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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 #265

Storing, trading and adapting to a changing climate

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #265. This week we feature stories from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.

Storing your harvest to feed your family or to sell when markets are more favourable is an essential part of farming life. But farmers face a tough choice when deciding how best to prevent their hard-earned crops from spoiling while in storage. In Cameroon, farmers are choosing between expensive modern methods and the traditional ways taught by Grandma.

Farmers in the South Kivu district of the eastern DRC were struggling to produce enough food for themselves, let alone the market. But traders from Rwanda began importing much needed farming inputs. As a result, the Congolese farmers are now reaping bounteous harvests and exporting food.

Pastoralists often live and raise their herds in environmentally fragile areas. Borena herders in southern Ethiopia are trying to adapt to a changing climate, diminishing water supplies and increasing pressure on scarce resources.

Don’t forget: If there are stories about farmers in your area that you think should be shared with the rest of our audience, you are welcome to send them to us via farmradioweekly@farmradio.org or proberts@farmradiotz.org. Your story could be read by over 3,000 subscribers in Africa and around the world!

All the best from us to you!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Food losses plague farmers (Global Press Journal)

Women and children with logs of wood on their heads emerge from the forest in Misaje, a village in the Northwest region of Cameroon. They have been collecting firewood for cooking. Margareta Nkenda is one of these women. She also uses the wood to preserve stored maize and other crops.

She places her maize in the thatched ceiling of her kitchen, then lights a fire on the kitchen floor to dry the cobs. Mrs. Nkenda says, “Growing up, my grandmother taught me how to farm and also how to preserve our food traditionally, and that’s how we do it.”

The process requires a lot of firewood. Mrs. Nkenda says, “If we don’t burn as much wood as we do, the maize will get bad. When the maize is well-dried, we store it well away from rats and pests.”

Some of her maize will last for a year, and she is satisfied with this result. But she loses around one-third of her crop to disease and pests. And sometimes, she has to sell what remains cheaply to prevent further losses.

Boukari Ayessaki is a senior advisor at the Dutch international NGO, SNV. He says that up to 40 per cent of the maize produced in Cameroon is lost after harvest or during processing.

Mr. Ayessaki says most post-harvest processes used by farmers are affordable and accessible, but inefficient. Because the practices do not completely protect stored crops against insects and rodents, farmers lose a large percentage of their harvest. Mr. Ayessaki recommends that small-scale farmers use traditional storage cribs such as those made from bamboo, as modern cribs are too expensive.

Peter Tanyi works for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northwest region. He says most small-scale farmers cannot use large silos unless they merge their harvests together. But if they share the same silo, it is difficult to determine which maize belongs to which farmer.

Bah Salifu Ndichengoh is a large-scale maize farmer in Ndop, a town in the Northwest region. He harvests an estimated three to five tonnes of maize per hectare. But some years, he loses up to two tonnes per hectare during and after harvest.

Mr. Ndichengoh says: “In our community, technology and infrastructure to help us preserve and store our harvests is limited. Most people resort to traditional methods [of] preserving by drying in their [kitchens] or using cypress leaves to keep weevils away from the maize.”

He says that training is available on methods to preserve food and prevent losses. With the help of SNV and extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Ndichengoh learned how to construct a modern crib, then used his own funds to build it.

Mrs. Nkenda knows about modern maize cribs and silos. But she and the farmers in her area use traditional bamboo cribs because they cannot afford to build modern storage structures.

She says that she will continue to make do with traditional methods until she has access to better technologies.

Mrs. Nkenda says, “Thanks to the methods of preservation which we learned from our grandparents and parents, we have some hope that what we cultivate will not be lost.”

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Congo-Kinshasa: Rwandan traders help develop agriculture in South Kivu (Syfia Grands Lacs)

Congolese farmers in South Kivu district have boosted their yields and transformed their lives over the past two years. The farmers are benefiting from the improved availability of agricultural inputs, brought by Rwandan traders crossing the border to find food to supply their own markets.

Mashii Mwagalwa owns a farm in Kamanyola, about 30 kilometres south of Bukavu. He says: “[The traders] take our harvest back to their country to treat and process it. Then they bring [some of it] back to us as flour … already packed in 25 or 50 kg sacks.”

Riziki Estella is a Bukavu farmer who opened a maize and cassava flour warehouse. He says the Rwandans could not find enough food to supply their own markets. So they decided to help Congolese farmers improve their yields to help address the Rwandan shortfall.

Until the traders arrived, the supply of good quality agricultural inputs in South Kivu was poor. The Rwandans realized that local farmers needed good quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. So the traders started supplying them with imported Rwandan inputs on credit. The debts were repaid after harvest.

Congolese farmers are benefiting from the arrangement. Their yields have improved, especially the maize and cassava that the traders export to Rwanda.

Serge Mashanga farms on the Rusizi plain in South Kivu. He says: “I pay school fees for my children thanks to my farming being supported by a Rwandan businessman. He provides me with pesticides on credit, and I pay him for them after harvest.”

The venture has proved so lucrative that Mr. Mashanga intends to expand his cropping area to three hectares next growing season.

Many farmers no longer have to take inputs on credit, as they can now afford to buy them upfront. Baudouin Luminino is one farmer who has seized this opportunity.

Mr. Luminino says, “Before they arrived, my wife and I were not able to [grow in large quantities]. Today we regularly buy pesticides ourselves, and thanks to them our plants are very healthy.” He adds that they also rely on the Rwandan traders to supply seeds of high-yielding cereals.

Local farmers are grateful for the initiative shown by the Rwandans. They say that without them, their harvests were too low to make a decent living.

The Rwandan traders have changed the markets in South Kivu. Because there is more flour available, the price has dropped. A 25-kilo bag of semolina flour now costs $14-20 US. Two years ago, it was $16-22 US. The price of cassava flour has been cut in half. Farmers are growing and selling more crops, and paying less for their food. This is a business deal in which everyone wins.

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Ethiopia: Pastoralists struggle with drying environment (Alertnet)

Dida Gemechu is in his fifties and has never known life to be so hard. The Borena pastoralist from Oromia State in southern Ethiopia relies on cattle for his livelihood. But the increasingly frequent droughts have made it harder to find enough water for his livestock.

Pastoralists make up eleven per cent of Ethiopia’s population, though they occupy more than 60 per cent of the country’s land. Pastoralists are especially vulnerable to changing weather patterns.

Mr. Gemechu says population growth has caused conflicts between pastoralists and farmers over grazing land. Many pastoralists have had to reduce the size of their herds.

Herd size is a traditional status symbol for the Borena. These days, a prominent family might have a herd of 500 animals, half the number they used to have. And a typical family might care for 150 or 200 cattle, many fewer than in the past.

Dida Kampara is head of the Oromia Pastoral Technical and Vocational Education College. He does not think pastoralists need to change their livelihoods completely, but must adapt by reducing the size of their herds.

Mr. Kampara says pastoralists also need to protect forests and keep grazing land clear of underbrush. He says, “There has been an invasion of alien shrubs that have been decimating … the natural flora of this semi-arid area.”

Ethiopian authorities encourage people to uproot the invasive shrubs and burn them for fuel. But some impoverished pastoralists are also chopping down native trees to sell as charcoal to city dwellers. Mr. Kampara says that forests are especially vital in this area, where there are no rivers within 300 kilometres. When trees are cut, the soil dries out.

The impact of deforestation is serious for pastoralists. And because they depend on a few livestock species in a fragile environment, they have much more to lose than other communities.

Some pastoralists are using traditional methods to manage their resources and adapt to the changing environment. The Borena still practise the traditional Gadaa system, a complex arrangement of social and political rules. Gadaa is used by the Borena and other clans from the Oromo ethnic group to define boundaries, ownership and other legal matters without resort to the Ethiopian courts.

Mr. Gemechu says, “We … slaughter a [cow] near boreholes … as a way of warding away other communities from sharing the finite resource, or to prevent any kind of deforestation in the area surrounding the water point.”

An animal’s blood near the borehole indicates to other pastoralists that the water source has already been claimed. Those who jump the queue for water, or cut trees near boreholes, can be fined.

The Borena say this method has helped them reduce often-deadly conflicts between themselves and other clans. It helps them conserve their resources as available pastures shrink and droughts worsen.

The Borena have added camels and goats to their herds because of these animals’ resilience and ability to graze on almost any plant. Many use a rotational grazing system and fence their cattle during the dry season. Some are growing crops such as beans which mature quickly in the short period of good rain.

But Mr. Kampara believes the most effective way for the Borena to adapt to the changing climate is to find good markets for their livestock. He says, “Borena cattle are renowned for their quality in Ethiopia, but because of distance from markets [they] have been unable to be a boon for the pastoralists.”

Mr. Gemechu says that their remoteness from central markets makes pastoralists vulnerable to exploitation by local middlemen. He would like the Ethiopian government to open up markets with northern Kenya, so that he can trade cattle there.

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Notes to broadcasters: Climate change

Climate change is an ongoing process, as old as the Earth herself. The inhabitants of the planet have endured, or been defeated by, several ice ages or the warmings that followed them. However, what the planet seems to be experiencing now is a period of rapid global warming which many scientists believe is caused by the activities of one species: humans.

A recent story published by Farm Radio Weekly (Hit hard by changing climate, farmers choose traditional crop varieties, FRW #261, September 2013) is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/23/zimbabwe-hit-hard-by-changing-climate-farmers-choose-traditional-crop-varieties-trust/

Farm Radio International is working with broadcasters to help them highlight the possible effects of climate change on farmers. Radio show helps Tanzanian farmers fight climate change (FRW #260, September 2013) tells how FRI helped the private radio station Moshi FM broadcast a program to help farmers maintain their harvests and find better markets for their produce in the face of a changing climate. You can find out more through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/16/radio-show-helps-tanzanian-farmers-fight-climate-change/. FRI is also working with a radio station in northern Ghana to produce participatory radio programming on climate change adaptation. You can read more here: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/adapting-to-climate-change-in-northern-ghana/

Issue #89 of FRI’s Voices magazine (December 2009) is devoted to the subject of the changing climate. It is available to download via this address: http://farmradio.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Voices_89.pdf

A four-page fact sheet, Climate change in Africa – what is at stake? is available through the United Nations Environment Programme website. It can be read online through this address: http://www.unep.org/roa/amcen/docs/AMCEN_Events/climate-change/2ndExtra_15Dec/FACT_SHEET_CC_Africa.pdf

How are farmers in your listening area coping with increasing temperatures and/or unpredictable rainfall? Is access to pastureland and water proving difficult for local herders? How are sedentary farmers coping with increased competition for resources?

You could start an interesting debate in your community on what steps farmers and other local people can take to adapt to climate changes in your area. Record opinions in the fields and streets, host a panel debate, or invite listeners to take part in a poll using SMS or voice calls.

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Notes to broadcasters: Post-harvest storage

Farm Radio Weekly published a story in issue #263, Community granary protects stored crops (October 2013), which looked at community granaries. You can revisit it by following this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/10/14/cameroon-community-granary-protects-stored-crops-by-anne-mireille-nzouankeu-for-farm-radio-weekly/

The story was accompanied by Notes to broadcasters on post-harvest storage (#263, October 2013) which contained several links to FRI scripts, as well as information published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre. You can read it at this address: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/10/14/notes-to-broadcasters-post-harvest-storage/

This week’s story features a traditional method of drying and storage. Farm Radio Weekly has produced stories on this topic before. Traditional seeds help Sekhukhune District fight hunger (#146, February 2011) can be downloaded here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/28/south-africa-traditional-seeds-help-sekhukhune-district-fight-hunger-by-fidelis-zvomuya-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-south-africa/, and the Notes which were published with it are available through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/02/28/notes-to-broadcasters-on-seed-ownership/

There are more scripts on the topic in Farm Radio Resource Packs. These include Farmers use traditional seed storage in Botswana (http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-56-biodiversity-contributes-to-food-security/farmers-use-traditional-seed-storage-in-botswana/, FRRP #56, script #3, July 2000), Avoid farm losses by improving storage methods (http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-66-from-harvest-to-market/avoid-farm-losses-by-improving-storage-methods/, FRRP #66, script #3, March 2003) and an entire pack of scripts on the subject of Post-harvest (FRRP #79, November 2006) at: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-79/).

There is an interesting article on the Africa Agriculture News website on a related subject, the preservation of food for later use. Traditional food preservation answer to wasteful world can be read here: http://www.africa-agri.com/kenya-traditional-food-preservation-answer-to-wasteful-world/

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 trading across borders

People who live near international borders often benefit in interesting ways. When the countries involved have a good mutual understanding, their people can move easily across borders, and often buy and sell with little restriction. The improved relationship between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has opened up many opportunities for informal cross-border trade. As our story shows, it has also provided opportunities to improve farming.

There is a recent Notes to broadcasters on farmers, traders and markets from July 2013 (FRW #253) which can be read through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/07/15/notes-to-broadcasters-farmers-traders-and-markets/

Why only think locally? A Farm Radio Weekly story from June 2009 (Women live better thanks to cooperative’s fair trade certification, FRW #68) shows that farmers can source markets further afield if the quality of their produce is good enough. Read it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/01/1-burkina-faso-women-live-better-thanks-to-cooperative%E2%80%99s-fair-trade-certification-farm-radio-weekly/ . Getting a better deal for coffee farmers (FRW #215, September 2012) is a story in a similar vein. It is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/03/ethiopia-getting-a-better-deal-for-coffee-farmers-irin/

Another story from Rwanda on cross-border trade: http://www.rnanews.com/regional/3618-rwanda-drc-business-booms-as-guns-fall-silent-special-report

Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on small-scale enterprise, ways to earn extra income, and marketing. You can browse the archive here: http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?scriptcat=enterprise

Recent Farm Radio Weekly news stories on enterprise and marketing from the Rwanda and DRC region include:

Rwanda: Ban on plastic bags creates new market for banana bags (FRW 94, January 2010).

Rwanda: Fodder more profitable than food crops (FRW 116, June 2010).

DR Congo: Marketing by motorcycle (FRW 140, January 2011).

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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.

1- Troubled by civil strife and isolation, Burundi, Comoros and Eritrea top 2013 Global Hunger Index

According to this year’s Global Hunger Index recently released by the NGO Concern International, nineteen countries have alarming levels of hunger, with Burundi the worst affected for the second year in a row. Comoros and Eritrea are next on the list. Despite progress in combating global hunger, 870 million people around the world go hungry every day. As in previous years, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia were identified as the regions facing the highest levels of hunger.

The report said conflict and political instability in Burundi and Comoros were partly to blame for increased hunger in the two African countries since 1990. Eritrea has also faced its own problems, stemming from its increasing isolation under the two-decade rule of President Isaias Afewerki, after a 30-year war with Ethiopia.

To read the full story, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20131014094652-lwpie/

To read the Global Hunger Index report, visit the Concern International website: https://www.concern.net/sites/www.concern.net/files/media/blog-post/2013_ghi_web.pdf

2- Kenya: Support for rabbit farming in Busia County

Rabbit-raising projects in the schools of Busia County, in western Kenya, have received a boost. The projects, being run in nine primary schools across the county, have received 250,000 Kenyan shillings ($3,000 US) to help vulnerable students. The money was donated by APHIAplus Nuru ya Bonde, an NGO which aims to improve the lives of mothers, children and their families in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

Schoolchildren are raising the rabbits for both commercial and nutritional reasons. Fourteen-year old Daniel Ojulu is one of the beneficiaries of the project. He was given two rabbits by the school administration early this year. After breeding them, he now has seven. The orphan has been able to sell some rabbits to meet some of his financial needs.

Daniel was quoted on the Africa Science News website as saying. “I find rabbit keeping very interesting. I can buy books, shoes and other needs for myself, and I plan to rear more than 100 rabbits by 2014.”

You can read the full story at: http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=979:aphia-plus-supports-rabbit-farming-in-busia-county&catid=49:food&Itemid=113

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Call for submissions: African investigative reporting competition

The Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) announces the 2013 African Investigative Journalism Awards.

Print, online, radio and TV journalists employed by local media in African countries are invited to submit an application individually, or as a group.

To open the competition to as many journalists as possible, there are ten prize categories, including health, elections, investigative commentary/analysis, politics, and war and conflict.

The overall winner of the Best African Investigative Story will be awarded $ 1,000 US. Individual category winners will receive $500 US and category runners-up, $250 US. The award ceremony will be held in December 2013.

Submitted articles or programs, or extracts from a series of journalistic pieces, must have been published in print or broadcast between July 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013.

Entries must be submitted in English, French or Portuguese.

The deadline for entries is November 15, 2013. Please submit your story by email to: admin@fairreporters.org.

Read the FAIR Awards Rules for entry requirements at: http://fairreporters.net/awards/ij-awards-rules/

For more information, go to this address: http://fairreporters.net/awards/.

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Reporters Without Borders: Guide for journalists who are forced to flee into exile

First published in 2009, the latest version of this Reporters Without Borders guide is now available online.

The 31-page guide includes a breakdown of United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ protection procedures, and advice for refugee journalists seeking asylum in Europe and North America.

Journalists forced to flee their country will find information, tips and contacts to guide them during the long and difficult process of starting a new life.

You can read and download the guide through this link: http://en.rsf.org/guide-for-journalists-who-are-20-06-2012,42821.html

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Barza Café discussions: Make your voices heard!

Do you feel lonely in the broadcasting booth at your radio station? Are the microphones and mixing boards just not all that exciting to you anymore? Do you feel like you’re running out of ideas and need to speak to new people to get inspired? Don’t worry: It’s normal.

When routine sets in, work can seem tedious. But we know what you’re suffering from: NEBC, or Not Enough Barza Café!

What is Barza Café, you might ask? It’s an online meeting space where Barza members can virtually kick up their feet and have conversations about all sorts of interesting and current topics.

The Barza Café is abuzz with interesting broadcasters having interesting discussions. Here is just a small taste of what’s happening right now at Barza Café.

To help whet your appetite, we highlight two discussions:

1- Your fellow broadcaster and Barza member, Martin Mwape, started a discussion called: What do you think (http://barza.fm/groups/barza-cafe/forum/topic/what-do-you-think/) In his post, he tells how he met with fisheries department experts in Zambia and asked how to start a fish farming operation (pretending to be an ordinary farmer, not a farm radio star) − and the problems he encountered trying to get information. Then Martin asks Barza Café: What do you think of farmers who want to go into fish farming? Are there similar situations in your country?

Join the discussion and tell Martin what you think. Maybe you have advice or resources to share!

2- We’re starting something new at Barza Café! We want to spark discussions on “hot topics” related to current agricultural issues and debates. The first hot topic is: Women farmers and food security (http://barza.fm/groups/barza-cafe/forum/topic/hot-topic-discussion-1-women-farmers-and-food-security/ ) Based on an article written for World Food Day by Ritu Sharma, co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide,  we are asking: “What do you think broadcasters can do to better inform and empower women farmers and to help women ensure a better, more food-secure future?”

Join the discussion. We know you are bubbling with ideas on how broadcasters can help empower women farmers.

Have we stimulated your appetite for good conversation yet? Sign on to Barza to be part of these and other discussions.

Haven’t you signed up to Barza yet? What are you waiting for? Sign up now at: www.barza.fm/welcome.

Happy Barza’ing!

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Storing cowpea seeds for a season and a reason

As we saw in this week’s story from Cameroon, post-harvest losses of food grown by African farmers are a very serious problem. Inadequate storage facilities, poor harvesting practices, lack of resources, and a host of other factors are responsible. Losses of food to insects and rodents in storage can be very high.

Cowpea is an extremely important native African crop, especially in West and Central Africa. There are many varieties of cowpeas, about twenty in all. It’s an extremely versatile plant. The leaves are used as a vegetable and, like the seeds, can be sold for cash. The seeds are cooked and served with rice or flat wheat bread. When mixed with maize, it’s called nyoyo, a delicacy in the Kenyan countryside.

Yet some West African farmers can lose their entire cowpea harvest to insect damage in storage. Any decrease in grain quality caused by pests means that farmers will lose income at the markets when selling, and seeds saved for replanting may no longer be viable.

For stored cowpeas, the most important insect pests are called bruchids. Our script of the week presents two possible solutions for controlling bruchids in stored cowpeas: triple bagging and storage in metal drums.


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