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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 #304

Dairy, digging and discrimination

Thank you for reading this edition of Farm Radio Weekly. Issue #304 features stories about donated dairy cows in Cameroon, South Sudanese veterans digging for peace, and apparent ageism in Zimbabwe.

Mary Nfor Ngwa was a teacher until a fire decimated her school. While looking for a new job, she joined a local group ̶ and received a dairy cow! Now, her dairy business is making her more money than she earned before, and she’d like to teach young people that farming is a profitable way to earn a living.

As the civil unrest in South Sudan continues to make life difficult, some veterans of the independence struggle have made a new life for themselves. They have leased farmland and are selling vegetables at the markets, and planning to add new crops in the future.

Elderly, rural Zimbabweans often provide for their grandchildren after their own children have left home in search of work. But extension agents and NGOs are ignoring their needs, favouring younger, more energetic farmers. Older farmers are valuable too!

Dairy cows provide excellent manure for the fields and, with a little investment, household power as well. But it is their basic product, milk, that is most valuable. When farmers form co-operatives, their buying and selling powers increase. Find out more in our Script of the week.

Close your door, turn off your phone and enjoy this Weekly in peace!

the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: Job seeker begins new life with donated cow (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Mary Nfor Ngwa begins each morning by visiting her cows. She checks their stalls, and she strokes and talks to them. As she feeds one of her cows, she says, “This cow has changed my life. My hopes are renewed.”

Mrs. Nfor Ngwa taught for nine years in a private elementary school in Bamenda, the capital of Northwest Region. But the school closed in 2009 after a fire. There was no money to renovate, so the school could not reopen. Mrs. Nfor Ngwa lost her job. Unable to find another teaching position, she returned to her home in Santa, a village 25 kilometres south of Bamenda.

A neighbour invited Ms. Nfor Ngwa to join a local group and add her name to the waiting list for a donated cow. She remembers that day well. She recalls, “The suggestion made me smile. As a graduate teacher, I did not see myself as a cowherd. I regarded it to be a backward step.”

The NGO Heifer International had started a cow donation scheme in a nearby village. The idea attracted a group of young people in Santa so much that they adopted it for themselves.

Peter Mbu had received a donated cow a few years earlier than Mrs. Nfor Ngwa, and encouraged her to become a cowherd. He explains: “The cow donation system relies on the fact that a person receives a dairy cow from a community member. When the cow gives birth, that person gives [the calf] to another female member of the community, and so on.” Farmers receive a cow free of charge, provided that they agree to pass on a free heifer calf. Before they can receive a cow, they must provide suitable housing for the animal.

So Mrs. Nfor Ngwa signed up. She says, “About six months after I registered, I received a dairy cow, and I said to myself, ‘What am I going to do now?’”

With the help of her group members, Ms. Nfor Ngwa has adapted to her new life. She makes a better living than she did as a teacher. She says, “I have gradually expanded my herd. I sell the calves. I also sell yogurt made ​​from the cows’ milk. I recently bought a freezer with the income from my cows.”

Despite her new occupation, Mrs. Nfor Ngwa has not forgotten teaching. With a broad smile, she says: “I would like to start classes in the holidays to teach young people the love of farming, and to challenge their belief that farming and livestock-rearing are reserved for those who have failed elsewhere.”

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South Sudan: War veterans plant for peace (IPS)

Along the fertile banks of the White Nile, a war veterans’ co-operative is planting a garden for peace and a food secure future in South Sudan. The garden is like a cornucopia in a country facing a potential famine.

Wilson Abisai Lodingareng is the founder of the Werithior Veteran’s Association, or WVA, in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. He explains: “I have seven active members in the group, all former SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] troops. I call them when it’s time to weed the garden. I visit once a day, each morning, to check the health of the crops and to see what’s ready for the market.”

The WVA members grow one and a half hectares of vegetables on the banks of the Nile River, six kilometres outside Juba. Mr. Lodingareng says it was a struggle to obtain this prime but idle agricultural land. Many international investors had also expressed interest. It took him almost three years to acquire a lease from the community which owns the land.

Simon Agustino is the program officer at the Mennonite Central Committee, or MCC, in South Sudan. He remembers Mr. Lodingareng visiting the MCC office to ask for assistance with a proposal. Mr. Agustino recalls, “The veterans had no hope and no way to provide for their families. People thought he was wasting his time with digging. But he didn’t give up.”

MCC provided Mr. Lodingareng with capital to lease the land, pay for training in fruit and vegetable production, and buy farm supplies and tools.

Mr. Agustino says, “Finally he got land. [It] is now yielding and his crops are being sold at the market … more veterans are considering joining.”

The WVA veterans are members of several South Sudanese tribes. The association’s work demonstrates that agriculture is one way for people to look beyond tribal differences and work together. The group has transformed their field from a wasteland of long grasses and weeds to a garden bursting with leafy vegetables and herbs.

The co-operative started by growing okra, kale, mulukhiyah (jute leaves) and coriander. Mr. Lodingareng says, “These … crops [mature] quickly, within one to two months. Okra is harvested every three to four days.”

Mr. Lodingareng sees the group expanding into surrounding land which is currently fallow. He says, “I’m looking at … crops like maize, potatoes, carrots and eggplant. The first year has been a struggle. The next year should be much better.”

According to Mr. Agustino, many SPLA veterans engage in crime rather than finding work. But Mr. Lodingareng refused to turn to cattle raiding or robbery. He has a vision for the future of South Sudan. He says: “I did my part to put my country on the path to self-determination. Now my approach is to work hard. Me, I will do anything that can pull me out of poverty and improve my situation financially.”

He believes it’s never too late to take up farming. He says, “The political climate has discouraged many from planting this season. But if everyone planted gardens, things will improve.”

To read the article on which this story was based, War veterans planting for peace in South Sudan, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/war-veterans-planting-for-peace-in-south-sudan/

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Zimbabwe: Elderly farmers neglected by government and NGOs (IRIN)

Girazi Mukumbaa farms in Wedza, about 160 kilometres southwest of the capital, Harare. The 64-year-old is “old school” when it comes to agricultural practices. He uses cow dung to fertilize his maize, relies on local herbs to treat his cattle, and avoids chemical fertilizers.

In recent years, Mr. Mukumbaa’s crops have repeatedly failed during dry spells. He would like to raise chickens or pigs to help sustain his family, but his age is proving to be a hindrance; community-based organizations think he is too old to merit assistance.

Wonder Chabikwa is the president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, or ZCFU. He says that younger farmers receive better support from NGOs. Young people are perceived as more energetic and easier to communicate with. Older people are often ignored, even though many households are dependent on their care and guidance.

The United Nations defines elderly people as those who are aged 60 and above. According to the UN Population Fund, six per cent of Zimbabwe’s population, over three-quarters of a million people, are elderly.

David Phiri is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s sub-regional coordinator for southern Africa and Zimbabwe. He says: “Elderly persons make a great contribution to household food production in rural areas. They face the heavy burden of looking after [extended] families, as younger persons leave home to look for jobs elsewhere.”

Agricultural and food production experts say elderly people still make a significant contribution to household food security through farming. But older farmers are excluded from mainstream support programs such as those promoting techniques for adapting to climate change.

Mr. Chabikwa says older farmers, like younger ones, need training on soil management, adapting to climate change, marketing and diversification. He adds that households headed by elderly farmers are often more vulnerable to food shortages.

Many elderly people did not benefit from Zimbabwe’s fast-track land redistribution program, begun in the year 2000, when 4,500 white-owned farms were redistributed to about 300,000 small-scale farmers.

Innocent Makwiramiti is a Harare-based independent economist. He says: “This means that most [elderly farmers] remain farming on tired soils in largely dry areas that require much fertilizer and water, and [need] a great deal of farming support.”

Mr. Mukumbaa does not understand why he is routinely bypassed by officers from the Agriculture Ministry’s extension services and NGOs. He says: “Young men and women who have been told why there are so many droughts these days have no time to explain these things to old people like me. They say I am too old and therefore cannot understand a thing.”

Mr. Chabikwa says: “The irony about smallholder farming in Zimbabwe is that government and other stakeholders generally do not acknowledge the contributions that the elderly make to food production for families and the nation.”

To read the article on which this story was based, Zimbabwe’s neglected elderly farmers, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100566/zimbabwe-s-neglected-elderly-farmers

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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-Ethiopia: Africa Green Revolution Forum

The Africa Green Revolution Forum was held recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Leaders from across Africa debated a new vision for agriculture and food security.

Key debates at the forum included the issue of small-scale farmers’ access to land over the next 20 years, and whether a “foreign land grab” is the main threat to accessing land for agriculture.

Lack of access to farm land poses a threat to economic stability. Researchers called on African governments to protect young people’s futures by safeguarding the land rights of rural communities. They argued that small-scale farmers need proper attention and investment over the next 35 years to ensure that Africa’s countries develop at least middle-income economies.

For more information about the Forum, go to: http://www.agrforum.com/index.php/program/

2-Sub-Saharan Africa: ONE launches anti-corruption campaign

The anti-poverty group ONE argues that progress made in fighting extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has been lost to corruption and crime.

The organization released a report entitled A Trillion Dollar Scandal. The title refers to the amount of money that disappears annually in illicit financial dealings and money laundering. The report states that corruption is responsible for an annual 3.6 million deaths, and that eliminating corruption could provide funds for 500,000 primary school teachers, education for 10 million children, and treatment for more than 11 million people with HIV and AIDS.

ONE is urging donors to make tackling corruption a priority. Promoting transparency in government would make information, such as ownership of companies, available to the public and discourage corruption and theft.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-29040793

3-West Africa: Ebola threatens food security

The ongoing Ebola outbreak may cause labour shortages during the upcoming harvest season, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. Food prices have already begun to rise.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been severely affected by Ebola, with almost 2,300 people dying since March. FAO warns that the food security problem could intensify in the coming months as the outbreak widens.

Over the next three months, FAO and the U.N. World Food Program, or WFP, will deliver 65,000 tonnes of food to 1.3 million people affected by Ebola. WFP says $70 million U.S. is needed for this emergency relief. In addition, FAO needs $20 million U.S. to support farmers on the ground.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140902070026-27kni?utm

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Call for applications: Facts & formats: Sexual and reproductive health

A course entitled Facts & formats: Sexual and reproductive health will be held at RNTC in the Netherlands in early 2015. Mid-career broadcast journalists and program-makers with at least three years’ experience in factual and informative programming other than news and current affairs are invited to apply.

Facts & Formats is a four-week course (March 30-April 24, 2015) designed to help participants develop and pitch new creative ideas and target specific audiences in an attractive and effective way.

The course will cover subjects such as: how to use a variety of formats to increase the attractiveness and the effectiveness of factual radio and TV programs; creative ways to package and present information on radio, TV, and online through social media; and how to design and produce factual pilot programs on sexual and reproductive health.

English is the working language of RNTC courses. If English is not your first language, you will need a certified statement from a recognized authority establishing your proficiency in spoken and written English.

NFP fellowships are available for this course, and contribute towards the cost of living and tuition fees, visas, travel, insurance and thesis research. For information on how to apply for an NFP fellowship, go to: http://www.studyinholland.nl/scholarships/scholarships-administered-by-nuffic/netherlands-fellowship-programmes/netherlands-fellowship-programmes-nfp

The deadline to apply for the course is February 15, 2015. The deadline to apply for the NFP fellowship is October 26, 2014. For more information about the course, go to: http://www.rntc.nl/factsandformats

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Guidebook: World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has produced a guidebook entitled World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The book offers a new look at recent evolutions in media freedom, independence, pluralism and journalist safety. It explores these subjects at the international level and with respect to gender and global media.

The overarching trend documented in the book is that the disruption brought on by technology and, to a lesser extent, the global economic crisis, has had mixed results for freedom of expression and media development.

This publication comes at a critical moment for press freedom, amid unprecedented opportunities for expression of new voices as well as new forms of restriction, surveillance and control.

World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development is a key resource for governments, the media, academia, the private sector and civil society, and an interesting read for anyone interested in the contemporary media environment.

To download the full text as a PDF document, go to: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002270/227025e.pdf

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FarmQuest reality radio in Mali: Now available on SoundCloud and YouTube

The vast majority of the labour force in Mali is engaged in subsistence farming. But many young people do not see agriculture as a career that can lead them out of poverty. Youth unemployment in Mali is high.

Many young people see farming as a symbol of poverty and wish to distance themselves from it. Too often, they remain unemployed when the best opportunity to earn a decent living is right in front of them: farming.

Farm Radio International believes agriculture can provide a good livelihood for young farmers. FarmQuest, or Daba Kamalen in the Bambara language, is an innovative reality radio series which is broadcast from Fana, Mali. The series encourages youth to consider farming as a profitable business, and not just a means of subsistence.

FarmQuest follows six young candidates who are competing for the title of “Mali’s best new farmer.”

You can learn more about FarmQuest at: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/farmquest-promoting-farming-as-a-sustainable-employment-option-for-youth-in-mali/

Listen to all FarmQuest episodes on SoundCloud (with English transcripts):https://soundcloud.com/farmradio/sets/farmquest-reality-radio-in

YouTube videos show the candidates and the radio station operations. You can watch them at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8WMEQQs0bi_FkrXKKKtGLv1wFh7g_sWd

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Dairy farmers reap the benefits of working together in a co-operative society

Agriculture is the backbone of most African economies, yet farmers are among the poorest people on the continent. There are many challenges confronting the agriculture sector in Africa, including limited access to farming inputs, poor infrastructure, lack of access to markets, and the changing climate.

Farmers need creative ways to improve their income and food security, and governments need to create a favourable environment which helps farmers make a good return on their businesses.

Farmers benefit when they pull together in organized ways to solve their challenges. The co-operative movement provides an opportunity for farmers to improve their income and food security through their own efforts.

This script captures the experiences of people involved in a successful dairy co-operative in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.


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