Notes to broadcasters on agriculture and ability

    | November 15, 2010

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    Many farming tasks can be accomplished by people with disabilities. But people with disabilities often face prejudice and exclusion. The International Labour Organization estimates that persons with disabilities represent twenty per cent of the world’s population living in poverty. Yet the role of agriculture in providing livelihoods for people with different abilities is rarely highlighted or documented.

    Farming can provide incomes for people living with disability just as surely as for the rest of society. Simple adjustments or adaptations are sometimes all that is needed, as in this story where group members are accompanied in the fields. 

    Here is another example, from Zambia, of young people who are visually impaired and growing food:

    -“Visually impaired students grow better maize”[o_id]=214965&p[a_id]=211&p[a_seq]=1

    A practical handbook on mainstreaming people with disabilities in development activities can be downloaded at:

    The following web resources may also be of interest:
    -Pan African Federation for the Disabled (PAFOD) – a continental organization of disabled peoples’ organizations:

    -Handicap International:
    -African Union for the Blind:
    -Enabling Education Network:

    Here is a resource to guide journalists who wish to write about people with disabilities:

    Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts on HIV and AIDS, which is another cause for discrimination and prejudice. Here are links to some relevant scripts:

    -Misconceptions and Acceptance: People Living with HIV/AIDS Need Love and Compassion. Package 73, Script 8, January 2005

    -AIDS orphans: Overcoming stigma, discrimination and denial. Package 69, Script 7, December 2003

    -Community Responses to HIV/AIDS. Package 73, Script 1, January 2005

    Farm Radio Weekly published this story from Niger:

    -Niger: Woman with disability proves her productivity through gardening (Issue 36, September 2008)

    This story may inspire you to research and produce news items on people living with disabilities. Seek out organizations or projects that support people with different abilities, and ask for referrals to people with disabilities to interview. Refer to the guide for journalists linked above, and look for stories which focus on the person, not the disability. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and break down some of the barriers which still exist. You could ask the person:

    -How do you earn a living? Is farming an option, for example?

    -Do you think it is more difficult to be independent because of your disability?

    – Are there many people in your community who do not understand your disability? How do people in general treat you? How do you feel about these attitudes?

    -What support do you receive from local organizations? Or from the government? Do you think you should receive support? What kind of support?

    -What do you think about mainstreaming disability in development projects or government plans? Is it the best option, or are there times when disabled people have different needs and deserve separate projects? 

    -What advice would you give to young people with similar disabilities?