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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 #275

Revolutions in the countryside: Out with the old, in with the new!

Welcome to the latest issue of Farm Radio Weekly. In issue #275, we are happy to bring you stories of farmers from Burkina Faso, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Land ownership is a difficult issue for African women, but some countries are starting to recognize women’s rights − as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights − to inherit, own and use their land without being restricted by traditional customs. We bring you a story from Burkina Faso about an effort to encourage men to accept these changes.

Young people in Kenya have discovered that farming is both cool and lucrative! Interest in growing crops, raising livestock and selling produce online has grown with the launch of a social media-based movement, through which young farmers can access information and link up with potential buyers and sellers.

Ethiopian cereal farmers have broadcast their crops for generations. But new efforts to encourage row planting are taking root, and farmers are finding that weeding their fields is quicker and easier, and that yields will likely rise.

Our Script of the Week also highlights the benefits of row planting, in this case by transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to the field. Read more below about different techniques, and the savings that farmers can make on seed and fertilizers.

Keep broadcasting!

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Burkina Faso: Rural women owning land for the first time (by Inoussa Maïga for Farm Radio Weekly)

She has dreamed about it for years, and now it is a reality. Kayentié Ido now farms her own land in the village of Niessan, in central western Burkina Faso. A few months ago, she gained ownership of her ​​two hectares of land. In an unprecedented move, she was given outright ownership of the land by her husband, David Tamain Nignan.

Mrs. Ido, in her forties, is the spokesperson for the women of Niessan. Like most women in her village, she used to be able to grow vegetables only in her husband’s field.

But this did not satisfy her. Mrs. Ido explains: “The world has changed …  small plots are not enough for women. By having their own land, women can help their men with the family’s needs, and with the children’s education.”

Fortunately for Burkina women, a 2009 law recognizes their right to land as being equal to men. Pierre Ouedraogo is the Executive Secretary of Groupe de recherche et d’action sur le foncier, or GRAF, a land rights organization. He says: “There is a long way between a law being passed and it being applied. In the countryside, is it possible for very conservative minds to accept such a change, especially on the controversial, even taboo, issue of rural women’s access to land?”

To investigate whether people would accept the change, GRAF initiated a pilot project in two villages, Niessan and Panassin, in collaboration with the town of Cassou. The project surveyed those recognized as landowners by local customs in the two villages. It also aimed to raise awareness about the new law and to negotiate the temporary or permanent transfer of land to women who want it.

Fatoumata Tall is a lawyer and a member of the project’s negotiating team. She says: “Firstly, we involved ourselves with activities which informed villagers about both the law and the project, and then we worked with men and women separately, to see how women would be able to obtain land.”

The seventy customary land owners who were surveyed agreed to permanently transfer parcels of land ranging from one to more than five hectares to 164 women – their wives, sisters, daughters and daughters-in-law. These women are now waiting for their certificates of land ownership to be issued by the Land Agency in Cassou.

Although reluctant at first, some of the men are already looking forward to changes for the better. Babou Nignan is a farmer from Niessan. He says: “Since I gave two hectares to each of my two wives, I find they leave for the field earlier than before.” He is now convinced that the family will benefit financially when his wives have their own land. He explains, “One of my wives has already sold two bags of groundnuts for 30,000 Central African francs [$62 US].”

Some men had argued that women would not be able to cultivate large areas, and therefore there was no need to give them land. But, determined to prove their husbands wrong, some women even went to work in nearby logging camps to earn a little money to help them better manage their fields.

Mrs. Ido says, “Today we want to show the men that the land that we have demanded can be really productive.”

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Kenya: Successful young entrepreneurs attracted to farming by social media (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Daniel Kimani did not think much about farming when he was growing up. But he has become a national figure since he started fish farming. Mr. Kimani has been featured on Kenyan radio and television.

The 29-year-old from Kenya’s Nyandurua County, about 150 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, graduated from university with a diploma in engineering. Frustrated with the lack of available jobs, he started raising fish after hearing on the radio how agriculture could transform his life.

Mr. Kimani says, “My dream is to become the best young farmer in Africa and be recognized as such by the [United Nations] Food and Agriculture Organization.” He is already being hailed as a Mkulima Young [Young Farmer] Champion.

Mkulima Young was founded in January 2013 as a community-based Facebook page. It has grown into a social media platform which engages Kenyan youth in agriculture via the internet and radio. More than 26,000 people have liked its Facebook page, and it recently added Twitter and YouTube to its social media arsenal as it reaches out to rural and urban youth in Kenya.

Samson Ndung’u lives in Murang’a, a town about 60 kilometres northeast of Nairobi. The twenty-three-year old was known for ferrying passengers on the back of his boda-boda, or motorcycle taxi. While driving a regular client home last year, he tuned his bike’s radio to Coro FM. The station was airing a farming program which mentioned Mkulima Young.

Mr. Ndung’u was intrigued. He recognized a great opportunity when he heard one. So he decided to start a business growing crops in his family’s garden. He harvests vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, spinach and cucumber, which he sells through Mkulima Young’s market page. He, too, has been awarded the status of Mkulima Young Champion.

Joseph Macharia is the founder of Mkulima Young. The thirty-seven-year-old describes Mkulima Young Champions as young people who are not only successful in agriculture, but are inspiring others to do the same.

Mr. Macharia is an agricultural expert and former extension officer. He says: “By having Mkulima Young Champions … the attitude of the youth [towards agriculture] has changed, from viewing it as an activity for the old to a profession that they can mint millions from.”

Mr. Macharia uses social media to rebrand farming to thousands of Kenyan youth. Mkulima Young has created a virtual marketplace called Mkulima Soko [farmer’s market] where farmers can sell their crops online.

Mr. Macharia says, “The culture is changing. You’d be surprised at how many rural youth are on social media.” Through the Mkulima Soko site, young farmers have made 3,000 online sales. Over 10,000 new users have registered for the site.

Margaret Muchui is the principal research officer at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, or KARI. Ms. Muchui coordinates KARI projects that involve youth across Kenya, and has monitored the growth of Mkulima Young over the last year. She says, “They have seen that it is possible to get more money from agriculture compared to formal employment.”

Ms. Muchui sees Mkulima Young as a forum where young people can engage with each other and share concerns and ideas. She adds: “It’s been quite successful because it is an interactive forum. The answers to many questions, or solutions to technology or markets, are provided online. The youths make money from their enterprises.”

Mr. Kimani’s farming techniques are inspiring. The waste from his fish ponds is filtered through stone-filled settlement chambers. Then it is used as fertilizer for his strawberry plants, which he irrigates with the filtered water.

Mr. Kimani says: “Through Mkulima Young, I’ve become a fish farming consultant and a farm manager in one of the biggest trout fish farms in Kenya. I was earning [$650 US] but now I’m earning more than [$1,650 US] per month.”

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Ethiopia: Small-scale wheat farmers plant in rows to combat weedy grasses (By Kalayu Menasbo, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Solomon Girmay smiles as he gazes at his clean, green, and well-organized field of wheat. The crop used to be poor, strangled by grassy weeds that the farmer had been unable to control.

For many years, Mr. Girmay broadcast wheat seeds and was challenged by weed problems and low yields. His wheat grew side by side with grassy weeds, which competed for nutrients. He says, “I lost time managing the grassy weeds…. It took me a long time to separate [the] wheat crop from [the] weeds.”

Mr. Girmay farms near the village of Atsbi Wemberta, about 70 kilometres southeast of Tigray in northern Ethiopia. Like many small-scale farmers in the area, he did not know that planting in rows could help solve his weed problem.

Then he attended a session at the local Farmers’ Training Centre and was introduced to the technique of row planting. Mr. Girmay planted his next wheat crop in rows, leaving about 30 centimetres between each row. He says: “All the grassy weeds that germinate between the rows can be easily removed by hand. It takes less time and little effort. My children are helping me, because it is easy to separate the grassy weeds from the wheat.”

Ethiopian farmers have traditionally broadcast cereal crops. But now the government and other partners are promoting row planting to help farmers more easily manage weeds. The increased yields from reducing competition for nutrients may help to reduce food insecurity in the country.

Asfaw Gebre is a local crop production expert. He says that farmers often lose about half of their potential cereal yield to weeds. Mr. Gebre says: “Farmers face difficulties in controlling grassy weeds because they look like wheat. Farmers like Mr. Girmay who have applied the technique of row planting this year have the chance to control these grassy weeds more easily.’’

Gebretsadiq Tesfay is an expert in extension development and in scaling up best practices. He tells farmers that when cereal seeds are broadcast, weedy grasses rob the crops of sunlight, water, and nutrients. But, he says, “In row planting, where fertilizer and seeds are mixed together and planted in rows … the grassy weeds lack fertilizer, and as a result they become thin and almost disappear.’’

Abraha Kahsay is another small-scale farmer who adopted row planting. He says it is better than broadcasting because he can now differentiate quite easily between the weeds and the crop. He explains: “Last year, I was here the whole summer weeding. But … it is now simple to manage the grassy weeds.”

Mr. Kahsay is confident that his yields will increase. He says, “I have decided to plant my whole farmland in rows next year.”

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Notes to broadcasters on women and land rights

Women’s access to land, property and natural resources is central to realizing their economic rights and well-being. Globally, women form the majority of subsistence farmers, and play a critical role in household food security and small-scale agricultural production. Land tenure is closely linked with daily survival. Land is a productive asset to fall back on in times of crisis. In the event of divorce or widowhood, land is also a form of security, especially in the absence of measures for social protection. Control over land is a very delicate and volatile issue. In many countries, land disputes are the largest source of conflict at the household and community level.

The vast majority of women in Africa cannot afford to purchase land. While land is valued primarily as an economic resource, it is also a symbol of social status, power, and identity. In many countries, women’s relationship with land is directly linked to their relationship with men. They are viewed as dependent mothers, wives or daughters. In this context, a woman who pursues a land claim risks alienating male relatives. This can undermine her social support system. A lack of formal land entitlement can leave widows and divorcees in a precarious position. In many communities, women are not permitted to farm land owned by her husband’s family.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights includes statements regarding the status of women in society:

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with h[er] … home … everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 17: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others; and (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of … property.

Here are some Farm Radio Weekly stories that look at different aspects of women’s access to land:

Tanzania: Maasai women gain access to land (FRW 133, November 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/01/tanzania-maasai-women-gain-access-to-land-by-john-cheburet-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/

Zimbabwe: Women struggle to get title to resettled land (FRW 136, November 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/22/zimbabwe-women-struggle-to-get-title-to-resettled-land-by-rachel-awuor-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/

Rwanda: Rwanda Women’s Network brings hope to rural women (FRW 135, November 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/15/rwanda-rwanda-women%E2%80%99s-network-brings-hope-to-rural-women-by-pius-sawa-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/

Swaziland: Landmark ruling gives Swazi women property rights (FRW 103, March 2010)  http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/03/15/1-swaziland-landmark-ruling-gives-swazi-women-property-rights-ips-irin/

Women’s right to land is necessary for community development (FRW 139, December 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/12/20/women%E2%80%99s-right-to-land-is-necessary-for-community-development/

Here are two scripts which also look at women’s right to land:

Land Ownership Rights: Access Denied: Why Women Need Access to Land (Package 57, Script 9, October 2000) 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/

Women, Property and Inheritance (Package 73, Script 4, January 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-73-hivaids-and-food-security/women-property-and-inheritance/

You may wish to produce a call-in or text-in show and ask callers the following questions regarding women’s land rights:

-Is it common for women to own land in your community or region? Do you know women who have been denied land ownership or access to land?

-Are land laws widely understood? Where can women find up-to-date information about land law? How do customary laws and practice differ from national law? How do these differences affect women?

-What can women do if they are at risk of losing access to land? Where can they turn for help, legal advice or financial support?

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Notes to broadcasters: Youth, ICTs and social media in agriculture

A recent News in brief story on Mkulima Young encouraged Farm Radio Weekly to follow up on their work, and bring you this story of how those who have engaged with the social media platform have found success. You can read that News in brief item here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/11/18/frw-news-in-brief-15/.

Notes to broadcasters on ICTs in African agriculture was published in September 2013 (FRW #262, http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/30/notes-to-broadcasters-icts-in-african-agriculture/).

In August 2012, FRW published Notes to broadcasters on youth and farming as a business (Issue #214: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/27/notes-to-broadcasters-on-youth-and-farming-as-a-business/) and Notes to broadcasters on agricultural co-operatives and youth (Issue #212: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/13/notes-to-broadcasters-on-agricultural-co-operatives-and-youth/.)

Here are some recent stories from FRW on African youth in agriculture:

Older farmer forges partnership with youth to grow profits (Issue #244, April 2013: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/29/comoros-older-farmer-forges-partnership-with-youth-to-grow-profits-by-ahmed-bacar-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-comoros/)

Youth abandon mining to grow cassava (Issue #233, January 2013: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/01/28/tanzania-youth-abandon-mining-to-grow-cassava-by-susuma-susuma-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-tanzania/)

Young woman farmer on road to success (Issue #214, August 2012: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/27/kenya-young-woman-farmer-on-road-to-success-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/)

Agricultural co-operative encourages youth to stay in village (Issue #212, August 2012: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/13/senegal-agricultural-co-operative-encourages-youth-to-stay-in-village-ips/)

How are young people involved in agriculture in your listening area? Are they movers and shakers at local farms and markets? Do they have issues with the financial aspects of buying or renting land to farm? Do young people think it is time for older generations to pass on family farms and herds? Are the youngest children minding the cows and goats rather than attending school? What is the future of farming in your community?

Gather together elders and youth, extensionists and teachers, and local politicians to debate these issues, and broadcast their opinions live or as a recorded show. Many people will want to voice their opinions on a phone-in, and you are guaranteed a lively debate. Whatever you do, remember to highlight the voices of young farmers and young businesspeople.

Don’t forget that Farm Radio International has its own social media platform, Barza.fm, dedicated to broadcasters, journalists and others interested in farming and broadcasting. Visit www.barza.fm and join the ongoing discussions and training sessions! Not registered yet? It’s free and easy!

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Notes to broadcasters: Row planting

Seeding in rows allows individual plants more space to grow, reduces competition for water and nutrients, and makes weeding and harvesting easier. The enhanced airflow in the field reduces fungal disease and the resulting losses of yield.

The TECA webpage (Technologies and practices for small agricultural producers) − part of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization website – has information about planting in rows, including some advantages and disadvantages. “Labour saving technologies and practices: Row planting, hand seeders and planters” is available at: http://teca.fao.org/read/7301. There are also links to other techniques, including conservation agriculture, integrated pest management and improved uses of hand tools. You can download a PDF file by visiting this address: http://teca.fao.org/sites/default/files/technology_files/Row%20planting%2C%20hand%20seeders%20and%20planters.pdf

One advantage of planting in rows is that intercropping, where two or more different crops are planted together, is more easily managed. For more information on intercropping, visit: http://www.allindiary.org/pool/resources/intercropping.pdf, or read FRW’s Notes to broadcasters on intercropping at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/31/notes-to-broadcasters-on-intercropping-as-a-supplement-to-fertilizer/ (issue #143, January 2011).

Planting in rows is a simple technique which, after the initial hard work of planting, makes life easier for farmers. Do farmers in your area plant their crops in rows? Which crops do they find easiest to plant in rows? Do they practice intercropping? If they are still using the broadcast method, why do they prefer it?

Visit farmers in their fields and interview them about their preferred practices. Invite an agricultural extension worker to your farming program to discuss with farmers, either in the studio or by telephone and SMS, the best methods of planting different crops. Everyone will have an opinion, which makes for entertaining listening.

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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-International Year of Family Farming

Smallholder farmers grow 70 per cent of the world’s food, yet 50 per cent of the world’s hungry are small-scale farmers, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

The year 2014 has been dubbed by the United Nations the “International Year of Family Farming” and the UN hopes to emphasize strengthening family farms.

IFOAM is calling for increased awareness about the poverty of many smallholder farmers, and how organic agriculture can help lift them out of poverty. The UN supports organic agriculture as a sustainable method to achieve food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

To read the full article, go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201401140222.html

2-South Sudan: Deteriorating humanitarian situation increases food insecurity

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is warning the international community that the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan threatens food security.

The gains made by South Sudan in the two years since independence are in jeopardy, says FAO, and the organization is increasingly concerned about getting seeds, livestock vaccines, fishing gear and other agricultural inputs to farmers who need them.

The United Nations’ Crisis Response Plan, along with FAO, is seeking $61 million US for crucial food assistance and livelihood activities to support rural and urban families disrupted by conflict and displacement in South Sudan.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.sociolingo.com/violence-in-south-sudan-could-increase-hunger-and-food-insecurity-61-million-needed-to-protect-and-rebuild-food-security-and-livelihoods-of-south-sudanese/

3-Kenya: Government invests in aquaculture

The Kenyan government has invested $2.2 million Kenya shillings [$25,500 US] to construct 940 fish ponds in 47 counties across the country.

According to officials, the ponds will be established at secondary schools, and the funding will go toward liners, fingerlings and feed. Selected students will be trained in modern fish farming skills.

In 2009, the Kenyan government launched the Economic Stimulus Program to boost investment in aquaculture. The objectives of the program are to invest in long-term solutions to the challenges of food security, while creating jobs and economic opportunities for rural Kenyans. Four small-scale fish processing plants have been constructed in four Kenyan counties.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.africanfarming.net/livestock/aquaculture/kenyan-government-invests-us-2-2mn-in-construction

4-EAC guidelines on preventing avian flu

The East African Community, or EAC, along with Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, has issued guidelines on how to prevent the spread of avian flu, also known as H5N1 avian influenza.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, warned recently about the re-emergence of the disease in the northern hemisphere as the winter season approaches.

Health experts say the disease is spread in a number of ways, but mainly through infected birds and contaminated feed, equipment, cages and shoes. FAO and the Kenyan ministry want EAC member states to distribute information on early detection and on how to prevent an outbreak of the disease.

To read the full story, go to: http://www.africanfarming.net/livestock/poultry/eac-issues-guidelines-to-prevent-avian-flu

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Call for applications: Broadcast course on sexual and reproductive health

The Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) invites applications for the 2014 edition of its four-week course for broadcast journalists called “Facts and Formats: Sexual and Reproductive Health.” The course focuses on how to develop creative ideas to effectively target specific audiences on sexual health-related issues.

Applications are welcomed from TV and radio journalists with more than three years of experience in factual programming (outside news and current affairs).

You will need to submit two different applications, one for the course and one for the NFP grant. Visit the RNTC website http://www.rntc.nl/factsandformats and the NFP page at http://www.rntc.nl/nfp for more details.

The deadline for applications is March 1, 2014.

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New phone application offers worldwide access to community radios

RadCom Radios is a new phone app that allows easier access to community radio stations via the internet.

The tool is available in versions for iOS, Android and web, and can be downloaded free at the website: www.rebaixada.org/RadCom. The application allows access to 64 community radio stations in 17 countries.

RadCom Radios was developed in Brazil by Arthur William, a journalist, researcher and representative of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, or AMARC. Mr. William notes that community radios give space to local cultures, and the voices and accents of their communities. Mr. William says, “There are other applications for radios for smart phones, but it is difficult [for listeners] to specifically choose community broadcasters.”

It is still possible for community radio stations across the world to be added to this application − especially stations in Africa, which is currently under-represented.

The application also offers navigation through an interactive map available at this address: http://rebaixada.org/radcom/mapa/.

For more information on this app, please visit: http://www2.amarc.org/?q=node/1555

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Farm Radio International gets interactive

Farm Radio International’s ICT and Radio Manager Bart Sullivan attended the Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7), called “Open Learning for Development: Towards Empowerment and Transformation”  in Abuja, Nigeria from December 2-6, 2013.

Mr. Sullivan’s objective at PCF7 was to demonstrate the ICT tools Farm Radio uses to engage radio audiences, including Beep 2 Vote, an SMS platform which allowed conference attendees to respond to questions throughout sessions.

For more information on the conference go to: http://pcf7.net/#

Farm Radio has developed e-courses for broadcasters over the last four years, providing online education on a range of subjects, including scriptwriting and how to design farmer programs. Farm Radio e-courses are offered in both French and English. For more information, visit FRI’s website: www.farmradio.org

Back in his base in Arusha, Tanzania, Mr. Sullivan has been joined by Thad Kerosky, from Boston, USA, and Loïc Nogues, from Annecy, France. They will be helping to develop voice and SMS technologies to improve interactivity between radio stations and their listeners, and redesigning the FRI and Barza websites. They will shortly be joined by Muniu Kariuki from Kenya, who will be assisting with the development of FRI’s Android applications. More information about these and other developments will follow soon: watch this space!

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Higher yields and less weeding if you transplant rice from a nursery

This week’s story from Ethiopia recommends planting wheat in rows to ease the challenge of weeding. Our script of the week also suggests a best practice to ease weeding, but this time in rice.

Transplanting is an important agricultural practice for rice, especially lowland and irrigated rice. It involves uprooting young rice seedlings from a nursery or “seedbed” at the 3 or 4-leaf stage (generally about 15 to 21 days old), and transplanting them into a cultivated field. Transplanting reduces the requirement for weeding, reduces the need for irrigation, and requires fewer seeds. At the same time, it gives higher yields. But farmers must follow proper transplanting techniques to achieve success. These techniques are outlined in the script.

Practices for transplanting from seedbed to field vary from one country to another. For example, some farmers use a long string that is marked at regular intervals. After each line is planted, they move the string to the next row. Farmers often leave 20 centimetres between plants and 20 centimetres between rows. But this depends on the type of cultivation tools available. To reduce the workload, farmers in Zeguesso, in southern Mali, use their feet as a guide when transplanting in rows. The rows aren’t perfectly straight, but farmers say the method is quick and simple.

This script is presented in two parts. You might want to use them together in one time slot, or separate them into two programs to be aired at different times.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-85/higher-yields-and-less-weeding-if-you-transplant-rice-from-a-nursery/

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