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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 #272

Four of the best: A review of FRW stories from 2013

The Farm Radio Weekly team wishes you a very warm welcome to this year’s final issue, #272!

Before we take a break for the Christmas and New Year holidays, FRW is taking a look back over the year and revisiting four of our favourite stories written by our own correspondents.

The first of these is Collecting rainwater eases water problems (#247, May 2013). It tells the story of why and how Burundian farmer Immaculate Mukahigiro set up a system to harvest rainwater.

From Burkina Faso, Mothers learn to feed their children better by growing their own vegetables (#242, April 2013) investigates how, by growing vegetables at home, mothers can ensure that they and their young children get enough of the right nutrients in their diets.

By growing the right crop, and finding the right buyer, Marie Pouta from Congo-Brazzaville makes a good profit. Read more in Sweet potatoes spell sweet success for farmer (#239, March 2013)

Storing crops can prove a headache for farmers. Farmer uses tobacco leaves and chili peppers as pesticides (#256, August 2013) describes how Cameroonian farmers are protecting their valuable harvests without shop-bought chemicals.

Farm Radio Weekly will return to your inboxes on January 6, 2014, with new stories and resources for your enjoyment. In the meantime, we wish you a very happy and peaceful time.

– the Farm Radio Weekly Team

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

(Originally published on May 27th, 2013)

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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Burkina Faso: Mothers learn to feed their children better by growing their own vegetables (by Inoussa Maiga, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Burkina Faso)

(Originally published on April 15th, 2013)

The heat of the burning midday sun is unbearable in the village school’s garden. In one arm, Risnata Yonaba holds her six month-old child. In her other hand, she holds a watering can. As she waters her garden, she stops for a moment to breastfeed her crying baby.

In Burkina Faso, deficiencies of nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc are common in children, and also in pregnant and breastfeeding women. An international NGO called Helen Keller International, or HKI, introduced village school farms to counter the high levels of malnutrition. Mrs. Yonaba is a member of one such project introduced in 2010 to Fonghin, in eastern Burkina Faso.

Ms. Yonaba and thirty other women in Fonghin are learning improved farming techniques, which they will use later in their own gardens.

In this tiny, one-quarter hectare school farm, Ms. Yonaba is learning how to grow okra, onion, spinach, sorrel leaves and beans. Production is small-scale and mainly for family consumption.

Ms. Yonaba says she is learning to grow vegetables so she can feed her child properly. She understands that breastfeeding women have to eat well in order to produce enough milk for their children. She explains: “Vegetables give more milk than beans and lentils. This is good for breastfeeding women. Fresh vegetables are also good for malnourished children. It helps to strengthen them.”

Fonghin is one of 30 villages that HKI works with. The NGO trains mothers of children between three and 11 months to grow fruit and vegetables that are rich in food nutrients.

Azara Moyenga recently registered for the project. She is already seeing the benefits: “When you cut a few leaves of spinach, onion and cowpea and prepare without salt, [and] you add a little peanut when you eat, your milk starts flowing.” Mrs. Moyenga now regularly prepares spinach leaves in her kitchen.

Ousmane Tiendrebeogo is one of the researchers hired by HKI to monitor the food situation in the villages. He says, “We [have] recorded fewer cases of severe anemia in the 30 intervention villages.”

The women’s farm schools have been established as demonstration plots, and serve as places where the mothers can learn improved farming techniques. Once trained, the women receive seeds and cuttings to use in their own gardens.

Now that Mrs. Yonaba has been trained, she plans to set up a garden beside her house.

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Congo-Brazzaville: Sweet potatoes spell sweet success for farmer (by Privat Tiburce Massanga, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Congo-Brazzaville)

(Originally published on March 18th, 2013)

It’s Monday morning and there’s energy in the air in Pointe-Noire, a city on the coast of Congo-Brazzaville. The honking of vehicles and shouting of traders spreads through the market known as “de la Liberté” or “freedom.” Shouts of “mbala, mbala eh!” meaning yams or potatoes, can be heard around the corner of Moscow Avenue, where vehicles pull in. People work quickly to unload agricultural products from the vehicles.

Marie Pouta brought her crops to the market today and knows exactly who will purchase them. She carries three sacks, each filled with 50 kilograms of sweet potatoes. She delivers them to her client, a woman who makes sweet potato crisps. In return, Ms. Pouta pockets 60,000 CFA francs (about 120 US dollars). She is profiting from a surge in the popularity of sweet potatoes, a crop that few farmers in this area grow. She explains: “As people do not produce enough [sweet potatoes] here in Kouilou [region], they are highly sought after by women who make crisps. Sweet potatoes are in style.”

Sweet potatoes used to be one of the most important staple crops in this part of Congo-Brazzaville. But farming families began growing more cassava and rice, and sweet potatoes fell out of favour. However, Ms. Pouta never stopped growing sweet potatoes. She used to grow them only for her family. Until one day she had a chance meeting in the city.

Ms. Pouta was visiting her children in Pointe-Noire and had a small sack of sweet potatoes with her. There, she says, “two young women ‘forced’ me to sell to them, since [sweet potatoes] are the raw material for their business.”

It was then that she realized she could earn good money by growing and selling sweet potatoes. When she returned home to her farm, Ms. Pouta decided to make a change. She grows sweet potatoes for two seasons to meet the strong urban demand. Then she grows cassava in the same field for sale and her own consumption. While all her crops provide her with both food and income, sweet potatoes are the real money-maker. During the main growing season, she typically makes three large sweet potato sales to her regular clients.

Ursula Singou is one of Ms. Pouta’s regular clients. She, too, has benefited from the rising popularity of sweet potatoes. Instead of the traditional method of steaming, she fries them into crisps. Ms. Singou sells the crisps at a stall in her neighbourhood.

She says, “Consumers have become accustomed to our little grilled slices. Our only regret is the seasonal nature of this business.” Ms. Singou is not the only vendor of sweet potato crisps. During the dry season, when sweet potatoes are more readily available, passers-by can purchase crisps in every neighbourhood.

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Cameroon: Farmer uses tobacco leaves and chili peppers as pesticides (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

(Originally published on August 5th, 2013)

Assana Boubacar walks carefully between two rows of stacked jute bags. Occasionally, she stops and places some dried tobacco leaves underneath one of the bags. She repeats this process all through her storage room. She explains, “I use tobacco leaves in my warehouse, because they repel insects that want to eat my harvest.”

Mrs. Boubacar farms in Tokombéré, a village in northern Cameroon. She grows beans and groundnuts, known locally as “peanuts.”

With each harvest, she gathers about 10 bags of beans and 15 bags of peanuts. She eats some and sells the rest. Because selling her produce can take several months, she stores her yields in a warehouse.

The 36-year-old farmer uses a novel two-step method to keep her harvest healthy in storage. The first stage begins immediately after harvest. She explains, “I soak chili pepper in water. I strain the mixture and then spray the grains lightly. Then I let them dry before bagging.”

Once the bags are stored, Mrs. Boubacar places dry tobacco leaves around them. After a week, she replaces the old leaves with new ones. She has used these two methods in tandem for three years. The stored beans and peanuts have remained healthy until they are all sold.

Bernard Njonga is an agronomist and president of the Citizens Association for the Defence of Collective Interests, one of the largest farmers’ associations in Cameroon. He encourages this method of storage. He says, “It is good to do a pre-treatment [with chili] before storage. There are pests that leave the field [with the seeds] after harvest as larvae, but mature during storage.”

He explains that the insects already in the bags cannot be killed with biological insecticides such as tobacco leaves. But the tobacco leaves stop further insects from reaching the stored seed.

Mrs. Boubacar says: “I was desperate the first year [I tried it] because I had lost all my harvest. The seeds were devoured by insects. When I opened a bag, only powder and weevils would come out.” Although her friends and relations offered several tips, they proved to be of no use. Mrs. Boubacar was initiated into the practice by a neighbour. In Tokombéré, these storage methods are traditionally passed on by word of mouth.

Mr. Njonga explains that the method has its disadvantages. The capacity of natural products to work as insect repellents is short-lived. So the process has to be repeated frequently. In addition, there is no exact dosage, so farmers have to rely on their instincts. But there is very little chance of overdosing, as the products used in this technique are relatively harmless to humans.

The agronomist points out other advantages of using biological insecticides. Usually, chemical products require a “withdrawal period” after application. During this period, foods should not be consumed, due to the toxicity of the products. But, as Mr. Njonga explains, “These substances are not poisonous, so foods that have been sprayed with the natural product can still be eaten immediately.”

Mrs. Boubacar’s success has helped her family. She is proud that her eldest son, Ali, has just passed his Baccalaureate. When his father died, Ali was unable to attend school for two years because the family had no money. Ali says: “It was when my mother found a cheap and efficient crop protection method that she was able to restart her business. We were able to return to school with the first harvest!”

Mrs. Boubacar takes pride in being able to occasionally give sweets and chocolates to her six children. She recalls: “After the death of my husband, we had one meal a day. Some days we had so little that I deprived myself so that my children could have a larger portion. Today, we eat our fill, and sometimes we can have extras such as sweets. “

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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: Nutrition

The women featured in our story from Burkina Faso are learning to augment their diets with foods they can grow at home at little or no cost. The benefits they gain from eating a more balanced diet are also passed on to their infants in the form of breast milk.

Malnutrition is defined as the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. The term is commonly used to refer to children and adults who do not have enough to eat, or are undernourished. But people who are over-nourished, or overweight, can also be malnourished if they do not consume enough essential vitamins and minerals. This can be caused by a lack of variety in the diet. Infants, young children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women need larger quantities of some nutrients including calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C and D. They are therefore more susceptible to malnutrition. So avoiding malnutrition is not just about eating more, it is about eating better. In many cases, “better” means a more varied diet.

For more facts and information about malnutrition, please visit these sites:

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/malnutrition/en/

http://www.wfp.org/hunger/malnutrition

http://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/

The website of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) also provides useful background information: http://www.gainhealth.org/about-malnutrition

GAIN is part of a partnership called Thousand Days, which promotes investment in improved nutrition for mothers and children in the 1,000 day period from pregnancy to age two. According to the GAIN website, better nutrition during this period can have a life-changing impact on a child: http://www.thousanddays.org/

Read more about the World Food Programme’s activities in DR Congo here: http://www.wfp.org/countries/Congo–Democratic-Republic-Of/Operations

Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on health and nutrition. Browse our archive here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/health.asp

Here are some stories from Farm Radio Weekly related to nutrition:

Zimbabwe: Women grow better lives near the city (FRW 168, August 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/08/15/zimbabwe-women-grow-better-lives-near-the-city-by-zenzele-ndebele-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-zimbabwe/

Mali: Traditional healers join fight against malnutrition (FRW 165, July 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/07/25/mali-traditional-healers-join-fight-against-malnutrition-irin/

As part of the United States Agency for International Development’s Infant and Young Child Nutrition Project, the Zambia Ministry of Health and partners developed a 13-part radio series called “Bushes That Grow Are the Future Forest.” The aim of the series was to improve infant and young child nutrition practices. Follow this link to find more information and links to scripts and radio spots: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/02/27/radio-series-on-infant-nutrition-in-zambia/

Farm Radio International is also working to improve maternal, newborn and child health in Burkina Faso. Follow this link to find out more: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/improving-maternal-newborn-and-child-health-in-burkina-faso/

Poor nutrition and hunger are all too common in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in rural areas. You might wish to produce a program that covers the basic facts of nutrition and malnutrition, how to recognize and treat symptoms of malnutrition, or how to prevent malnutrition and promote good nutrition. As well as presenting facts, ask female and male farmers what they understand by malnutrition, and try to identify and clarify any misconceptions. You can interview health experts or representatives from NGOs that work on nutrition and health. You could also explore the links between agriculture and nutrition, such as growing vegetables to diversify diets. It is a huge topic, so be creative!

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Notes to broadcasters on sweet potatoes and market trends

The farmer featured in this week’s story made an advantageous discovery when she learned that sweet potatoes, a crop that she had been growing for her own use, were a valuable commodity to crisp vendors. Since she already knew how to grow sweet potato, she was able to take advantage of demand for the crop by devoting more of her fields to it. At the same time, she continues to grow maize and cassava, which keeps her fields diversified and helps protect her food and income security.

Farmers are sometimes presented with the opportunity to grow a new crop which promises to bring in good cash. As happened in this week’s story, it could be a local business seeking raw materials for a product that is growing in popularity. It could be a crop that other local families enjoy, but cannot grow themselves. Or it could be a large company seeking outgrowers. In all such cases, farmers have important decisions to make about whether they should invest their efforts and land in new crops.

Here are some ideas for a radio program related to crop choices and marketing trends:
-Visit a local market and look for farmers and/or vendors selling an agricultural product that is unusual or trendy. Interview the farmer/vendor about her/his choice to grow or sell the crop, and what the market has been like. While you’re there, interview people who are purchasing the product, and ask them why they enjoy it. If the vendor is not the person who grew the crop, ask the vendor how you can get in touch with one or more of the farmers who supplies her/him to talk about their experiences.

-Host a call-in show inviting farmers to share their experiences with trying new crops, particularly in response to market trends. Ask those who found success with a new crop or with expanding an existing crop in response to increased demand what factors they feel led to their success. Ask those who were less successful (for example, farmers who found it very challenging to grow the crop or who did not receive the market price they expected), what advice they have for farmers facing similar decisions.

The Farm Radio International script Sweet potatoes in Uganda looks at how this crop has changed the lives of farmers in eastern Uganda. It includes an interview with the head of a farmers’ group who explains how they choose which sweet potato varieties to grow and which sweet potato products to sell. Find it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/01/05/sweet-potatoes-in-uganda/

Here are some other Farm Radio International scripts and FRW stories about potatoes and sweet potatoes:
Sawdust prolongs the storage life of potatoes (Package 90, April 2010): http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-90/sawdust-prolongs-the-storage-life-of-potatoes/
Mr. or Mrs. Potato of the Year! (Package 86, December 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/mr-or-mrs-potato-of-the-year/
Research in Rwanda aims for a good harvest of sweet potatoes (Package 86, December 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/research-in-rwanda-aims-for-a-good-harvest-of-sweet-potatoes/
Orange sweet potatoes (Package 86, December 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/orange-sweet-potatoes/
-“Madagascar: Farmers grow potatoes to fill the rice gap” (FRW #232, January 2013): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/01/21/madagascar-farmers-grow-potatoes-to-fill-the-rice-gap-by-andrisoa-patrick-andriamihaja-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-madagascar/
-“Zimbabwe: Potato farming offers hope to HIV positive farmer” (FRW #227, December 2012): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/12/03/zimbabwe-potato-farming-offers-hope-to-hiv-positive-farmer-by-nqobani-ndlovu-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-zimbabwe/

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Notes to broadcasters: Natural pesticides

Chemical pesticides can be expensive, difficult to store and use safely, and have unintended side effects. More and more, farmers like the one in this story are starting to use alternatives which can be made cheaply and easily, using ingredients often found at home, like chili and soap.

This PDF training module covers the basics on organic pest and disease management in simple language:

http://www.organic-africa.net/fileadmin/documents-africamanual/training-manual/chapter-04/Africa_Manual_M04.pdf

At this link, you can find some recipes for natural insecticides: http://www.oisat.org/control_methods/plants_in_pest_control/chili.html

Natural pesticides can also be used for livestock, as in this recent news item: “Natural Pesticide Protects Cattle Against Ticks in Africa”: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011095902.htm

Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on pest control. Browse our resource bank at: http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?scriptcat=pest

Here is a selection of scripts to get you started:

-“Powder of little pepper protects stored rice” (Package 81, Script 2, August 2007) http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-81/powder-of-little-pepper-protects-stored-rice/

-“A local plant prevents pest damage to stored seeds” (Package 81, Script 1, August 2007) http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-81/a-local-plant-prevents-pest-damage-to-stored-seeds/
-“Protect children from pesticides” (Package 69, Script 8,December 2003) http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-69-a-world-fit-for-children/protect-children-from-pesticides/

Many scripts in Resource Pack 72 (http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-72-integrated-pest-management-strategies-for-farmers/ , September, 2004) are useful in addressing the issue of integrated pest management, including “Biological Pest Control” (Package 72, Script 4, September 2004) http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-72-integrated-pest-management-strategies-for-farmers/reduce-pests-naturally-with-biological-pest-control/

Farm Radio has some short videos on YouTube in which you can watch broadcasters and farmers discuss and present natural pesticides:

-From Malawi, how to use soap, tobacco leaves and ash to control red spider mites in tomatoes and cabbage borers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID2UDGuI7a0

-From Malawi, the use of neem leaves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myT2u98OkfA&feature=relmfu

What kind of pest control do farmers use in your broadcast area? Find out which pests are common, and how farmers deal with them. Ask farmers if they have heard of these and other non-chemical alternatives. You could even ask a farmer to test them on a small patch of land and report back on his or her findings. Ask the farmer to compare costs, storage, safety and effectiveness.

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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- Uganda: Blending agriculture and mobile phones

With advances in Information Communication Technologies, farmers are starting to use mobile phone applications to receive reliable market information.

Ugandan poultry farmer, Bazilio Mugema from Nakaseke village, says that in the 28 years he has been in the business, he never thought that he needed external information on the price of eggs and chickens. Instead, he took the word of middlemen and traders.

His son, who recently finished a diploma in veterinary studies, encouraged him to try a new SMS platform called M-Farmer. Mr. Mugema now believes that the middlemen were not being entirely honest. Instead, he swears by the SMS service which helps him receive more reliable market information on eggs, improved breeds and poultry feeds.

To read the full article, go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201311200161.html

2- Rwanda: Women-dominated seed cooperative wins African agricultural prize

A women-dominated cooperative of smallholder seed farmers has won an agriculture award.

The cooperative, in Kamonyi district, southern Rwanda, beat 60 other contestants from across Africa to scoop the 2013 African Farmer Organization of the Year. The award, organized annually by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and African Investment Climate Research, is given every year to a farmer group which has improved the livelihoods of the poor in Africa.

Impabaruta cooperative produces high-quality seeds which have been used to improve maize and legume yields in Rwanda. Impabaruta was also recognized for its good governance and market-access strategy, and for the involvement of women in its work.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20131205113435-2vufl/?source=hptop

3- Kenya: Coffee farmers switch to horticulture for profit

A former coffee farmer who became upset at low prices for her produce decided to uproot some of her trees and diversify her production.

Hannah Wairimu turned to horticulture crops and began planting avocados trees as well as sweet potatoes, beans and maize. Ms. Wairimu joined a community group which receives support from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, or KARI. The community group helps the smallholder farmers obtain direct access to markets.

KARI has provided information to the 25-member group on better farming practices to increase yields, as well as how to avoid post-harvest losses. Ms. Wairimu has already seen the benefits of diversification into horticulture, and now earns more money as a result.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.farmbizafrica.com/index.php/hopemenu4/909-coffee-farmers-switch-to-horticulture-for-profits

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2014: The International Year of Family Farming

The United Nations has launched the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, or 2014 IYFF, to stress the vast potential family farmers have to eradicate hunger and preserve natural resources.

Family farming can provide food security and nutrition, improve livelihoods, manage natural resources, protect the environment, and achieve sustainable development, particularly in rural areas. Family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in Africa, but also in many other regions of the world.

The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of policies in national agendas. The 2014 IYFF will help to promote discussions to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders, and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.

To find out more about the aims of the year, please visit the 2014 IYFF pages on the website of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The home page, with links to events and resources in English and French, is available through this address: http://www.fao.org/family-farming-2014/home/en/.

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Investigative journalism manual available online

The Forum for African Investigative Journalists, or FAIR, has produced an Investigative Journalism Manual. It is filled with strategies, tactics, techniques and methodologies that will enable you to dig deeper, unearth more truth, and expose injustice where possible.

The chapters have been written and edited on the basis of case studies and contributions sent in by FAIR journalists.  The introduction covers the situation of investigative reporting in Africa. There are chapters on investigative reporting, generating story ideas and planning your investigation. The manual also covers research, interviewing and how to tell the story.

The manual is available to download in English, French and Portuguese through this link:  http://www.fairreporters.org/?IJ_manuals

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Farm Radio International encouraging girls’ education in Daadab refugee camp

In November, Farm Radio International’s Project Officers, Fredrick Mariwa and Terevael Aremu, visited Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

Farm Radio International is working in partnership with Windle Trust Kenya and World University Service of Canada, on a new initiative, the Kenya Equity in Education Project. This Is FRI’s first project in Kenya. The project aims to improve access to, and quality of, education for girls and boys in Dadaab.

The purpose of the visit to the host communities of Dadaab, as well as the Dagahaley, Ifo 1 and Hagadera camps, was to do formative research, assessing the community’s attitudes towards Somali girls’ education inside the world’s largest refugee camp.

Now, the FRI team is in the process of selecting a partner radio station to create programming to advocate for girls’ rights to education. Once the radio station is selected, in-station training will take place. Various formats such as news, debates and mini-dramas will be produced for broadcast, with the intention of encouraging families to send their girls to school, and attend regularly.

According to Mr. Mariwa, the formative research shows that the majority of people living in Dadaab refugee camp have access to a radio. However, one major challenge which will have to be addressed is that some women and girls in some areas of the camp have limited access to their own radios – either because they lack batteries, or the radio is listened to by other family members.

More information on this project is available on the WUSC website: http://wusc.ca/en/program/KEEP . To keep up to date on the projects in which FRI is involved, please visit: http://www.farmradio.org/projects/

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Conservation agriculture for better yields

Conservation farming has made a great difference for resource-poor small-scale farmers. Now many households have enough food throughout the year and sometimes even have a surplus for sale.

It consists of very simple methods of farming that include reduced disturbance of the soil during land preparation, not burning crop residues after harvest, crop rotation, and reliance whenever possible on organic compost and livestock manure instead of chemical fertilizer.

This script from Farm Radio Resource Pack #97 is about how Zambian farmer Agatha Ngoma changed her life with conservation farming. You could use it as inspiration to research and write a script on conservation farming or a different farming practice which might be of benefit in your area.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/the-success-story-of-agatha-ngoma-a-small-scale-farmer-in-zambia-conservation-agriculture-for-better-yields/

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