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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 #295

Finding effective ways to improve your farming

Welcome to another bumper issue of Farm Radio Weekly! In issue #295, we feature stories on cotton farmers in Cameroon, exotic chickens in Uganda, and a Maasai community radio station in Tanzania.

Semi-arid northern Cameroon suffers extended annual dry periods. These conditions have left farmers with degraded and infertile soils. Now some farmers have started to use minimum tillage techniques to conserve moisture and restore fertility.

Northern Ugandans have been excited about the benefits of exotic breeds of chickens. But caring for and feeding the birds has exasperated some of the less experienced farmers and chased them from the market. As the supply of eggs drops, the price is going up, and some farmers can expect to cash in!

Community radio stations are popular with their listeners, though Tanzanian authorities are not keen on local language broadcasts. A new community station has been granted permission to broadcast to the Maasai community in the north of the country. The station caters to the needs of local people and brings friends together to listen.

It can be difficult to find effective ways to engage communities in dialogue. Radio stations have a responsibility to identity possible areas of friction and address them appropriately. Have a look at the Resource section, where you’ll find links to a handy online guide to communication strategies.

Keep those airwaves buzzing!

– the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Cotton farmer adapts farming practices to counter soil infertility (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Irema Badjouma stands in front of a pile of harvested white cotton bolls, bends down to pick up his cotton and carries it to a nearby storage area. Mr. Badjouma and other cotton farmers in the village of Yina have gathered their harvests and are waiting patiently for buyers to purchase their cotton.

The cotton season has just ended in Yina, a village in the Far North region of Cameroon. But cotton has not always been a successful crop here. The region shares its eastern border with Chad and is part of the Sahel, where the dry season lasts for three-quarters of the year.

Mr. Badjouma has grown cotton for 12 years on two hectares of land he inherited from his father. But four years ago, he harvested barely half a tonne per hectare. He says, “I do not know exactly what happened but the harvest began to decline to the point where […] I thought about giving up on [cotton].”

Amidou Bello is an agricultural extension agent from the local farmers’ organization. Mr. Badjouma asked the extensionist what crop he could grow instead of cotton. The farmer remembers: “He plied me with many questions about how I farm, my fertilizer program, which insecticides … After an hour, he encouraged me to continue cotton production, but to try different practices.”

Mr. Badjouma explains the changes he made to his farming practices. He says: “After I have harvested [the cotton bolls], I leave the [old] stems in the field. When I plant [the next crop], I put the seeds directly into the ground without having first tilled the soil as I used to.”

This technique is known as direct seeding through a cover crop. Mr. Bello explains, “Direct seeding through a cover crop is recommended for less fertile soils, and especially in semi-arid areas like this.”

The extension agent says that this technique is well-suited to the degraded soils of the Sahel. He adds, “The residues of the previous crop gradually decompose and become organic fertilizer. They also [help the soil] retain moisture even when it rains very little.” As time goes by, the soil regenerates without the need for chemical fertilizers.

Mr. Bello says the benefits of the technique usually increase over time. Growers should harvest about 10 per cent more in the second year of direct seeding, and yields can improve by as much as 20 per cent in subsequent years.

Mr. Badjouma started direct seeding three years ago. He says, “The first year, I saw no change. But since last year, I have seen an increase in my production. This encourages me to continue with this method.”

However, Mr. Badjouma is not yet convinced of the method’s benefits. He is withholding judgement at least until his harvest reaches previous levels. Last year, Mr. Badjouma harvested 1,200 kilograms. This year, he collected 1,400 kilograms. As he inspects his pile of cotton, Mr. Badjouma says, “It is still small, but it’s slightly bigger.”

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Uganda: Farmers fall foul of exotic chickens (by Denis Ongeng, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Grace Ogwang Enoka has always kept chickens for meat and eggs, like her family before her. The family raised local breeds of chickens and other poultry for food and for income to buy essential goods.

In 2007, the Ugandan government launched the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund, or NUSAF. One facet of NUSAF was an egg production project. Farmers were encouraged to start keeping exotic chicken, especially layer hens.

Mrs. Ogwang lives in the town of Lira in northern Uganda, 320 kilometres north of Kampala. The 55-year-old mother of eight is a beneficiary of the NUSAF project. Until recently, she kept exotic birds to increase her household income.

Mrs. Ogwang recalls, “After attending a meeting organized by the project officers, I asked for 200 chicks. Many birds died in the first week of their arrival.” She adds, “Taking care of the birds was very demanding.”

Many farmers started keeping exotic layer chickens. As a result, more eggs were supplied to the market. Exotic breeds mature earlier, and often lay more eggs for a longer period of time.

But by the end of the first phase of the project in 2009, the situation had changed. Many farmers did not have the experience to successfully raise exotic chickens. Gradually, over the following years, they became discouraged and abandoned poultry raising.

Mrs. Ogwang says, “I walked out of the project. The demand [on my time] was high. Besides, the veterinary officer would visit our farm irregularly.” Getting quality feeds was another challenge.

Ojok Sam is another farmer who found it difficult to keep up with the program. He says, “The feed for the chickens was very expensive; I could not afford it.”

Many farmers had similar experiences and pulled out of commercial poultry keeping. The supply of eggs dwindled and local markets experienced shortages. Indigenous chicken breeds, which take longer to mature and lay for a shorter period, cannot produce enough eggs to meet market demand.

But the situation is not all bad. Richard Okwir is a poultry farmer in the town of Lira. He successfully manages a flock of exotic birds and sells feeds as a sideline. He says many farmers were put off by past failures and ongoing challenges, and are reluctant to return to commercial poultry. He adds, “As of now, eggs are transported for over 100 miles from Mbale district, in eastern Uganda.”

The drop in local supply has increased the price of a tray of 30 eggs by one-third to 8,500 Ugandan shillings [$3.30 US].

Mr. Okwir is encouraging farmers to take advantage of these high prices. He is trying to build the confidence of northern Ugandan farmers by training them how to farm poultry successfully.

Mr. Okwir has trained local farmers how to make feeds themselves with local ingredients. He says that good quality feeds are important for successfully raising exotic birds and, with a bit of knowledge, farmers can overcome this challenge.

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Tanzania: Loliondo FM − bringing a community together (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Taking a break from the midday sun under a tree, Mindey Ndoinyo tunes the radio on his mobile phone to 107.7 Loliondo FM. The 20-year-old lives in a remote Maasai village called Ololosokwan, 15 kilometres south of the border with Kenya.

Mr. Ndoinyo is joined by two friends dressed in traditional red and black Maasai robes. The men fall silent as they listen to the music and chattering voices coming from the phone’s loudspeaker. Mr. Ndoinyo says: “I like to listen to music and news on the Maisha Mix program. I also enjoy the Maasai cultural program and the environmental lessons it teaches us.”

Loliondo FM is the first and only radio station broadcasting from Tanzania’s Ngorongoro district. Founded in 2013, the mandate of the non-commercial, community radio station is to provide a voice to Tanzania’s pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities.

The villages of Loliondo division are located in Ngorongoro district, north of Ngorongoro Crater and east of Serengeti National Park, two of Tanzania’s major tourist attractions. Local land disputes involving international investors have created a huge rift between Maasai herders and the Tanzanian government, making headlines around the world.

After a protracted two-year application process, Loliondo FM received its licence and started broadcasting last November. The tensions around land ownership disputes made the authorities wary of granting the licence. Joseph Munga is Loliondo FM’s Station Manager. He says: “In Tanzania, political leaders have a problem with community radio because it speaks from the grassroots. This scares leaders in our country.”

Across the border in Kenya, radio stations are allowed to broadcast in the language of their choice. For a long time, the only radio voices villagers heard late in the evening were in Swahili from the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation and a Maasai language station in Kenya.

Broadcasting regulations are different in Tanzania. Mr. Munga explains: “There’s a government regulation that we broadcast in Swahili, not in our Maasai language, so [that] we don’t promote conflict between different tribes or spread hate.”

Broadcasters on Loliondo FM do speak Maasai from time to time. Many callers cannot speak Swahili, and news reports are translated for these listeners one hour after the original broadcast. The station’s news service focuses on both its own community and on broader Tanzanian affairs.

Musa Leitura is a Loliondo FM broadcaster who was born and raised with his four brothers and two sisters in Ololosokwan. The 28-year-old says, “I’ve been trained by UNESCO as a community journalist. I’ve attended workshops on investigative journalism, ethics and corruption.”

He adds: “I like being a presenter because now I’m a leader in the community. The radio is a great channel to create harmony between clashing tribes, and to educate everyone in Loliondo.”

As Mr. Ndoinyo’s mobile phone battery weakens, the group of friends move off to borrow a radio from a local shop owner and continue listening to Loliondo FM.

Mr. Ndoinyo says: “Ngorongoro district is isolated. We don’t receive newspapers in Ololosokwan village. Many people listen to the radio to get information.”

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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: Children not being tested for HIV

Zimbabwean children who lack parental permission to undergo HIV testing are being turned away from clinics, and many do not come back.

The UN’s Development Program found that 200,000 Zimbabweans between 10 and 14 years of age are living with HIV. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reports that children between six and 15 years old are not getting adequate HIV testing and counselling.

In Zimbabwe, a child under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a consenting legal guardian to receive testing. The government is being urged to change its guidelines and to increase awareness of the high prevalence of HIV in children.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100185/young-zimbabweans-miss-out-on-hiv-testing

2-South Sudan: Children suffering from lack of education

One and a half million people have been displaced in South Sudan since the fighting between government and rebel forces began last December. About half of these are children.

According to the international NGO Save the Children, families are fleeing from camps for Internally Displaced People, or IDP camps, and taking their children across borders. Refugee camps often have better provision for children’s education than IDP camps.

Since the fighting began, more than 110,000 children in South Sudan have received only emergency education. As of May 2014, the education service had received 32 per cent of its required funding, far behind health at 52% and mine clearance, which has received 74% of needed funds.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100210/amid-the-violence-education-suffers-in-south-sudan

3-Djibouti: UN warns of drought

A UN official in Djibouti says the tiny Horn of Africa nation is confronting its fourth consecutive year of drought.

The city of Djibouti is facing a huge influx of people fleeing disease and malnutrition in the countryside. The UN Resident Coordinator for Djibouti, Robert Watkins, is appealing to donor countries to help meet the UN appeal for $74 million US.

Mr. Watkins says the biggest issue facing people in Djibouti is the lack of water. A countrywide water shortage has caused many cattle to perish. Unless rehydration centres are supported, many people may die from dehydration.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140612171432-vg3vo/?source=jtOtherNews3

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Call for applications: The journalist to journalist lung health media training fellowship

The National Press Foundation is offering all-expenses-paid fellowships for journalists to cover the 45th Union World Conference on Tuberculosis and Lung Health in Barcelona, Spain from October 27-November 1, 2014.

Journalists with at least three years of experience, including covering health issues, and who are interested in learning more about covering lung health, can apply for the fellowship.

Pre-conference training sessions run from October 27-29, and journalist fellows will continue to participate until the end of the conference on November 1.

The training and conference covers lung health and related issues, including tuberculosis, TB/HIV, asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), diabetes, tobacco control and the impact of air pollution. Journalists will learn about these diseases, the extent and impact of the problems they present, and the new research, solutions and innovations that are in the pipeline. The sessions also include practical training on turning scientific information into effective web, print and broadcast stories.

The fellowships cover conference registration, travel expenses, hotel accommodation and per diems.

Special attention will be given to applications from journalists in low- and middle-income countries. All sessions will be conducted in English, so proficiency in spoken and written English is essential.

The deadline for applications is July 18, 2014.

For more information, go to: http://nationalpress.org/programs-and-resources/program/lung-health-media-training-barcelona-spain-2014/

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Strategic communication for peacebuilding: a training guide

According to research carried out in western and central Africa by the NGO Search for Common Ground through its project, Radio: a platform for Peacebuilding (www.radiopeaceafrica.org), few governments are successfully communicating their policies to their citizens. There is a risk, therefore, that policies will not take hold, essential reforms will not occur, and conflicts will increase.

Search for Common Ground’s handbook, Strategic communications for peacebuilding, is designed to increase the knowledge and skills of radio broadcasters, particularly youth radio broadcasters. It also aims to identify and address complex and potentially divisive issues; to educate government officials on the importance of open and effective communication with communities; and to increase communication between civil society and policy-makers about government policies and decisions.

The handbook states that communication should be a two-way process, from government to people and back again, and between one section of society and another. The guide offers an approach to communication which creates an open space for dialogue on different levels and between different groups.

The guide is available free for download at this address: http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/rfpa/pdf/20100315trainingGuideEngFinal.pdf

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Save the date: Farmer e-course and competition returns!

Farm Radio International is excited to announce that its new online e-course and competition for radio broadcasters will begin in September.

Do you have a regular farmer program that you want to improve? Are you thinking about starting a farmer program but don’t know where to begin? This course will teach radio broadcasters how to make engaging, entertaining and informative farmer radio programs.

Participants will learn about storytelling, how to keep a show interesting, and how best to address the issues their audience finds important.

A new component in this year’s course covers Information and Communication Technologies, or ICTs. Participants will be given tools and training on how to reach out to their audience through mobile phones and polls – and an opportunity to try them out!

The Farmer program e-course and competition will run 12 weeks, beginning September 15, 2014. Course materials will be in English. The e-course and competition is open to radio broadcasters who are part of a radio station team in sub-Saharan Africa, and who did not participate in the 2012 e-course training. This course is offered in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

At the end of the course, participants can enter the competition by submitting a program design. There are exciting prizes available for the winners!

Stay tuned for more information, as registration will open in a few weeks’ time.

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To market, to market – Episode 2: A glut in the market: How supply and demand affect prices

This week’s story about raising chickens in Uganda mentions that, as supplies dwindle, market prices often rise.

Our script of the week is the second part of a five-part series on understanding and using market information. One of the critical benefits of having accurate information about the market is that farmers can then decide what crops to grow, and where and when to sell those crops in order to receive the best prices.

This script illustrates the laws of supply and demand. If there are large quantities of a certain product in the market – more supply than people can or will buy – prices usually decrease. On the other hand, if demand is high or supply is low – in other words, if people want more of a product than is available – prices frequently rise. Prices are often determined by how much of a product is available for sale at any given time.


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