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A collection of longer form stories, submitted, sourced, or written by our team, that would not make sense to cover in a traditional broadcast news format, but which we wanted to share with you anyway.

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Iono - Behind the Bulletins

Week in Review - 02 September 2017

Water was in the news in a big way this week with most of the world's attention focused on Houston Texas following the battering the southern US state received from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey even though the damage caused by monsoon rains and subsequent flooding in the Asian sub-continent was playing out to be a far greater disaster. While not to diminish the tragedy of at least 40 people having lost their lives in America the sad fact was that over 1200 people died mostly unnoticed by the world in India, Nepal, and Bagladesh, with millions more being uprooted following the worst monsoon flooding in recorded history. Africa was not spared water based disasters this week either as thousands of people in Niger were urged to evacuate homes following floods that killed at least 16 people, and on Friday it was reported that Nigeria too had been affected with more than 100 000 people having fled their homes in the south east.
Locally suspects found guilty of crimes continued to be sentenced to long terms of imprisonment with a mechanic who was found guilty of brutally stabbing his girlfriend to death in 2013 being sentenced to 35 years and the man convicted of shooting a Finnish national in a road rage incident outside a Windhoek bar in 2015 being sent away for a total of 28 years. In other local news Namibia signed three agreements with China including one for the upgrading of a section of the road between Windhoek and the Hosea Kutako International Airport, B2Gold revealed that they are building a 7MW solar power plant at their Otjikoto mine, and it was announced that Namibia is to be included in a expansion of the SKA Telescope project with remote stations to be commissioned at Maltahohe, Karibib, Okahandja, and Opuwo.
In South Africa the Constitutional Court ruled that new homeowners are not liable for historical debt taken over from previous owners, a Spanish renewable energy company announced the completion of their latest plant and the fact that they now supply clean energy to almost 1 million South Africans in the Northern Cape province, and the country was all aflutter with news that a university student from Port Elisabeth had had R14.1 million erroneously paid into her account and had thereafter gone on a spending spree – it didn't end well for her though as it was confirmed that she would be expected to pay back the R818 000 she spent and could also be facing civil or criminal charges.
Kenya made the news twice this week, first for the news that they had decided to ban plastic bags outright with offenders facing fines of between 17 and 38 thousand US Dollars, and then again on Friday as the Supreme Court ruled that the recently held elections in which Uhuru Kenyatta once again won the presidency were invalid, set them aside, and ordered the country to hold fresh elections within 60 days.
Internationally a German nurse - already serving a life sentence for murdering two patients – is now a suspect in at least 84 other murder cases, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres insisted that a two state solution in Israel is the only viable option, The UK urged the UN Security council to investigate mass civilian casualties in Myanmar while 57 rights groups from around the world demanded they investigate abuses in Yemen. In good news Chile's President sent legislation to Congress seeking to legalise gay marriage and US health officials have approved a breakthrough Cancer treatment that genetically engineers a patient's own blood cells to destroy childhood leukaemia.
And finally, South Africa's Health Minister has voiced what many have long been thinking when he called out African leaders who sought medical treatment outside the continent, calling them 'medical tourists'.

Using social media to aggressively market produce and livestock

By Sawi Hausiku:
Each year, Africa loses about N.dollars 53 billion in food waste due to poor storage facilities, market inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the value chain.
Ironically, despite millions of tonnes of food going to waste, Africa continues to be a net food importer, with the food import bill currently standing at N.dollars 464 billion. It is projected to hit a whopping US.dollars 110 billion (N.dollars 1 573 billion) in a decade, according to data from the African Development Bank.
The major problem in Africa is the timely transportation of produce to markets and storage.
The Namibia Census Agriculture Report of 2015 from the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry indicates producing households (farmers) predominantly suffered greater losses in Mahangu (pearl millet), about 24 437 tonnes of this crop in total.
Of that, a significant 22 824 tonnes were lost in the field meaning that the produce was not harvested because of a lack of adequate storage facilities, and 464 tonnes during storage, while 144 tonnes were lost during transportation and the rest in other ways.
Furthermore, agricultural households reported that a total of 3 154 tonnes of wheat was lost that year, with 3 143 tonnes lost in the field followed by eight tonnes during storage and the rest in other ways.
Sorghum was the third highest crop with a total loss of 2 019 tonnes, of which 1 983 tonnes were lost in the field and the rest in other ways, including transportation.
Maize recorded a total loss of 1 931 tonnes, of which an estimated 1 864 tonnes were lost in the field and the rest in other ways.
Marketing produce is another dilemma that confronts many farmers, especially in Africa, but some farmers in the United States of America (USA) are different in that they use social media to promote the sale of their produce and livestock. American farmers are advocating that Namibian farmers do the same to avoid losses and waste.
Jay Hill, a 32-year-old co-owner of the 405-hectare Wholesome Valley Farms in Las Cruces, Texas, said they work day and night to market their produce on social media.
Images of tractors harvesting onions and lettuce; workers sorting onions and others working in the watermelon field; as well as crates of onions stacked in barns are visible on Wholesome Valley Farms’ Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
Hill told Nampa journalists, who visited the USA in June on a media cooperative programme that Wholesome Valley Farms aims to inform potential consumers of the production process before the product reaches their dining table.
He encouraged Namibian farmers to market their produce on social media, as it holds massive benefits for both the farmer and consumer.
Hill said consumers want to have a connection with farmers, hence the importance the farm places on making everything they do transparent through social media.
“We also want them to understand why we apply pesticides and fertilisers and different additives to ensure we grow a nutritious crop,” he said.
Hill argued it makes sense to open up a dialogue using social media for consumers to engage the producers (farmers) and ask questions to be informed of what they eat.
This, he said, opened international doors for his farm and brought export opportunities.
“I know of farmers in Las Cruces who are unbelievable producers but they failed, simply because they are not able to market their crops,” Hill said.
Another farmer, Dan Macon who owns Flying Mule Farm - a small commercial sheep operation in the foothills near Auburn, Texas - said social media provides an opportunity for farmers to share information on their day-to-day challenges.
“Some of these challenges are universal no matter where you are trying to graze livestock and so social media has allowed us to educate people who do not have any background on what we do,” Macon said.
He said farmers in his area have embraced social media and established a Drought Farm Group on Facebook, which is being used by farmers all over the world to share information and make informed decisions when managing operations under a drought.
Macon said social media has enabled the American farmers to connect with others from different environments and share experiences to learn something.
“Those of us in other places who cannot connect with a farmer in Namibia who is not on social media, are disadvantaged because we are not getting that perspective,” he said.
Queried over Namibian farmers’ use of social media to market their crops, Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) Executive Director Mwilima Mushokobanji said the technology literacy and Internet access hampers farmers’ potential use of social media.
He said more than 70 per cent of the people who depend on agriculture for a living reside in remote areas where access to mobile networks for quality Internet is an issue.
“That on its own divorces the majority of the farmers from actually participating on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp,” he said.
However, Mushokobanji said about 20 per cent of farmers make use of social media to share information regarding operations on their farms.
One such farmer who ploughs 60 kilometres from Otavi at Farm Rimini 969, is former Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi who has demonstrated that social media has great marketing potential for farmers in Namibia.
Recently, Kamwi used Facebook to share pictures of 20 tonne trailers loading maize on his farm that was heading to the Agro-Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) silos in Omuthiya.
He told this agency he receives several comments regarding posts on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which to him is highly commendable.
Kamwi said since he shares such information on social media platforms, numerous potential customers have enquired about his products and how they can access them.
“Many also commended my efforts, saying Namibia can indeed be self-sufficient if all able bodied men and women were to put on their agriculture gear and go out there,” he said.
Kamwi noted that he also received comments from Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Regional Manager of the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, Inekela Kambindjii told Nampa farmers, especially small-scale farmers, need to be educated and trained on the importance of production planning, which includes marketing and supply agreements.
A national database (crop calendar) needs to be developed by all stakeholders as a guiding tool to avoid over production, he said.
“Social media is an essential medium of communication and it will greatly benefit all stakeholders in this regard. Information can easily be shared through WhatsApp groups or Facebook,” he said.
Kambindjii observed that most farmers and traders can use social media to share information and address the problems of market saturation and food wastages.

BAN advises on avoiding financial potholes

Young people should make wise financial decisions early in life to ensure they are not impacted by financial missteps committed during their youth.
Baronice Hans, Chairperson of the Bankers Association of Namibia says: “There’s nothing as exciting as getting your first salary and realising that earning an income opens up many possibilities. However, this should also be the time to step back and start thinking carefully about your finances and what you want to achieve by earning an income. During this stage, every financial commitment should be carefully considered because how you start off will have a direct impact on your finances in the long term.”
“It’s quite common to see young people getting excited about earning money and then begin to take on too much debt to accumulate possessions they often don’t need, without having made provision for savings,” adds Hans.
Here are some of the common financial mistakes that young people must avoid:
Not budgeting
By creating a budget, you will be able to plan your expenses and keep an eye on what your money is spent on. A budget can help identify any wasteful spending because it’s designed to help you track your expenses and ultimately commit money to areas that take priority. Discipline is important but there’s no harm in making room for entertainment now and then to reward yourself for hard work later.
Taking too much debt
When you suddenly have access to credit, it may be difficult resisting the temptation to just spend, but remember that debt is a major financial commitment; therefore it’s better to take on debt that you can manage and not feel overburdened. By taking on too much debt you may find yourself not being able to cope with repayments. It’s better to focus on saving money and earning interest on it, instead of unnecessary debt.
Not having an emergency fund
An emergency fund is designed to cover shortfalls when an unexpected expense occurs. A medical emergency or a car breaking down can have a huge impact on your finances and if you don’t have funds for unplanned expenses you may end up relying on debt or having to tap into your other savings.
Delaying saving for retirement
The best time to start saving for retirement is when you are still young because any delay might cost you more in the long-term. While you might think there’s enough time to save for retirement, it’s always better to
save as soon as you start earning an income. Starting early will most likely help you make building blocks towards a comfortable retirement, ensuring that you benefit from compound interest and keeping in line with the depreciating value of money.
“The road to financial freedom comes with self-awareness and financial discipline. Equip yourself with as much information as possible before making any financial decisions, in this way you avoid making mistakes that can possibly compromise your finances in future,” concludes Hans.