Notes to broadcasters
In 2011, an international NGO called the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) started a campaign in a dry part of eastern Uganda to restore the forest landscape that had been completely destroyed by years of burning bushes and cutting trees. Through a project called Ecosystem-based adaptation, IUCN encouraged farmers to consider planting trees so that the trees could retain water in the soil, reduce the effects of drought, and increase crop yields.
The campaign was designed to help revive the land and save it from becoming a complete desert. All kinds of vegetation had been cleared from land that used to be a forest three decades ago. Droughts were prolonged because there were no trees to help create rain. The winds were severe because there were no trees to act as windbreaks, and rainfall simply evaporated from the ground because of the lack of vegetation cover, leaving clouds of dust in the air. Crop yields were low because the soil was no longer fertile.
IUCN took several actions: they encouraged people to plant trees, provided tree seedlings for free, provided water for the seedlings, and gave financial incentives to people who looked after their trees. They also trained farmers in good, sustainable farming practices and rewarded those that followed the practices. Burning bushes was discouraged and people were instead encouraged to use dry grass and crop residues to mulch their crops. After a few years of these activities, people are beginning to see the importance of trees to the life of the soil, and they are planting more trees on their own.
Planting trees in farmland has a number of other benefits for farmers. Trees provide many types of products, including wood for construction and fuel, medicinal products, and fruit for sale and home consumption. They also provide shade for shade-loving crops, and store carbon, potentially decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Some types of trees add atmospheric nitrogen to the soil, fertilizing the crops near them directly through their roots, and when their leaves fall to the ground.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could choose to produce this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If you do, remember to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as inspiration to research and develop a radio program on the benefits of planting trees in your own area.
If you choose to use this script as inspiration for creating your own program, you could talk to farmers and other experts, and ask the following questions:
Do farmers in your area plant trees in their fields, or leave some trees in their fields? If they do, why? Do they benefit? If they don’t, why not?
What are the reasons for not planting trees? For example, some farmers do not have secure tenure to their land and cannot sell the products of mature trees.
Have some farmers found solutions to these and other challenges? If so, invite these farmers – or extension agents and other experts – to tell their stories on-air.
You could also host a call-in program where farmers can talk about these issues. You could invite a tree planting expert to talk and respond to farmers’ questions and comments.
This program runs for approximately 20 minutes, including intro and extro music.
I am here to visit a few farmers to learn about the importance of trees to agriculture. Later, I will chat with a field assistant who works for an organization called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. He has done a lot to convince farmers in this area that trees are the life of the land and to motivate them to plant trees and care for them.
But first we will hear from a group of farmers – Mr. Chemutai Wilfred and his friends, Yeko Swaib, and Chelangat Anna. These farmers not only learnt the importance of trees to the land, but also learnt new ways of using land effectively to grow food for home consumption and for sale.
Signature tune up and out
Right behind me is Yeko’s home, a pair of brand new wood-and-wattle houses with shiny iron roofs. On one side of his home is an assortment of crops, and on the other side is Yeko’s matoke plantation.
You know, we have very bad droughts here. And when it rains, there are a lot of floods. IUCN told us that the reason these conditions were happening to us is because we had cut down all the trees. So planting trees and restoring the forests will reduce the droughts and the flooding.
But also, we were told to plant the right tree species in the right places. So we plant those trees that are friendly to crops in the gardens. They are called agro-forestry trees. We also plant other types of trees along farm boundaries, and along roads and paths and other areas.
Back in the town of Mbale, at the IUCN offices, I meet Christopher Lutakome. He is the field assistant who has worked with the farmers in Sanzara village since the beginning of the project.
Now trucks leave the village to take crops to major towns. This was unheard of five years ago. I believe that in ten years Sanzara will be a completely different village altogether. I believe that the droughts are going to diminish as the trees grow. I believe that more trees will be planted as the people see the changes they have created themselves.
Today, we’ve heard a lot about how planting trees can improve farm incomes, and heal damage to the environment.
Remember to tune in to the program next week, when our topic will be ___. Goodbye for now from me, ___.
Contributed by: Tony Mushoborozi, content creator, Scrypta Pro Ltd., Uganda
Reviewed by:Richard Muhumuza Gafabusa, Project Officer, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation,IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Interviews: Farmers Chemutai Wilfred, Chelangat Anna, and Yeko Swaib, and Chris Lutakome from IUCN. All interviews conducted on February 4, 2015.
Farm Radio International would like to thank the International Union for Conservation of Nature for their support in producing this script.
This effort to raise awareness of forest landscape restoration is supported by UK aid, from the UK government.