I sell the remaining 30%.” With the money she earned, she built a second tank to collect rainwater runoff.

The cube-shaped tank is built of wooden planks lined with a tarpaulin. It sits on a foundation of stone and concrete, and has a tap. A system of gutters collects the rainwater. With two tanks, Ms. Mukahigiro can store up to 8000 litres of water.

Joseph Nzimana is agricultural extension worker who is in charge of the project supported by Oxfam-NOVIB. He explains: “When our organization [Confederation of Associations of Agricultural Producers for development] received funding for the humanitarian project in this area, I immediately thought of Mrs. Mukahigiro’s project: building a cistern for collecting rainwater.” The project has built tanks for four households. There are plans to build 15 more to benefit other households.

Forty-four-year-old Joselyne Miburo is a beneficiary of the project. She says, “Mukahigiro inspired us. Everyone speaks of her in our village, and our lives have changed thanks to this innovation.” Ms. Miburo earned 120,000 Burundian Francs ($80 US) from her two vegetable gardens. She says, “It was my best production: six baskets per field. With [rainwater] runoff, we earn more.”

Ms. Mukahigiro’s 16 year-old daughter, Mireille Niyonzima, is proud of her mother. The rainwater tanks have changed their lives. She says, “Today, we drink water from the tank after it has been boiled. We can do the dishes and laundry every two days. It’s fantastic!”

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Namibia: Early planting helps small-scale farmers adapt to drought (by Johanna Absalom, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Rainfall is unpredictable in northern Namibia. Over the past decade, drought has stopped many small-scale farmers from growing enough food or earning enough income. This year is no exception, as the region suffers another dry spell.

But Mr. Agatus Timoteus will enjoy a good harvest of pearl millet. He planted early, and his crop was already fully developed when drought hit.

Everyone in Oshaandja village knows the 81-year-old farmer. Mr. Timoteus is always the first to prepare his land, sow his seeds, and harvest his crops.

Mr. Timoteus says that this is the secret behind getting a bumper harvest in the face of adverse weather. Every year, he sows his field by November 13. Most other farmers in his area sow between late November and early December.

Farmers who plant later are affected by every drought. So where did Mr. Timoteus learn to plant early? He explains: “I learned this from my late parents, who observed that rain falls by the 15 November … This method has been working for me.”

But early planting is not enough, says Mr. Timoteus. To get bumper yields during a drought, farmers must be innovative and committed. Mr. Timoteus says: “I slash my field, which my fellow farmers do not do. I apply a composted mixture of millet stalks and cow dung that I progressively make over two years before applying it in the field.”

Ms. Hilaria Ankama is a local small-scale farmer who adopted Mr. Timoteus’ methods. She says, “I realized that Mr. Timoteus’ early timing in farming was a good trend to adopt.” She now keeps a close eye on what he does, how he does it, and when he does it. By observing him closely, she learns. When Mr. Timoteus starts his farming activities, Ms. Ankama starts too.

Local people call Mr. Timoteus the farmer that works even on Sundays. This is unusual for the Christian community in his area. But Mr. Timoteus, who is a Christian, works on Sundays to ensure that he prepares his land on time. Although Sunday is seen as a day of rest, he says, “I will not let my work pile up merely because it’s a Sunday.”

Being an early bird has its challenges. Mr. Timoteus explains, “Because I plant early, my field is prone to bird attacks that destroy the crops.” Fortunately, his family has worked out a solution. Until the crop is well-established, they spend their days frightening birds away by banging watering cans together.

Because he planted his four hectares of pearl mille early this year, Mr. Timoteus predicts a bumper harvest of 3,500 kilograms. This is an increase from last year’s 2,900 kilograms. A 25-kilogram sack of pearl millet sells for about $8 US in Namibia, so Mr. Timoteus can earn over $1100 US. He is hopeful that his increased yields will attract more customers and increase his profits.

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Mozambique: Land grabs force farmers off land (New Internationalist)

Sandrina Muaco is one of the six per cent of Mozambicans who make it past the age of 50. She lives in Maurunga village, in Chiure district, in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. Hers is one of 171 households displaced by foreign and domestic companies who have moved in on the fertile fields near the Lurio River.

Ms. Muaco’s six hectares of cashew trees were cleared to make way for Eco-Energia de Moçambique’s sugar processing plant. She recalls, “We used to spend a week picking nuts every harvest. I would sell the cashews and make alcohol from the fruits. The land produced a lot.”

In Chuire district, investors are seeking agricultural land for everything from bananas to biofuels. Like 80 per cent of Mozambicans, villagers here rely on agriculture to survive. But Muaco wasn’t a subsistence farmer. Her plot was four times the size of the average land holding. Eco-Energia paid $664 in compensation for Muaco’s trees and house, which were cleared to make way for the sugar cane plantation.

But two years on, the money has been spent on a new home, clothes, and renting an exhausted plot of land nearby. Ms. Muaco now scratches out a living growing cassava and maize. She concludes, “I lost everything.”

The sugar factory, as yet unused, now occupies the spot where Sandrina Muaco’s cashew trees once stood. In the long term, Eco-Energia hopes to get control of 30,000 hectares across the province, export organic sugar to Europe, and distil bioethanol.

Villagers say they did not know what they were getting into. Martiño Silva is the village’s traditional leader. He thought the lease was for four years. When Eco-Energia asked them for land, Mr. Silva says the villagers agreed. He explains, “We thought it would be a small area by the river. Then they said they needed more.”

Elsewhere in Chiure, villagers have lost access to valuable common resources. The German mining firm Graphite Kropfmühl cordoned off forests around scores of exploration sites. Farmers are cut off from seasonal staples such as wild tubers and beans, as well as bush meat, firewood, bamboo and medicinal plants.

One local woman blames the chef de aldea, the lowest ranking government official, for signing away her cashew, banana and mango trees. She now rents a plot half a day’s walk from her house. Aching muscles mean she can farm only every other day. Other villagers say the compensation process lacked transparency and was haphazard, missing some families altogether.

Luis Muchanga is with the national peasants’ union, UNAC. He likens the competition for land to a race. He says: “Companies have a strong appetite. There’s a lot of them, chasing resources. Internally, this sparks speculation, which goes beyond the capacity of local government [to regulate].”

As the United Nations Development Programme pointed out in its 2012 Human Development Report, “Private investors naturally prioritize their own objectives, not the well-being of the poor and the vulnerable.” UNAC land activist Diamantino Nhampossa puts it more bluntly: “The people are being cheated.”

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Notes to broadcasters: Rainwater harvesting

Interest in rainwater harvesting has increased in recent decades, as farmers face increasingly erratic weather patterns. Collecting rainwater for domestic use can be affordable and easy to set up in most households. Notes to broadcasters on this subject from Farm Radio Weekly issue #141 (January 2011) are available through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/17/notes-to-broadcasters-on-rainwater-harvesting-2/

More information is available from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainwater_harvesting

The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance was created in Geneva in November 2002. You can visit their website through this address: http://www.irha-h2o.org/

There is a wealth of information and lists of further resources on water harvesting in this Farm Radio International issue pack:
Water harvesting: an issue pack (Package 89, Script 3, December 2009) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/89-3script_en.asp

Farm Radio Weekly has published some stories on water harvesting, including:

-Sahel: Fighting malnutrition with local food security and water management initiatives (FRW #122, August 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/08/02/sahel-fighting-malnutrition-with-local-food-security-and-water-management-initiatives-irin-rfi-reuters-bbc-icrisat/

Zimbabwe: Collecting rainfall in the city (FRW #141, January 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/17/zimbabwe-collecting-rainfall-in-the-city-ips/

-Kenya: Rainwater harvesting improves rural livelihoods (FRW #15, March 2008)   http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/03/17/1-kenya-rainwater-harvesting-improves-rural-livelihoods-various-sources/.

If you want to create programs on water harvesting, you could talk to progressive farmers, older traditional farmers, organic farmers, NGOs with an interest in water or in adapting to climate change, and governments or companies with an interest in water.

Find out whether any farmers harvest rainwater or surface water in your listening area.

-What methods do they use? Are these methods effective when there is an extended period of low rainfall?

-Do farmers make collective efforts to harvest rainwater? Has the government or have NGOs helped these efforts? What are the results of efforts to harvest rainwater or surface water?

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Notes to broadcasters: Land grabbing

We based our story about land grabbing on an article which can be found through this link: http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/22044. Many more stories on land grabbing are available here: http://farmlandgrab.org/cat/show/134

Information about land grabbing can be found on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_grabbing

Farm Radio Weekly has covered land grabbing recently, and Notes to broadcasters from issue #242 can be read here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/notes-to-broadcasters-on-land-grabs/ The story for which these Notes were produced can be accessed here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/news-brief-tanzanian-maasai-to-lose-land-to-%E2%80%98green-land-grab%E2%80%99-agencies/

Land grabbing emerged as a hot issue when global food prices spiked in 2007-2008. The term is usually used to refer to international players acquiring vast areas of land in developing nations. Yet land grabbing presents a complex picture and takes many forms.

The Transnational Institute has produced an online downloadable primer on the subject. It addresses basic questions such what land grabbing is and how it occurs. It also discusses the history of land grabs, attempts to identify what is new about it, and considers who or what are the main drivers of the current wave of land grabbing.

The document discusses how the relationship between land and water affects land grabs and asks what systemic changes are needed to end the practice, as well as describing resistance to land grabbing.

Visit http://www.tni.org/primer/global-land-grab to read the primer, or download the complete primer here:  http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/landgrabbingprimer-feb2013.pdf

Robin Palmer is a Land Rights Adviser with Mokoro, an Oxford, UK-based consultancy that promotes sustainable development. He recently gave a presentation entitled, “Land grabbing in Africa.” The text is available through this link: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=22366

Farm Radio International has issued an “audio postcard,” which touches on women and land grabs in Ghana. You can download and listen to it by clicking on this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/05/13/audio-postcard-women-and-landgrabs-in-ghana/

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The Global Shining Light Award

Every year, dozens of journalists and media workers are killed, and hundreds more attacked, imprisoned, or threatened, just for doing their job. The Committee to Protect Journalists says that the number of journalists killed each year covering crime and corruption is equal to the number killed covering wars.

In October 2013, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference will present the fifth Global Shining Light Award. This award honours investigative journalism in a developing or transitioning country which is conducted under threat, duress, or in the direst of conditions.

The award is open to journalists, journalism teams, or media outlets that provide independent investigative reporting which originates in a developing or emerging country. The submission must have been produced in a situation where the journalist(s) faced arrest, imprisonment, or threats of violence or other intimidation against them or their families. It must have been broadcast or published between April 2, 2011 and December 31, 2012.

If the original piece is not in English, a full translation or lengthy summary of its key findings must be provided in English.

The award will be announced and presented at a public forum at the global conference, held October 12 to 15, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner will receive an honorary plaque and US$1,000, as well as airfare and funds to cover daily expenses.

Deadline for submissions is June 15, 2013. Details of how to apply can be found here: http://gijn.org/awards/

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International Day for Biological Diversity − 22 May

Water is essential for life. No living being on planet Earth can survive without it. It is a prerequisite for human health and well-being and for the preservation of the environment.

Water and Biodiversity is the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB). The theme was chosen to coincide with the United Nations designation of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation. Focusing on water provides the public with an opportunity to raise awareness about this vital issue, and to increase positive action.

Read the announcement at: https://www.cbd.int/doc/notifications/2012/ntf-2012-138-idb-en.pdf

More information can be found at the IDB website: https://www.cbd.int/idb/

A booklet about the aims of the day is available through this link: https://www.cbd.int/idb/doc/2013/booklet/idb-2013-booklet-en.pdf

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Save the date: ‘Farmers and agricultural value chains’ e-discussion starts June 3!

Agricultural value chains are a hot topic these days. Radio broadcasters can play a vital role by helping farmers be more involved with agricultural value chains. If you’re interested in learning more, Farm Radio International, with support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), is offering a three-week e-discussion on farmers and agricultural value chains, starting June 3.

The e-discussion will introduce the topic of agricultural value chains, demonstrate the role radio can play in supporting farmers to be more involved in agricultural value chains, and encourage participants to develop ideas for value chain programming based on the needs of their farming audiences.

If you are interested in participating, please go to the following link and complete a survey http://fluidsurveys.com/s/farmers-value-chains/langeng/. It will take only 10 minutes to complete. By completing the survey and a second survey we will send you at the end of the e-discussion, you will be entered in a draw to receive one of four Sansa recorders!

The e-discussion is offered in English and in French on the new and improved Barza website! Barza is a social networking site for rural radio broadcasters.

Next week, we will send instructions on how to log on to the new Barza and be part of the discussion.

Mark your calendars, save the date, and tell your friends!

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Catch rain from your roof

Many rural people find it difficult to access water for drinking, washing or irrigating. This situation is likely to become more serious in many parts of Africa because of the rising temperatures associated with the changing climate.

This week’s story from Burundi talks about capturing rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is one response to the problem of difficult access to water. This script discusses some of the factors that should be considered when planning a rainwater catchment system that collects water from either sloped and flat rooftops. This information will be of special interest to women who walk a long way to fetch water for the household.


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