Notes to broadcasters
Small-scale farmers are often mere receivers of the bad results of other people’s careless actions. One example is when people cut trees in large quantities to supply fuelwood or charcoal to urban markets, or for other commercial purposes. When many trees are cut down, the rains may be affected and impact the growth of crops. Also, soil erosion can impact the amount of nutrients and water to grow crops. These cause poor yields, which result in hunger and poverty for farmers.
This script tells the true story of a part of eastern Zambia that was once thickly forested and had rich soil, but which was later occupied by people interested only in using the forest to earn short-term income. Unfortunately, this led to the degradation of the forest to levels that could lead to desertification, poor crop yields, and hunger for the small-scale farmers in the area.
Luckily, the farmers decided to face this challenge by using agroforestry systems and practices to protect and improve their soils and landscape.
You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, then please inform your audience that the actors are representing real people who use the practices they talk about.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on deforestation and degradation or related topics in your own country.
Talk to farmers and experts who are using some of the systems and practices mentioned in this script. Ask them:
How has land in your area been damaged or degraded? And what has been the impact on the local environment, and on farmers?
Have farmers taken steps to rehabilitate or restore the land? What have they done? Have they been successful?
Are there barriers to taking steps to revive the land? If so, what are they, and how can they be overcome?
Estimated running time for the script: 20 minutes, with intro and outro music
ScriptFADE UP SIGTUNE
Please ensure that you have your pen and paper ready to take important notes.FADE OUT SIGTUNE
As farmers, our primary natural resources are the land, the trees and the other natural vegetation on our land. Therefore, we must handle our land with care by using farming methods that replenish and improve our soils instead of degrading and destroying them.
Today, I will tell you the story of a family whose piece of land used to be very productive. The land is located in a part of eastern Zambia called Mphomwa on the road to the famous Luangwa National Park.
The family earned a good livelihood from this land. But the area was invaded by people who cut down trees to sell to town dwellers, while others produced charcoal. Many trees were logged and the area was in danger of turning into a desert.
As a result, the poor family could no longer get as much from this land as they used to. To overcome this problem, they decided to plant trees to increase soil fertility and are using other best management practices to get better yields.
In my studio, I have the land management officer, who is helping this family and other farmers in the region to restore some of the abundant fertility and productivity of their land.
I am familiar with the problem at Mphomwa. I am helping the farmers to deal with the problem of soil degradation caused by the removal of trees. I will take you there and show you what I am doing. You will meet one of the oldest families that settled in the region. I suggest that we go with the District Forestry Extension Officer who works with me to help the farmers.
We are driving on a very good tarmac road. I remember driving on this same route more than forty years ago in a rickety government vehicle when I was just starting my work as a farm radio producer. At that time, the road was just a bush track. There were also many big trees. Sometimes you met an impala or kudu or even a leopard on the road, and there were poisonous snakes. So it was safer to keep your windows closed tight.
Nobody lived in this area until you came to Mphomwa Hills where there was a man named Yokoniya Mwale. People thought he was eccentric because he lived alone with his family so far from civilization. But we stopped there because there was a natural spring where we could drink water.
Since trees are the natural habitat of wild animals, they moved away. Most of the bigger animals are now inside the park near the Luangwa River where they are protected by law. But there are still plenty of monkeys and baboons in the area.
As we come round a curve in the road, Charlton slows down. There is a sharp drop away from the road, and banana plants on the right hand side. Further on, I see a thick stand of old mango trees almost covering an old house of burnt bricks with a roof of rusty corrugated iron sheets.
Everything looks familiar!
A tall, middle-aged woman is sitting on an old reed mat cleaning fresh pumpkin leaves. I almost start to believe in ghosts when I see an elderly man weaving a new reed mat under the big mango tree in front of the old house.
As we drink and chat with her husband, Tamara is busy trying to do many things at once, including participating in the discussion. It is clear that she wants to ensure that we eat something before we leave.
SOUND OF PEOPLE MOVING AWAY
In front of us, I see fields of maize, groundnuts and other crops. Some of the crops are planted together with the pod-bearing shrubs we saw at the edge of the compound. Otherwise, there are no big trees in sight until the distant horizon where a line of green indicates a river.
But our new neighbours were the fake farmers I told you about. As soon as they had cut down all the big trees and made their charcoal, they moved away and left this land bare.
But maize needed more care in the field and the soil was now poor because of erosion. Our farming methods were also poor.
SOUND OF WOMEN SINGING WITH A MALE VOICE IN THE BACKGROUND AND COMING ON-MIC
FADE UP WOMEN SINGING, FADE OUT
We have received a special visitor who has a million questions. And look – he has his recorder out! We are going to be on radio, my friends.WOMEN ULULATING
This is why we welcomed ba-Phiri’s new method of farming, which does not rely on chemical fertilizer to increase crop yield. Instead, we plant trees like musangu and Gliricidia sepium that help increase the fertility of our soils (Editor’s note: The scientific name for musangu is Faidherbia albida).
In a field like mine, you also see rows of grass running across the slope at intervals.
I will sign off now, but shall be back next week with another topic on how we can conserve our natural resources for our own good and for the good of the planet.
If you need more information on today’s topic, please contact Charlton Phiri at the Technical Services Branch of the Zambia Ministry of Agriculture, and Emma Sakala, the Forestry Technician.
We shall be glad to help you.OUTRO SIGTUNE
Contributed by: Filius Chalo Jere, Farmer Radio Producer, Breeze FM, Chipata, Zambia
Reviewed by: Miguel Calmon, Senior Manager, Forest Landscape Restoration, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Charlton Phiri, Technical Services Branch, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, P. O. Box 510046, Chipata, February 13 and 16, 2015
Emma Sakala, District Forestry Technician, Chipata, February 16, 2015
Abraham Yokoniya Mwale, Mphomwa, Mfuwe, February 16, 2015
Members of Yokoniya Conservation Group, Mfuwe, February 16, 2015
Onyx Msachiwa, Total Land Care Malawi