UK Govt Backs LYF and Ghana Women Farmers. Via Radio. With Shea Butter

Great news! We’ve been awarded a grant from UK Govt’s Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) – led by DFID’s UK aid team with the aim of boosting the impact of small charities in their work to reduce poverty overseas.

‘Farmers Voice Radio’ (FVR) is the LYF’s flagship radio initiative, working with farmer organisations and community radio stations in Africa to disseminate much-needed information to the continent’s most isolated farmers. FVR uses the power of radio to positively improve smallholders’ farming, sell their produce for a good price and preserve their natural environment.

Ghana is amongst the poorest 50 countries in the world, and northern Ghana is particularly vulnerable to droughts, failing harvests and few livelihood choices. Our new Farmers Voice Radio project will work with female farmers working in shea butter production; a highly desirable ingredient used in many moisturisers and hair products, as well as in food. Northern Ghana is one of the principle areas where shea nuts are grown, but deforestation and climate change are decimating shea tree parklands. At present demand for shea butter outstrips the supply – providing excellent opportunities for shea producers who desperately need to improve their household income.

Ghanian women are generally responsible for gathering the shea nuts and processing the butter (a very labour-intensive process). However, most do not have the information needed to generate a quality product and sell it for a fair price. Radio is the most effective way of sharing knowledge – as it is trusted, speedy, inclusive and reaches thousands in the fields or ‘at home’. LYF will work with butter producers, local agricultural experts and community radio stations to create radio programmes that provide the information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in their preferred language.

Baroness Sugg CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development said that the LYF is:

“Empowering smallholder farmers in Ghana with access to the information and advice they need to grow their business and boost the income of themselves and their communities. UK aid is supporting the Lorna Young Foundation to help farmers improve the value of their business and lift themselves out of poverty.

Small charities do not allow their size to limit their ambitions and UK aid’s Small Charities Challenge Fund is there to make sure they get the support they need to help us end poverty once and for all.”

LYF’s chairman, Ian Agnew, was thrilled to see this highly-competitive funding being granted to the LYF and said:

“The LYF’s approach is simple and incredibly cost-effective. The Government’s SCCF will enable us to support some of Africa’s poorest female farmers. We are looking forward to working with the team from DFID we work together to create a resource that can also be used in other regions with many other products grown by smallholder farmers.”

LYF will also be offering their expertise and experience in how to deliver Farmers Voice Radio projects through a new free-to-access online platform (watch this space!). This want to enable any farmer organisation or cooperative that works with smallholder farmers – anywhere in the world – to design and implement a Farmers Voice Radio project, as we have done.

The LYF would like to thank the Government for their vote of confidence in our work and to emphasise that this work is being funded through UK aid from the British people.

From Lockerbie with Love

As a small charity, the LYF struggles with the capacity needed in order to regularly seek out donations from individuals and other organisations. So we are genuinely bowled over when we receive an ‘out of the blue’ donation.

Most recently we were recently astonished to be told that Lockerbie Academy had raised an outstanding £1,000 for the LYF! A record donation for us, from a school!

Staff and students have been aware for a number of years, just how unusual our ‘small but mighty’ charity is. They know how we run completely unique projects that help the poorest smallholder farmers in Africa; those who everyone else seems to have forgotten about – but who provide us with the necessities AND the luxuries that we have often become complacent about.

The school have worked hard to raise this money through a number of fundraising events and are quite rightly, enormously proud of what they have achieved. They invited Ian Agnew and Christina Longden from the LYF to attend their annual Valediction Ceremony and presented them with an equally enormous cheque!

But what makes this story even more special, is that Lockerbie Academy is the school that Lorna Young herself attended as a teenager. Understandably, the students are committed to remembering this incredible woman – a Scottish lass who was almost single-handedly responsible for getting fairly traded products into British supermarkets. And their way of honouring her is through education about ethical trade and supporting a small charity that is making mighty waves.

The ceremony was attended by Lorna’s brother and sister-in-law who were also deeply touched by the gestures made by the school. Lorna’s parents are currently too unwell to attend, but we just as thrilled as we were to hear the news.

The money raised by Lockerbie students will go directly into helping the LYF’s ‘Farmers’ Voice Radio’ programmes in Africa.


If you know of any school or other organisation that wants to help a smaller charity that quietly makes a huge impact for the poorest African farmers, then please tell them about us … Please also, consider donating yourself to us if you can.


We were recently asked by magazine ‘Radio User’ to tell their readers about how – and why – the LYF set up our ‘Farmer Radio’ projects; empowering Africa’s poorest smallholder farmers through the medium of community-based, participatory farmer radio programmes.

We hope that it raises the profile of our work amongst radio enthusiasts across the world; indeed, Chris Longden’s article was instantly spotted by well-known, British ‘autistic blogger’,  who, along being a die-hard radio fan, has also worked for the LYF as a volunteer in the past!

We have been delighted to receive emails of support from the magazine’s readers and will contribute more updates on our exciting, new developments with Farmer Radio. We are currently looking for ‘LYF Ambassadors’ to help us in our endeavours – so keep on checking into this website if you are interested! But as always – PLEASE consider donating to the LYF and perhaps raising money on our behalf!

With thanks to Radio User magazine and Chris Longden for reproduction of this article.

Floods, Uganda and Radio

Hannah Davis, Farmer Radio Development Manager for the LYF has just got back from Kampala, Uganda where she represented the LYF for the launch of the NIMFRU project (National-scale Impact-based Forecasting of Flood Risk in Uganda).

Hannah with LYF’s partners in Uganda

Led by our partners, the University of Reading’s Walker Institute, this 16-month project aims to improve early warning systems in Uganda and to strengthen flood-prone communities by providing better access to information. Our contribution comes via the LYF’s proven Farmer Radio model, implemented through local NGO partner ECOTRUST in the pilot district of Katakwi, eastern region. Our radio programme content will promote good practice on flood prevention and adaptation for these remote communities.

As always, the radio side of the project will be developed with full participation of farmer listener groups and will combine science, livelihoods analysis and indigenous knowledge into key messages communicated by farmers for farmers on their local radio stations.

Unfortunately, climate change issues (flood, drought, landslides, hailstorms etc) now impact every sector of the Ugandan economy. Studies indicate that Uganda is already experiencing the negative impacts of climate variability; with flash floods, landslides and mudslides being increasingly common. Only last month, sudden intensive rainfall triggered a massive landslide in Bukalasi in eastern Uganda resulting in 46 fatalities and 33 injuries, destroying 186 households and affecting an estimated 1,116 people. Almost every district in the country is now subject to regular flooding, causing wide-spread disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods and destruction of houses and crops. The damage done to major infrastructures such as hospitals and sewage treatment units has the knock-on impact of endangering public health further.

Despite the establishment of a national response policy framework and institutions, current methods used to track and manage flood risk in Uganda are limited. The NIMFRU project brings together stakeholders from national and local government, NGOs, research institutions and advocacy networks. Together, we can pinpoint the exact vulnerabilities of communities – taking account of the different seasons, exposure to different types of flood threat and improving preparedness, communication and response. Katakwi was carefully selected as our pilot site due to its history of flood-related events. Between now and February 2020, the LYF will be working alongside our partners in the region, as together we test the new forecasting and response tools—including the all-important use of radio! After this, the partners will be delivering the evidence needed to scale up the project and to embed it within national policy and institutions.

Hannah Davis and Hannah Clark share the role of Farmer Radio Development Manager for the Lorna Young Foundation.


Lorna’s Biographical Honour & A Parliamentary Motion

Lorna Young

We were thrilled to be able to announce that the very person our Foundation was created in order to honour – Lorna Young – has been included in ‘The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women.’

Lorna lived in Eskdaleuir and went to Langholm Academy, transferring to Lockerbie Academy for her last couple of years of high school. Those who grew up with her, got to know one of the Britain’s leading pioneers in the fledgling fair trade movement; here was a Scottish lass destined to have a big impact on issues of justice in the world.

Lorna was instrumental in getting the first ever fairly traded products onto British supermarket shelves. And believe us, back in the materialistic-mad 1980s and 90s, this was no mean feat…

In order to get her foot in the door, Lorna relied on a unique combination of her own warmth and wit, blended with commercial savviness and topped off with a steely determination to see a fairer deal for the world’s poorest smallholder families. Lorna made it happen.

The adjectives ‘inspirational’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘driven’ are overused these days when it comes to organisations trying to sell a personality to the public. We have never tried to market Lorna’s name and sometimes we have wondered whether we have been singing her praises highly enough. But we have always believed that her outstanding achievements – both as a Scottish woman and as a citizen striving for commercial justice and trading fairness – would simply win through, on their own merits.

To top all of this off, we are also pleased to be able to tell you that Scottish MP, Joan McAlpine has propsed a Motion in the Scottish Parliament to recognise the life and work of Lorna. We are all deeply grateful for this – and to the other SNP MSPs and the Labour MSP who has also backed the Motion. The Motion itself is at the foot of this news item.

We are delighted that Lorna’s best friends Isabelle Gow, Iain Black and Lorna’s parents, family and that Lockerbie Academy continue to tell the world about her work and beliefs.

And we thank the authors – Elizabeth Ewan, Rose Pipes, Jane Rendall, Sian Reynolds and the team at Edinburgh University Press, along with Joan McAlpine MSP, for honouring Lorna – and through her name – recognising the importance of supporting all poverty stricken smallholder producers across the world.

Book available at EUP – to get a discount – use the code NEW30 before the end of December 2018:

Motion S5M-14630: Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2018Hide Full Motion 

That the Parliament acknowledges the publication of The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women; understands that the recently revised edition lists an additional 180 women who have influenced the course of history; welcomes the inclusion among these of Dumfriesshire-born, Lorna Young, who was educated at Langholm and Lockerbie academies; notes that Lorna, who died aged 44 in 1996, was a pioneer of the fair trade movement in the UK; understands that she was motivated by a strong sense of social justice and joined Campaign Coffee Scotland, which was later rebranded Equal Exchange, in 1989 before becoming the sales director of Café Direct when it was founded in 1991; acknowledges that Lorna was instrumental in persuading major supermarkets to stock Café Direct’s products; believes that this helped to change the lives of farmers and growers in the developing world, allowing them to at last be able to get a fair price for their product; welcomes the work of Café Direct and the Lorna Young Foundation, which was founded in 2003, in continuing her work to help lift people in the developing world out of poverty and in supporting disadvantaged groups in the UK, and believes that this is a fitting legacy for Lorna.


LYF Ghana Farmer Radio Field Training

The LYF’s Cristina Talens recently travelled to Ghana, to record the first of our Farmer Radio programmes for the local communities with farmer field listening groups, set up to inform the radio content.
Cris was accompanied by representatives from CARE international in Tamale and Christian Aid based in Burkina Faso, along with the local radio presenters. Together they worked with farmer field listening groups to record the first radio programmes around farming, water, weather and health.

It will be up to the farmers to choose which of the programmes are most relevant to them to use at the relevant point of time in the agricultural calendar. This is so that the subjects remain relevant and are demand driven.

The subjects which they discussed were allocated seasonal schedules and the broad themes that they will be using, focus on Health, Sustainable Farming and Weather.

The subjects selected were:

– Burning vegetation – why to avoid this –  and the impact of slash and burn farming in the long term.

– Agrochemicals – why use, other options, what to spray and when and how to ensure personal protection

– How to retain healthy soil and moisture in the soil through the practices of conservation tillage, Contour ploughing and mulching

– The practice of crop rotation as a means to diversify and also increasing nutrients going into the ground

– How to harvest and store rice and other local crops such as maize and sorghum

 Keep watching for more updates and for exciting news on the progress of our work in Ghana!

Open-Sourcing with Two Hannahs

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of 2 new employees – Hannah Clark and Hannah Davis!

We were inundated with exceptionally high quality applicants for our post of ‘Farmer Radio Development Manager’. This proved to be a very popular post – attracting some fantastic people with excellent experience. So, we faced a tough time indeed in terms of making a decision. And we would like to thank every single person who applied; no one enjoys the process of jumping through so many hoops and we appreciate the time and work involved by our applicants.

But after they had experienced several gruelling interviews, we came to the conclusion that two of the candidates ticked every single box for us. And both wowed us with their previous experience and obvious passion for what we do. Interestingly, they share the same first name; (perhaps following a bit of an LYF tradition – what with our Cris Talens and Chris Longden). It also turned out that both candidates actually knew each other already – and at one point had even lived together! Those of you who have followed the birth and growth of the LYF will be aware that we are a small charity who adopts a rather unconventional approach to what we do. Our programme delivery and achievements are proof of the pudding that daring to do things a little bit differently can deliver huge dividends for the farmers that we support.

So, after lots of thought and discussion, we decided to widen the post in terms of hours available and offered the job to both Hannah C and to Hannah D.

Hannah D and Hannah C with Ian Agnew

The two Hannah’s will be taking the lead on our flagship ‘Open Source’ Community Farmer Radio initiative. This is no mean feat – and our new colleagues have needed to hit the ground running. You will shortly be hearing more from them, what they are working on and how you can help the LYF to develop this fantastic new programme, empowering smallholders in Africa.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and on Facebook!

More on Open Source Community Farmer Radio
The Lorna Young Foundation is a charity that works to connect communities, enabling them to trade knowledge, products and ideas that will make their lives better. We do this by devising and running programmes that bring together the many disconnected societies that make up our World- both in the UK and internationally. We have a rich history, taking our name from fair trade pioneer Lorna Young who broke down doors to get Cafédirect into supermarkets.

Our work is based on a deep understanding of international trade justice issues. We have a long track record of solving supply chain challenges, and access to networks that can deliver expertise and support. Farmer Radio – one of our flagship programmes – uses radio and text messaging to reach millions of small-farmers in Africa (and, later Latin America and Asia) with the information they need to manage and market their crops effectively.

Our aim is to bring about change: change in the attitudes and systems that prevent communities across the globe from working together to improve their lives.

Our new ‘Open Source’ initiative will be a game-changer in empowering participatory farmer radio, which enables farmers to leverage more value out of supply chains and tackle challenges. To date, we have undertaken individual farmer radio projects across Africa, but we are now moving away from frontline delivery and are facilitating significant scale-up. We are making our Community Farmer Radio model available on an ‘open source’, free of charge basis to any organisation that can use it to build a better future for farmer communities in the developing world.

How YOU Can Help
Get in touch with us if you are able to offer support in the following ways:
• Offering funding and sponsorship to help us scale-up our ‘Open Source’ approach across African countries
• Suggesting partnership opportunities for the LYF (i.e. with businesses, institutions, governments, communities, NGOs)
• Giving support for business planning, communications materials, IT support for an online platform, technical roll-out, legal support for ‘Open Source’ approach

LYF To Open-Source its Farmer Radio Programmes

Over the last 8 years, our Farmer Radio projects have reached hundreds of thousands of small farmers across Africa. As a direct result, these farmers – and the supply chains they sell into – have seen measurable improvements in crop yield, quality and disease resistance. Farmers feel better able to deal with the effects of climate-change and to support their families to attend school and to feel more positive about farming as a livelihood choice rather than last option.

We now want to dramatically scale-up this work; and we believe that the most effective and sustainable way to do this is to Open -Source it – make it freely available as a package, to any group or organisation that wants to set up a Farmer radio project. We intend to create a toolkit of resources, materials, guides and support, based on our 8 years’ experience of successfully delivering Farmer Radio.

You can download our Farmer Radio prospectus here. It tells you more about Farmer Radio, our plans to Open-Source it, and help we are looking for to create and promote the take-up of the Open-source approach. We’d love to hear from you. Why not get in touch to chat about Open Source Farmer Radio.

The LYF launches Farmer Radio in Ghana

BRAVE: LYF radio extension project in Ghana and Burkina Faso is underway

In June 2017, the Lorna Young Foundation travelled to Ghana and Burkina Faso to launch BRAVE’s radio extension programme. The aim is to improve the resilience of farming communities to droughts and lack of access to good quality water. Ultimately this impacts on both their health and livelihoods, through their ability to grow food crops and keep livestock.

The aim of our radio extension programme is to provide training and information to farming communities in drought affected areas North of Tamale (Ghana) and in the region in and around Reo (Burkina). The training will target 4 key areas to improve resilience and adaptation of these communities going forward by:

  • improving access to ground water by promoting rain harvesting techniques, proper storage and conservation of water resources;
  • improving crop yields, by providing information on drought resistant and early maturing crops in line with agricultural calendars;
  • promoting sustainable land management practices which improve soil fertility and water retention on the farms, the use of organic pesticides and fertilisers as well as raising awareness on the impact of deforestation;
  • improving health and nutrition by promoting high value crops such as orange fleshed potatoes (rich in Vitamin A) ensuring garden crops can be dried and conserved for periods when hunger commonly occurs and also ensuring there is information on prevention and treatment of water related diseases such as cholera.

LYF Farmer Radio

LYF Farmer Radio Planning Workshop, Ghana

In Ghana, farmer representatives and agricultural extension staff from MOFA attended a two day workshop alongside CARE, IRC and radio partners from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation – the radio station Ura – to identify the key messages that would be delivered to farmers throughout the year. The programmes have been initially titled as ‘FARMER AND THE WATER’[1]

In Burkina Faso, the process was started with 24 with representatives from the Union des Groupements Feminin a grassroot organisation operating across 4 key farmer communities, Christian Aid and the extension organisation Reseau Marp. The radio programme there will be organised with Radio Sangue across all 4 regions targeted by the BRAVE programme.

The groups came together and have made a first attempt to identify the key issues that farmers need more information on throughout the year.  We have scheduled these programmes into an agricultural calendar and these now need to be reviewed with farming communities.

In October, the LYF will return to provide further training on setting up farmer listening groups. These groups will help to develop content, communicate best practice and ensure that the programmes are aired at times which have the potential for highest impact.

  • [1] kpa’ad ne koum in Kusaal (to be hosted for Tariganga and Akara by Kate for URA – GBC)
  • Pukpaana ni Kuom in Mampruli (To be hosted for Samini and  Jawani districts by Osman Masahudu for URA – GBC)


The LYF and Zakat

The Lorna Young Foundation – Supporting Muslim Farmers and Communities

The Abrahamic faiths have a long tradition of peaceful and respectful trading activities between them.  Each have their own rules and guidelines for fair methods of trading – both with people of their own faith, those of other faiths and those of no faith at all. Justice, compassion and a focus on honest work and enterprise are key components. Did you know, for example, that the Qu’ran has more written on the subject of trade and commerce, than any other subject?


Smallhold Farmers in Harar, Ethiopia

The largest portion of the world’s poor is the 800 million who live in rural areas. great distances from the nearest markets and basic social services. The majority of these people are ‘subsistence’ producers or farmers; barely able to make a living beyond feeding their families enough to stay alive.

Making enough money to be able to sell a crop, to be able to cultivate it and to sell it for a fair price so that they can access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most of them.

Empowering these communities to be able to take control of their own destiny is the aim of the Lorna Young Foundation (LYF). Download our Farmer Radio Leaflet here.

Muslim supporters and volunteers of the LYF are keen to spread the word about this small but mighty UK based charity.  Unlike many of the other ‘household name’ charities, the LYF focuses entirely on helping poor communities both in the UK and overseas, to empower themselves by becoming effective, ethical entrepreneurs – whether this be in farming or other forums of business.

Not content with providing ‘a hand-up, rather than a hand-out’ however, the LYF also uses its programmes to bring together different communities and people of faith. Several years ago the charity set up the ground-breaking Oromo Oromo coffeeCoffee Company  – a Fairtrade coffee company which the LYF initiated to support Oromo refugees in Greater Manchester thereby promoting a working relationship between Muslim and Christian Oromo refugees, and with local people who are often exposed to extremist political views.

Then the charity set up ‘Not Just A Trading Company’ across the north of England –  helping young Pakistani, white and Afro-Carribean youth from deprived areas to work together to form their own ethical trading enterprise in partnership with supporting the products that come from developing countries.  The LYF has also worked to support Arab producers in Palestine/Israel and continues to develop new approaches to bring communities together in the name of ethical trade.

Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has also been a key driving force for our work to help poor Muslim communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

The LYF is a very unusual, small charity. Based in Huddersfield, UK, the organisation has minimal overheads. No expensive offices or salaries and no feathering our own nests. We work to keep the vast majority of our funding with the people who need it the most and who can only dream of the privileges that we have.

See and and …

PLEASE consider donating zakat to The Lorna Young Foundation this year. You can download our Farmer Radio Appeal Leaflet here.