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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 #288

Opportunities, threats, and the future of African farming

Greetings! In issue #288, you will find stories aboutbiofortified crops, albinism, and the challenges of attracting young Africans to farming.

One of the biggest problems that impoverished people face is ensuring that their diets contain the full range of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy living. One solution is to grow crops that are better sources of these nutrients. Our story highlights a Tanzanian businessman who seized the opportunity to cash in on orange–fleshed sweet potatoes.

People living with albinism often face serious problems from exposure to the sun. This can be particularly serious for African albinos whose livelihoods depend on farming. Now the Liberia Albino Society is campaigning for help to protect themselves against skin cancer.

Unless more young people can be persuaded to take up the family business, the future of African agriculture is under threat. Entrepreneurs are needed in any industry and farming is no exception. Is enough being done to persuade young Africans to stay in their fields rather than migrate to cities?

Our Script of the week looks at how to persuade young peopleto believe that staying at home is preferable to migrating to cities. The two-part script presents an opportunity to raise thisissue with young people and create an ongoing radio series based on their experiences in your listening communities.

Everyone needs support and guidance. But it is essential to find out exactly what kind of support and guidance people want and need.

Keep your finger on the pulse of your communities.​

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Tanzania: Radio plants seed in farmers’ minds (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Dickson Mhoro loves orange-fleshed sweet potato. Mr. Mhoro thinks that small-scale farmers in Tanzania need to be more aware of OFSP.

Sitting in traffic can be tedious. But 53-year-old businessman Loiruki Mollel uses the time to listen to the radio. He tunes in to Kilimo chetu [Our farming] on Radio Maria 89.1 FM as he manoeuvres his way through traffic in Dar es Salaam.

Mr. Mollel had read a newspaper story about the health benefits of the orange-fleshed sweet potato, or OFSP, and was intrigued. He remembers: “Not long afterward, I was listening to [Radio Maria] and heard a program with farmers talking about the lack of OFSP vines around Dar. I decided to get into agribusiness and produce OFSP myself.”

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, acompound that the body converts to vitamin A. Also found in carrots, pumpkins and other orange-fleshed foods, vitamin A is important for human growth and development, and for maintaining the immune system and good vision.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to slow bone development and stunted growth. According to the World Health Organization, a lack of dietary vitamin A causes between a quarter and ahalf a million children in developing countries to lose their sight every year.

Mr. Mollel became convinced that growing and eating OFSP would help small-scale farming families improve their health. He says, “I became very interested in … improving children’s nutrition. This, I believe, will be good for the economy and the country at large.”

He approached his friend Dickson Mhoro for help. Mr. Mhoro owns two hectares of land in Kigamboni, on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Mhoro has plenty of experience in agriculture. He worked for the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for eight years. The two men set up their business in 2013, focusing on growing OFSP.

Mr. Mhoro says: “We have two types of OFSP vines. The first is called Kabode and is very strong. The second is Mataya and produces many [sweet] potatoes. As for fertilizer, I’ve started using organic poultry manure, which seems to be working well this season. The OFSP needs three to four months to harvest.”

The two men have distributed their vines to farmers in and around Dar es Salaam and further afield.

David Nyirenda is a small-scale farmer from Tanga, a town about 350 kilometres north of Dar es Salaam. He heard about OFSP and travelled south to buy some vines from Mr. Mhoro.Now he multiplies the vines himself and supplies farmers in his region.

Mr. Nyirenda says, “We work together. For example, this season a few farmers in northern Tanzania were looking for vines and [Mr. Mhoro] put them in touch with me.”

Mr. Mollel, Mr. Mhoro and Mr. Nyirenda think that small-scale farmers in Tanzania need to be more aware of OFSP. Through educational programs like Radio Maria’s Kilimochetu, radio stations can inform the public of the health benefits of OFSP, and connect farmers to vine growers and markets where they can sell their nutritious harvest.

Mr. Mollel recently relocated from Dar es Salaam to Mtwara in southern Tanzania. He says: “We’re trying to expand our business and begin exporting to other countries where OFSP vines aren’t available … I see an opportunity to feed the world and benefit Tanzania economically.”

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Liberia: Albino farmers’ urgent cry for help (by Prince Collins, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Musu Morris plants cassava under the bright, hot sun. She is worried about her skin. Mrs. Morris and other albino farmers in Liberia not only face discrimination because of their lack of pigmentation; they also suffer from higher rates of skin cancer.

Mrs. Morris says: “We need help right now. Not tomorrow but now. We are dying from skin cancer. Our government is not doing much about this.”

Patricia Logan is the president of the Liberia Albino Society, and is also worried about skin cancer. Several albino farmershave died in recent years, and many others are affected. Mrs. Logan explains: “Our people are dying from skin cancer every year … We have lost eight of our people, mainly local farmers, from skin cancer and there are more to come.”

Mrs. Logan said the Society has increased its advocacy work across the country. The organization wants albinos to be aware of the danger and to protect themselves. She says: “We have done a lot of advocacy and education when it comes to cancer, [such as] how they can protect themselves.” TheSociety’s main message is the importance of sunblock creams, which they supply to their members.

There are approximately 500 albinos in Liberia, and more than 200 are urban or rural farmers. Albinos tend to suffer from short-sightedness, which makes it difficult to clearly see objects at a distance. They would like help from government and donors to get corrective lenses. This would allow them to manage bigger farms.

Albino children are often bullied in schools and their needs are frequently overlooked, even within their own families. Mrs. Logan says: “When it comes to schooling, parents …prefer putting the money into their black children. I don’t know if it is because of their eyesight or the way they look. People just look at them as the least person in society. Because of that, they are left behind.”

Mrs. Morris sends her kids to school with the money she earns from her cassava harvest. But, she says: “We suffer from the sun because our pigmentation is very low. In the evening we get chilly, we get sick and [get] sores on our lips. What black people can [deal with], we cannot. The sun causes a lot of harm to us.”

Mrs. Logan is keen to point out that albino children are like any others. Given the chance, they, too, can contribute to society.

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Africa: Young people not attracted to agriculture (IPS)

Ketsela Negatu refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps. The 19-year-old son of an Ethiopian goat herder lives near Addis Ababa. His negative view of the family business grew from seeing his father’s struggles.

Mr. Negatu says, “I’ll go into town and try to find work … I want to find a job that pays more money so I can live a good life.”

The teenager’s views are similar to those of other young Africans. Young people think farming offers little money and poor prospects; this causes many to leave family fields and migrate to the city.

Food production is essential for Africa, both to eliminate hunger and to access global food markets. But not enough is being done to engage Africa’s youth in agriculture.

Gebremedhine Birega is the Ethiopian representative for the NGO Network for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa. He says: “There are not enough [good reasons] for young people to get involved in agriculture in African countries. Young farmers need good prices for [their] products … Why should they [work hard] and stay poor?”

Gerda Verburg is the Chair of the Committee on World Food Security. She says that young unemployed Africans can benefit from the increased commercialization of agriculture. Creating a productive and profitable agricultural sector will strengthen food security and create decent jobs and good incomes for young people.

Ms. Verburg says: “We must try to reverse the rural mentality that says that agriculture is a last option. [The creation of] value chains will earn the farmer more for his work than the local market.”

José Graziano da Silva is the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. He believes economic growth in Africa and the changing tastes of the emerging middle class will create opportunities for young farmers to profit from attractive and lucrative value chains.

He says, “There are emerging markets such as aquaculture where we see good growth potential. More investment in these markets offers the greatest opportunities for the employment of young people.”

Less than 10 per cent of rural households in sub-Saharan Africa have electricity. Better access to electricity in rural areas would encourage young people to stay. It would satisfy their desire for a modern lifestyle that includes telecommunications and Internet connectivity.

There is a real potential for African youth to earn a decent living from agriculture. Africa boasts more over half of the world’s unused fertile land. But young Africans are not yet attracted to the new “agricultural renaissance.”

Mr. Negatu says, “I would work and stay in the country, but only if things improved here. Unless they do, I will go into town to see if there is something better.”

To read the article on which this story is based, go to:http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/africas-youth-yet-lured-unglamorous-farming/

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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-Cote d’Ivoire: Ivorians face malnutrition

Forty per cent of children in northern Cote d’Ivoire are chronically malnourished, higher than the national average of 30 per cent.

The proportion of malnourished children in the countryhas remained constant for the last six years. But with too few medical staff, the situation is likely to deteriorate, and is further complicated by aid groups leaving and recent political conflict.

In 2012, three UN agencies warned that Cote d’Ivoirefaced food shortages and chronic malnutrition because ofthe number of people displaced in the 2010-11 violence,and also because of poor rainfall and an extended lean season.

At the time, rebels controlled the northern part of the country. The government has yet to improve public services in the north.

To read the full article, go to:http://www.irinnews.org/report/99907/chronic-malnutrition-dogs-c%C3%B4te-d-ivoire-s-north

2-Uganda: Food aid for Karamoja

In the arid northeastern Ugandan region of Karamoja, households are receiving food aid earlier than usual this year.

The World Food Programme, or WFP, is distributing food to help fight food insecurity. WFP is targeting 155,000 people from the most food insecure households. The organization aims to help over 350,000 people with an asset creation program; 100,000 children will receive school meals through the plan.

According to a food security assessment conducted by Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, WFP and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, over 100,000 Karamojong face food insecurity, while a quarter of a million are at risk because of the long dry spell across the region.

To read the full article, go to:http://www.irinnews.org/report/99903/questions-over-karamoja-food-security-plan

3-Rwanda: Biofortified beans fight hunger

In 2000, the national government awarded Joane Nkuliye 25 hectares of land in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, a two hour drive from the capital, Kigali.

At first, Ms. Nkuliye thought about raising cattle. But when she saw the degree of malnutrition in the community, she changed her mind.

Ms. Nkuliye now grows food as well on 11 hectares of her land in Nyagatare district. She focuses on biofortified, protein-rich beans to help fight malnutrition. Many children in the area suffer from kwashiorkor, aform of malnutrition caused by severe protein deficiency.

An international NGO called HarvestPlus, working through its local partners, supplied Ms. Nkuliye with seeds, packaging and outlets through which she canmarket the nutritious beans.

In Rwanda, 44 per cent of the population − over five million people − suffer from malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. Biofortified foods like beans are one solution to the chronic lack of vitamins and minerals.

One in three Rwandans is anemic, or deficient in iron, with a higher proportion in women and children.

To read the full article, go to:http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/biofortified-beans-fight-hidden-hunger-rwanda/

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Call for submissions: Environmental reporting contest

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is an Africa-wide NGO which promotes a global environment free from the threat of climate change, with sustainable development, equity and justice for all.

The organization is launching the 2014 African Climate Change and Reporting Awards, which honour journalists whose work has enhanced access to information about climate change.

African journalists from established private or public media houses, as well as freelancers, can submit their original work in either English or French. There are five submission categories: print, television, broadcast, photojournalism and online/social media. Twelve awards are available, including runner-up prizes. Two winners will be selected in the print and broadcast categories: one in French and one in English.

Each winner will receive a certificate and $1,000 US.

The deadline for submissions is May 15. Entries should be submitted to: accerawards@pacja.org, and copied to: info@pacja.org

For more information, go to: http://www.pacja.org/index.php/en/what-we-do/initiatives/media-and-environment.

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Farm Radio International’s How to… guide to intros and promos

You work hard to produce a weekly farmer program that serves your farmer/listeners well. But do you work hard enough to increase the number of farmers who listen?

You can grow your audience by creating promos and broadcasting them throughout your station’s weekly schedule. This will catch listeners who don’t yet listen to your program. And it will also remind your regular listeners to tune in to the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will help keep them there.

Doug Ward, former Director of CBC Radio Ottawa and current Chair of Farm Radio International’s Board of Directors recently contributed a how-to guide as part of Farm Radio Resource Pack #98, Groundnuts: the post-harvest value chain (http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-98-groundnuts-the-post-harvest-value-chain/).

Titled Broadcaster how-to guide: How to create ear-catching promos, intros and extros, this guide covers this guide covers subjects including the purpose of promos, intros and extros, the audience at which they are targeted, the three elements of a promo, when to air a promo, and the difference between episode and item intros.

Find this online resource through this link:http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-98-groundnuts-the-post-harvest-value-chain/broadcaster-how-to-guide-how-to-create-ear-catching-promos-intros-and-extros/

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Script of the week: Rural youth success stories

Young people in Africa face many problems, not the least of which is how best to earn a living.

In both rural and urban areas, young people are challenged bydisease, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, unsafe work environments, social exclusion, and limited opportunities for education and employment. Do they stay with their families and try to farm or set up a business, or do they migrate to the cities, where the streets are “paved with gold”? Many choose to leave their rural homes in search of a better life.

Getting youth to participate as active partners in food security and agricultural production is a major challenge. It is essential to overcome constraints such as lack of land, access to credit, and lack of education and training for both farm and non-farm activities. By providing young people with income-generating activities and access to agricultural extension and other support services in rural areas, they may come to see farming as a viable way to earn a good living.

This week’s script is a two-part series designed to show young people that there are opportunities for employment in rural communities. You could broadcast the two parts on separate days, or present both stories in the same program. You may also wish to extend the series by producing programs on youthsuccesses in your community.

The full text of the script is available here:http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-59-radio-in-support-of-rural-youth/rural-youth-success-stories/

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