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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 #299

Local radio educates, informs and has the power to champion justice

This is Farm Radio Weekly calling! Thank you for taking the time to tune in to the latest issue, #299. This week, we focus on radio.

People who listen to the radio love to hear about personalities. This includes listeners to Sulwe FM in western Kenya. These listeners have been introduced to, and love to hear about and meet, James Barasa Mamati, an 85-year-old who is still actively teaching younger people about farming.

Sarah Adongo grew up in a farming family in central Uganda, helping her parents in the fields. Now she helps small-scale farmers keep informed and updated by broadcasting relevant and reliable information on Gulu’s Mega FM.

A Nigerian radio station has developed a program which names and shames those who think that their position allows them to act with impunity. The collective power of listeners to the Brekete Family Radio program gives a voice to the voiceless and encourages community action.

When ethnically- or religiously-based conflict or violence threatens the peace in your communities, it is best to get people talking. This week’s Resource section highlights a guidebook tailored for radio producers and broadcasters who want to get the best results from on-air talk shows. Read more through the link in the sidebar.

Everyone who speaks on air is raising the next generation – so make your words count!

Keep those airwaves crackling!

the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: Eighty-five-year-old Mzee mmoja continues to inspire farmers (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is Saturday in Mawe tatu village and the local radio station, Sulwe FM, has organized a farmers’ day. More than 50 farmers have gathered at Joseph Kuya’s home near the Nzoia River in Kakamega County. Some belong to a radio listeners club, and the station has brought them here.

Many have heard Mzee mmoja on the radio and want to meet him. Mzee mmoja, Swahili for the one old man, is eighty-five-year-old James Barasa Mamati, an active farmer and role model for many.

At the meeting, the retired civil servant introduces the topics he will speak about. He says: “We shall learn about biological pest control, identify the nutritive values of different crops, then about mobile kitchen gardens and how to make one.” He adds, “If time allows, we shall also learn how to produce [a] pesticide using soap and weeds from the farm.”

His listening audience has many questions. The farmers ask about treatments for diseases, how to plant certain crops, treatments for livestock worms, and many other things.

Even at the tender age of 75, Hamed Mululu finds the Mzee’s advice invaluable. He says, “Mzee mmoja is just [an] amazing farmer. I have learned a lot from him.”

The Mzee leads the farmers to Mr. Kuya’s garden, where he demonstrates how kale should be spaced and explains why Mr. Kuya’s kale plants are not as healthy as they could be. He shows farmers how to plant vegetables in a sack. Everyone is excited.

Mama Eunice says: “I [used to] hate farming because I thought it was a non-profitable activity. But after I heard Mzee mmoja on [the] radio being an active farmer at an old age, [it] gave me hope.”

Petronila Simwenyi hosts the daily and weekly farmer programs on Sulwe FM. The shows target people below 65 years of age and reach more than 350,000 farmers in western Kenya. The broadcaster introduced Mzee mmoja to her audience in 2010 and says he has been a real success.

Ms. Simwenyi says: “It has been a journey of no regrets since I started doing the agricultural program. Through the program, we have visited and have organized forums with farmers.” Farmers have used the daily and weekly programs, both called Kumumilo kwo omulimi (Luhya for “Farmers’ voice”), to raise concerns about farm inputs, weather conditions, and climate change.

Ms. Simwenyi says Mzee mmoja has been a great help to the program by translating Farm Radio International scripts from English to Luhya so her listeners can better understand them.

Mzee mmoja’s organic farm features intercropped vegetables, vegetables growing in sacks, compost heaps, fish ponds, poultry and much more. Many visit him for solutions to their farming challenges.

Stella Nangila says: “James Barasa is the only old man in the area who is active in farming. I visited him and saw that he practices mixed farming, [and] makes compost for sale.”

The Mzee says he plans to live to 125 years of age. He eats lots of vegetables and fruits and avoids red meat, preferring fish, chicken and rabbit.

Ms. Simwenyi says: “I am yet to identify someone who [could] take over from him − someone who can volunteer, who can translate scripts to [the] local language, and, above all, who can be a farmers’ friend and a lover of agriculture.”

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Uganda: Woman broadcaster scatters seeds of understanding via the radio (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

A car approaches Omwonya village, splashing through potholes and shuddering across the undulations of the wet and muddy road. Dozens of farmers have gathered in welcome. As they spot broadcaster Sarah Adongo in the car, women begin to ululate and dance. As she steps out of the vehicle, the men join in with rapturous applause.

Ms. Adongo is the host of Lobo pa Lupur, or A farmer’s world. The 36-year-old presents the show on Gulu’s Mega FM in the local language, Luo, every weekday from 2:20 to 3 p.m.

Ms. Adongo says: “I have an obligation to keep small-scale farmers informed and updated with relevant and reliable information. Many Ugandan farmers cannot access newspapers or watch television, so they rely on the radio.”

The program tackles a regular topic every weekday. Mondays are devoted to livestock, poultry and fish farming. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the program is dedicated to crop production.

Wednesdays are all about agribusiness. Ms. Adongo explains: “I record a magazine-style show including farming news … market prices, and feature interviews with farmers. I will use some of the interviews I do today on next Wednesday’s show.”

Ms. Adongo grew up in a farming family and recognizes the need to tell the stories of farmers who face adversity. She says: “I grew up appreciating farming because, right from childhood, it had been the source of my family’s income. We used the money for food, clothes, education and medical care.”

The eldest of eight children, she learned from a young age how to use a hoe and tend the family’s cotton. As she got older, cotton prices dropped and her family switched to crops such as groundnuts, sunflower, sesame and cassava.

Mrs. Adongo’s father began to produce and sell vegetables to supplement the family income. The family farm financed her school fees. Ms. Adongo was the first member of her family to finish secondary school and, ultimately, graduate from university.

She says: “Agriculture is where I’m from; it’s part of me and it’s what has made me and my siblings the people we are today. Sincerely, if it was not because of agriculture, I would not have studied, because my parents had no salaried jobs.”

Ms. Adongo has been working at Mega FM since 2004. She has become one of the most popular radio hosts in northern Uganda. When she enters the studio and sits down in front of the microphone, farmers around Gulu district tune in their radios, eager to hear her voice.

Nicky Afa-ei is the Program Manager at Mega FM. He believes that Ms. Adongo connects with farmers because of her background. He says, “Farmers trust her. She helps them understand new trends and technologies in agriculture.”

As Ms. Adongo wraps up her last recording for the day, she walks to the car which will take her back to the studio. She says, “Radio has a multiplier effect. When farmers hear success stories they begin to try new methods. I want all of my listeners to be successful farmers.”

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Nigeria: Live on-air people’s court (Trust)

The Brekete Family Radio program is a perfect way to pass the time if you are stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Abuja’s morning rush hour.

Ordinary Ahmed Isa is the show’s host. His voice travels across the airwaves with a familiar greeting, Hembelembe, to which his studio audience responds, Olololoooo. Listeners in the traffic jam, or go-slow as it is called in Nigeria, mutter the response under their breath. No one can predict what will happen on this show.

Brekete Family Radio is a program modelled on a public complaint forum or people’s court. Listeners call in to report cases of government officials or private individuals avoiding punishment or censorship for their actions. A studio panel discusses the issue and invites the public to offer advice to the complainant.

The daily one-hour program has helped Nigerians who, until now, had no hope of accessing justice. Brekete Family Radio is quickly becoming the last resort of the common man in a country where many institutions are unaccountable.

Sometimes, the program calls a government official live on air and asks the official to explain his or her actions. Putting public officials on the spot through this kind of on-air public inquest has achieved significant results.

Recently, the studio panel heard the story of a man who was dismissed from his job at a government agency without clear cause. The man was still owed money and had exhausted his meagre savings trying to get a fair settlement.

Mr. Isa called the head of the government agency to get its side of the story. The official answered – but almost immediately hung up. Attempts to call him back were unsuccessful. The official in question did not seem keen to have this particular conversation. So Mr. Isa announced the official’s telephone numbers on air. Listeners were invited to text and call him until the issue was resolved.

Brekete Family Radio is broadcast in five Nigerian states, including Abuja. An estimated 20 million people listen daily, more than one in ten Nigerians. The program is flooded every day with thousands of text messages and hundreds of phone calls. Volunteer lawyers do their best to assist everyone who has an issue.

The program has become essential listening for many Nigerians. It is a platform for gathering public opinion, obtaining public redress, facilitating arbitration, and even fundraising for a scholarship program for the poor. The show has tapped deeply into Nigerians’ need for transparency and justice.

The day after he was publicly embarrassed on the radio, and as morning traffic again sat bumper-to-bumper, the government official offered a public, on-air apology to all Nigerians. Apparently, his phone had been ringing constantly. The bombardment of messages from listeners had forced his hand. The case of the overdue entitlement was resolved within weeks.

To read the full article on which this story was based, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140704110649-ra1xk/?source=jtBlogs

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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-Somalia: Poor rains increase risk of famine

Rainfall was only half of normal levels during the recent March-to-June rainy season in Somalia.

Crops and livestock have not received enough water, meaning that the number of hungry people will increase this year, echoing the situation in the lead-up to the 2011 famine.

The ongoing food crisis is already affecting over 850,000 people in the country. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, stated, “The food crisis in Somalia will deteriorate in the coming months, with drought conditions already observed in parts of the country.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140708140346-1tfpo

2-Malawi: Celebrating 50 years of independence

On July 6, 1964, Malawi gained its independence from the United Kingdom. This year, the 50th anniversary of independence coincided with the commemoration of 20 years of multi-party democracy.

But, 50 years after independence, Malawi still relies on donor aid. Forty per cent of the country’s budget is funded through aid, and two-thirds of that was suspended after the recent Cashgate scandal revealed that millions of dollars had been stolen from government coffers.

In his inaugural speech, recently elected President Peter Mutharika said the nation must expand its economic base by improving agriculture through irrigation and value-added processing, and by developing the mining sector, to move the country away from its dependency on donors

To read the full article, go to: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/06/malawi-celebrates-50-years-independence-201461584719773907.html

3-Mali: Eliminating pesticides

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization established a farmer field school in the Bla region of southern Mali in 2003. While only 34 per cent of cotton farmers in the area participated in the program, pesticide use on cotton farms in Bla − more than 4,300 households − dropped by 92 per cent.

FAO’s analysis showed that alternative methods of pest control were three times more cost-effective than purchasing and using synthetic pesticides.

Growers in the Bla study group reduced their average production costs by not applying chemical pesticides. By shifting to alternative “biopesticides” like neem tree extract, farmers saved nearly $500,000 US over the study period, with no negative impact on yields.

To read the full article, go to: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/284-spore/agriculture-1/10037-extension

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Call for applications: Grants for investigative journalism

Investigative journalists are invited to apply for reporting grants sponsored by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. The grants are intended to support investigative projects around the world.

Recent grants include investigations into widespread fraud in the Nigerian federal government program intended to fight poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals; the conflict between preserving nature and economic growth in an environmentally risky gold mining operation in Sierra Leone; and the plight of young children forced to work in Malawi’s tobacco harvest.

The average award is $5,000 US, which should cover out-of-pocket expenses such as travel costs. The Fund does not cover salaries or equipment. The first half of the grant will be given once an application is approved and the second half on completion of the project.

All proposals must be submitted in English and include a detailed budget.

The deadline to apply is September 8, 2014.

For more information and a grant application form, go to: http://fij.org/grant-application/

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Radio talkshows for peacebuilding: A guide

Everyone would like to live in a peaceful society, one not driven by hatred and violence. But the question is: how to get there?

Radio Talkshows for Peacebuilding: A guide contains tools and examples for creating talk shows in ways that contribute to peace. The guide was produced by the Radio for Peacebuilding Africa project, a program of the NGOSearch for Common Ground. It is one in a series developed for radio producers and others involved in making positive radio in Africa – radio which makes a difference.

The guide includes how-to tips and advice on analyzing conflict; tools and examples of how radio professionals can help build a peaceful society; and descriptions and definitions of the different types of talk shows and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

The guidebook was written for radio broadcasters who produce or present radio talk shows in countries or regions experiencing conflict. It focuses mainly on conflicts between groups, peoples or countries which are either violent or at risk of becoming violent. The guide is written with Africa in mind, and most of the examples are drawn from African countries.

You can download this free guide as a PDF file from this address:http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/rfpa/pdf/Talkshows_EN_color.pdf

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Audio postcards: Farm Radio International’s messages to you

Farm Radio International continues to produce audio postcards to inform you about the work we do with farmers and broadcasters. Why not check out three of our latest offerings?

In Ghanaian farmers capitalized on ICT to connect with markets, Farm Radio International (Ghana) ICT officer Nathaniel Ofori describes how a recently completed project, Purchase for Progress, used radio and ICT to improve the knowledge and skills of members of farmer organizations. The project focused on sustainably producing high-quality staple foods — particularly maize and cowpea — and post-harvest handling of these crops for home consumption and for sale at local markets. You can listen to the audio postcard here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/23/audio-postcard-ghanian-farmers-capitalized-on-ict-to-connect-with-markets/

Learning how to beep to vote in Burkina Faso introduces a new Participatory Radio Campaign that encourages farmers to produce orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. The project was launched in Orodara, a town in the southwest of the country, where a local radio station broadcasts the show. You can hear more about the campaign from Emma Bider at: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/24/learning-how-to-beep-to-vote-in-burkina-faso/

Like many other young people in rural areas in Africa, Mamadou Diarra left his village of Ballan, Mali, to make money in the city. But the city did not live up to his dreams and he soon returned home. You can hear Mamadou’s story in Meet FarmQuest candidate Mamadou Diarra at this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/07/25/meet-farmquest-candidate-mamadou-diarra/

To access all of FRI’s audio postcards, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/

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How to get farmers talking about important things (Facilitating farmer voice)

This week’s story from Nigeria shows how the public can use radio programs to hold public officials to account. Our script of the week is a broadcaster how-to guide that offers tips to broadcasters on how to create radio programs that help farmers voice their opinions, wants and needs on the air.

Small-scale farmers are rarely comfortable talking on radio. They think that radio broadcasters and experts should do the talking while they, the farmers, do the farming.

But improving small-scale farming requires farmers to actively speak about things that are important to them. Farmers need to describe, discuss, debate, propose, criticize, support, and celebrate – all with their own voices.

When some farmers speak, more farmers will hear them, and they too will become emboldened to speak for themselves.


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