Notes to broadcasters
In Tanzania, as in much of East Africa, the changing climate means that rain is becoming unpredictable and scarce. So farmers need to consider which crops to grow, as some traditional staples are thirsty and do not perform well in drier conditions.
One cereal crop worth considering as an alternative to maize is sorghum, a hardy crop native to many of the drier parts of the world. One species, with the scientific name of Sorghum bicolor L., is native to Africa and has many varieties. Sorghum can be used for human and animal feeds, and to produce alcoholic beverages and biofuels.
This script is based on interviews with farmers in the Shinyanga Region of the Lake Zone of Tanzania. The interviews were conducted as a follow-up to a series of detailed radio programs on growing sorghum efficiently.
You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure 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 research material or as inspiration for creating your own programs on sorghum or similar issues in your country. Talk to farmers and experts who are growing sorghum or are knowledgeable about the crop. You might ask them:
Is growing sorghum common in your area?
Is it becoming more common with climate change?
If it’s grown in your area, what challenges do farmers face?
Have farmers devised solutions to these challenges that they could share on your program?
What do extension agents and other experts say about these challenges and solutions?
Do farmers mostly raise sorghum for home consumption?
Do some sell it for food or for feed? Or to alcohol manufacturers or for other industrial purposes?
What are the commercial prospects for sorghum in your area?
Estimated running time for the script: 15-20 minutes, with intro and outro music
Fade up signature tune to start the show. fade out after 15 seconds under host’s voice.
Today, I have come to meet Maja Nyunga. The 31-year-old farmer is a member of the Igembensabo listening group, which was formed last season to participate in a series of radio programs on growing sorghum. Hello, Maja!
So I got together with some friends to listen to your program about how sorghum can be a good alternative to maize in years when the rains fail. We all decided to keep up with the series and follow the timely advice you broadcast.
But we also learnt from the radio that manure is better for soil nutrients and conserving moisture than chemical fertilizers, because the nutrients in manure remain available in the soil for several seasons. Also, the organic matter in manure improves the structure of the soil. This helps keep the soil moist for longer, and holds nutrients in the soil rather than allowing them to wash away when the rains are heavy.
This season, we’ll have to come up with another tactic, because we are going to expand the area so much. We might have to hire people to help us frighten the birds away.
We are also trying to negotiate a contract with a brewery so that we can guarantee a market for our grain. Ideally, we’ll encourage more farmers to join the group in the coming years, because the breweries like to buy in bulk. If we can secure a contract, we’ll be able to invest in top-dressing fertilizers so we can maximize production and make as large a profit as possible.
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Farmers should ensure that their seedbeds are well-manured before the crop is planted. It is recommended that ammonium nitrate be applied as a micro-dose top-dressing; this can help maximize yields.
Farmers can control striga with other methods, such as uprooting the plant before it flowers, rotating crops, and using push-pull techniques, such as intercropping your sorghum with the leguminous Desmodium plant. This plant repels certain pests, suppresses striga, and increases soil fertility. Farmers can also use herbicides before the striga plant flowers. But they really do need to be aware of this problem weed.
Let me quickly summarize what we have learned from this program. Firstly, using animal manure on a well-prepared seedbed improves soil structure and sometimes reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It will also benefit crops planted in future seasons.
Secondly, planting sorghum in rows means that farmers will be able to weed their crops more efficiently, thereby saving themselves time and effort. Proper weeding means that the crop will benefit from reduced competition for nutrients, which results in higher yields.
Thirdly, choosing a striga-tolerant variety of sorghum will bring higher yields, and using striga control measures will reduce the population of striga seeds in the soil in future years.
And, finally, growing the crop in larger areas will reduce losses caused by hungry birds, and may make it easier to find a market for your harvest.
That’s all for this edition of (insert program name here). Don’t forget to tune in next time—goodbye!
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Contributed by: Paddy Roberts, B.Sc. Agriculture, Arusha, Tanzania.
Reviewed by: Seperatus Paschal Kamuntu, specialist in cereal breeding, Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ukiriguru, Mwanza, Tanzania.
The interview on which this script is based took place in Shilabela, Shinyanga District, Tanzania, on October 15, 2015, with Maja Nyunga (farmer) and Veronica Natalis (presenter on Radio Faraga, which broadcasts from Shinyanga town to the northern districts of Tanzania).
Other information used in this script was gathered in interviews with 30 female and male farmers and an agricultural extension agent in the villages of Mwajiginya, Nagezi, Shilabela, and Mwamala, Shinyanga district, Tanzania, October 13-16, 2015.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1995. Sorghum and millets in human nutrition, FAO Food and Nutrition Series, No. 27. http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0818e/T0818E00.htm#