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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 #289

Entrepreneurs use passion, intuition and knowledge to make a buck

Warm greetings to you from Farm Radio Weekly! In issue #289, you will find three stories about small-scale African farmers and the work they are doing to enrich their lives and livelihoods.

Cameroonian Daniel Nkodo wants to become a large-scale farmer, but the high cost of land means he cannot fulfil his dream – yet! Meanwhile, he pours his enthusiasm for farming into a nursery which supplies seedlings to farmers.

In Côte d’Ivoire, rabbit farmer Gomon Moïse Beucklerc was spending too much time and energy cleaning his cages. So he designed and built an alternative, easier-to-clean system. Now he earns extra income by selling the cages to other small-animal farmers.

John Melau-Laizer discovered that the farming techniques he learned from his father were perfectly suited to the practise of permaculture. He now manages an organic farm near Arusha in Tanzania. The earnings from the crops and animals keep a dozen orphans in food, and in school.

There is more information about rabbit farming and how to build good cages in the Script of the Week. Check out that section below.

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle and care for them, and pretty soon you
have a dozen.

Have a good week!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Enthusiastic young farmer moves forward despite lack of land (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Machete in hand, Daniel Nkodo inspects each row of his seedlings, potted in plastic bags and lined up in rows. Occasionally, he stoops to pull a weed, then continues his inspection. The thirty-year-old farmer operates a plant nursery in the small town of Obala, 30 kilometres from the capital city, Yaounde.

Mr. Nkodo says cheerfully: “These plants are like my children. I bring them in to the world and I see them grow. I am always proud when I go to a client’s plantation and I see a tree that came out of my nursery.”

Mr. Nkodo is the third child in a family of nine, his parents now deceased. He remembers: “I grew up in agriculture. My father was a labourer and sometimes we would help in the fields. It is through agriculture that we [were able to eat] at home and we could go to school.”

After weeding his seedlings, Mr. Nkodo takes a watering can and waters each plant carefully. He says: “When I put … a seed in the ground and after a while I see the maize cobs grow, I feel great joy. There are no words to explain this feeling. That’s why I am passionate about agriculture.”

When he was young, Mr. Nkodo’s father had no land and no money to buy land. Mr. Nkodo dreamt of becoming a great farmer with many hectares of crops. But he has not been able to make this dream come true.

The cheapest land in the area costs about 2,000 Central African francs ($4.20 US) per square metre. At this price, one hectare would cost two million francs ($4,200 US). A buyer must also pay ten per cent of the value to the notary, and there are several taxes and fees. Mr. Nkodo says, “It is very expensive to have a piece of land. I do not have that money, and I do not want to be a farm worker like my father.”

So Mr. Nkodo started a plant nursery. He completed a short internship at another nursery and then set up his own small business in the courtyard of his family’s home. He has quickly established a customer base.

Jean Iréné Ombédé is one of his clients. Mr. Ombédé farms eight hectares of land and is a regular visitor to Mr. Nkodo’s nursery. He says: “I like to stock up at Daniel’s [nursery] as he is always cheerful and has contagious enthusiasm. He does not give the impression of being there only for money. We feel that he loves what he does.”

Mr. Nkodo’s nursery sells many kinds of fruit trees. With the income from his nursery, he is able to take good care of his wife and two children.

But unfortunately, his chances of buying more land are dwindling. Despite this difficulty, Mr. Nkodo always wears a smile. His future may well be dependent on the government. He says: “We need the state to reduce the cost of buying land. You shouldn’t apply the same rules to both smallholders and large enterprises. It seems unfair to me.”

Mr. Nkodo concludes: “I’m saving to … buy a small plot of land, but it is a bit complicated with my debts. I dreamed of becoming a great farmer, but now I would be very happy if I could at least become a small farmer.”

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Côte d’Ivoire: Rabbit breeder builds and sells modern cages for health and wealth (by Serge Adams Diakité, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Gomon Moïse Beucklerc sits in the shade of a large palm, which is heavy with coconuts. Mr. Beucklerc is building a six-compartment rabbit cage and the air is full of the sounds of metal sheets and bars being cut, and of nails being hammered into wood. For the last 20 years, he has raised rabbits in Grand-Bassam, a town 43 kilometres east of Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr. Beucklerc grew tired of cleaning and maintaining his rabbit cages. So he decided to build his own cages that feature a system of gutters to dispose of waste. He explains: “This system allows [not only the] rapid removal of all waste and urine, [but] also the water used when cleaning.” When the cages proved successful, Mr. Beucklerc built more, and now sells them to other breeders.

He measures and cuts the wood, wire fencing and metal roofing sheets, and then constructs the cages. He says, “I finish off by installing gutters. Sometimes we add a pipette (an automatic drinking water system), when the customer requests it.”

Each cage he builds has a specific purpose. Mr. Beucklerc explains: “The cages that you see here – each has its role. There are cages for fattening; they are higher [from the ground]. Maternity cages are much deeper in order [for the rabbits] to make nests − the rabbits give birth in these boxes.”

The cages are raised off the ground, which better protects the rabbits from pests such as mice and army ants. Mr. Beucklerc buys his raw materials from traders in the local market. Each type of cage takes a different amount of time to build, and sells for between 50,000 and 180,000 Central African francs ($105-$380 US). He says: “The revenue generated … will help me expand my breeding, and also start up other projects such as raising pigs and chickens.”

Elie Kacou is one of Mr. Beaucklerc’s clients, and has been using his cages for a year. She says: “Since I started using these modern cages, I get less tired when cleaning and maintaining the cages – caring for the rabbits is easier as well.”

Mrs. Kacou believes the cages are more practical because they occupy less space. She also thinks that they better serve the welfare of the rabbits and their offspring, leading to healthier animals. She says, “It is also more cost-effective, because there are fewer deaths among rabbits.”

Guttered cages can also be used to breed rodents such as guinea pigs, white mice and many other small animals. Mr. Beucklerc says he has not encountered any major difficulties with the cages. Fellow breeders and others continue to place more orders. He wants to use the Internet to advertise his cages, particularly to fellow farmers, who sometimes take four to five days to clean their cages.

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Tanzania: Intercropping and companion planting get results (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Just three kilometres south of Arusha’s dusty, congested streets, the village of Engo Sengiu sits at the end of a long, bumpy dirt road, surrounded by fertile farmland. The village’s rutted roads are bordered everywhere by lush, green vegetation invigorated by the recent rains. John Melau-Laizer grew up here studying his father’s planting techniques, the same techniques he now uses himself.

He remembers: “I started farming when I was 15 years old. My father grew maize, beans, bananas,
cassava, [and] pigeon peas as well as coffee. I learned so much from him about companion planting,
how to grow [different] crops in close proximity.”

Mr. Melau-Laizer, 35 years old, now works for FoodWaterShelter, or FWS, an Australian non-governmental organization based in Tanzania. FWS built a self-sustaining, eco-friendly school and residence called Kesho Leo, or Tomorrow Today, in Engo Sengiu. Kesho Leo provides educational, social and health facilities for vulnerable women and children.

FWS uses permaculture on its one-hectare farm. Permaculture is a system for designing sustainable human settlements. Mr. Melau-Laizer runs the organic agriculture and aquaculture projects and tends to the cows, chickens and ducks. These provide food and income for the six women and 12 orphaned children who live at Kesho Leo.

Lucy Bradley is the project manager at Kesho Leo. She explains: “We are improving the health of everyone at Kesho Leo by eating a broad range of fruits and vegetables grown here. We also sell and deliver the vegetables all over [the city of] Arusha as an income-generating project for the women.”

Kesho Leo is designed to be sustainable. Rainwater is collected on the building’s rooftop and piped to huge tanks underground. Human waste is composted behind the home in large barrels and used as fertilizer for crops. Cow manure is also collected and used in vegetable plots.

Two nearby ponds with ducks and tilapia provide water for the farm, while a stable of four cows provides up to sixty litres of milk per day. Meanwhile, 45 chickens produce enough to ensure a daily egg for each resident, providing essential protein and other nutrients.

Mr. Melau-Laizer says his proudest achievement is the intercropping techniques he learned from his father, techniques which he has improved over the years.

He kneels down to inspect the sweet potatoes growing next to the Napier grass used as cattle feed. Mr. Melau-Laizer says: “Intercropping is important because it keeps pests away. Here, I’ve planted companion crops: mango, cassava and sweet potato. The aromatic Napier grass distracts pests and improves soil fertility.”

Intercropping acts as a natural form of pest management. Mr. Melau-Laizer has also planted neem. Neem is a medicinal tree which acts as an organic pesticide. He grounds neem leaves to a fine powder and soaks them in water for 12 to 24 hours. The solution is sprayed on crops as a pest repellent to protect them from damage.

According to Ms. Bradley, permaculture could play a huge role in improving livelihoods for farming families across sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the FWS team, Mr. Melau-Laizer’s knowledge and practice of permaculture is creating a ripple effect in Tanzania. He has trained many local small-scale farmers on permaculture techniques.

Mr. Melau-Laizer has completed several permaculture design courses. He says, “I train local women and children from Kesho Leo and Engo Sengiu village on different aspects of permaculture. I teach them about sustainable farming practices.”

FoodWaterShelter is running a permaculture design course at its Kesho Leo site from May 26 – June 6. For further information, email pdc@foodwatershelter.org.au

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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-Nigeria: Humanitarian response needed in north
Nigeria’s disaster management agencies − NEMA (the National Emergency Management Agency) and SEMA (the State Emergency Management Agencies) − are calling for immediate international aid to three northern states.

According to figures released by NEMA, nearly a quarter of a million people were displaced from Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states between January and March 2014 as a result of ongoing violence by the Boko Haram group. About six million people, half of the population in this part of the country, have been affected by the violence.

Many in the area live in a state of fear. In Borno state, Boko Haram militants recently kidnapped 200 girls from a schoolhouse, and most are still missing. The healthcare system is on the verge of collapse; nearly four in ten health centres have closed. NEMA has promised to distribute food aid to 200,000 people in the northern states, but at least 50,000 have yet to receive any help.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99971/need-to-ramp-up-aid-response-in-nigeria-s-violence-torn-northeast

2-Zimbabwe: Disaster preparation

The aging Kariba dam, constructed in 1954 on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is worrying engineers.
Structural problems caused another dam, the Tokwe-Mukosi in southeastern Zimbabwe, to flood recently, displacing thousands of local residents. The Zimbabwean government declared the flood a national disaster.

If the 128-metre-high Kariba Dam collapses, 3.5 million people in Zimbabwe and Zambia would be seriously affected. The fallout would also affect neighbouring countries such as Malawi and Mozambique.

Kariba Dam holds one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water, and provides hydro power to millions. Communities which depend on the dam for tourism and fishing are concerned that their livelihoods could be affected if structural problems are not fixed soon.

Zambian and Zimbabwean authorities have begun a joint fundraising effort to support major repairs to
the dam.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99904/kariba-dam-collapse-fears-and-disaster-preparedness-in-zimbabwe

3-Kenya: Livestock scheme incorporates Islamic principles
An insurance scheme based on Islamic sharia law is gaining ground in Kenya’s arid northern regions, where frequent severe droughts challenge pastoralists.

The Islamic Takaful insurance policy (from the Arabic word kafalah, meaning “helping one another”) compensates herders for losses of livestock or reductions in the value of livestock. The policy employs data provided by the International Livestock Research Institute, or ILRI, which uses satellites to survey grazing land and gauge the severity of droughts.

ILRI says that insurance can make livestock keeping more effective by cushioning household assets and income during drought-induced losses.

Livestock insurance schemes have been tried with these Kenyan communities in the past, but to no avail. But the current scheme, with its religious precepts, is attracting previously skeptical herders to insure their herds.

Over a hundred livestock keepers have received payouts under the Takaful pilot program, which has helped build confidence in the scheme.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99909/kenya-s-sharia-friendly-livestock-insurance

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The 2014 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Competition: Open for entries

The CNN African Journalist of the Year Competition was established in 1995 to encourage, promote and recognize excellence in African journalism.

The 2014 competition is now open to African professional journalists working in Africa, whether directly employed or freelance. Entries are invited for work which was printed, broadcast (television or radio) or published online to an audience based primarily in Africa.

The panel of judges will be looking for entries which: tell a story in a balanced, comprehensive and objective manner; demonstrate journalistic integrity and resourcefulness; communicate the story in a way that makes the topic accessible and relevant to its audience; display well-organized research and insight, and; were broadcast or published in English, French or Portuguese between January and December 2013 (proof should be supplied).

Winners will receive an all-expenses-paid program of networking activities and workshops, culminating in the Gala Awards Ceremony. Each finalist will receive a cash prize, with each of the eleven category winners also receiving a laptop computer and printer.

The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2014 Award winner will be selected from the category winners, and will receive an additional cash prize and the opportunity to participate in the CNN Journalism Fellowship at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, US.
More information about the competition is available on the CNN website: http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/africa/africanawards/index.html

To access the online entry form, follow this link: http://www.cnnmcaja.cnn.com/

For rules and regulations concerning an entry, go to: http://z.cdn.turner.com/cnn/WORLD/africa/africanawards/pdf/2014/Online-rules-of-entry-2014-English.pdf

The deadline for entries is May 30, 2014.

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International Free Expression Exchange (IFEX): Sign up for e-mail news about free expression

The IFEX network of organizations is linked by a shared commitment to defend and promote freedom  of expression as a fundamental human right. IFEX advocates for everyone’s right to free expression,  including media workers, citizen journalists, activists, artists, and scholars.

IFEX offers a free email information service in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. You can sign up to  receive news about free expression from IFEX’s member organizations around the world.

Choose the online publication(s) that suit(s) your needs and you’ll get the latest on digital rights,  censorship, access to information, freedom of association, criminal defamation laws, and attacks on journalists, writers, human rights defenders and Internet users – all from a free expression angle.

For more information, go to the IFEX website: http://www.ifex.org/

To sign up for the English language version of the email service, go to: http://www.ifex.org/subscribe/.

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Farm Radio International’s audio postcards

FRI’s catalogue of audio postcards is growing!

The idea behind an audio postcard is simple: a sound clip of a farmer, radio partner or Farm Radio International employee describing how they have been affected by the work that we do together is illustrated by a photograph of them “in action.”

One recent audio postcard features an interview with Tanzanian Bernadetha Mmaravi about her life as a farmer. With her radio at her side, she told our correspondent, “I like listening to the radio, especially Pride FM. It’s my favourite station.” See and hear more at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/03/14/voices-from-the-field-benedetha-tanzania/

Audio postcard: Announcing 500 radio partners! was released to coincide with the milestone of FRI signing an agreement with its 500th radio broadcasting partner. You can hear Blythe McKay’s report here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/02/03/audio-postcard-announcing-500-radio-partners/

Check out our entire catalogue at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/category/audio-postcard/

Can you do better? Why not record a soundtrack of your work with farmers, or extract a minute or two from one of your agricultural programs and email it along with a photograph which describes the scene to proberts@farmradiotz.org. We will edit the best and post them on our blog site, sharing it with the wider FRI community!

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Raising rabbits for meat and profit: Part two

This week’s story from Cote d’Ivoire talks about raising and housing rabbits. Rabbits can be of great
value to the family and the community at large. They provide meat, a source of fertilizer, and other
products, and can be quickly sold for cash or turned into a nutritious meal when needed. With careful
attention, they are not difficult to raise and can be looked after by any member of the family.

In the concluding part of a two-part interview, a famous Nigerian rabbit farmer and retired agricultural
extension worker describes the most important things we must do to raise, feed and house rabbits well.

The script includes detailed instructions for building rabbit cages.
http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-80/raising-rabbits-for-meat-and-profit-part-two/

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