Yorkshire Post: Go Sierra Leone!

Terrific article in the Yorkshire Post – announcing our funded project in Sierra Leone! Read below…

A Yorkshire charity is helping thousands of isolated cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone with an informative ‘forest-friendly’ radio show. Chris Burn reports.

At a time when the UK’s overseas aid contributions are very much in the headlines, a small charity from Yorkshire is showing how it can make Government-backed support go a long way.

The Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation has been awarded just over £53,000 from the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to help expand its Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative, with a further £2,000 provided by the Souter Charitable Trust.

The Farmers’ Voice Radio scheme has been running since 2010 to broadcast trusted, vital agricultural information in developing countries around the world and has reached over one million smallholder farmers to date.

Many of these farming communities, often in remote areas, are under huge pressure due to issues like climate change and intensive cultivation leading to deforestation, degraded land and declining productivity.

Chairperson, Nialaforaa village, Gola, Sierra Leone. Photo credited to Twin.
Cocoa pods. Photo credited to Twin.

The broadcasts bring together local farmers, agricultural experts and supply chain partners to share their knowledge and expertise to encourage more sustainable and effective farming techniques, as well as providing tips on how to sell produce for a good price.

Using their latest grant, the Lorna Young Foundation – named after a late Fairtrade champion – has now launched a radio project targeted at smallholder cocoa farmers living around the edge of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) in Sierra Leone. The area has been hard hit in recent years, having been on the frontline of both the civil war and Ebola crisis.

A charity spokesperson says: “The GRNP is home to many threatened species. It is a protected national park, but deforestation, slash and burn agriculture and charcoal production are huge threats. Cocoa is tree-based crop that thrives in agro-forestry conditions and can play a positive role in rainforest conservation; producing cocoa with forest-friendly credentials is a great business opportunity for local farmers, but due to geographical isolation, gender, and illiteracy, many smallholder farmers struggle to access information on how to make gains in this area. Coronavirus has exacerbated this situation by closing training programmes, shutting off trade routes and inflating local market prices.”

New programme Goolla Ndiamo Yie, which means ‘Forest Friendship’ in local language Mende, sees members of the Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers Union meet each month to discuss a range of topics linked to forest-friendly cocoa production.

The discussions are recorded and edited into 15-minute programmes by community radio station, Starline FM, and broadcast twice weekly reaching an estimated listenership of 60,000.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Baroness Liz Sugg says: “The skills and expertise in grassroots organisations from across the UK, like the Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation, are changing lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This innovative UK aid funded project harnesses the power of communication to support farmers to grow their way out of poverty and protect their local environment.”

LYF’s chairperson Ian Agnew says: “The LYF’s approach is simple and incredibly cost-effective. We are delighted to receive this second grant from the Government’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, which will enable us to reach even more of Africa’s poorest farmers and to assist with achieving sustained poverty reduction.

“The learning generated from this new project on forest-friendly cocoa production in Sierra Leone will allow us to expand and improve our online Farmers’ Voice Radio resources, benefiting smallholder farmers in other regions at a time when accessing face-to-face support is particularly challenging.”

For more information, visit www.farmersvoiceradio.org

SEE THE YORKSHIRE POST ARTICLE HERE

A LAUNCH FOR FARMERS’ VOICE RADIO!

The LYF is pleased to announce the launch of our new website – dedicated to our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative!

Coinciding with World Radio Day, we are revealing both our fantastic new – FREE – resource-based website, along with our new ‘brand.’ We thought that a funky little clay coloured radio would be just the ticket!

So – what are you waiting for? Scoot on over to www.farmersvoiceradio.org and have a look at the enormous amount of work that our small team has put into ensuring that smallholder farmers – ANYWHERE – can now access, in order to lift themselves out of poverty.

You can also join us in our latest ventures on Twitter with: @farmersvoiceradio and on Facebook with: farmersvoiceradio

PS – a very special thank you to Sally Davidson for her stunning design work. Talented person indeed.

Bond Achievement

As a small charity, it is often very difficult to get our voice heard and our work recognised, so we were over the moon to learn that we have made the long-list for Bond’s ‘Small NGO Impact Award’ for 2020.

Bond is well-known amongst anyone who works in the international development community. It provides support, advice and campaigning activity for a huge number of UK-based NGOs. The LYF’s Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative was selected as 1 of just 13 NGOs who Bond feel are demonstrating excellent examples of high impact through their work. Terrific stuff!

It goes without saying that we wish all of the best to the other chosen NGOs and thanks to Bond – for this vote of confidence in our work.

You can find out more, at the link below:

https://www.bond.org.uk/small-ngo-impact-award/longlist-2020#LYF

Zakat – to Support Muslim Farmers and Communities

The Islamic faith has a long tradition of peaceful and respectful trading activities. Justice, compassion, 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?

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

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

poor-farmers
Smallhold Farmers working with the LYF in Harar, Ethiopia

Muslim supporters 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, supporting them to become effective, ethical entrepreneurs. We now work with many Muslim communities in various countries across Africa through our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative.

Not content with providing ‘a hand-up, rather than a hand-out’, 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 Coffee Company  – a Fairtrade coffee company designed to support Oromo refugees in Greater Manchester.

Oromo coffee

Then the LYF set up ‘Not Just A Trading Company’ across the north of England – helping youth from different backgrounds to overcome divisions by forming their own ethical trading enterprise. The charity 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.

Our first ‘Not Just A’ ethical enterprise group, West Yorkshire

Most recently, Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has 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 there is certainly no feathering of 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 www.lyf.org.uk and watch out for our brand new Farmers’ Voice Radio website – soon to be launched!

PLEASE consider donating zakat to The Lorna Young Foundation this year and share our work with your mosque and community groups.

Wasalaam and Peace to all this Ramadan.

Phew. What a year!

Most of us will be having a wee rest now … as we flip over our old-fashioned calendars and head into 2020.

This marks a chance for us to draw breath and to – collectively – say WOW. What an incredible year we’ve had here at the LYF.

Thanks to the galloping pace of our Hannah Davis and Hannah Clark, plus the back-up support of Christina and Cristina (hmmm – what IS it about duplicate names at the LYF…) and of course the hands-on dedication of our Board, we are in a great place and looking forward to an exciting and successful 2020.


We now have projects underway or in the pipeline in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Ethiopia. Our wonderful new website will be launched in the early New Year and we have forged some fantastic partnerships, from our firm support on behalf of DFID / UKAid relationship and with new partners; household names that we will soon be able to tell you about!

Women working working with the LYF – shea butter farmers, Ghana

As always, we have some potential exciting opportunities bubbling away in the background for 2020 and we very much welcome comments, ideas and suggestions from you – our readers and supporters.

More than anything though, we need to tell people about who we are, what we do – and why. You will already know that we are a tiny charity, making a massive impact globally – but we lack slick marketing teams and budgets. So we really do need YOU to sing our praises and to donate to us – as and when you can.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed to our work this year.

Keep in touch – and let’s continue to work together in order to tackle the root causes of poverty for farmers in developing countries.

Onward – and skyward – for 2020!

Ian Agnew (Chairman)

Christmas Change?

It might seem to have gone a wee bit quiet on the ‘news’ front from all of us here at the LYF but rest assured that we have been working our socks off!

We have SO much to tell you – but being the sneaky lot that we are, we wanted to burst forth will all of this in the New Year. We have a spanking brand new website for Farmers’ Voice Radio to launch and reams of exciting project news to give you.

Most readers will know that we are a tiny team and that we truly do our best to keep every penny ‘in-country’ so that farming communities gain maximum benefits.

With this in mind – we’d be delighted if any followers of our work want to DONATE to us in order to support our work further.

Just head over to our ‘Support Our Work’ pages to see how you can help. And whatever you can give, rest assured that we will spend it more wisely than even a Wise Man would.

Thank you. And have a peaceful festive season.

Kenyan smallholders – LYF project group

Farmers’ Voice Radio: Ghana & Shea Butter – NEW project!

In May the Farmers Voice Radio (FVR) team travelled to Tamale in northern Ghana to launch a new FVR project. The project is working with female farmers involved in the harvesting of shea nuts and the production of shea butter; a highly desirable ingredient used in many food, cosmetic and hair products, as well as being a staple in local cooking.

Members of the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association processing the shea butter by hand

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 supply – representing an excellent business opportunity for women, who desperately need to improve their household income.

In Ghana, women gather the shea nuts from the trees and process the shea butter (a very labour-intensive process). However, most do not have the knowledge or information they need to generate a quality product and find a buyer who will give them a fair price. Radio is the most effective way of sharing knowledge with the farmers; it is trusted, inclusive and quickly reaches thousands in their fields or in their own homes. FVR is bringing these shea nut gatherers and butter producers together, along with local agricultural experts and community radio stations, to produce radio programmes that provide exactly the right information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in the language that they understand.

Hannah D and Hannah C (nicknamed Hannah Squared by the team!) conducted a training and planning workshop with the amazing project team, hosted by our partners CARE International in Tamale. The participants included our two fantastic radio presenters, Kate and Osman from GBC-URA FM; Listener Group leaders and farmers from Jawani and Tariganga, Sahada and George; agricultural extension officers from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Titus and Fausta; and Gladys and Agnes from CARE International. We also welcomed Shani, an associate of our BRAVE [HD2] partner, the Walker Institute, and expert in RAINWATCH; and Madam Fati and Thomas from the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association.

One of the key outputs of the workshop was identifying the targets for the Farmers Voice Radio programmes, which are:

  1. Improving the quality and volume of shea nut and butter production
  2. Improving market information and access for collectors and processors
  3. Improving the health and safety of collectors and processors
  4. Improving the environmental sustainability of shea in target communities

A cross-cutting theme of improving access to relevant and downscaled weather and climate information and supporting adaptation was also identified.

We also developed a Radio Programme Plan that laid out the priority issues that the radio programmes will address over the coming year. These included how to avoid snakebites when collecting shea nuts; when and how shea nuts should be collected to get the best quality; how to protect shea tree seedlings; finding alternative wood fuel strategies to deforestation; the process for producing high quality shea butter; and the different markets for selling shea nuts and butter.

One of the highlights of the week was a visit to Mbanayili, a shea butter processing centre, hosted by the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association. Tungteiya supply shea butter to The Body Shop  and have remained true to their values of promoting women and the development of the producer communities.  During the visit the team were guided through the full shea butter making process, which is all done by hand and is focussed on making the highest quality butter. The radio presenters interviewed some of the association members and the Executive Chair, Madam Fati, and links were made between the communities of Jawani and Tariganga and the Association.

Sahada is a farmer from the community of Jawani and the Listener Group Leader. Sahada really enjoyed the visit to Tungteiya and she was very keen to report back to her community everything she has learnt, and to include it in the radio programmes.  She told us ‘I like so many things about Farmer Radio because I hear what is going on in farming and I am ready to put it in to active work as a farmer, who is picking shea nut’.

This project is funded by UK Aid’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, Prince of Wales Charitable Fund, the Gibbs Trust, Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust, Ashworth Charitable Trust and the W. F Southall Trust. We want to thank all our generous donors and supporters for enabling this important work, which is strengthening the livelihood of thousands of shea nut gatherers and butter producers and their families across northern Ghana.


WE WON! ‘BIG IMPACT’

The Lorna Young Foundation officially have a BIG IMPACT! We’ve been awarded the ‘Big Impact for a Small Charity Award’ by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI).

As part of the award, we won a professional video … made just for us – and showcasing our Farmers’ Voice Radio project. As a small charity, we are lean (but not mean) and consequently, we don’t have a marketing budget or money to spend on PR. So, this award will truly make a massive difference to us. We have had our excellent new video edited – and will get this out to you in a future blog post. But we thought you might like to read the acceptance speech, written on behalf of our very own, Hannah Clark:

Hannah Clarke with the FSI Award

“Winning this award has been fantastic! It has been amazing to get recognition for the hard work of our small team, and our wonderful partners across Africa. So, thank you FSI – for your tireless campaigning, support and encouragement for small charities. 

Thank you too, to Dale the filmmaker who has made our LYF Farmers’ Voice Radio film – he has been so patient and generous with his time.

I work in a small, but mighty, team at the Lorna Young Foundation. We are home-based and are spread across the country – but my colleagues, Hannah Davies, Christina Longden and Cristina Talens are awesome. Our Board too – led by Chair, Ian Agnew. And, I must say thank you to our families too. They who put up with a great deal – particularly holding the fort while we travel! 

We feel very proud to have won this award, but the real heroes and heroines – the true impact-makers – are the farmers across Africa. They work tirelessly, in extremely difficult and often precarious conditions, to produce high quality produce and tp provide for their families and communities.

So, I am accepting this award today, on behalf of all the farmers who contribute to and listen to Farmers Voice Radio programmes. Together we are lifting the voices of farmers and transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of smallholders. 

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! ESPECIALLY NOW THAT YOU CAN *SEE* THE HUGE IMPACT THAT OUR SMALL CHARITY IS HAVING!

Film-Win!

Small charities suffer from a lack of funding and the personnel needed to get our incredible stories out there. Often, here at the LYF, we’re so intent on ensuring that every penny is kept ‘in country’ – helping desperately poor smallholders – that we lack the opportunity to get a ‘hand up’ ourselves.

So, thank heavens for the likes of The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI). This UK based organisation supports small charities like the LYF. They design ideas, courses and approaches that are aimed at the smaller charitable sector.

So – it is with enormous pride – that we can announce that WE WON! Yes! The LYF won an FSI Small Charity Award 2019 … and best of all – our prize was having a professional video of our Farmers’ Voice Radio work with poor African smallholders – made for us!

If you would like a first glimpse at the video – much of which was taken on our recent trip to work with Ghana shea farmers – please do click on the link and enjoy! https://www.thefsi.org/fsi-small-charity-big-impact-awards/fsi-small-charity-big-impact-awards-4/

We’d be really happy too, if you can share our win – and our video – with the sort of people, companies and organisations who ‘get’ what we do ie. those who care about supporting smaller organisations like the LYF – charities that possess the drive and the determination to make a difference, without being cushioned by enormous reserves and salaries!

But very importantly – to all of the team at the FSI and the FANTASTIC filmmakers. THANK YOU! You are already making a great difference for our African farming friends.

Ugandan Floods: Help LYF Help!

This week’s terrible floods in Uganda are a timely reminder of how much support this part of the world needs. Desperately poor farmers in the country have yet again been struck by disaster; with lives being lost and livelihoods ruined.

The LYF had already decided to work in this region with our partners – supporting farmers to put in place flood prevention measures. This week’s terrible news is a timely reminder of the important of this work. PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING TO THE LYF! You can find out more about our work in Uganda – where we use our Farmers’ Voice Radio approach here

From East African News – please help us to support the poorest farmers of Uganda!

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.

THANK YOU LOCKERBIE ACADEMY! WE ARE STUNNED BY YOUR GENEROSITY AND HARD WORK!

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.

A Champion RADIO USER

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’, http://www.stuartvallantine.co.uk/  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.