Monday, 4 October 2010

Farm Radio Weekly of Octobre 4, 2010 - Issue 130

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Hello everyone!

The Farm Radio Weekly community continues to grow. We would like to welcome this week’s new subscribers: Rosemond Boafoa from Esoko Limited and Victor Kosi Nogbe from Need Tree for Life in Ghana; Robert Byamungu from Bureau DiocĂ©sain de DĂ©veloppement (BDD/Bukavu) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Clement Masai from PureCircle Ltd in Kenya; Kelefa Mwantimwa from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; Joseph Mulindwa from Kyakabiibi Farmers Ltd in Uganda and finally, Adama Tessouke from Radio Sikidolo in Mali.

In addition, we extend a special welcome to 38 new subscribers from Malawi. They signed up while attending the Second Annual Farm Radio Symposium in Lilongwe in September. The symposium’s theme was “Farm Radio Programming: A catalyst for addressing emerging issues in agricultural development in Malawi.” We will bring you a summary of discussions in the coming weeks.

Our first news story this week comes from Kenya. Small-scale farmers who bought crop insurance have received their first payouts. Local weather stations recorded rainfall and, together with the insurance company, used this data to estimate crop losses. You can read farmers’ reactions to the size of their compensation.

Moving to Malawi, we hear how the practice of using metal storage silos has arrived in East Africa from Central America. Local artisans are now producing silos. Efforts are underway to make them more affordable for farmers. 

Recently, a major report was released that looks at progress on increasing access to HIV and AIDS’ services. Our third news story updates progress made in sub-Saharan Africa. 

We celebrate the launch of the Liberia Women Democracy Radio. This is a new radio station dedicated to making women’s voices and issues heard in Liberia.  President Sirleaf visited the station to officially launch operations.  We wish the station success in their endeavours.

In our Action section this week, we hear from the five country coordinators of the African Farm Radio Research Initiative. They have been with us in Ottawa for the last few weeks discussing their work. Farm Radio Weekly took the chance to ask them some burning questions about rural radio in Africa. You can read their thoughts below.       

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team


In this week's Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Kenya: Mixed reactions as farmers receive crop insurance payouts (AllAfrica)

2. Malawi: Metal silos improve livelihoods for artisans and farmers alike (CIMMYT, NTV Kenya)

3. Africa: Achievements noted in combating HIV and AIDS, but still far to go (BBC, UNAIDS, UNICEF)

Radio News Flash

-Liberia: First women’s radio station opens (UNIFEM, Journalists for Human Rights) Upcoming Events

-Photo contest: People, Water and ICTs

Radio Resource Bank

-Chapters available online: Participative Marketing for Local Radio

Farm Radio Action

-AFRRI coordinators reflect on participatory radio campaigns

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-School Without AIDS


African Farm News in Review


You are welcome to use the news stories below in any way that suits your radio organization. You may wish to read one or more of the news stories directly onto the air, adapt them to be more relevant to your audience, or simply use them as ideas for news stories to research locally. However you use the African Farm News in Review, we would like to know! Please post a comment on FRW’s online site or e-mail

1. Kenya: Mixed reactions as farmers receive crop insurance payouts (AllAfrica)

The fields beside the Embu-Siakago road, northeast of Nairobi, look dry and dusty. The last rains were in April, five months ago. Neither the farmers nor the local meteorologist can tell when it will rain again.

Local families like Mr. Kariki Karigi’s practice subsistence farming. They grow beans and hybrid maize. The farmers are vulnerable because the rains are unpredictable. Hybrid maize is not indigenous, and has little or no tolerance to drought.

Mr. Karigi says, “We plant and pray for a good harvest. Many times the crops will wilt away just before maturity, which is a major cause of poverty here.”

Many farmers cannot provide a full day’s food for their family. They depend on relief food, or migrate to areas where they can find work.

When the local agriculture officer told Mr. Karigi that he could insure his hybrid maize seeds and be compensated if the crop failed, he jumped at the chance.

The Kenya-based UAP Insurance Company partnered with Safaricom and Sygenta Foundation for Sustainable Development to offer crop insurance to about 12,000 small-scale farmers across Kenya. Currently the insurance covers wheat and maize. It is known as Kilimo Salama, or “safe farming.” Farmers can receive payouts through the mobile phone payment system called M-PESA.

Mr. Karigi insured one kilogram of maize seed. The seed cost him 200 Kenyan shillings. He paid an insurance premium of five per cent, which is 10 shillings. He planted the maize and harvested 10 bags from his half-hectare farm.

The size of the insurance payouts depends on the drop in yields. For example, an estimated 15 per cent decrease in yield, based on rainfall data, triggers a payment of 15 per cent of the insured value of the crop. The payment is designed to ensure that farmers have money to buy seeds for next season.

Data from a weather station showed that, while rainfall in the area had been good, it was less than normal. This affected the harvest and triggered compensation payments for 135 farmers. Last week, Mr. Karigi received 100 Kenyan shillings.

He says, “I will add to this money to buy pesticides. For me it is a fair payment because I understood the project from the start and harvested some maize although it is not what I expected.”

Other farmers, however, dismiss the payments as too little. Mr. Nahason Mwangi was disappointed by the 110 shillings he received. He says, "While I am happy the insurance firm has honoured its promise, the money is not enough to buy even one kilogram of seeds. I will not buy this insurance again if they cannot cover inputs like labour."

Agriculture experts recommend that farmers in drought-prone areas switch from maize to indigenous and drought-tolerant crops such as cassava and sorghum. But farmers cannot always find reliable or certified planting material.

Mr. Joseph Kamiri is head of marketing and distribution with UAP Insurance. He says, “We can only insure indigenous crops if we know the seeds are of high quality and if the Ministry of Agriculture provides adequate information on such crops.”

Maize breeders in Kenya are currently developing drought-tolerant maize. But planting it could cause controversy because the variety will be genetically modified.

Click here to see notes to broadcasters on microinsurance for farmers

2. Malawi: Metal silos improve livelihoods for artisans and farmers alike (CIMMYT, NTV Kenya)

Farmers in Malawi may be losing an estimated one-third of their crop while it is in storage. Such post-harvest losses happen not only in Malawi, or across Africa. Farmers in Central America suffer too. But they have reduced their post-harvest losses by using metal storage silos. The method has now been brought to Malawi by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, and World Vision.

In 2007, metal silos were supplied to Malawian farmers by a private company. Essau Phiri works with World Vision-Malawi. He says, “Over the past few years, farmers have recorded high maize harvests, and now even request silos of a 7.5 tonne capacity.”

As demand for the silos grew, project staff worried that metalworkers untrained in the specific design might produce inferior silos. So CIMMYT decided to train local artisans. Jose Contreras is an expert in silo construction from El Salvador, in Central America. In 2009, he helped train artisans from Dowa and Mchinji regions in Malawi. He taught them how to make silos of different sizes, how to cut metal sheets, as well as soldering and handling skills.

Fred Kanampiu is an agronomist with CIMMYT. He coordinated the training sessions. He says, “The focus of the project is to ensure that farmers use only well-fabricated, high quality metal silos; that is why we are training the artisans who will make and sell these silos. We are promoting the technology while improving the artisans’ skills.”

Douglas Kathakamba is an artisan from Mchinji region who has benefited from the project. He launched a metal work business making ox carts, door and window frames, and bicycle ambulances. But he has earned even greater profits by building metal silos. With this income, he has set up a new workshop, sent his five children to school, and even covered the costs of university studies for two adopted children.

Mr. Kathakamba attracts many customers through word of mouth. He is now an ardent supporter of the metal silo.

In Kachilika village in northern Malawi, he recently worked with a farmers’ club that had never heard of metal silos. The 25 members store their grain communally. After Mr. Kathakamba constructed and donated a silo, they commissioned him to build four more. With the proceeds from increased grain sales, the club members now pay for their children's schooling and purchase items such as clothing, domestic products, and farm inputs.

Andrew Kasalika is the club chairman. He says, “Before the introduction of silos, we were using sacks and nkhokwe (the traditional granary), but we were not able to save much. Now, we can say that our lives have changed.”

The price of the silos is a concern. They cost between 75 and 350 American dollars. This investment is out of reach for many farmers in Malawi. Dr. Tadele Tefera, a scientist with CIMMYT, coordinates the metal silo project. He says, “Now we are trying to have … a kind of revolving loan fund in which farmers can have a loan to buy the silo and after some time they can sell their grains and put back the money.” Microfinancing would also help more artisans enter the emerging silo industry, as current start-up costs are high.

Dr. Tefera says, “Metal silos bring food security to the poor. Not only what farmers harvest, but more importantly, what they store over seasons, could make a difference in their livelihoods.”

Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on metal silos

3. Africa: Achievements noted in combating HIV and AIDS, but still far to go (BBC, UNAIDS, UNICEF)

A new report says that only 37 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa who need life-saving HIV drugs are actually receiving them. The joint report was released by the World Health Organization, the United Nation's AIDS program, and UNICEF.

In 2005, world leaders pledged to achieve universal access to HIV medication by the end of 2010. But that target won't be met.

According to the report, an estimated ten and a half million people in sub-Saharan Africa need antiretroviral drugs. Just less than four million actually receive the treatment. This is an increase of one million from last year. But the number of people needing antiretrovirals has not changed substantially. Antiretroviral drugs slow down the virus that causes AIDS.

The report warns that poorer countries must "substantially ramp up" the amount they spend on HIV and AIDS. UNAIDS recommends that the countries most affected by the virus allocate between one-half and three per cent of their budget to tackling the problem.

The report says there have been "hard-won gains," but it also makes clear how much work remains to be done.

There are many reasons why people, especially in rural areas, find it difficult to access HIV treatment. Funding is inadequate, health systems ineffective, and the supply of HIV medicines is often interrupted. Many patients start treatment too late, or do not continue with the correct medication.

Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall is director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department. He says, "Some countries − such as Rwanda − have shown that universal access to treatment can be achieved. Zimbabwe has increased access by 50% in the past year − despite being heavily compromised, politically and economically.”

Certain groups fare worse. Only 26 per cent of children below fifteen years of age in sub-Saharan Africa receive the antiretroviral drugs they need. And only 35 per cent of pregnant women receive HIV testing and counselling. While 35 per cent is still low, it is much better than the nine per cent of women who were tested in 2005.

These improvements in treatment rates are encouraging. The authors write, "Millions of people are alive today as a result of investments in HIV over the past few years.”

But international agencies are concerned that funding for HIV programs is flat. The global economic crisis means that many HIV programs are now at risk.

Jimmy Kolker is UNICEF’s Chief of HIV and AIDS. He notes there is still work to do, and calls for increased commitment from the global community. He declares that, “Creating an HIV-free generation is possible.

Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on HIV and AIDS report

Radio News Flash

4. Liberia: First women’s radio station opens (UNIFEM, Journalists for Human Rights)

In August 2010, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, presided over the launch of the Liberia Women Democracy Radio in the capital city of Monrovia. This is the first radio station in the country dedicated to raising the voices of women and increasing women’s access to information.

At the launch, President Sirleaf said, “We want you to bring a strong voice to the women. I hope you will have great influence in trying to promote the enhancement of women’s role in this society.” The station, to be known as LWDR FM 91.1, is sponsored by the United Nations Democracy Fund.

LWDR aims to provide a platform for women to talk about issues rarely heard on other Liberian stations. They want women to start playing a role in shaping their country’s future. Women bore the brunt of the violence during the civil war. Seven years later, they are still the most vulnerable group in society. Their voices are rarely heard. Increasing access to health services for women is still a huge task. The World Health Organization estimates that three quarters of those infected with HIV in Liberia are women.

Kimberline Kpelle sells dried goods on the side of the road in Monrovia. Today she is wearing a beautifully-tailored Liberian suit as she attends the launch. She says, “Sometimes we don’t have people to speak for us. We listen to the radio station and they speak for us; we, the young girls.”

The station knows that to change the perception of women in Liberia, their programming must also attract men. A little under half of the reporting staff is male. Twenty-two year old Winston Daryoue is the News Director. He says, “Sometimes when you cover a story, you want to take it from the conventional style, but you have to look at the gender side of it. You have to adapt to the new way of reporting it.”

President Sirleaf encouraged girls and young women to pursue education and careers, and urged the station’s management to join in the fight against illiteracy and sexual violence.

Leaving the station, the President remarked, “We still have some serious problems in Liberia; serious problems regarding rape, regarding the retention of girls in school. I hope through this station they will be able to focus on that problem where the other stations won’t be able to focus exclusively. That will help us a lot.”


Notes to Broadcasters


 Each week, we use the Notes to Broadcasters section of FRW to share additional information and resources that we come across while researching the African Farm News in Review. We will also pass along ideas on how you could further explore issues from the news at your radio organization. If you have an idea or resource related to any of this week’s news stories, we invite you to share it by posting a comment on FRW’s website at:

Notes to broadcasters on microinsurance for farmers:

Insurance packages for small-scale farmers are new. The UAP Insurance Company in Kenya is offering pastoralists and small-scale farmers insurance against losses incurred in times of drought or excess rain. Accurate weather information is vital to the functioning of the scheme. The Kenyan insurance scheme relies on solar-powered meteorological equipment, and is monitored in collaboration with local farmers.

Click here to read more.

Notes to broadcasters on metal silos:

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, CIMMYT, is located in Mexico. Based on years of experience in Central America, CIMMYT has developed a storage technology that is appropriate for grain storage in developing countries. Such simple technologies can be transferred to different countries and continents. So far, the metal grain storage silos are proving popular in Kenya and Malawi, where CIMMYT has been working with local partners. The main challenges appear to be ensuring the quality and the affordability of the silo. Both challenges are being addressed by training local artisans.

Click here to read more.

Notes to broadcasters on HIV and AIDS report:

This news story covers the fourth annual report which tracks progress towards achieving the 2010 target of providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care. The report is called Towards Universal Access. HIV and AIDS continue to affect life in sub-Saharan Africa. Rural areas and farming communities are affected in particular ways. Children are left without families, and much agricultural and indigenous knowledge is lost because it is not passed on to the next generation. Many people still find it difficult to talk about or acknowledge HIV and AIDS, partly due to the way it is most commonly spread, through unprotected sex. Some countries have led successful campaigns to raise awareness and break down social taboos. But many people still do not receive the treatment they need.

Click here to read more.


Upcoming Events


This section is a place to share information about events and training opportunities related to agriculture, rural development, radio broadcasting, or other topics of interest. If you know of an event or training opportunity that may interest other radio organizations, please post a comment on FRW’s website or e-mail the details to

Photo contest: People, Water and ICTs

CTA, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, is inviting photo entries for its competition, Peoples’ Choice Photo on People, Water and ICTs.

Photos of people managing water and technology can be uploaded directly to their website. There are three themes:

  • People and water

  • Technology and water

  • Water and environment

Click here to read more.


Radio Resource Bank


When we hear about a resource that may help you in your radio work, we will post it here in the Radio Resource Bank. This is a great place to share your best tips and favourite online resources with the FRW community. Please post a comment on the FRW website (, or e-mail and we’ll share it in the next Radio Resource Bank.

6 Chapters available online: Participative Marketing for Local Radio

Participative Marketing for Local Radiois the title of a book which looks at how to effectively market a community radio station. Many chapters in the book can be read online. While many people might not see “marketing” in its traditional sense as a key concept in local radio, this book addresses creating networks and relationships to bring people with common interests together. "Participative marketing" covers all types of communications and social networks.

Click here to read more.


Farm Radio Action


 This section is devoted to news about Farm Radio International and the many partners in our network. We look forward to hearing news about your radio organization so that we can share it with the FRW community! If you would like to tell us about a new program, successful event, or any other news about your organization, please post a comment on the FRW website, or e-mail and we will post your story in the next issue.

AFRRI coordinators reflect on participatory radio campaigns

Last week, Farm Radio Weekly caught up with the five National Research Coordinators of the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI). The coordinators travelled from their home bases in Mali, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana for a meeting in Ottawa. The coordinators shared some of the key highlights and successes of the radio stations that took part in the Participatory Radio Campaigns that AFRRI has been conducting over the past three years.

What is a Participatory Radio Campaign or PRC? A PRC is defined as: “A planned, radio-based activity, conducted over a specific period of time, in which a broad population of farmers is encouraged to make an informed decision about adopting a specific improvement selected by their peers, based upon the best availableinformation, to improve the food security of their families. It then provides the adopting farmers with the information and other support they require to implement the improvement.”

Click here to read more.


Farm Radio Script of the Week


 While Farm Radio International's scripts are always available online at, we will use this section to highlight some of our new scripts, as well as past favourites that are still relevant today. If you would like to nominate a script for next week’s Farm Radio Script of the Week, please post a comment on the FRW website at:, or e-mail

Prevent malaria in pregnancy!

One of this week’s stories brings news on the reach and level of HIV and AIDS treatment in Africa. Great improvements have been made, yet statistics show that most HIV positive persons are not being treated. Millions of people are affected directly and indirectly by the disease.

Radio is a good way to reach young audiences about this topic. The script of the week is a discussion between some young people about AIDS, prevention and its effects.

To read the script, click here.

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