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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 #263

Water: The driving force of all nature

Welcome to issue 263 of Farm Radio Weekly. In this week’s stories of African farmers rising to meet their daily challenges, we hear about the different impacts of water on farmers in Cameroon and Kenya.

Heavy rains have been damaging farmers’ crops in northern Cameroon. After harvest, farmers are having problems storing their crops. But now, farmers are working together and pooling their harvests in a purpose-built granary.

In Kenya, some Maasai pastoralists are turning to the soil as a source of food and income. Mrs. Margaret Noah and her husband are growing and selling fresh vegetables, aided by a drip irrigation scheme they have installed in their garden. With the sales of their crops, the couple is no longer completely reliant on their animals.

Our Script of the Week deals with an age-old problem: how best to store potatoes after harvest. Potatoes must be kept in airy, cool, dark, dry places. Mr. Githenya has discovered how to use sawdust to keep his potatoes fresh and saleable for months. Read more in the Script of the Week section.

Keep those radio waves crackling!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Community granary protects stored crops (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Heavy rains near Lake Chad often lead to floods which devastate farmers’ fields. But farmers in northern Cameroon have joined together to build community granaries which protect their harvests from the frequent deluges. One of these farmers is Ousmanou Garba.

Holding an empty basket in his arms, Mr. Garba walks towards a large building. He exchanges a few words with the site manager and then signs a document. A few minutes later, he emerges from the building with a basketful of millet. He explains, “I ​​came to this community granary to get some of the millet that I have been storing.”

Mr. Garba is a farmer from the village of Dougui in Cameroon’s Extreme North province. He grows millet and groundnuts.

The region is prone to heavy rains which sometimes wash crops from the fields. Even when farmers manage to harvest their crops, they often cannot afford to store what they have gathered for very long.

Mr. Garba found himself in this discouraging situation. He says: “I almost quit farming because I felt like I was wasting my time.” But the community granary has given him hope. He says: “This season I lost some of my crops, but that which I stored from last season is still there. At least I will not die of hunger. ”

Mr. Garba and other like-minded farmers organized themselves into a Common Initiative Group, or CIG. CIGs are comprised of people who come together voluntarily to work at the grassroots level for their own development and that of their communities. The community granary where Mr. Garba stores his millet is entirely run by farmers in the CIG.

It is usually too expensive for individual farmers in Dougui to build concrete granaries on their farms. So the farmers decided to band together and build the granary in a safe and dry location, away from watercourses to protect it from flooding.

Now, members of the CIG can deposit their surplus harvest in the community granary. They are free to take some of their harvest home or carry it to the market to sell at any time.

Farmers who are not members of the CIG can also benefit from the granary. Maimounatou Vandi is a farmer in Dougui. She says, “Once I had to borrow some maize from the community granary. I will replace that grain, with an additional fifth in interest, after my next harvest. I think it is a good initiative.” She would like to join the CIG after her next harvest.

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Kenya: Farmers use irrigation in pastoralist lands (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Margret Noah has completely changed the way she earns an income. The Maasai woman, from Kenya’s semi-arid Kajiado region 50 kilometres south of Nairobi, is turning away from pastoral and towards sedentary farming. Maasai pastoralists in Kenya generally rely on livestock as their major source of income, but increasing droughts have forced them to look for alternative ways to survive.

Mrs. Noah learned how to grow crops at her local information and resource centre. She and her husband have dedicated the fertile part of their land to growing potatoes, maize, and beans, as well as vegetables like kale, tomatoes and onions.

To ensure her crops are successful, Mrs. Noah uses drip irrigation. She positioned a raised plastic tank in the garden and connected it to some small plastic hosepipes. The hoses circulate water throughout her garden. Water drips slowly through holes in the pipes and soaks the soil next to the plants, helping them thrive.

Mrs. Noah says, “We are very lucky. We are able to fill up the big plastic tank from a borehole that we dug.”

Drip irrigation has been so successful that Mrs. Noah now earns a daily income selling crops to her neighbours. And by growing and eating her own green vegetables and tomatoes, she saves her family a lot of money.

Farmers in the dry northeastern part of Kenya are in dire need of water to grow crops. Some use river water for irrigation. James Mbungo and Sadei Ibrahim use local river water to grow maize, tomatoes, onions and paw paws in Isiolo County, about 200 kilometres northeast of Nairobi.

Ali Surray is an extension officer in Isiolo County. He believes the land has great potential for agriculture. Local farmers need irrigation water from rivers, he says, but a system is needed to ensure that the water is used properly. Mr. Surray adds, “There is a lot of water during rainy seasons and there is a need to harvest the water for irrigation.”

Back in Kajiado, Mrs. Noah no longer keeps a large herd of animals. She is happy to be supplementing the income she earns selling milk with the money she gets from selling crops.

She says: “We have moved from keeping animals because it takes up to five years for the animals to mature before you can sell some to get money. But with crop farming, you start earning money in three months.”

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Notes to broadcasters: Post-harvest storage

Farm Radio Weekly produced Notes to broadcasters on granaries in issue #145 (September 2011). You can access it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/21/notes-to-broadcasters-on-granaries/

FRW has also produced Notes to broadcasters on the Tethere silo and preventing post-harvest losses. Published in issue #120 (July 2010), these can be read at this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/19/notes-to-broadcasters-on-the-tethere-silo-and-preventing-post-harvest-losses/

For farmers, growing and harvesting a crop is only half the battle. Depending on the crop, a there can be several steps a farmer must complete before selling it, including processing, storage, transport and marketing. Each step can pose challenges for farmers, and result in the loss of some or much of the crop. Read more in Farm Radio Resource Pack #79 (November 2006) at this address: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-79/

More scripts on post-harvest handling and storage are available:

Farmer uses good yam storage practices and improves his life was Script of the week in February 2011 and can be read here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/07/farmer-uses-good-yam-storage-practices-and-improves-his-life/.

Powder of Little Pepper Protects Stored Rice is available in resource pack #81 (August 2007) via this link: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-81/, as is A Local Plant Prevents Pest Damage to Stored Seeds.

Protect Stored Grain from Beetle Damage is available in Farm Radio Resource Pack #72: Integrated Pest Management Strategies for Farmers (September 2004) and can be accessed at this address: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-72-integrated-pest-management-strategies-for-farmers/.

A script from FRRP #89 (December 2009), Story ideas on crop storage and climate change, can be read here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-89/story-ideas-on-crop-storage-and-climate-change/.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has produced several informative manuals on post-harvest practices. These include African experience in the improvement of post-harvest techniques (1998), which can be read here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/w1544e/W1544E00.htm#Contents; Grain storage techniques: Evolution and trends in developing countries (1994), which is available here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/t1838e/T1838E00.htm#Contents; and Prevention of post-harvest food losses: fruits, vegetables and root crops a training manual (1989), which you can download through this link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0073e/t0073e00.htm. FAO’s very useful Post-harvest Compendium is available here: http://www.fao.org/inpho/inpho-post-harvest-compendium/en/

A more recent work by The World Bank, Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa (2011), is available here: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/MissingFoods10_web.pdf; and you can browse the 150-page Staple Foods Storage Handbook (USAID, 2011) at this address: http://www.acdivoca.org/site/Lookup/StorageHandbook/$file/StorageHandbook.pdf.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) works to make grain storage more accessible to resource-poor farmers in Africa and Central America. Metal silos lock out maize pests in Africa can be read here (http://www.cimmyt.org/en/news-and-updates/item/metal-silos-lock-out-maize-pests-in-africa), and there is more information on CIMMYT’s website at: http://www.cimmyt.org/en/

How do your listeners store their harvests? Are they forced to sell their crops at harvest time, or can they store them until the price is right? Why not interview farmers to find out? You may discover hidden local knowledge on how to store crops without suffering damaging losses.

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Notes to broadcasters on irrigation

Recent Notes to broadcasters on water management were included in Farm Radio Weekly issue #257 (August 2013, http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/08/19/notes-to-broadcasters-water-management/)

Farmers boost yields, income with small-scale irrigation systems (Issue #215, September 2012) raises the topic of irrigation systems. It is available through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/03/farmers-boost-yields-income-with-small-scale-irrigation-systems-international-water-management-institute/

The phrase “irrigation scheme” may conjure up visions of immense government-built structures or elaborate equipment on large-scale farms. But small-scale, farmer-run irrigation schemes can be accessible and innovative.

Past Farm Radio Weekly stories have looked at small-scale irrigation methods and how they can help farmers boost their food security and income:

Zimbabwe: Irrigation schemes bring hope for women in Insist district (FRW 193, March 2012): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/03/19/zimbabwe-irrigation-schemes-bring-hope-for-women-in-insiza-district-by-zenzele-ndebele-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-zimbabwe/
Zimbabwe: Collecting rainfall in the city (FRW 141, January 2011): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/17/zimbabwe-collecting-rainfall-in-the-city-ips/
Senegal: Drip irrigation boosts dry season production (FRW 30, July 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/07/28/senegal-drip-irrigation-boosts-dry-season-production-christian-science-monitor/
Zimbabwe: Livestock farmers adapt to new climate (FRW 27, June 2008): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/06/30/zimbabwe-livestock-farmers-adapt-to-new-climate-zimbabwe-standard/
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/

Farm Radio International has published a number of scripts on water topics, including irrigation. You can browse them at: http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?scriptcat=water

You might wish to develop a program that looks at appropriate irrigation options for farmers, especially if you broadcast to areas where water is scarce. Try to find farmers or farmers’ groups with successful irrigation activities. Present a range of examples − from simple ideas like using watering cans to conserve water, to larger-scale initiatives like river diversion schemes. Research the advantages and disadvantages of each, and explain that different irrigation techniques suit different situations.

Consider what information farmers need when planning to irrigate their farms. For example, is a watering can all that is needed? Do farmers have the financial resources to invest in drip irrigation? Can water be pumped from a stream? How? Is it feasible to invest in rainwater or surface water harvesting? You might want to interview irrigation specialists who can outline some of the many technical factors to consider.

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

Zambia slashes farmer subsidies

The Zambian government has removed subsidies for farmers and millers because the expenditure is perceived as draining the country’s resources.

The loss of subsidies has angered the Zambia National Farmers Union, or ZNFU, which said the move was “ill-timed.” The ZNFU warned that any reduction in support for beleaguered Zambian farmers could threaten maize production and national food security.

About 900,000 small-scale farmers are likely to be affected. ZNFU spokesperson Kakoma Kaleyi said many farmers could not afford to buy fertilizer even before the subsidies were cut.

According to an NGO that calculates the monthly cost of a basket of household essentials, prices have been rising since the subsidies were removed. The NGO’s spokesperson said the price of maize meal had risen, adding “The effects of [the] removal of subsidies on basic food items are deepening.”

Read the full story at: http://www.irinnews.org/report/98849/removing-subsidies-in-zambia-the-way-to-go

Food crisis looms in Zimbabwe

In a recent statement, the United Nations World Food Programme, or WFP, predicts significant food shortages in Zimbabwe during parts of 2014, with one in four rural people expected to need food assistance. The WFP says Zimbabwe will need over two million tonnes of maize next year.

Since the seizure of white-owned commercial farms, food production has decreased significantly in Zimbabwe. According to a report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the contribution of commercial farms to national grain production has dropped by two-thirds over the past 20 years.

Gibson Nhari is an agricultural extension officer in Mashonaland Central Province, 150 kilometres outside the capital, Harare. He says the looming food shortages are due to the inability of small-scale farmers to purchase inputs like seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, and that this has resulted in poor yields across the country.

Officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party have blamed the food shortages on sanctions imposed by Western countries.

Read the full story at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/mugabes-policies-starve-zimbabweans/

Nigeria’s Fulani find urban markets for milk

Nigeria’s nomadic Fulani herders often struggle to sell their milk and cheese in towns, earning as little as $2 per day. The reason: Urban dwellers are worried about hygiene standards.

But some Fulani have begun supplying fresh milk to a multinational beverage company, FrieslandCampina WAMCO. The company has built milk collection centres across the country, and is training herders to help maximize production and improve hygiene.

Milk collected at the centres is cooled and transported to the company’s factory in Lagos. As a result, Fulanis have a new market which pays them $6 US for ten litres of milk.

Read more at: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/38-spore/32/7668-dairy-165-en

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Call for submissions: CDM African Radio Contest 2013

The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has announced the launch of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) African Radio Contest 2013. This year, the contest winners will be awarded a prize of $2,000 US.

Under the Clean Development Mechanism, greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in developing countries can earn certified emission reduction credits. These credits can be used by industrialized countries to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. You can read more about the CDM here: http://cdm.unfccc.int/about/index.html

Under the theme “Changing Lives,” the contest is designed to spread the word about the benefits of CDM in Africa, especially in under-represented regions of the continent. African broadcasters and freelancers are invited to grab their microphone and recorder and create a compelling radio story that answers the question: “How can my community/city/country benefit from the CDM?”

Radio stories will be judged on originality, technical excellence, clarity of message, thoroughness of investigation, level of professionalism and presentation skills. The “Wow Factor” is also very important, so radio stories should be able to generate and hold listeners’ interest.

The deadline for submissions is October 31. For more information, please visit this link: https://cdm.unfccc.int/about/multimedia/africanradiocontest/2013/index_html

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World Food Day 2013: Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition

The United Nations celebrates World Food Day on October 16. This year’s focus is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”

Almost 870 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished. Unsustainable development is degrading the natural environment and threatening global ecosystems, along with the biodiversity that will be needed for the world’s future food supply.

The World Food Day website features resources and links to related topics, and can be accessed through this address: http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/home/en/

In keeping with the theme of the Day, the United Nations suggests considering the following questions:

What would a sustainable food system look like?

Is it possible to get from here to there?

What would need to change to move us in that direction?

Why not raise these questions with a panel of local farmers and extension agents in your listening community? Ask your listeners to call in with their opinions about what is and what is not sustainable. You could also ask children what they want from the future. The Day is an opportunity to explore these and other questions, and help bring about a sustainable future for all.

There is a World Food Day poster available for download at this link: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/getinvolved/images/low-res-WFD-EN.pdf

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Farm Radio International: New audio postcard available

This year, Farm Radio International created a new method for communicating its work to the public: the audio postcard.

Janelle Meager volunteers at the Farm Radio International office in Accra, Ghana, where she is sharing her experience as an audio engineer with FRI and its partner radio stations, BAR FM and Royal FM.

On a recent field trip to the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana, the team conducted focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews with farmers who listen to the Cashew Hour radio program.

One of the farmers Janelle spoke with is Adu Agi Trun. You can listen to his views on the impact of the cashew campaign through this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/10/02/audio-postcard-an-interview-with-cashew-farmer-adu-agi-trun/

If you would like to revisit other audio postcards, please go to our audio postcard archive webpage at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/category/audio-postcard/

For more information about Farm Radio International, please visit our website at: www.farmradio.org

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Sawdust prolongs the storage life of potatoes

This week’s story from Cameroon underlines how important it is to have good storage facilities, and to use good storage practices.

Even more than most growers, potato farmers need good storage facilities and practices. Storing potatoes is a big challenge for growers. Potato farmers harvest their whole crop at the same time. This floods the market and means that farmers receive low prices.

Potatoes spoil if they are left for long in the field when they are ready for harvest. And potatoes do not last long in storage unless proper practices are used. When in storage, they can be attacked by pests, especially disease organisms. This can lead to great losses for farmers, losses which have serious impacts on food security and income. It also contributes to high consumer prices when the crop is out of season.

This script highlights a creative approach to storing potatoes. An innovative farmer uses sawdust to preserve his potatoes for a longer period of time. The story shows how local farmers are innovating to address the challenges they face on the farm.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-90/sawdust-prolongs-the-storage-life-of-potatoes/

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