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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 #294

Kenya: Community project restores forest livelihoods (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Zakaria Lihanda Masheti has lived next to Iloro forest since he was a child. His household is one of an estimated 5,000 that directly depend on the forest for a living. The 70-year old has witnessed the community gradually destroy the 490-hectare forest by burning charcoal, grazing animals, collecting fuelwood and  natural herbs, hunting, and other activities.

But thanks to a 40-year carbon credit project, the forest has started to recover over the last few years. The project, called Msitu tena (Swahili for Forest again) is operated by the Muileshi Community Forest Association. The organization signed an agreement with the Kenya Forest Service to manage the forest, and also with ECO2 Librium, an NGO that helps market carbon credits internationally.

For Mr. Zakaria, the project is more than just a blessing to the community; it’s also a source of income. Along with other community members, he has been planting indigenous trees. Local people raise seedlings and sell them to the project. The project employs them to mark out areas for planting and dig planting holes for the young trees, paying the locals cash for their work.

Mr. Zakaria says, “I have even managed to buy a dairy cow and paid school fees for my child, who has now almost completed secondary education.”

Sylvester Imbwaga is the secretary of the Muileshi Forest Association. He says about 120 community members are employed by the rehabilitation project. Each earns between 3,500 and 8,000 Kenyan shillings ($40-90 US), depending on the number of days worked.

Mr. Imbwaga adds: “We want to reduce the pressure on the forest. Everybody around the forest uses it for survival.”

Meshack Amalemba lives beside the forest. He welcomes the project and says it will bring back the forest’s lost glory. He says that herbs, birds, snakes, bees, and other animals were lost when the forest was cleared in the 1960s. He adds, “We are maintaining this not for ourselves but for our future generations.”

Perhaps the most important aspect of the project is the money that will be generated through the sale of carbon credits. Companies whose activities produce polluting gases such as carbon dioxide can buy carbon credits. These carbon credits are then used to pay communities to plant trees or undertake other activities which reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The trees capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and trap carbon in their trunks, branches and roots as they grow.

Carbon credit is a big business internationally, and a source of income for communities to channel into environmentally beneficial actions. The Msitu tena project will raise 200 million Kenyan shillings (close to $23,000 US). The community will split that money with ECO2 Librium and the Kenya Forest Service.

Christopher Amutabi works for ECO2 Librium. He says the project will be required to achieve specific targets. Over the 40-year life of the project, it must improve livelihoods, result in greater biodiversity and improve the conservation of the area.

In order for local people to receive their carbon money, they must plant trees and protect them until they mature. Other activities have already been introduced to help locals protect the forest. Beekeeping, fish farming, dairy cow projects, raising tree saplings, and energy-saving stoves are all proving popular. Future activities include raising snakes and developing tourism.

A total of 182 hectares of the forest have been replanted. It is expected that the whole 490-hectare area will have been rehabilitated in just a few years.

Mr. Imbwaga says there are plans to distribute milk coolers in the community, and to package and sell maize flour. The association has bought juicing machines to produce guava juice. He says, “All these are aimed at creating employment for the community.”

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Uganda: Village savings scheme improves widow’s life (By Geoffrey Ojok, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Terefina Ayo stands in her field of maize and recalls the problems she and her fellow villagers used to face. Food was scarce and housing poor. The 54-year-old had difficulty affording her son’s school fees. Even the basic necessities of life were hard to come by.

But that has all changed. Mrs. Ayo says, “Acamanaros Village Savings and Loans Association [AVSLA] has made all the difference.”

Mrs. Ayo lives in Olio sub-county in the eastern district of Serere, about 200 kilometres from Kampala. Her savings and loans association meets every Saturday and issues small loans to members. Members use the loans to buy farming inputs such as improved seeds or to invest the money in small businesses.

Sarah Atim says the savings scheme increased her income. The 35-year-old mother of four explains: “In addition to the bull I bought to help me plough more land in March this year, I used the money that I borrowed from the association to start a small business.” Mrs. Atim buys maize from farmers and re-sells it to larger buyers.

Michael Okello is the chairperson of AVSLA. He says, “Before giving a loan, we access the reasons given by the borrower [for wanting a loan] and [assess their] ability to repay.”

He adds, “Farmers now have the money they need to invest in their crops because loan interest is never higher than 10 per cent.” As a result of these investments, households now produce increased amounts of maize, sorghum, cassava and groundnuts for sale.

Albert Emukeu is a trainer for village banks in Serere district. He says, “There are 150 VSLA in Serere district but Acamanaros VSLA ranks as one of the best.”

The association’s greatest achievements have been improving links between farmers and buyers, and getting higher prices for members’ farm products. Members bring their produce to the association warehouse after harvest, and then committee members seek out buyers offering better prices for bulk sales.

Like many of the members, Mrs. Ayo has successfully tackled the problems she once faced. She has expanded her maize acreage with support from AVSLA.

She says: “Besides [setting up] my produce business, I used the money I borrowed from the association to pay school fees for my son, Charles, to go to Serere Royal Academy and take his Ordinary level exams. I am happy that he will join a building and carpentry course next year.”

Editors’ note: Acamanaros is the Ateso word forLet us agree.”

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Zimbabwe: Woman farmer on the rise (IRIN)

Ella Mubayiwa was a beneficiary of the Third Chimurenga, as the 2000 land reform program was known in Zimbabwe. The 60-year-old widow and mother of four had been living abroad, but was encouraged by her mother to return to Zimbabwe and claim land.

Mrs. Mubayiwa says, “I was in England after finishing a degree in business administration … when I heard that the president had authorized the reclamation of our land. We were bussed to different parts of the country and had the pick of the land.”

Mrs. Mubayiwa acquired a 99-year lease on a 35-hectare farm in Nyabira, about 30 kilometres west of the capital, Harare. Hers was one of 38 households resettled in 2000 on a former white-owned farm.

At first, she had to hire tractors because she had no other way to work her land. She began growing tobacco as a cash crop. By 2012, she was able to afford a tractor.

She still faces challenges accessing capital to finance her farm activities. Banks do not accept the 99-year government leases as collateral for loans. The lease gives leaseholders the right to farm state land, but does not grant them ownership of the land.

Mrs. Mubayiwa ventured into raising livestock, but was not successful – her four cattle died. Fortunately, her luck began to turn when she was chosen to be part of a government pilot project to produce maize seed. The project is operated by the government’s Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, or SIRDC.

Edith Mazhawidza is the president of the Women Farmers Association. She negotiated a partnership between SIRDC and 11 female farmers. The farmers will produce SIRDC-developed maize seed on 200 hectares of plots across Zimbabwe.

Mrs. Mazhawidza says, “[SIRDC] supply seed, fertilizer and technical know-how.” The women are contractually bound to sell their harvest to SIRDC. After deducting the cost of inputs, the women are paid the difference. Growing maize seed is highly rewarding. A tonne of seed fetches up to $660 US, compared to $390 US for a tonne of maize grown for the dinner table.

Mrs. Mubayiwa is producing a promising crop of maize seed on 15 hectares. She says, “I am hopeful that because of the good rains, I’ll get a good harvest. I hope to double the hectarage next year.” She expects to harvest five tonnes per hectare.

Mrs. Mubayiwa employs 10 full-time workers who live on the farm with their families, and hires 15 seasonal labourers. She pays full-time workers $75 US a month and provides them with basic foods.

Her success at producing maize seed has encouraged her to use her house in Harare as collateral for a loan. She no longer wants to commute and wants to build a house on the farm. She also wants to install an irrigation system.

Mrs. Mubayiwa says: “I used to be wary of ceding the title deeds of my house to the bank as security because of the uncertainty of the rains … [but] the rainy season was good this year so I am willing to take a chance. I want to be a full-time farmer.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100135/zimbabwe-s-women-farmers-on-the-rise

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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-Eritrea: Fleeing forced labour

The UN Human Rights Council is calling on the Eritrean government to stop a program which is causing an exodus of refugees and spawning human rights violations.

Sheila Keetharuth is leading a UN investigation into human rights in Eritrea. She wrote that torture, sexualized violence and extra-judicial killings are continuing unabated under the regime of President Isaias Afwerki.

The report states that the government’s national service program is an indefinite conscription that amounts to forced labour. Many people are put to work in reforestation, soil and water conservation, and reconstruction efforts. An estimated 2,000 people flee Eritrea each month, according to UNHCR.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140527133126-lmv3i/?source=jtOtherNews2

2-Somalia: Refugees return from Kenya

Amnesty International has criticized the Kenyan government for the “illegal deportation” of Somalis to Mogadishu during its counter-terrorism operation.

The Somali government has protested the treatment of its nationals, many of whom are refugees in Kenya. Over the last two months, many Somalis have been arrested and deported by Kenyan authorities.

The governments of Somalia and Kenya, along with the UNHCR, signed an agreement last year concerning the voluntary repatriation of Somali nationals. Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister has now refused to meet with Kenyan officials to discuss implementing the agreement.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140527115235-1higl/?source=jtOtherNews2

3-South Sudan: Pastoralists homeless after fleeing conflict

Sudanese pastoralists and farmers affected by the fighting in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state have returned to their original homelands in Sennar state, Sudan.

The state’s governor has marked two villages as resettlement sites for the nomads and farmers. But the displaced people face challenges in accessing water, education and other basic services. Some complain that plots are not being properly distributed by state authorities.

Pastoralists and farmers are calling on the Sudanese government to help them rebuild their livelihoods, which were lost during the conflict across the border in South Sudan.

To read the full article, go to: https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/sennar-pastoralists-face-challenges-after-fleeing-south-sudan-fighting

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Call for entries: APO Media awards

The African Press Organization is inviting submissions for its 2014 APO Media Award.

The awards celebrate brilliant and inspiring stories about Africa. Submissions may focus on a single topic or cover a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, business, economy, technology, agriculture, health, energy, gender, not-for-profit issues, diplomacy and the environment.

African journalists and bloggers are eligible for the Award, whether directly employed or working freelance in Africa. Submissions can include stories broadcast or published in English, French, Portuguese or Arabic as a print publication, television feature, radio story, website or blog whose primary audience is based in Africa.

Stories must have been broadcast or published between January and August 2014.

Stories will be judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

All stories must be submitted in electronic format. TV material must first be uploaded to YouTube, and radio material to SoundCloud. If you are not a member of these sites, you will need to sign up in order to upload the video or radio material. Once you have obtained the link, you must enter it in the online entry form at: http://www.apo-opa.com/apo_media_award.php?L=E.

Interested journalists can follow APO on Twitter: (http://twitter.com/apo_source) and use their hashtag #APOMediaAward for more information.

The first-place winner will be presented with $500 US per month for one year, a laptop, a ticket for an intercontinental flight to a destination of his or her choice, and one year of access to over 600 airport VIP lounges worldwide.

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Are you recording your Skype interviews?

Many journalists use recording devices when conducting interviews, either to air the interviews later on the radio, or to verify their facts.

Many journalists are conducting interviews via the Web, and it has become easier to record Skype calls.

Skype does not itself support call recording. But some third-party developers have created applications that you can “plug into” Windows, Mac and Linux versions of Skype and record your calls.

Some applications are free, while others carry a charge. Find out more about the different versions on the Skype website: https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA12395/how-can-i-record-my-skype-calls

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How can you listen to the radio when there’s no signal? Via motorbikes!

Radio boda boda is an innovative Information and Communication Technology, or ICT, project developed and supported by Farm Radio International’s Radio and ICT innovation lab.

Many farmers live in remote rural areas. Those living in the village of Ngarenairobi, west of Mount Kilimanjaro, cannot receive radio signals from FRI’s broadcasting partners Moshi FM and Sauti ya Injili. Radio boda-boda supplies pre-recorded farming programs on SD memory cards. The cards are delivered by motorcycle taxis, or boda bodas, to the remote community listening groups.

With this innovative delivery system, Farm Radio International has supported projects run by World Vision Tanzania and Irish Aid.

The memory cards operate on FreePlay wind-up or solar-powered radios. This makes it possible for community listening groups that are unable to tune in to live farmer programs to reap the benefits from the programming.

The radio sets can also to record listeners’ comments on the memory cards. Thus, when the cards are returned to the stations, the program makers and project staff can hear feedback on their programming from these remote communities. To find out more about the projects in question, visit the FRI website: http://www.farmradio.org/projects/

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Paying farmers for environmental services

This week’s story from Kenya talks about a community that is undertaking certain activities in exchange for receiving carbon credits. The activities include tree planting, beekeeping, and fish farming. This project is one example of paying farmers to provide environmental services which benefit the community. Indeed, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these activities benefit the whole world.

In 2009, FRI published a script on paying farmers for environmental services. The script reported on a project in Malawi operated by a variety of international organizations and the government of Malawi. The project trained farmers to grow trees in order to store carbon. The trees benefited farmers directly by providing timber and firewood, but only after they had matured in a number of years. Until the trees matured, the project paid farmers for the use of their land and for properly managing the trees. The amount of the first payment depended on the numbers of trees a farmer planted, while subsequent payments depended on the number of surviving trees.

Tree planting is a long-term project, and the benefits often take years to become apparent. A forest produces more than just wood: what does your community think?


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