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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 #276

Anthills; and mountains to climb

Thank you for taking the time to read Farm Radio Weekly. In issue #276, you will find two stories about farmers in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and a news brief about the situation in the Central African Republic.

Mthulisi Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean farmer who cannot afford to buy chemical fertilizers. But he has found an ingenious solution. He digs into anthills and mixes the diggings into his topsoil to increase fertility and improve soil structure.

Women’s rights to land and inheritance are always in the news. Tanzanian Elizabeth Paul is fighting to reclaim the property which was taken by her husband’s family following his death. She should have been protected by the law, but customary practices take a long time to change.

Farm Radio Weekly brings you news this week about the serious situation in the Central African Republic. Over 1,000 people were killed in December alone in ongoing violence between rival factions. Farmers have lost crops and property to looters and are having difficulty finding seeds and tools to plant their fields. With aid agencies warning of genocide and food shortages, can the recent change of leadership bring stability to the country and allow farmers to grow their crops in peace?

The 22nd African Union Summit is being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Find out how to follow the proceedings in our Resource section on the sidebar.

Turn off your phone, put your feet up, and indulge yourself in a good read. We wish you a peaceful week!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Zimbabwe: Farmer uses anthills to improve his soils (by Nqobani Ndlovu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

With the rains approaching, Mthulisi Ndlovu leaves his homestead early in the morning to hunt down anthills and dig them up. Anthills may provide shelter for ants, but they are also essential to this small-scale farmer.

Mr. Ndlovu farms near Gwanda, about 120 kilometres southeast of Bulawayo. He uses a donkey cart to carry the anthill diggings back to his land.

When Mr. Ndlovu mixes the anthill soil into his topsoil during land preparation, it acts like fertilizer. He says, “We have sandy soils and I have realized that the anthill soils are the best form of manure, since they improve soil texture and clay content.”

A 10-kilogram bag of fertilizer costs about $20 US at farmers’ shops. Mr. Ndlovu says this is far too much for him to afford.

Anthill soil has become the only option for him, and for many other small-scale farmers who cannot afford to buy chemical fertilizers. It has been used as fertilizer and to boost the physical condition of the soil since farmers first began trying to improve their land.

Nobezwe Suthu is another small-scale farmer. He says that anthill soils provide excellent organic manure, especially for poor soils that do not hold water.

Mr. Suthu says, “They are good for soil fertility. They are the best form of manure, as they help retain soil moisture and texture.”

Berean Mukwende is the Deputy President of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union. He agrees that anthill soil has a beneficial effect on farmland. Mr. Mukwende says: “Anthills are for improving clay content and soil texture so that the nitrogen [and other] plant nutrients and micronutrients that are important to the growth of the plant [remain available in the soil].”

But he advises farmers to get a soil test before using anthill diggings. In order to improve yields, he says, farmers must ensure that adding anthill soils results in a proper balance of nutrients in the field.

He explains, “Not all anthills are good for farming. Some of them are alkaline and are very bad for farming. We advise farmers to have the anthill soils tested before use.”

Mr. Mukwende says the Union advises farmers to do soil tests on their fields before applying any kind of fertilizer. This can prevent wastage or misuse of expensive chemicals or home-produced manures.

Peter Dube is a local agricultural expert. He says that anthill soils have always provided great results when compared to chemical fertilizer.

He says that organic fertilizers such as anthill soils, manures and composts are better suited for agricultural soils because they improve its capacity to store nutrients for the current growing season and beyond. He adds, “Nothing beats organic fertilizers.”

Mr. Ndovlu is improving his fields by adding soil from the anthills dotted around the countryside near his farm. The extra effort of digging into the anthills and mixing the soil into his fields improves the health of his land, and saves him the expense of shop-bought fertilizers.

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Tanzania: Widows struggle as relatives grab property (Trust)

Elizabeth Paul remembers how she suffered two years ago after her husband died. Not only was she grieving, but her father-in-law kicked her out of her home.

Mrs. Paul recalls, “I was so helpless, I couldn’t resist; and the anguish of losing my husband was so overwhelming.”

The 42-year-old from Majengo in the Dodoma region of central Tanzania had been married for over a decade. She says her father in-law accused her of being responsible for the death of his son. She adds, “He was very angry with me. He did not even talk about the future of my children.”

Mrs. Paul says her brothers-in-law became embroiled in a family feud as they jostled over her late husband’s property. They grabbed the farmland, the livestock and the house. But last year brought some hope. A friend advised her to take legal action, with the help of a Tanzanian NGO called Women Wake Up.

Mrs. Paul cannot afford legal costs. But, she says, “I hope they will help me recover some of my assets.”

Women Wake Up strives to help women, and widows in particular, understand property ownership rights. Burton Mwidowe is a trainer at the organization. He says, “Our aim is to help people find justice.  We target women and children because they are [the] most vulnerable.”

Women’s property rights are enshrined in the Tanzanian constitution, which establishes the equality of all persons. A paragraph in Article 24 states: “Every person is entitled to own property … it shall be unlawful for any person to be deprived of his property for the purposes of nationalization or any other purposes without the authority of law which makes provision for fair and adequate compensation.”

Women’s land rights are also guaranteed by specific laws in Tanzania. The Village Land Act of 1999 explicitly states that the rights of women to acquire, hold, use and deal with land are equal to those of men. But despite this law, land rights and fair inheritance remain elusive for many women.

Research on Poverty Alleviation is a Tanzanian NGO that produced a study in 2010 entitled Widowhood and Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and Related Shocks. It showed that grabbing land and property from widows is still widespread in Tanzania.

About half of the widows interviewed during the study said that in-laws and other relatives had prevented them from inheriting their husbands’ property.

Yefred Myenzi is a researcher with the Tanzanian land rights group HAKIARDHI, or Land RIghts. He says, “Most women have access to land through their spouses but do not own (it) on their own. In many instances, widows and divorced women are being harassed by male relatives.”

Nyambona Mawalla is a 33-year-old widow from Mvumi village in Dodoma. She was recently denied a share of her late husband’s assets because she refused to accept her tribal tradition and be inherited by a brother in-law.

Mrs. Mawalla says: “I reported the matter to a local [government] office but I was told to sit with elders to resolve the matter as a family, since I was married under customary arrangement.”

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Central African Republic: Major food crisis looms

Aid agencies are warning of a looming food crisis in the Central African Republic, or CAR, if farmers do not receive more seeds and tools.

A violent coup by Seleka rebels overthrew the government in March, 2013. Since then, rebels have burned small-scale farmers’ crops to the ground and stolen their tools and livestock. This has had a serious impact on food security in the country.

Dominique Burgeon is the Emergencies Director of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. He says, “A high proportion of farmers were unable to sow their fields for the last season or sowed only a reduced area, so this year, food stocks will run out low sooner [than usual].”

CAR has a Christian majority and a minority Muslim population. Violence between the mainly Muslim rebels and Christian anti-balaka groups killed 1,000 people in December.

Aid groups say considerable amounts of food aid are urgently needed to avert a crisis and restart agricultural production. Amidst the violence, Catherine Samba-Panza, the Christian former mayor of the capital city, Bangui, was elected the country’s interim President. She is the first woman President of the CAR.

Ms. Samba-Panza, 59, is seen as politically neutral. She replaces Michael Djotodia, the country’s first Muslim president, who resigned on January 10 following pressure from regional leaders and the country’s former colonial ruler, France.

Mr. Burgeon says: “We estimate that currently 1.2 million people in the country are food insecure and 40 percent of those are severely food insecure. Normally in this country the hunger gap starts in July, but this year we expect it to start in February.”

In Ms. Samba-Panza’s victory speech, she urged the warring factions to end the bloodshed. She said: “I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the [Muslim groups] − they should not have fear. I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.”

In November of last year, aid agencies and the UN warned that the fighting risked spiralling into genocide. Four thousand African Union peacekeeping troops and 1,600 French troops are currently in the country to help end the violence.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, estimates there are almost 900,000 displaced people in the country, including half a million in Bangui alone. OCHA is urging people to return home and start farming.

The disruption and displacement of farmers, along with the destruction and pillaging of farms, has caused widespread food insecurity. A rapid assessment carried out by aid agencies reports: “… 78 per cent of respondents state that farmers will be cultivating in upcoming weeks … according to direct observation, even displaced farmers will have easier access to land and more time to open fields than last year.”

The statement continues, “Provision of agricultural inputs and support, such as seeds, is crucial to restore their productive capacities.”

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Notes to broadcasters: Soil health and fertility

Soil fertility, or lack of fertility, is an issue for all farmers. Much of a farmer’s effort is devoted to ensuring the soil has the nutrients it needs to produce crops. Soil fertility can be boosted both through traditional methods – such as mulching and fallowing – and newer methods such as applying chemical fertilizer.

Farm Radio Weekly has covered this subject before. Farmers restore soil fertility to boost yields (Issue #217, September 2012) can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/17/farmers-restore-soil-fertility-to-boost-yields-by-johanna-absalom-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-namibia/

A story from June, 2013 (Restoring land restores women’s dignity, FRW #250) tells of women who are involved in the process of bringing barren and unfertile soils back to productivity. You can read it at this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/06/17/niger-restoring-land-restores-women%E2%80%99s-dignity-by-souleymane-maazou-for-farm-radio-weekly/

An age-old practice to improve soil fertility is crop rotation, which often involves a fallow period designed to allow soils to recover naturally. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_rotation

Agricultural practices that improve soil fertility can help farmers address other common problems. For example, mulching (spreading organic matter on the soil around plants) helps with water management by decreasing evaporation of moisture from the soil. And intercropping legumes (plants which take nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil) can help keep invasive weeds out of the field, while providing an additional crop.

Notes to broadcasters on tied ridges and other soil and water conservation techniques (FRW #260, September 2013) may be useful for preparing a program or discussion on soil fertility. It is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/09/16/notes-to-broadcasters-tied-ridges-and-other-soil-and-water-conservation-techniques/

Farm Radio International explored many aspects of soil health in a Resource Pack published in July 2010: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-91-soil-health/. The Issue pack attached to this Resource Pack contains background information on soil health, soil health practices, ideas for radio productions and further resources concerning soil health.

You may wish to host a call-in show that invites farmers to discuss what methods they find most effective in boosting soil fertility.

-What materials (such as manure, crop residues, or chemical fertilizers) do they add to the soil maintain or improve soil fertility?

-Can they describe any application techniques (for example, preparing compost from available materials, or microdosing chemical fertilizer) that they find particularly effective?

-What other methods (such as rotating crops, intercropping, or growing crops like Tithonia (, a plant with leaves that increase soil fertility when incorporated into the soil or made into compost) have local farmers found helpful in improving or maintaining soil fertility?

-For each technique, what is the cost in terms of time and money, and what is the payoff in terms of increased production and value of crops produced?

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Notes to broadcasters: Women and land rights

To read the full article on which this week’s story was based, Widows in Tanzania struggle with property grabbing by relatives, please go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140120013155-tgyhs/?source=hptop

Women’s access to land, property and natural resources is a basic human right. Around the world, women do the majority of work on farms and in the home. Being able to own land, property and livestock is closely linked with daily survival. In the event of divorce or widowhood, women should not face the prospect of being disinherited.

The vast majority of women in Africa cannot afford to buy land. While land is valued for its capacity to produce food and support domestic animals, 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. Therefore, a woman who attempts to stake a formal land claim risks alienating male relatives. This can undermine her position in her family and community. When widows and divorcees are not in possession of a legal deed of ownership, they can find themselves in a precarious state.

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… privacy, family 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; (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:

Burkina Faso: Rural women owning land for the first time (FRW #275, January 2014) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2014/01/20/burkina-faso-rural-women-owning-land-for-the-first-time-by-inoussa-maiga-for-farm-radio-weekly/

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: Effects of conflict on farmers and other rural people

The articles on which this News brief was based can be found on the Internet. They are: Central African Republic MPs elect Catherine Samba-Panza (BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25811250 and Centrafrique: Une crise alimentaire majeure se profile (AllAfrica: http://fr.allafrica.com/stories/201401202219.html)

A Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council was called as the Central African Republic continues to suffer a humanitarian and political crisis. For an audio excerpt on the situation in the country, visit the United Nations’ Radio site: http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2014/01/human-rights-discussed-as-genocide-threat-hangs-over-central-african-republic/

For decades, agricultural researchers have struggled to find ways to improve crop production and food security for small-scale farmers, especially in Africa where drought and famine complicate the difficulties.  When drought is coupled with political instability, a bad situation only gets worse. Violence and war disrupt production, marketing and transportation. They are generally very bad news for farmers.

Farm Radio Weekly has covered the consequences of conflict in Civil war landmines threaten returning farmers (FRW #14, March 2008), which explores the issues around refugees and landmines: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/03/10/democratic-republic-of-the-congo-civil-war-landmines-threaten-returning-farmers-by-sylvie-bora-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-bukavu-democratic-republic-of-the-congo/

Former diamond miners seek new treasures from the earth, a story from March, 2009, shows how farmers, forced off their land by armed rebels in search of diamonds, have returned to farming. You can read that here: (FRW #60: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/03/30/1-sierra-leone-former-diamond-miners-seek-new-treasures-from-the-earth-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/)

After the war comes the rebuilding. Midwife puts women’s rights at the heart of her hospital (FRW #271, December 2013: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/12/09/somaliland-midwife-puts-womens-rights-at-the-heart-of-her-hospital-trust/) highlights how one woman built a hospital and trained medical professionals who make a real difference to their communities in Somaliland.

One of the first casualties of war is the truth. Unfortunately, women are also among the first casualties. FRW has produced Notes to broadcasters on the Elimination of Violence Against Women http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/11/25/notes-to-broadcasters-international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women/ (FRW #269, November 2013).

Journalists who cover news in trouble spots are also at risk. The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a Journalist Security Guide aimed at helping journalists evaluate and prevent risks. http://cpj.org/reports/2012/04/journalist-security-guide.php

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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-Tanzania: Land clashes lead to deaths

Ongoing conflicts between farmers and pastoralists over limited land and water resources are making life difficult for Tanzanian farmers.

A recent clash between small-scale farmers and Maasai pastoralists in central Tanzania’s Kiteto district led to 10 deaths, according to Inter Press Services.

Local farmers accused district officials of colluding with pastoralists to intimidate farmers living on the Embroi Murtangosi forest reserve and chase them off their land.

Kisioki Mesiaya, a farmer in Kiteto district, told Inter Press Services, “It’s no secret; we are being harassed because there are certain people who are getting paid to evict us from this area.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/01/tanzania-finds-hard-stop-farmers-herders-fighting-resources/

2-Mali: Hit with a double crisis

The area around Bandiagara in central Mali’s Mopti region is coping with two crises: the total collapse of its tourism industry, and successive poor harvests which have led to depleted food stocks.

There has been a threefold increase in child malnutrition in the village of Nombori, according to local health professionals.

The tourism industry has collapsed because of the 2012 takeover of northern Mali by Islamic militants, and a string of kidnappings.

Insufficient rainfall and a disappointing harvest of millet, a regional staple, have exacerbated food insecurity. The government conducted a food security assessment which showed that over 150,000 people in the Bandiagara area will be seriously affected by the food shortage.

Sally Haydock is the head of the UN’s World Food Programme in Mali. She said, “It’s clear that people have fewer than two months’ stocks after the harvest.” The UN agency expects those stocks to run out by the end of January.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99479/mali-s-dogon-hit-by-double-crisis

3-Mauritania: Rural exodus causes crisis

For decades, working-age men in rural Mauritania have fled to towns and cities in search of work, causing social disruption in rural areas.

The international NGOs Caritas and Action Against Hunger estimate that over 75 per cent of working-age men in villages in two regions of the country have migrated to the capital, Nouakchott, and other towns.

Divorce rates in some rural areas have risen dramatically, and adolescents and children are dropping out of school. The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Rural Development says that this trend has been in evidence for 40 years.

Mauritania’s government and aid agencies are trying to encourage men to stay at home by boosting rural incomes and food security. They plan to distribute small plots of land and livestock in targeted areas.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99478/rural-exodus-disrupts-social-order-in-mauritania

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Call for entries: 2014 One World Media Corruption Reporting Award

The media play a crucial role in providing citizens with information to help them stand up to corruption. An independent and free media is a public watchdog on the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery. Reporting about corruption takes courage and determination. Only when corruption is uncovered can it be tackled.

To this end, Transparency International (http://www.transparency.org/) is sponsoring a Corruption Reporting Award as part of the 2014 One World Media Awards.

The goal of the award is to highlight and encourage the coverage of corruption around the world. The award honours journalists who bring to light the abuses of entrusted power.

The award covers broadcast, radio, TV, print and web reports accessible in English about corruption in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia or the post-Soviet States. The full text of Transparency International’s press release is available here: http://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/call_for_entries_for_the_2014_one_world_media_corruption_reporting_award_sp

For more information on eligibility and how to enter the competition, go to: http://oneworldmedia.org.uk/how-to-enter. For a full description of all the available award categories, visit: http://oneworldmedia.org.uk/award-categories

The deadline for entries is January 29, 2014.

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Commonwealth of Learning offers online course: Communication for development (C4D): Why. How. Now.

The Commonwealth of Learning is offering a five-week online course on the nuts and bolts of effective communication for development. The course introduces learners to the principles and practices of C4D, focusing on how target communities can participate in efforts to address health and development issues, foster learning, and bring about positive social change.

During the course, participants will learn to:

  • differentiate between top-down and bottom-up approaches to communication;
  • identify the benefits of a participatory, people-centred communication program for development based on C4D principles and practices;
  • self-assess organizational readiness for a C4D program;
  • create a checklist of dos and don’ts for a successful C4D program;
  • make an introductory presentation on C4D to their organization; and
  • identify the key elements of the topic/issue of interest to their organization for the second instalment of this program of study.

Participants must be able to read and write English effectively. They must also have basic computer and online skills, including the ability to navigate the Internet, use word processing and presentation software, and download and install software.

The deadline to apply for this course is January 31, 2014.

The course will be held from February 16 to March 22, 2014. The time commitment for the course is 30 hours, with three hours of practical assignments. Fees for the online course are $105 US, payable in local currencies. Scholarships to cover all costs are available to citizens of any Commonwealth country, and are currently being processed.

Send an email to njuki@kcomnet.org or amos@kcomnet.org if you have questions.

To learn more about the course, go to: http://www.col.org/progServ/programmes/livelihoods/healthyComm/CLP/Pages/Course1.aspx

Click here to fill out the application form: http://fs6.formsite.com/kmadmincolorg/form5/index.html

This course is the first in a series of six distance training and mentoring courses.

To learn more about this series, contact Ian Pringle at: ipringle@col.org

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African Union Summit: Agriculture and Food Security

The theme of the 22nd African Union Summit is “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.” The conference, which focuses on agriculture and food security, opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 21 and runs until January 31.

The formal launch of the year 2014 as Year of Agriculture and Food Security will take place at the summit.

The African Union website has plenty of resources for journalists and broadcasters, including press releases, news and events, transcripts of speeches, and the proceedings of the conference. These resources can be accessed at this link: http://summits.au.int/en/22ndsummit

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Can a reality show really deliver aid to Africa?

In an article published recently in Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper, Canadian journalist Marc Ellison explores this question as he reports on his experiences with Farm Radio International’s work with Malian farmers, journalists and broadcasters.

For two months, Mr. Ellison worked with FRI to provide technical training of local journalists at Radio Fanaka, in Fana, Mali. In association with FRI, the radio station produced a six-part radio reality show called Daba Kamalen, Bambara for “Best farmer.”

In recent years, young Malians haven’t been interested in an occupation often perceived as old-fashioned, even though instability in the country and ongoing drought have caused food shortages. Many would rather seek their fortune in the capital, Bamako, or risk their lives in the country’s artisanal gold mines.

FRI’s plan was simple − create a reality show that would follow the ups and downs of six young people trying to become successful farmers. Daba Kamalen is actually based on a traditional competition held in Malian villages to identify the best farmer. Over 40 young people applied to take part in the series.

Farm Radio International’s Mark Leclair says, “There has been an interest in doing something larger in scale that would reach the whole country, but this, of course, all depends on the interest from donors.”

You can read Marc Ellison’s full article in the Toronto Star at this link: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/01/20/can_a_reality_show_really_deliver_aid_to_africa.html

For another take on FRI’s involvement with the radio series, follow this link to the FRI audio postcard page: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/08/08/audio-postcard-reality-radio-in-mali/

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Soil fertility and climate change: An issue pack

In this week’s story from Zimbabwe, farmers use anthill diggings to replenish the fertility of their soil. Our script of the week is all about soil fertility.

Unfortunately, soil fertility is declining in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change is expected to bring more extreme weather events such as flooding and drought, and more unpredictable weather. These changes will likely only deepen problems with soil fertility.

Soil fertility is declining for a variety of reasons, including burning crop residues, excessive or insufficient use of fertilizers, and improper crop rotations.

But there are many traditional and modern practices which can help boost soil fertility, and assist farmers in making their farms more resilient and adaptable to the changing climate. These include micro-dosing of fertilizer, using rather than burning crop residues and other organic matter, planting nitrogen-fixing crops and trees, making good use of compost and manure, and taking steps to prevent wind and water erosion. Best practices will vary by region, and will often build on local knowledge.

This issue pack begins with two true stories about farmers and soil fertility. It then offers some background information on the subject. Next, it suggests some starting points for creating locally relevant radio programs. Finally, it lists various kinds of resources on soil fertility – radio programs, documents, and organizations working on the issue.


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