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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 #303

Ebola, fowls and fodder

A hearty welcome awaits you in Farm Radio Weekly! Issue #303 covers the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and investigates how to improve livelihoods with farm livestock.

As the Ebola virus continues to affect countries across West Africa, citizens are being encouraged to seek treatment as soon as they notice symptoms. Quick action could be the key to survival.

What do you do when you retire? Ruth Nalunkuma, a former nurse in Kampala, is keeping chickens and intends to sell eggs to meet the needs of her extended family. She encourages other urban dwellers to do the same.

Although nutritionally balanced and efficient, commercial feeds can be expensive and out of reach for small-scale farmers. But Chrissy Kimu found that, with some planning and a bit of spare land, nutritious feeds can grow on trees!

Catch up with The Adventures of Neddy the Paravet. In the Script of the Week, Neddy tells us to grow fodder trees and shrubs. Their nutritious leaves and seeds are an excellent addition to diets for goats and cows.

Farm Radio International is presenting the 2014 George Atkins Communication Award to three African broadcasters. In the Action section this week, we profile the first of the winners, the late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato of Tanzania.

Keep broadcasting!

the Farm Radio Weekly team

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West Africa: Early treatment brings light to Ebola gloom (IRIN)

More than 1,400 have died as a result of the Ebola crisis in West Africa since the disease was first recorded in March of this year. But although medical scientists have not yet identified a cure, some of those who sought treatment early have recovered from the virus.

Current Ebola treatments mainly relieve the symptoms. They ease the headaches, fever and muscle pains triggered by the virus, and cope with the vomiting and diarrhoea.

Julie Damond is the spokesperson for Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, in West Africa. She says, “We can’t do anything else because there is no treatment for the virus. The only thing we can do is help the body fight the virus and develop immunity.”

A patient’s body can sometimes rebuild its defences and restore health. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, nearly half of the patients in the current West African outbreak have recovered.

It’s not clear why some people die and others recover. Ms. Damond says, “It is impossible to know when a patient is admitted whether they will recover or not. It’s not about age or gender.” But it appears that the earlier the disease is tackled, the better the chance of surviving.

Those who are most at risk of contracting Ebola are the doctors and nurses who treat patients, and the families who look after sick relatives at home. More than 120 health workers in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have died of Ebola during the current outbreak, according to WHO.

These deaths have caused panic, causing the already weak health systems in the area to become more dysfunctional than ever. Some families are shunning hospitals, seeing danger rather than an offer of help. Liberia and Sierra Leone have declared the outbreak a national emergency and are using quarantine measures to prevent further spread. It is now illegal to keep Ebola patients away from treatment centres in Sierra Leone.

Distrust of governments and public institutions is difficult to overcome. But, while Ebola is a serious and often fatal disease, some people have returned to their communities after completely recovering in treatment centres.

The stories of patients who have recovered from Ebola may offer hope and bolster trust in conventional medical approaches to the disease, and the preventive measures that aim to avoid risky exposure to Ebola patients.

Melvin Korkor is a 44-year-old Liberian doctor who recently recovered from Ebola. Dr. Korkor tested positive for Ebola in July. He and five nurses were transferred to the capital, Monrovia, for treatment. Unfortunately, all his colleagues died.

Dr. Korkor says: “[I received] the same treatment that was given to the other Ebola patients. There was no special treatment because I am a doctor… [but] today I am back home and reunited with my family.”

When Dr. Korkor returned to his community, some of his neighbours were afraid to go near him. But Larry Tonnie is one neighbour who is encouraged by the doctor’s recovery. He says, “We are glad to have him back. Now we know that there are people who can get cured of Ebola once you check yourself in on time.”

MSF spokeswoman, Ms. Damond, says, “What we have seen in this outbreak is that when people come early to be treated, they have a better chance of surviving. This is a message we are trying to get out there so that people understand.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, Silver lining in Ebola gloom, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100540/silver-lining-in-ebola-gloom

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Uganda: Urban residents turn to vegetables and chickens to improve their lives (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Ruth Nalunkuma sits on her front doorstep and gazes at her kitchen garden. The 47-year-old mother of five grows fruit and vegetables in a garden outside her tiny home in Kigoowa, a suburb eight kilometres northeast of central Kampala.

Mrs. Nalunkuma says, “I grow spinach, pumpkin, passion fruit, onions, spinach and dodo [amaranth] in my garden. Unfortunately, I recently lost my eggplants due to disease.”

The widow shoos away one of her four grandchildren and slips on her sandals. With a skip in her step, she escapes her cluttered home to tend to her plot. Mrs. Nalunkuma provides for her family with what she harvests from her four-by-two metre square, 30-centimetre high raised bed.

She raises her right hand high above her head, saying, “I want to build a fence up to here to keep the goats out because they come and eat my vegetables.”

But Mrs. Nalunkuma is not just a gardener. Behind her home, a chicken run is shaded by banana trees growing in the muddy, red soil. The chicken run houses 35 layer hens, which she expects will produce enough eggs to earn her some much-needed income.

She explains: “I just started poultry farming. I have 35 chickens in this pen and another 35 chicks in my house. I hope to start selling the eggs at the market in the next few months.”

Ten years ago, Mrs. Nalunkuma was working as a registered nurse for Kamwokya Christian Caring Community, or KCCC, a Catholic organization. She learned about farming and, since retiring, has grown and sold crops to meet her family’s needs. Her example has encouraged others in the community.

Cathy Nakasi is Ms. Nalunkuma’s former supervisor at KCCC. She says: “Thanks to [Mrs. Nalunkuma], we now have many women engaged in peri-urban agriculture. It’s a great business opportunity, one I’m considering myself.”

Juliet Ndagire is the host of CBS Radio’s Buganda farming program. She has also adopted poultry farming to increase her income.

The journalist and mother of two lives in Bwebajja, a suburb southwest of Kampala, where she keeps 600 chickens. Mrs. Ndagire raises broiler chickens and layer hens, and sells the meat and eggs.

She says: “I now deliver my eggs directly to consumers in Bewbajja and Kampala. The cost of living has gotten much higher. This helps supplement my income as a journalist.”

Unlike Ms. Ndagire, Mrs. Nalunkuma has no external income to supplement. Although she still volunteers for KCCC, the work is unpaid. She is pinning her hopes on her small-scale poultry operation, expecting that it will provide her with a comfortable future.

Ms. Nalunkuma says: “I do what I can with the little space I have. One day I hope to have a one-acre farm on the outskirts of Kampala, but I will keep growing fruits and vegetables in the city to feed my family.”

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Malawi: Fodder trees bring hope to dairy farmers (By Mark Ndipita, for Farm Radio Weekly)

It is four o’clock in the morning, but Chrissy Kimu is already warming water to wash her two dairy cows’ udders. She pours lukewarm water into a bucket, then wakes her husband to help her in the cowshed.

Mrs. Kimu is a small-scale dairy farmer from Chilenga, a village about 90 kilometres south of Lilongwe. Dairy farming has become her main source of income, and allows her to support her family.

Back in 2007, she almost gave up the dairy business. High feed costs were eating up her profits. She recalls, “I lost hope since I could not manage to buy expensive feed from shops, and I started experiencing a decrease in milk production.”

Rather than quitting, she was advised by an extension worker to plant “fodder trees” in her maize field. The seeds and leaves supplemented her cows’ diet and improved milk production. She no longer had to rely on expensive commercial dairy mash feeds.

A 50-kilogram bag of commercial dairy feed costs about $25 U.S., and each cow can finish one bag a week.

Within two years of planting the fodder trees, things had started to change for the better. Mrs. Kimu was incorporating the leaves and seeds from the maturing fodder trees in her cattle feed. She says: “[These trees] are incredible because they have rekindled hope in my family life. When I started feeding them to my cows, I started experiencing an increase in milk production.”

Mrs. Kimu planted the white-ball acacia (Acacia angustissima) and a Mexican species known as Leucaena pallida. She mixes dried leaves and seeds from the trees with salt, maize husks, soya and other ingredients to make feed.

Before the fodder trees, each cow produced between eight and 15 litres of milk a day. Now, their yields have nearly doubled and Mrs. Kimu is making a profit.

In 2010, she joined a local milk bulking group, which buys milk from farmers for 25 U.S. cents a litre. Because of the increased milk yields, Mrs. Kimu now makes about $300 U.S. per month.

She says, “Other farmers in the group were amazed seeing how [much milk] I was able to sell … without buying feed from the market.” Several group members planted fodder trees for themselves after seeing Mrs. Kimu’s success.

Levisoni Chimpesa is also a dairy farmer. His cows mainly eat maize husks and other crop residues. He planted fodder trees last year after seeing Mrs. Kimu cash in. His trees are still immature but he’s looking forward to the coming years. He explains: “Because I do not have proper feeds, I get 10 to 15 litres of milk from my cow per day, which is low compared to what Mrs. Kimu gets.”

Alfred Siliwonde is the agricultural veterinary officer for the area. He says poor feed management often affects milk production. Many farmers depend solely on crop residues in the dry season and grass in the rainy season.

Mr. Siliwonde adds: “Now that they have seen the benefits of fodder trees … it is very important to encourage farmers and equip them with knowledge and skills in managing these trees.” He advises farmers to take good care of the fodder trees. After the maize harvest, the trees are often exposed to damage by bushfires and roaming livestock.

Mrs. Kimu advises dairy farmers who are struggling with high feed costs to plant fodder trees. She says: “Some farmers are over-relying on expensive purchased feed [and] as a result they do not make a profit. Farmers should plant [fodder trees], which have helped me to pay school fees and buy an ox cart.”

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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-West Africa: Translating information on the Ebola outbreak

The NGO Translators without borders is providing free translation of Ebola fact sheets.

The translations provide preventive information on Ebola in local languages such as Fulani, Krio and Mandiké, as well as in French.

The fact sheets tell readers how to recognize the symptoms of the Ebola virus, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from spreading to other people.

To read the full article, go to: http://translatorswithoutborders.org/node/121

2-Cape Verde: Archipelago turns to local vegetable production

There has been a huge increase in island-grown food in Cape Verde over the last three years.

Investment in new agricultural technologies such as drip irrigation has helped increase local harvests. On the tourist-friendly islands of Sal and Boa Vista, vegetable production has increased by 250 per cent since 2011, from 168 tonnes to 608 tonnes.

Official statistics show that vegetable imports to the archipelago have actually decreased by 17 per cent over the same time period.

To read the full article, go to: http://spore.cta.int/en/component/content/article/296-spore/agriculture-and-health-2/10096-horticulture-171-en

3-Sub-Saharan Africa: Poverty and hunger will not end without better management of rainwater

Delegates to a recent World Water Week conference in Sweden have called on the United Nations to address rainwater management in the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, which expire in 2015, and will be discussed at the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

With the changing climate resulting in more irregular rainfall patterns, effective rainwater management could help millions of small-scale farmers in Africa. The senior scientific advisor to the Stockholm International Water Institute, Malin Falkenmark, says, “There is very limited fresh water [in some regions] and reduced possibility to irrigate, so you have to rely on rain.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140831204123-hl6xy

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Online resource: United Nations Children’s Fund Ebola information

The United Nations Children’s Fund’s Communication for Development section is sharing information on how to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

UNICEF has been working closely on this issue with the World Health Organization and other partners, communities, governments, and UN agencies. The resources will be continually updated to enable prompt responses to this humanitarian crisis.

The online collection of materials is designed to assist individuals and organizations in countries dealing with an Ebola outbreak to respond with accurate information in a timely fashion.

Materials include fact sheets emphasizing key messages, brochures, slide presentations, and other visual and audio resources. There are also training materials such as guidelines for community volunteers.

Other tools available through the webpage include Behaviour Change Communication in Emergencies:  A ToolkitEssentials for Excellence ─ Research, Monitoring and Evaluating Strategic Communication; and the UNICEF Cholera Toolkit.

To access this bank of resources, available in English, French, Portuguese and other languages, go to: http://www.unicef.org/cbsc/index_73157.html

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Kikwato Junior: 2014 George Atkins Communication Award winner


The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato interviewing Rehema Mshana in Tongwe.

Farm Radio Weekly presents the first in a series of profiles of this year’s three George Atkins Communication Award winners.

The late Mfaume Zabibu Kikwato, or “Kikwato Junior” as he liked to be called by his fans, was the driving force behind the creation of a farmer program at Mwambao FM radio, a station based in Tanga, in the Coastal Region of Tanzania.

He successfully hosted the program, Sauti ya Mkulima or Voice of a Farmer, for almost a year before he died on June 10, 2014. He passed away while his audience, especially female farmers, still needed him.

In a special ceremony on September 3, 2014 at Mwambao FM, FRI’s Managing Editor, Vijay Cuddeford, presented the George Atkins Communications Award to Kikwato Junior’s family.

Kikwato Junior joined Mwambao FM in 2011 and shortly afterwards introduced Sauti ya Mkulima. The program gained a huge following and attracted financial support by local agricultural organizations.

With this funding, Kikwato Junior visited and recorded farmers’ voices in the field, thereby increasing their participation in the program.

In the short period he presented Sauti ya Mkulima, he demonstrated commitment and creativity. He took action after learning that cultural barriers were restricting women farmers from participating in the programs and making their voices heard.

Kikwato challenged the situation by introducing a special hotline for women to call in to the program. This strategy encouraged women farmers to participate. Before the hotline, only 10 per cent of callers were women farmers. Now, women account for half of all calls ─ truly equal participation.

Kikwato Junior also introduced a blog which, among other issues, promotes women rights. The URL is: (www.kikwatojr.blogspot.com).

Though he has sadly passed away, Kikwato’s legacy of ensuring that the voices of women farmers are heard will live on.


From the left: Maimuna Kamoti (Kikwato's mother), Zabibu M. Kikwato (Kikwato's father), Terevael Aremu and Vijay Cuddeford from Farm Radio International during the award ceremony

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The adventures of Neddy the Paravet: Fodder trees provide nutritious livestock feed all year

This week’s story from Malawi highlights the benefits of fodder trees. So does our Script of the week.

A balanced diet provides livestock with water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and vitamins. These nutrients are essential for growth, reproduction, the production of meat, milk, and eggs; and an animal’s ability to provide transport and traction.

Each animal needs feed that matches its stage of life. Young animals require more protein than older animals, and pregnant and lactating animals need extra minerals and carbohydrates. Ruminants such as cows, sheep and goats eat more grass and straw than pigs, horses and rodents because they have a different kind of digestive system. If an animal’s diet is imbalanced, if minerals or energy are deficient or in excess, it may fall sick, experience difficulties with conception or miscarriage, become unproductive or even die.

When producing programs about livestock nutrition, encourage farmers to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the important components of an animal’s diet?
  2. How can I tell if something is missing, or what is missing?
  3. What happens if there is something missing from my animal’s diet?
  4. How can I ensure that my animals have a good diet?

Farmers should also ensure that their livestock’s diet stays relatively constant throughout the year. This can be difficult because diets vary from season to season, and sometimes from week to week. Also, because it is difficult to produce enough dry feed to save for the off-season, animals often get low-quality roughage and very little grain at that time of year.

Advise farmers to work with local crop specialists and other successful farmers to identify appropriate fodder plants.

This script encourages farmers to plant “fodder trees” or other fodder crops. Fodder trees, shrubs and other plants can supply nutritious livestock feed all year. Some good fodder plants are nitrogen-fixing, so they also improve soils. Let farmers know that they don’t need to use their best land for fodder plants; they can plant them in wooded areas, on rocky land, as fences, along roadsides, or in the terraces of rice paddies.


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