Hello to all!

    | December 1, 2008

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    We welcome our subscribers from across Africa and around the world to the one-year anniversary edition of FRW. This has certainly been an exciting year for the FRW Team, as we tracked news for and about small-scale African farmers and, in turn, heard how you are using FRW news stories in your radio organizations.

    The dramatic rise in food prices, which is often referred to as the “food crisis,” was undoubtedly the most reported agricultural issue of the year. At FRW, we endeavoured to share information on some of the causes of the food crisis, but were even more pleased to report on small-scale farmers overcoming challenges to maintain their crop production and livelihoods. Food shortages in some areas were attributed to erratic weather patterns, but we learned how farmers are coping with climate change – in Zimbabwe, for example, some farmers are coping with longer dry seasons by using drip irrigation in their fields and zero grazing for their livestock. High fertilizer prices were often cited as a reason for food scarcity, but we learned how some farmers overcame this problem by using locally available resources. In one Cameroonian farming community, this meant rediscovering the value of manure. In some cases, food shortages caused farmers to turn to resilient traditional crops such as millet and taro, and others to become (very) small-scale farmers, growing food in urban areas or in tiny plots near their homes.

    This year’s news stories also reminded us of the innovative spirit that farmers bring to their work. We saw items that normally go to waste transformed into profit, as Burkinabé women began producing jam from shea fruit, or used to manage pests, as Senegalese farmers made flytraps from recycled water bottles.

    We were inspired by the courage of farmers who returned to their fields following periods of conflict, and the strength of farmers who resisted external circumstances that might threaten their livelihoods, whether they be international trade deals or plans for local resource extraction. Today, we re-run a news story that originally appeared in Issue 7 of FRW, but still reminds us of the strength and courage of farmers as they work to protect local food security. This story, by correspondent Idy Sy Diop, looks at the cautious approach taken by Malian farmers towards government and industry pressures to produce jatropha for biodiesel.

    In this week’s news, we look at how poultry farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are taking proactive measures to address their concerns about avian flu by diversifying their livestock and investing in rabbits. We also see how Burundian farmers are reviving staple cassava crops with the help of disease-free cuttings.

    What were your favourite stories from the first year of FRW? Which ones proved most interesting to your listeners? We invite you to post a comment on the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/) or contact FRW Editor Heather Miller (hmiller@farmradio.org) to share your thoughts on the best news stories of the past year.

    Finally, we offer a special greeting to those who will celebrate Eid Al-Adha in the coming days. Happy Eid!

    Happy reading!
    -The Farm Radio Weekly Team