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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 #297

Good business, bad markets, and serious land issues

Welcome to Issue #297! This edition of Farm Radio Weekly brings you stories from the Comoros Islands, Zimbabwe and Senegal.

Youssouf Mmadi grew up farming, and was put in control of the family farm after his father died. However, his young head was already ripe for business and he has brought his family prosperity and a blossoming future.

Zimbabwean maize farmers welcomed the good rains, thinking they would be able to cash in at the markets. But bumper yields have driven down prices, and late payments from the state buyer have forced farmers to look for other sources of income or to sell their stocks for ready, but petty, cash.

Small-scale farmers in Senegal are angry that private companies are buying up common land to create commercial farming enterprises. Many are disappointed that outsiders have promised much but delivered little. Will the new government be able to protect farmers’ traditional rights of communal ownership?

The Script of the week highlights a Farm Radio International how-to guide: if you want to make good intros, extros and promos for your agricultural program (and for other subjects, too!), check out the Script section below.

We wish you a happy and peaceful week,

the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Comoros: Young farmer meets success by building customer loyalty (by Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Youssouf Mmadi was born in Djoumoichongo, a village 10 kilometres north of the Comoran capital, Moroni. The 33-year-old father of one grew up in a farming family, accompanying his parents to their plot to help plant fruit and do other work.

His family grew food for their own table, planning only as far as the next harvest. Being young, Mr. Mmadi was not involved in decision making. But by the age of 21, he knew that his family’s life could change for the better through farming.

In 2002, the young man’s father died and he became the head of the family. Things began to change on the farm. He continued to grow the same fruits − oranges, avocados and lemons − but at an increased volume. He explains, “I decided to produce for the market.”

Mr. Mmadi signed contracts with grocers in the capital to supply them with fruit that met quality standards for juice production.

His first payment was 30,000 Comoran francs [$83 US]. He realized quickly that fruit farming could provide for himself and his family. With a big smile, Mr. Mmadi says, “I ​​started with 12 clients. I sold each one a bag of fruit every five days for 2,500 francs [$6.90 US]. Now I deal with more than 30 customers.”

Mr. Mmadi has established a relationship of trust with his customers. He explains: “Either I am paid on delivery or I can return to my clients a few days later. Sometimes I will exchange my fruit for other goods instead of taking the cash home to my family.”

Ali Papa is one of Mr. Mmadi’s clients. He says: “I ​​spend less than before, now that I do not buy my fruit from the market. I no longer have to pay for a taxi, the fruit costs less, and also I save time.”

Said Hassane has similar feelings. He says: “What is interesting about this contract is its reliability. I have also found that Mr. Mmadi emphasizes the human side of our relationship. I can take delivery and give him the money later – this allows me to budget better.”

With the money from his sales, Mr. Mmadi can support himself and has gradually improved his life. He says, “Through this business, I have built a house and opened a grocery store for my family, and I also help my widowed mother.”

Because transportation can be a daily headache, he is planning to buy a delivery van. He also intends to expand the business by signing supply contracts with major hotels in the area.

The young man is proud to do this kind of work, and invites other young people to embrace agriculture as a business. He says, “Agriculture is a profession like any other. It is profitable and you live an honourable life.”

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Zimbabwe: Low prices mean tough choices for farmers (By Vladimir Mzaca, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Stanley Jena is frustrated. The farmer is stuck without a buyer for his maize. If he accepts the price offered by the Grain Marketing Board, or GMB, his losses will be heavy. But other buyers are offering even less.

Mr. Jena is a small-scale farmer from Jambezi, in Matabeleland North, about 400 kilometres north of Bulawayo. Unreliable rains led the farmer to grow drought-resistant crops such as sorghum and finger millet.

But the 2013 rains were good and the weather favourable for maize. He says, “Most of us planted maize. This year we gathered bumper harvests.”

Mr. Jena harvested 20 tonnes of maize, and planned to sell his surplus. His family was very excited about their potential profits. The GMB was the obvious market. But things did not go as hoped.

He says: “They are offering low prices. I think it is because there is a lot of maize this year. But [the GMB] forgot that it was expensive to produce maize since fertilizer prices were high.”

The GMB is offering farmers $390 US per tonne this year, down from $420 US the previous season when Zimbabwe was faced with an acute shortage of maize.

Farmers often travel long distances to sell their produce to the GMB, and must cover the cost of transporting their harvest to the nearest depot.

Bongiwe Xaba is a small-scale farmer from Jambezi. She says: “The depot is 80 kilometres away. It would have been ideal to hire a truck to take my two tonnes but, because of the cost factor, I opted to use my ox cart.”

Ms. Xaba says she cannot see herself managing to pay back the money she borrowed from her sister to buy inputs.

In April 2014, Mr. Jena sold five tonnes of maize to the GMB, but his payment was much delayed. He says, “It is a big inconvenience because I wanted to pay school fees for my daughters and also fend for the family. I ended up selling five of my goats.”

Stevenson Dhlamini is a Zimbabwean agricultural economist. He says the GMB’s failure to pay on time means that private buyers are taking advantage of farmers. Many offer ready cash, but at lower prices. Desperate farmers are often forced to take a loss.

There is no minimum price for maize in Zimbabwe. There are no price controls, and market forces dictate the selling price. Even if Mr. Jena sold his remaining maize to the GMB, he would lose up to 40 per cent of his investment.

He says: “I will treat some of my maize and wait for the opportune time even if it takes two years to sell to a desperate market when hunger strikes. I will mix some of it with concentrate to make feed for my cattle.”

Mr. Jena has 10 cattle, and can cut feed costs by using his maize for pen feeding. Last season he grew nothing but maize. But he has other plans this season. He says, “I have been attending sack potato planting classes. There is [a great] demand for potatoes in my area and therefore … I will manage to earn a living.”

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Senegal: Farmers angered by large-scale land purchases (IRIN)

Doudou Sow is furious. For the last 10 years, small-scale farmers in his area have been steadily losing their land to an influx of private investors. The Senegalese farmer says that outsiders have been purchasing fertile land in the Senegal River Valley where he has farmed for the last two decades.

Mr. Sow is a native of the Saint Louis Region in northern Senegal. He says, “I do not understand why hundreds of hectares are being given to outsiders when the priority should be to make land available to our own farmers.”

Policies in Senegal over the last decade have favoured large-scale acquisitions of farmland by both foreign and local investors. High profile schemes promoted agribusiness and biofuels. But the government of current President Macky Sall has been highly critical of the agricultural policies favoured by the previous administration under Abdoulaye Wade.

President Sall’s government, elected in 2012, is keen to review land ownership, arguing that it has not been properly reviewed since the post-independence era. The major piece of land legislation in Senegal dates back to 1964 and stresses free access to land and the importance of communal ownership under state control.

Between 2000 and 2010, more than 650,000 hectares of land were allocated to 17 private firms. This accounts for about 17 per cent of Senegal’s available crop land. According to a regional advocacy group, Pan-African Institute for Citizenship, Consumers and Development, ten of these firms are Senegalese and the others foreign-owned.

Mariam Sow is the coordinator of the Natural Protection program for the international NGO ENDA. Ms. Sow says, “These initiatives have led to a glut of private operators, including religious leaders and senior state officials, moving in on land in rural areas.”

She says the loss of farmland in areas like Gandon, 230 kilometres north of Dakar, is sapping farmers’ morale. She adds, “In losing their land … farmers lose a part of their identity.”

Many farmers agree strongly. The grassroots-based Fanaye Land Defence Association, based 430 kilometres north of Dakar, has expressed strong concern about changing patterns of land ownership.

Farmers in Fanaye say they need the state to show stronger support for local farmers. They are also disappointed that new landowners are failing to “add value” to the land they are buying by producing better crops and creating more employment for local people.

It is entirely legal for private investors to acquire land. But it conflicts with local farmers’ customary legal rights, and the majority of farmers do not have formal title deeds.

Tensions are strong in the Senegal River Valley. But Jean-Philippe Tre, an agro-economist at the World Bank, assures small-scale farmers that the growing presence of agribusiness is not land grabbing, but rather the development of commercial agriculture.

The Italian-backed company, Senhuile/Senethanol, acquired 20,000 hectares near Fanaye in 2011 by presidential decree. It has stated its intention to grow sweet potatoes to produce ethanol, and sunflower oil for export. Locals were promised thousands of jobs, but only 30 people have been employed so far.

Younouss Ball is a member of the Fanaye Land Defence Association. He says, “Given such conditions, young people do not have a reason to stay, and so they leave for the towns.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100258/fury-over-senegal-s-private-land-buyers

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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-South Africa: Is urban agriculture the way of the future?

A 2011 World Health Organization report states that South Africa is a food secure nation.

But the report also says that, while the prevalence of food insecurity dropped by half between 1998 and 2008, the proportion of people at risk of food insecurity did not change during that period. Furthermore, a study performed by the African Food Security Network in 2008 found that 70 per cent of urban South African households reported facing “significant” or “severe” food insecurity.

Urbanization is said to be the cause, with rural people moving to urban areas at a furious pace. Many end up in what researchers term “poor localities.” South African urban planners and policy-makers are now focusing on how urban agriculture should be integrated into urban planning.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100266/cape-town-poor-tap-into-new-food-markets

2-Cameroon: A haven for refugees from the Central African Republic?

The Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Chad and Cameroon have taken in 226,000 Central African Republic refugees fleeing violence between anti-balaka and ex-Seleka groups since December 2013.

Eighty thousand refugees have crossed into Cameroon this year. Local officials are blaming insecurity in Cameroonian towns and cities on the refugees. Undocumented workers are being exposed to detention and exploitation.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, is struggling to identify the undocumented workers arrested by authorities.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100233/car-refugees-seek-city-life-in-cameroon

3-Zimbabwe: Mugabe says remaining white farmers must go

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said recently that white farmers would no longer be allowed to own land in the country.

Announcing a new land tenure system, Mr. Mugabe indicated that the government will also encourage the financial services sector to allow farmers access to funding.

Controversies over land ownership in Zimbabwe led to the destruction of a once-thriving agricultural sector, while economic sanctions triggered a decade-long recession that led millions to emigrate.

President Mugabe argues that he is correcting colonial land imbalances which are skewed in favour of a few thousand white farmers.

To read the full article, go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201407030346.html

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Call for applications: Earth Journalism Scholars

The Earth Journalism Scholars program is inviting non-US journalists, particularly those from developing countries, to apply for a scholarship to attend the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for the spring 2015 semester.

The visiting scholarship is intended for mid-career journalists with at least five years’ experience, who have shown dedication and skill while covering environmental issues. The scholars will be selected in September 2014 and begin their scholarships in mid-January 2015.

The program will cover the costs of travel, lodging and tuition. Scholars will receive a modest stipend to cover basic living expenses.

All applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, must commit to attend for the full length of the scholarship program (January to May 2015), and commit to taking university classes related to journalism or the environment.

In addition to completing the application form, applicants must submit two samples of their reporting and at least one letter of reference.

Applicants must be fluent in spoken and written English.

To apply, and for more information, go to this address and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page: http://earthjournalism.net/opportunities/2015-uc-berkeley-earth-journalism-visiting-scholar-call-for-applications

Applications are due July 27 by midnight Pacific Daylight Time.

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Farm Radio International helps farmers standardize bag sizes for food crops

For many years, the system for bagging and pricing agricultural products in Ghana has been problematic for farmers, especially for maize.

Many crops are sold using crude measures such as baskets and sacks. Food crops have traditionally been sold by the bag, not by weight. In Ghana, middlemen forced farmers to use the size 5 bag, commonly known as the Mokola Woman. These bags can hold more than 150 kilograms, depending on the crop.

In collaboration with several partners, Farm Radio International helped partner radio stations Obuoba FM and Akyeaa FM introduce a program to improve the production and marketing of good quality maize across the Ashanti Region of central Ghana.

The radio program, named AKUAFO MO (Thank you to farmers), is broadcast every Thursday from 8-9 p.m. The program uses new ICTs to develop interactive and farmer-centred ways of communicating. Farmers can share local knowledge through the ICTs, and are better able to manage their businesses. This has led to positive changes in maize and cowpea production.

Ofori Kumah Christian is the host of the Akyeaa FM program, which targets seven districts and municipalities. His listeners were particularly concerned about the bagging system, and the program focused on getting it changed. He says: “We had discussions with Nananom [chiefs and elders], police, MPs, District Chief Executives … and the general public and farmers. Their views were recorded and played back on air as a mini-documentary with [a] phone-in segment.”

The radio station continued to highlight the problem, and regularly invited the DCE, Chief and elders to discuss the bagging of maize. As a result of these public discussions, the system for weighing and measuring crops has changed. A bylaw was passed to require the use of the size 4 bag, which holds between 80 and 100 kilograms, depending on the crop.

Sarpong Opoku is a farmer in Ejura, a town 100 kilometres north of the Ashanti region’s capital, Kumasi. He explains: “We like the fact that it’s now law in all the seven districts that no one should use the old sack ‘Makola Woman’ to bag maize again, either in the market, village or in the bush. We highly appreciate the program and call for more of such radio programs.”

Farmer Kofi Acheampong agrees. When he was asked how the program had affected his financial status, the farmer smiled and said, “We are now better off … We earn higher as compared to some time ago.”

Akyeaa FM has carried out regular visits to villages, towns and market centres to monitor the effectiveness of the new bagging system.

Even the porters at the local markets are happy. Kofi Kumah says, “I appreciate the program. We used to carry 150 kilograms … of maize at our back and this was not helping our health in any way.”

Addo Eric is a police commander in Ejisu, a town 20 kilometres east of Kumasi. He says, “My colleagues in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions and I will ensure the buyers [and] farmers … do the right thing.”

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Free access: BBC opens up College of Journalism websites

The BBC College of Journalism’s international language websites focus on three key aspects of journalism practice that are particularly important in the regions of the world they serve: skills, language and values.

The College of Journalism’s international language websites – which include French, Hausa and Swahili – cover the essential editorial skills that BBC World Service journalists use on a daily basis.

They explore impartiality and accuracy in language, offering journalists around the world the opportunity to view the BBC’s in-house language style guides. They also explain the editorial values that underpin all of the BBC’s journalism.

The sites address specific issues concerning the use of language, including: grammatical learning points, the development and expansion of language, new terminologies, taboo wording, the golden rules of newsroom translation, online language and, above all, mastering the use of impartial language.

The College’s webpages will be free for anyone to use for at least one year, so make the most of their availability!

For more information, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/international-promo/article/art20130919155526763

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Broadcaster how-to guide: How to create ear-catching promos, intros and extros

From our most recent Resource Pack, we bring you a broadcaster how-to guide with detailed instructions on how to create promos, intros and extros.

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 into the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will keep them there.


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