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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 #290

Developing a value chain, and making a stand for your industry

A very warm welcome from the Farm Radio Weekly office! Whether you’re suffering from the heat or getting rained on, there are three stories in issue #290 designed to inspire your programming and your listeners.

Guidimouni is a town in eastern Niger that is famed for its tomatoes. But now the women behind its success are considering taking the next step – working at different levels of the value chain to improve their profits.

Organic farmers in Zambia want to change the government’s policies on seed imports and genetically modified crops. One woman, Annemieke de Vos, has established a recognized brand which she sells to food retailers. But more can be done to protect this fledgling industry.

The Senegalese government has sold fishing rights to deep-sea trawlers from European Union countries. Local fisherfolk are crying foul and, backed by an international NGO, are demanding that their livelihoods be protected from the industrial fishing fleet.

The deadline for the 2014 Kurt Schork awards is nearing. Make sure you read our Event section and find out how to get your entry in on time!

Keep on entertaining!

The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Niger: Tomatoes bring women big returns (by Souleymane Maâzou, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Some of the tomato plants in Hourey Sani’s plot already bear ripe tomatoes. Others are not yet mature. But the harvest will be plentiful. The 36-year-old farmer explains, “This is my second tomato garden. In the other one, everything is ripening. I have even started selling baskets of tomatoes at the market.”

Mrs. Sani has been growing tomatoes for ten years. She says, “Here, women are interested in vegetable gardening. We [women] have a large area in the wetlands around Guidimouni.”

Guidimouni is located in the eastern part of Niger. The month of April is famous in this part of the country for its bounteous tomato harvests.

Women sit on the floor of Guidimouni’s weekly market. Each has a basket of tomatoes in front of her, ready for sale. Growing and selling tomatoes makes them a lot of money.

Mrs. Nassirou is another tomato grower. Her husband is a businessman. He says that, because the women of Guidimouni grow tomatoes, they are increasingly able to support themselves and their families.

Some women complain that a lack of resources prevents them from modernizing their business. They lack agricultural inputs such as pesticides, and need more markets for their tomatoes. Tomato farmer Hadiza Boudicar says, “We are forced to sell the freshly-picked tomatoes directly from the garden to the market. And often at very low prices.”

Mahamane Tahirou is an agricultural engineer in the capital city, Niamey, who specializes in fruit and vegetable production. She thinks the women should be organized in a formal group. She says, “The state and other development partners should support them by creating small groups which can process their tomatoes.”

Mrs. Sani is happy that her financial independence allows her to meet the needs of her children. She says: “I managed to pay for my daughter’s furniture [because] I earn between 5,000 and 10,000 Central African francs ($10 – $20 US) per week from selling tomatoes.”

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Zambia: Farmers push for agricultural policies that support organic farming (by Brian Moonga, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Annemieke de Vos grows a variety of crops on a two-hectare plot, including lettuce and cabbages. But she avoids using chemical fertilizers − she says it is healthier to eat food which is grown organically.

Ms. de Vos is a small-scale organic farmer from Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. She used to work for Zambia’s agricultural research institute as a plant pathologist, but has been farming organically for the past 14 years.

She argues that plants grown with chemical fertilizers tend to contain more water because they grow too fast. Ms. de Vos says, “Naturally grown foods have more minerals and vitamins, and this means that the consumer gets more nutritional value.”

Ms. de Vos works with a handful of women and men that help with the daily nurturing, harvesting and packaging of crops. The farmers supply several stores in Lusaka with packaged fresh vegetables and pico relish: tomatoes, peppers and onions seasoned with lime and coriander.

Ms. de Vos has created her own brand over the last decade. Green Fox is now one of the fastest growing brands of organic food in Lusaka.

Ms. de Vos believes that organic farmers should work hard to promote organic foods. She says: “Many people now have depressed immunities due to high levels of air pollution [and] high consumption of chemically-fertilized foods.”

Dr. Henrietta Kalinda is an agricultural scientist at Lusaka’s Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre. She attributes some common diseases to chemical inputs. She explains, “Research shows that herbicides have been implicated in a number of health problems including cancer, birth defects and declining sperm count.”

Government regulations allow only chemically-treated seed into Zambia. This is difficult for organic farmers. Ms. de Vos explains: “[We must] use seed produced organically in Zambia because if you import, then it must be treated with chemicals, and this defeats the whole purpose of going organic.” She says the government needs to change its rules to acknowledge the needs of organic farmers.

Kelly Lungu is an organic farmer in Lusaka. She says that despite challenges such as the seed regulations, organic farmers in Zambia are determined to succeed. She also believes that organic farmers need to more effectively promote the benefits of their produce. Ms. Lungu says, “We must push this and advocate for laws, and set up investment funds for small-scale farmers [who] opt to go into organic farming.”

It is not just human health that can be affected by chemical inputs. Soil health can be damaged through pesticides that reduce biodiversity; acidity and nutrient imbalances caused by chemical fertilizers mean that some essential minerals become unavailable to growing plants.

These potential threats to soil fertility and human health have pushed some farmers to take action and promote organic farming.

Thirty kilometres east of Lusaka, 91 farmers have formed the Chongwe Organic Producers and Processors Association. The organization helps the farmers produce organic vegetables collectively on 12 hectares of land, and market their crops in bulk.

Zambia currently has no stand-alone policy on organic farming. But bodies such as the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre along with individual farmers are lobbying for change. They want Zambia’s national agricultural policy to include an organic farming strategy so that small-scale organic farming can be more viable.

Ms. de Vos thinks Zambia needs to stand strong on organic farming. Across southern Africa, farmers are being encouraged to use genetically modified organisms. She asks: “What will happen to all the natural seed [that] small-scale farmers have collected? What about the hidden consequences of consuming GMO-produced foods? Zambia should formulate laws that support organic farming to protect public health and the agricultural sector.”

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Senegal: Traditional fishers angry at foreign trawlers (RFI; Pressafrik)

Senegalese small-scale fishers are fighting for changes to an agreement between their government and the European Union.

The fishers argue that foreign-owned trawlers threaten their livelihoods and further deplete local fish stocks. Three years ago, they organized a “day without fish” in protest. And traditional fishers from the major fishing ports of Kayar, Saint Louis and Mbour are still frustrated with officials.

Abdoulaye Gueye Diop is the president of the National Collective of Artisanal Fishers of Senegal. He says, “The government gave licenses to foreign vessels because [they think Senegalese fishers] only do shallow sea fishing.” Mr. Gueye Diop argues that Senegalese fishers cannot survive if the government allows foreign trawlers to fish their waters.

The international environmental NGO Greenpeace is now calling on the Senegalese government to reconsider the terms of the recent fisheries agreement and protocol signed with the EU. This allows 38 European vessels access to Senegal’s fishing grounds.

Marie Suzanne Traoré is in charge of the Oceans Campaign for Greenpeace Africa. According to Ms. Traoré, the government stated it would involve local fishers before making any agreements with foreign bodies. She says, “By signing this document, the government of Senegal has decided to ignore the voice of Senegalese fishermen.”

The Senegalese government states that allowing the trawlers into Senegalese waters benefits the country economically, as local fisherman cannot reach migratory fish in deeper waters.

Ousmane Ndiaye is the Senegalese Director of Fisheries. He does not believe that deep-sea fish are available to the small-scale, traditional fishers. He says these resources have been trawled by foreign vessels for the past 20 years.

Fishermen are also angered by the government’s decision to charge foreign trawlers only $35 US per tonne of fish caught. Senegal’s neighbour, Mauritania, charges $37 US per tonne. The fisherfolk promise to continue fighting until the new fisheries agreement is changed.

Greenpeace Africa is calling on Senegal to develop a comprehensive, long-term, fisheries policy, one which guarantees conservation and sustainable use of marine resources to benefit all Senegalese people. The organization argues that the policy must also take into account the whole value chain − from catch to market to processed products.

To read the original stories on which this article was based (in French), go to: http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20110526-colere-pecheurs-senegalais-artisanaux-face-chalutiers-etrangers/ and: http://www.pressafrik.com/Greenpeace-demande-au-gouvernement-du-Senegal-de-reconsiderer-les-termes-de-l-accord-avec-l-UE_a121576.html

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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-Zimbabwe: Tobacco farmers decrease use of fuelwood, decrease deforestation

Small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe are working with the tobacco industry to decrease deforestation by using fuel-efficient curing methods for their tobacco crops.

Zimbabwe exports 160 million kilograms of tobacco annually. Small-scale tobacco farmers account for 90 per cent of that output. Fifty thousand hectares of forest are destroyed each year to cure, or dry, the tobacco with wood smoke.

Ten thousand energy efficient “rocket” barns have been distributed to small growers over the past two seasons to cut firewood use. These barns use 50 to 55 per cent less fuelwood than traditional curing barns.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140501090447-tjohm/

2-Madagascar: Forest conservation

A reforestation project in a protected area of rainforest is educating locals on the value of preserving the forest.

The project generates income for 400 households, with many locals employed as full-time eco-tour guides and tree planters. When the reforestation project began in 2003, Analamazaotra forest station, 150 kilometres east of Madagascar’s capital, was a popular tourist destination. But tourist numbers dropped drastically after the 2009 political crisis, and locals turned to selling charcoal.

The reforestation project teaches farmers how to cut trees for charcoal in a more sustainable way. It also provides training on agricultural techniques that boost yields and decrease deforestation.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99983/small-steps-towards-forest-conservation-in-madagascar

3-Congo-Brazzaville: Logging industry encouraged to move towards sustainability

The Congo basin rainforest has been devastated by illegal logging.

In recent years, however, the national authorities have been encouraging reforestation and sustainable development. In 2010, Gabon was the first state in the region to impose a total ban on log exports, in an effort to encourage a local wood industry.

Because of US and EU legislation, any operator using wood and wood-related products must prove the products were logged and exported legally. A certification process is now being applied from logging to wood processing.

This process is essential to open major world markets for Congolese timber.

To read the full article, go to: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/17-spore/8/9067-tropical-wood

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Call for submissions: The 2014 Kurt Schork awards

Local reporters and freelance journalists anywhere in the world (see website below for definitions) are eligible to make a submission for the 2014 Kurt Schork awards.

Submitted articles may include war reporting, human rights issues, cross-border troubles, and corruption or other controversial matters that impact people’s lives. Judges will be looking for professionalism, high journalistic standards, and evidence of dedication and courage in obtaining the story.

To enter, you must submit three separate articles. Submitted articles must have been published in any print-based medium, such as newspapers and magazines, or in established online publications between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014.

Interested journalists must also provide: a CV about your education and journalism career, a passport-type photo, an English translation if the original articles are in another language, and a short statement explaining what you had to do to get the story.

You can complete an online form to submit your articles or download a PDF form to print, complete and post with your entry. To apply online, go to: http://www.ksmfund.org/awards/submitting-entries/2014-entry-form. For more information and the postal address, go to: http://www.ksmfund.org/awards/submitting-entries/next-call

The deadline for receipt of submissions is midnight (GMT) on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

Winners will be announced in September and the awards will be presented on Thursday, October 30, 2014.

If you have any questions about the 2014 awards process, please email enquiries@ksmfund.org.

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Mobile phone-based survey: call for assistance in translation and recording

VOTO Mobile is a Ghana-based social enterprise with staff in Ghana, Canada, and the United States. The company is responsible for developing the technology which FRI uses to conduct voice polls/surveys in Tanzania and Ghana and, soon, in other countries. If you are one of FRI’s 500 broadcast partners, you may have recently received a call from us asking a few questions – this survey was conducted with VOTO’s system.

VOTO Mobile’s mission is to increase participation, transparency and accountability related to services delivered to citizens, and to empower communities to collect and share information through mobile phones to drive positive social change.

The company wants to gauge the opinions of citizens in seven African countries. What do farmers and others think their governments and the international donor community should be prioritizing to develop their industries and lives? By researching and publishing this information, VOTO hopes to make it easier for donors to understand people’s priorities. The information gained from the surveys may also put pressure on donors to justify their priorities when they don’t line up with what people want.

In order to accomplish these aims, VOTO Mobile plans to conduct an 11-question mobile phone survey in Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. VOTO needs translators to translate the survey questions from English into French and over twenty local African languages. Are you interested in helping?

Survey responses will also need to be translated and transcribed in English, and survey translators are welcome to join this work too. Finally, VOTO Mobile needs male voices to record the survey questions, and welcomes native speakers.

If you are interested in taking part in the translation or recording side of the survey, or have questions about how broadcasters can get involved, email Levi Goertz as soon as possible at: levi@votomobile.org, or visit the Voto Mobile website at: www.votomobile.org

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The Solutions Journalism Network: Reporter’s guide to food security

Solutions journalism is an approach that focuses on stories which feature people working toward solutions. Based on the best available evidence, it attempts to show not just what is happening, but how and why it appears to be working, or, alternatively, to be stumbling.

The Solutions Journalism Network recently published Reporter’s guide to food security. The guide notes that food insecurity is now considered one of the largest risks to global society over the next decade, driven by a combination of volatile food prices, a growing world population, and the changing global climate.

While most journalists confront this challenge by finding and documenting signs of extreme food insecurity, this handbook describes responses to food insecurity. It uses data from the Global Burden of Disease report to uncover “bright spots,” which are places where undernourishment has significantly decreased and which may offer general insights.

The guide outlines several ways communities and innovators are responding to food security, including agricultural storage, insurance schemes, and biotech innovations. Pros and cons are noted for each solution. Journalists can refer to the guide’s resource section when beginning to investigate the subject of food insecurity.

To access this online resource in English, go to: http://solutionsjournalism.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Food-Security-guidebook-Final.pdf

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Zimbabwean FRW writer found not guilty of ‘illegal radio smuggling’

Zenzele Ndebele is a freelance writer for FRW and the production manager of Radio Dialogue, a community radio station in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. On March 1, 2013, police raided the station offices and confiscated 120 shortwave radios. We reported on the raid and Mr. Ndebele’s subsequent arrest last year: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/11/zimbabwean-farm-radio-weekly-freelance-writer-charged-with-%E2%80%98illegal-radio-smuggling%E2%80%99/

In March 2014, a Bulawayo court found Mr. Ndebele and Radio Dialogue not guilty of any misconduct and ordered the police to return the confiscated radios to Radio Dialogue.

Mr. Ndebele says police returned the radios, but not before altering them. On May 19, Mr. Ndebele tweeted: “It turns out the authorities opened most of the 120 shortwave radios they confiscated last year and [tampered with them].”

Mr. Ndebele posted a picture on Twitter of a radio that had been tampered with: https://twitter.com/zenzele/status/468285792327327744

He explains: “Most of the radios are no longer working. When the police took the radios, they were boxed and sealed. When we collected them, most of the seals were broken.” Only about 15 of the radios are still working. Mr. Ndebele says the station has no choice but to dump the remaining sets.

Zimbabwean police did not only target Radio Dialogue in its raids last year. The BBC reported that police went door-to-door, seizing radio sets from villagers. You can read the BBC report here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-21829815.

Since a coalition government came to power in Zimbabwe five years ago, many community and private radio stations have applied for broadcasting licenses. These applicants, including Radio Dialogue, are still waiting for their licences to be approved. ZBC is the state broadcaster and widely considered a government mouthpiece.

Radio Dialogue is trying to provide an alternative source of news. In April 2014, the station was fined $100 US for not having a radio licence.

Undeterred, Mr. Ndebele posted the following message to Facebook: “No amount of dirty tactics will scare us. One day, we will wake up in a free Zimbabwe where possessing a shortwave radio is not a crime.”

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Kenyan farmer uses organic farming practices

This week’s story from Zambia focuses on organic farming. FRI published a script in June 2005 on George Opondo, a practising organic farmer in western Kenya. The script noted that people all over the world are realizing that high-input agriculture is often not sustainable. Although it gives high yields in the beginning, it is difficult for a farmer to maintain these yields year after year.

In Kenya, the climate and soils are often not well-suited to high-input farming. Hybrid and improved seeds usually require good rains and very fertile soils to yield well. If the conditions are not good, hybrid seeds may actually yield less than local seeds.

If a lot of money has been invested in buying inputs, then this money may be wasted. In cases like these, organic farming, which relies on as few inputs from outside the farm as possible, is more appropriate to the needs of many farmers.

In this program you will hear about Mr. Opondo’s experience using a trench compost bed to improve the soil, and about his use of traditional herbs to treat and prevent animal diseases.


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