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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 #274

Food, farms and forgotten crops

A hearty welcome to issue #274 of Farm Radio Weekly, which brings you stories about nutrition in Uganda, land rights in Cameroon, and renewed interest in traditional crops in Kenya.

Farmers in western Uganda are preparing to harvest their first yields of a new variety of maize which is designed to increase the protein in their diets. The crop has the potential to bring farmers full granaries, bellies and pockets.

With more land being bought up by national and international companies in Cameroon, impoverished and marginalized people in rural parts of the country are mobilizing to protect the land they farm.

When drought hit East Africa in 2010, many farmers found their cash crops unable to survive the harsh conditions. But some discovered that plants they had forgotten about were able to provide food for their families. Now, a new research institute is looking at ways to develop the potential of these traditional, “orphaned” crops for the future.

With the increase in armed conflicts and internal strife across the continent, Farm Radio Weekly highlights a resource which helps journalists evaluate and protect their security in dangerous areas. Read more in the Resource section.

We wish you a happy and prosperous week,

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Uganda: Farmers set to benefit from nutritious maize (By Paddy Roberts, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Ansiira Nyirabagenzi pulls a few weeds from around the banana trees which ring her house before setting off, hoe on shoulder, to tend to her maize field. A narrow track winds down a steep slope before crossing a stream. Surrounded by lush vegetation, the thick, humid air means that she is quickly covered in a light sheen of perspiration.

On the other side of the stream, the path leads upwards to the six-acre communal garden that Mrs. Nyirabagenzi shares with 32 other women. There, the vibrant green maize plants stand up to three metres tall. Many stalks have produced up to four cobs, and their milky kernels are ripening in the morning sunshine.

Mrs. Nyirabagenzi is the chair of a women’s community listening group in the village of Nyabugando, about 30 kilometres from the town of Kagadi, in western Uganda. She says: “We listened to a program on the radio that explained about a new variety of maize. The grains have increased levels of protein. That means our children will eat better, and stay healthy.”

The new maize is known as Longe 5, and is also referred to as Quality Protein Maize, or QPM. Farmers in the district have started calling it Na Longo, which means “Mother of twins.” It is an apt name, as the maize produces almost twice the number of cobs per plant as traditional local varieties.

QPM contains a “complete” protein, with high levels of amino acids, which are essential in the diet. Ideally, people should eat a diverse diet which includes pulses, grains, and vegetables. But, where this is not possible, eating QPM instead of ordinary maize will provide a better balance of proteins. This can result in measureable health benefits for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the elderly, particularly in areas where maize consumption is high.

A local radio station, Kagadi-Kibale Community Radio, started to broadcast programs highlighting the benefits of improved nutrition before the start of the current planting season. The programs are part of a project run by Farm Radio International and funded by Irish Aid.

Mrs. Nyirabagenzi says, “The radio programs informed us that this maize would grow in the same way that our traditional seeds grow. So for no extra effort, our harvests will be higher.”

Mary Bakiine is also growing QPM. She says, “I am going to use it to make obushera [a local porridge]. I will feed it to my children for breakfast, and they’ll be able to study well at school.”

Godfrey Byabasaija has a plot of the new maize, and says it is growing well. He adds, “I plan to sell the maize for seed, as more people in the area want to grow it, and the supply of seeds is too little.”

On the other side of the district, in the village of Kabuga, Businge Navense shows off the plot in which she has been working with her friends. She points out the difference between the older, traditional varieties and the new, protein-rich Longe 5. The new maize plants she sowed at the same time as her old varieties are already supporting fat, healthy-looking cobs, while the traditional plants are barely flowering.

Mrs. Navense says, “We were told that we could expect a higher yield, but already we can see it in the fields. This harvest will make a difference to my family. We will be able to eat better and sell the surplus for a good price.”

Back in Nyabugando, Mrs. Nyirabagenzi surveys the field she shares with her group. She says, “I used to grow things to eat. I had no idea what it did nutritionally. I now understand that protein and vitamins are really important for my children. This maize will make us stronger.”

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Cameroon: Helping marginalized farmers find a voice (IPS)

Lydia Njang is a widow and mother of five from Cameroon’s Northwest Region who has lost her farmland three times.

The first time was when her husband died and her in-laws inherited his land. Although the in-laws gave her another plot to use, she had to give that up when her brother-in-law married. She was allowed to farm on a third plot of land, but this was eventually sold.

Mrs. Njang said: “I’m left with a very small plot of 150 square metres, where I can only grow [maize]. But this is not even enough to feed my family. Before, I had farms in very fertile places and I used to sell my surplus harvest, but I no longer have the right to farm there.”

Mary Fosi works at the Myrianthus Fosi Foundation, a local NGO involved in promoting a sustainable environment in Cameroon. She says Mrs. Njang’s experience is a common one in Cameroon.

Ms. Fosi says: “The rich buy large portions of land for investment, leaving the poor community members, most especially women, with nothing to farm on and [leaving] poor people to fight over the remaining small pieces of land.”

Princely Njong works for Initiative for Equality, a global NGO. Mr. Njong organizes public meetings for local communities as part of the NGO’s Equity and Sustainability Field Hearings project. He has found that Cameroonians want land reform to be part of efforts at reducing poverty.

Deborah Rogers is the global coordinator of the Equity and Sustainability Field Hearings. She says that the NGO is assisting rural people to “… empower themselves to have a direct and collective community voice. [This] is much stronger than isolated individuals or the thoughts of civil society groups.”

It is difficult for private individuals to acquire title deeds under Cameroon’s current land tenure system. The process is a costly and drawn-out procedure that only the wealthy can afford. According to the 1974 Land Law, all unregistered land in Cameroon belongs to the State. This includes farmland and communal land held under customary law.

There have also been a number of cases of land grabbing in Cameroon, with hundreds of thousands of hectares of land taken away from local communities by national- and foreign-owned agricultural companies.

Celestin Ondoa works with Cameroon’s Department of Rural Engineering and Improvement of the Rural Living Environment. She agrees it is vital that poorer Cameroonians have a say in the decisions that affect them if they are to benefit from economic growth.

Ms. Ondoa says, “In the past, vulnerable women, youth, indigenous people and other marginalized groups have been excluded from the formulation and planning of development activities.”

She adds that communities in Cameroon lack access to basic services, and are marginalized from social and economic opportunities. Rural people struggle with land conflicts, poor infrastructure, corruption and land grabbing, all of which are aggravated by environmental degradation.

Irene Kimbi farms in the small village of Nshi-o-doh in Cameroon’s Northwest Region. The community of about 1,500 grows beans, maize and potatoes. She agrees that working together would strengthen farmers’ position when facing companies which come to the community to buy up land. Mrs. Kimbi thinks that creating an agricultural co-operative in her village would improve their

She says, “It could help us cope with farming and market difficulties and will also reduce poverty in our community.”

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Kenya: Nurturing nutritious ‘orphan’ crops (Trust)

Gathoni Mwangi is a 78-year-old widow from Ngamba village in central Kenya. Mrs. Mwangi will never forget 2010, the year that drought hit and both rainy seasons failed.

Mrs. Mwangi’s maize withered away, leaving her barely able to feed her five orphaned grandchildren. Her two cows had scarcely enough fodder to produce milk for the children, and there was none left over to sell and buy food.

It was a so-called “orphan crop” that saved the family. “Orphan crops” are plants that receive little scientific research or funding despite their importance for food security. In Mrs. Mwangi’s case, a few yams had survived from previous years’ crops. They had been completely forgotten; no one had bothered to harvest the tubers.

Mrs. Mwangi recalls, “I would dig up two (yams) each day and boil or roast them before serving the meal to the children, and not once did we (go to) sleep hungry.”

A new research institution is now aiming to boost the profile and production of neglected but nutritious crops. The African Plant Breeding Academy opened in Nairobi in December. It will train scientists and technicians to breed plants and trees which until now have received only limited attention, due to their low economic value in the global market.

The Academy’s goal is to help reduce hunger and boost food security in Africa by developing high-yielding varieties of crops that communities used to rely on, but have neglected in favour of global staples such as maize, rice and wheat.

Tony Simons is the director-general of the World Agroforestry Centre. He says the Academy will provide a dedicated place for research and development of food crops with higher nutritional value and better resistance to pests, disease, and a changing climate.

Daniel M’reli is an agriculture expert who works as a private consultant. He says that Africa’s orphan crops contain minerals and nutrients that are scarce in conventional crops. In addition, they can generally withstand adverse weather, while rarely suffering disease and pest attacks.

Mr. M’reli thinks that African farmers and consumers will need to be re-educated to understand that these crops are not “poor man’s food.”

Mrs. Mwangi welcomes the Academy. She says she will be the first to embrace whatever improved plants are on offer. She hopes the Academy will provide traditional sweet potato vines to plant in the short rainy season from September to December.

Mrs. Mwangi says: “The tubers will feed the children in times of food shortages, while the vines can comfortably feed my animals to avoid the kind of problems I saw in the year 2010.”

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Notes to broadcasters: Nutrition

Many foods contain proteins which, along with carbohydrates and fats, vitamins and minerals, are the main building blocks in the diet of humans and other animals. Although the body can create some nutrients itself, we depend on the foods we eat for our essential nutrients, and to avoid malnutrition.

Malnutrition is defined as the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. The term is commonly used to refer to people who do not have enough to eat, or are undernourished. But those 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. They are therefore more susceptible to malnutrition. So avoiding malnutrition is not only about eating more, it is about eating better. In many cases, “better” means a more varied diet.

Maize is the third most important cereal crop for direct consumption in the world (after rice and wheat), and is one of the most popular staple crops in many african countries. Quality protein maize, or QPM, is a traditionally-bred maize with higher levels of protein. QPM has been proven to reduce stunted growth and malnutrition in children. Farm Radio International works on projects which contribute to the adoption of QPM in Uganda and Ethiopia, collaborating with radio stations to develop programs in maize-growing regions on nutrition, the benefits of a diversified diet, and the possibility of growing QPM. You can read more about the project in Ethiopia here: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/nutritious-maize-for-ethiopian-children-2/

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

From September 2013 comes More food means more girls in school (FRW #261), which can be read here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/23/mali-more-food-means-more-girls-in-school-allafrica/

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/

Two publications might be of interest to those who want to research this subject further. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Bioversity International have produced a book, Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity. The book is available to download through this address: http://www.fao.org/food/sustainable-diets-and-biodiversity/en/ (find the link at the bottom of the page). The second publication is a joint production of FAO and the World Health Organization. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases (WHO, 2003) can be downloaded via this address: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/005/ac911e/ac911e00.pdf

For more 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 a member 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/

In FRRP #65 (October 2002), Farm Radio International produced scripts on food and nutrition. You can view these scripts here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-65-food-and-nutrition-education/. You can browse the rest of the FRI script archive here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/

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 women and men farmers what they understand by malnutrition, and try to identify and clarify any misconceptions. Why not interview health experts, or NGO workers that work on nutrition and health? You could also explore the links between agriculture and nutrition, such as growing fruits and vegetables to diversify diets. It is a huge topic, so be creative!

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Notes to broadcasters: Land ownership

The article on which this story was based can be read in full at this address: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/12/bringing-cameroons-marginalised-poverty-debate/

Land tenure and access to good quality land are key issues for small-scale farmers. Many countries have complicated and unclear laws regarding the sale and purchase of land. This is especially true where families have inhabited land for centuries but have no paperwork to prove ownership.

When land is divided up through inheritance, children and spouses are often left with small plots. Often their lands are dispersed over a wide area. Those who inherit this land may prefer to sell it and emigrate to urban areas. This is especially true when their land is marginal and has poor soil.

Farm Radio Weekly published a series in 2009 on international land grabbing and investment. Issue #69 was the first in the series. It is a good place to start for more background on international land issues: http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/frw-issues/issue-69/.

In 2010, FRW looked at women’s land rights. Here are the Notes to Broadcasters for that topic from March 2010: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/03/15/notes-to-broadcasters-on-women%E2%80%99s-land-rights-3/.

And here is a Farm Radio International script that looks at women’s land rights: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-57-women-are-key-to-rural-development/land-ownership-rights-access-denied-why-women-need-equal-access-to-land/.

Notes to broadcasters on land tenure are available from FRW #201 (May 2012 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/05/21/notes-to-broadcasters-on-land-tenure/), and Notes to broadcasters on women and land ownership are available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/06/11/notes-to-broadcasters-on-women-and-land-ownership/ (#204, June 2012).

One Farm Radio Weekly story from 2012 describes how land pressures have led farmers to grow crops in unusual places. Read Lack of land drives residents to grow food in cemetery to hear about one farmer who found life in an old cemetery near the city of Pointe-Noire, Congo-Brazzaville (FRW #190, February 2012 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/02/27/congo-brazzaville-lack-of-land-drives-residents-to-grow-food-in-cemetery-by-john-ndinga-ngoma-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-congo-brazzaville/).

Why not examine the issues surrounding land tenure in your listening area. Issues to explore include:
-Is it easy to purchase agricultural land? Does formal law take customary practices (such as inheritance) into account?
-Do laws apply equally or equitably to men and women? To what extent are women allowed to own land outright?

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Notes to broadcasters: ‘Forgotten’ crops

The article on which this story was based can be read in full here: http://www.trust.org/item/20131216143809-uh7dk?utm

Neglected and underused crops are domesticated plant species that have been used for centuries for their food, fibre, fodder, oil or medicinal properties. However, over time, they have fallen from favour for one or more reasons. These might include poor shelf life, unrecognized nutritional value, poor consumer awareness and “reputational problems” (being viewed as “famine food” or “poor people’s food.”) Now, they are often regarded as “lost” or “orphaned” crops. For more information on the subject, please visit the Collaborative Crop Research Program website at: http://mcknight.ccrp.cornell.edu/projects/neglected.html

The 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS): For a Food-Secure Africa took place in Accra, Ghana, in September 2013. Read more about the findings on their website, through this link: http://nus2013.org/

The National Academy Press has published three volumes on “lost” African crops, all of which are available online and for download. Volume I (Grains) is available at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309049903. Volume II (Vegetables) is available here:   http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11763. Volume III (Fruits) is available at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11879&page=R1.

Farm Radio Weekly has published several stories on this subject. You might like to read through this selection of stories, and create a series of programs on your station:

Hit hard by changing climate, farmers choose traditional crop varieties (#261, September 2013 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/23/zimbabwe-hit-hard-by-changing-climate-farmers-choose-traditional-crop-varieties-trust/)

Traditional seeds help Sekhukhune District fight hunger (#146, February 2011 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/)

Re-discovery of traditional crops helps farmers cope with climate change (#87, November 2009 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/09/3-africa-re-discovery-of-traditional-crops-helps-farmers-cope-with-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly/)

The “rediscovery” of forgotten, or orphaned, crops, is in part connected with the changing climate. Please read FRW’s recent Notes to broadcasters on climate change (#265, October 2013 http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/10/28/notes-to-broadcasters-climate-change/) for more information on that subject.

There are several FRI scripts on this topic, including:

African traditional vegetables back on the table (Pack 95, Item 14, December 2012), available at http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-95-researching-and-producing-farmer-focused-programs/african-traditional-vegetables-back-on-the-table/.

You might consider hosting a call-in or text-in show that gets people talking about traditional crops that are grown and enjoyed in your area:

-Which traditional crops are grown in your area? Is the variety or quantity of traditional crops grown greater or less than it was a few decades ago?
-Are there traditional crops that were grown by earlier generations, but are no longer grown? Are there wild crops that were used in the past, but not now?
-Where do these traditional crops grow (e.g., in small family gardens, on commercial farms, in the wild)? How difficult is it to produce these traditional crops as opposed to other crops?
-How do the traditional crops vary in taste or use from other crops? Do people in your listening audience know how they differ in terms of nutritional value?
-What is the difference in price between traditional and other crops in local markets? What is the difference between farmers’ profit margins for traditional crops and other crops?

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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-Bubonic plague arrives early in Madagascar

From September to December 2013, Madagascar’s Ministry of Health reported 84 cases and 42 deaths from bubonic plague in four of the country’s 112 districts.

Also known as the “Black Death,” bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by infected fleas that transmit the bacterium to humans by biting. Madagascar’s Ministry of Health says 300 to 600 cases of bubonic plague occur annually, between October and March.

This year saw the plague arrive as early as September, and the strain is thought to be more deadly than before in certain areas.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99370/plague-in-madagascar

2-Study finds cattle in sub-Sahara Africa produce more earth-warming gases

A study produced by scientists from three research groups found that cattle from developing countries account for 75 per cent of all global emissions of earth-warming gases from cattle.

In Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, cattle can release the equivalent of 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kilogram of protein they produce. By comparison, in many parts of the US and Europe, cattle fed on a more efficient diet produce only about 10 kilograms for every kilogram of protein.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99343/cattle-in-poor-countries-produce-more-earth-warming-gases

3-Severe malnutrition in Cameroon’s children

In Cameroon’s Far North and North regions, 58,000 children suffered from severe acute malnutrition in 2013, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF.

Health experts are concerned that parents’ lack of information about malnutrition is exacerbating the situation in 7 out of 10 regions in the central African country.

Malnutrition is responsible for 38 per cent of deaths among children under age five in Cameroon, and one of three children is stunted. A new government initiative is attempting to counter this situation by promoting breastfeeding, increasing food security, fortifying foods with key nutrients, and boosting nutritional supplements to mothers and children.

To read the full story, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99347/looking-beyond-food-for-causes-of-cameroon-s-malnutrition

4-Compensation scheme for lost livestock

A pilot livestock insurance plan launched by the International Livestock Research Institute is insuring pastoralists’ cattle and goats against extreme weather patterns such as drought.

The insurance was originally offered to pastoralists in Kenya, and has since been expanded to cover pastoralists in a semi-arid zone of southern Ethiopia.

The pilot project is subsidized by the British government’s Department for International Development, as well as the European Union and the Australian Agency for International Development. Four thousand Kenyan pastoralists are now insured under the plan, which provides compensation to farmers for lost livestock.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/11/insuring-cows-and-goats-improves-kenyan-lives/

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Call for applications: Scholarship for young journalists

The Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) Secretariat is inviting young journalists to be part of, to contribute to, and to report from its 2nd High Level Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 12-13, 2014.

Up to 10 young journalists will be selected to receive scholarships to work under the guidance of the AEEP communications team at the conference. They will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Africa-EU cooperation in the energy sector, and the challenges African countries continue to face in delivering energy services to their populations.

While at the conference, the young journalists will report on the conference sessions through press releases, social media channels, video clips and interviews, and the official conference website. In addition, the journalists can submit stories, interviews, and reports to their own countries and media outlets.

The scholarship includes a pre-conference training plus travel and accommodation expenses.

Applicants must be under 35 years of age, based in Africa or the EU, and have at least three years of experience working as a print or online journalist, photojournalist or video journalist. Fluency in English is required, and fluency in French is an advantage.

For more information on how to apply, go to http://www.aeep-conference.org/en/young-journalists.

Send your application package to the AEEP Secretariat at: young-journalists@aeep-conference.org

The deadline for applications is January 19, 2014.

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Committee to Protect Journalists: Journalist Security Guide

With ongoing conflict affecting several countries in Africa and the internal security situation precarious in many other countries, Farm Radio Weekly revisits an online resource to remind journalists of ways to protect themselves when covering news in a dangerous and changing world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, has released a Journalist Security Guide aimed at helping journalists evaluate and prevent risks.

This guide helps local and international journalists with all levels of experience learn how to take concrete steps to ensure their physical and online security. While some sections of the guide may be written with a Western audience in mind, many sections are relevant to African journalists.

Chapters such as Basic Preparedness, Information Security, Armed Conflict, and Sustained Risks are pertinent for all journalists.

For example, in the Basic Preparedness section, the Guide explains that a “number of countries have effective professional organizations that can provide guidance about laws concerning the press, along with practical advice on certain assignments. If you encounter trouble, some national organizations are also able to intervene on your behalf or publicize your case. You should also be aware that international groups such as CPJ and Reporters Without Borders can generate global attention and advocacy in case of harassment or threats.”

The guide is available in French, English, Arabic and Spanish. You can download it here:  http://cpj.org/reports/2012/04/journalist-security-guide.php

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Farm Radio International launches in Ethiopia

Farm Radio International is proud to announce the official launch of its work in Ethiopia!

In late November 2013, Farm Radio International Executive Director Kevin Perkins travelled to Addis Ababa to attend the launch event of Farm Radio International Ethiopia. The event was organized after FRI signed a bilateral agreement with the Ethiopian Government Communications Affairs Office.

Ethiopia Country Director Freyhiwot Nadew and her team are now looking forward to developing project work and offering Ethiopian radio stations access to the various resources for broadcasters which FRI provides.

The launch event was attended by partners, supporters and a variety of local and international NGOs. Speeches were kept to a minimum to allow plenty of opportunity for mingling and discussions. Kevin Perkins said, “The event was a wonderful way to celebrate with our colleagues and partners the official launch of our work in Ethiopia.

“Signing a bilateral agreement with the Ministry of Communication was a major achievement, and we are honoured and excited to be embarking on a new chapter in our work with radio broadcasters and farmers in Ethiopia.”

FRI Ethiopia has a small, dedicated team in place, and is currently working on three projects − with Irish Aid; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and the Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as partners. Read more about these projects here: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/innovations-to-practice-through-demand-driven-participatory-farm-radio-campaigns/; http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/nutritious-maize-for-ethiopian-children-2/; and http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/improving-productivity-and-market-access-in-ethiopia/

FRI Ethiopia would like to thank the representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Addis Ababa and the Agricultural Transformation Agency for their support during the registration process.

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Fonio

This week’s story from Kenya talks about “orphaned crops.” Fonio fits into that category.

Fonio is one of the oldest cereals in West Africa, but has not received much attention because of the smallness of its grains. But fonio is experiencing renewed interest due to its delicious taste and excellent nutritional qualities. It is often prepared for large events such as family celebrations. Fonio production and processing in West Africa is mostly undertaken by women.

This radio script is based on a debate produced by Radio Fanaka in Fana, Mali. The topic is fonio and gender.

http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?rscript=82-6script_en

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