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Script 58.9

Notes to broadcasters

This dialogue describes four different ways of storing cassava.  It also explains why it is important for farmers to experiment with new systems and to adapt existing methods to fit their needs.

Suggestions : The characters can be played by male or female actors.  The actor playing Sammi may want to use a funny voice or way of speaking to add comedy to the dialogue.  Words or sentences that appear in (parentheses) at the beginning of a line of dialogue are suggestions for the actor as to how to deliver the line and should not be read out loud.  “Off mic,” for example, means the actor reads his line loudly, but far away from his microphone.  This way, his character sounds far away from the other character.  Music is used to signal a change in time or narrative style.  At the end of the program, you may want to encourage your listeners to send you stories about their own farm experiments.

Cassava is also known as manioc, manihot, or yuca.  You may wish to substitute the appropriate term that is familiar to your audience throughout the script.

Script

Characters

Maria
: A farmer, and narrator of the story
Sammi
: Maria’s neighbour, also a farmer

MUSIC (Bring up program theme music and play for 10 seconds. Fade out to Maria.).

[Narration]

Maria:
My name is Maria, and I grow cassava. It used to be that, when the harvest time came, I had little to do. I would just leave the tubers in the ground, right where they had been planted, until I was ready to eat them.

Last year, though, I planted more cassava than usual. I hoped to store some for my family, then sell the rest at the market. So, I had a problem. I could not leave so much food for so long in the ground because I needed the land to grow other crops. What I needed was a way to harvest all of my cassava in its prime, and then store it safely and cleanly for a good, fresh taste. And you know what? I found it.

MUSIC(Fade up music. After a few seconds, fade out.).

Sammi:
(Off mic — voice comes from far away and then gets closer) Maria! How are you?

Maria:
(Out of breath, as if she’s been running) Sammi, hello. Are you busy?

Sammi:
I always have time for my neighbours (he laughs a little). It’s hot today, let’s sit under this tree.

(Pause)

Sammi:
Now then, how can I be of help?

Maria:
You are one of the smartest people in the whole village, Sammi. Do you know of a way to store cassava?

Sammi:
Sure. In fact, I store my cassava every year and it stays fresh for many weeks. I find it doesn’t taste as good when I leave it in the ground too long.

Maria:
That is the same problem I have!

Sammi:
Usually, I take some straw and I make a round bed on the ground, just as wide as my arms can reach.

Maria:
What does that do?

Sammi:
When I pile the cassava on top, the straw keeps it protected. You need a thick pile of straw, though. Once you have a good layer of straw for protection, pile on your cassava.

Maria:
Just in a big pile?

Sammi:
Well, your pile is wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. In other words, each new layer of cassava should be smaller than the last. This keeps it from falling over.

Maria:
Of course. A thick bed of straw as wide as I can reach. Then I stack the cassava roots on top.

Sammi:
That’s right. Then cover the whole pile with another thick layer of straw. And cover the straw with soil. That keeps the pile from blowing away.

Maria:
It sounds simple enough. Thank you. I must go and try …

Sammi:
Do not leave yet, Maria. I know another way, too.

Maria:
Two ways of storing cassava?

Sammi:
Three ways, if you count our old way of leaving the cassava in the ground until you want to eat it.

Maria:
How does the second way work?

Sammi:
I dig a hole in the ground deep enough to hold all of my cassava. Then I put a layer of tubers, then a layer of soil, then another layer of cassava: soil, cassava, soil, cassava. Just like that.

Maria:
Where does the soil come from?

Sammi:
It comes out of the hole I dug. Just keep alternating cassava and soil until you get close to the top. Cover the final layer of cassava with a layer of soil as deep as your thumb and then you are done.

Maria:
That is great, Sammi. It seems as good as the straw-covered pile. What is the difference?

Sammi:
I tried the hole this year because someone kept stealing the cassava from my straw pile. It was so easy to see. Now, I don’t want anyone to know where I keep my food.

Maria:
My brother also has problems with thieves. I think I will try the hole method, too. Cassava, soil, cassava, soil, right?

Sammi:
That’s correct. Will you let me know what happens, Maria?

Maria:
Absolutely. Thank you so much for your help, Sammi.

MUSIC (Fade up to signal the end of that dialogue. Fade out to Maria.).

[Narration]

Maria:
I left Sammi’s farm and headed back to my own. The piece of land I have is small. “Where would I dig my hole?” I wondered. It had to be somewhere flat.

I looked up at the sun, which was slowly sinking in the sky. There were clouds on the horizon. Clouds! I groaned. Sammi’s plan would not work! My soil was wet, very wet. If I dug a hole and it rained, water would collect in it and my cassava would be spoiled.

I was starting to feel tired. It was nearly evening, and I had no way to store my cassava. I sat down outside of my house with my feet up on a box. The straw pile was a great idea, but I can not afford to lose my food. The hole was a good solution, but my soil is wetter than Sammi’s. Then I got an idea. I jumped to my feet, picking up the box as I stood. Why not make my pile inside the box?

I was so excited that I ran around gathering as many different containers as possible: boxes, baskets, even cartons. I needed a bottom layer for protection, just like the dirt or the straw. Luckily, I had a lot of sawdust, so I covered the bottom of each container with that.

I spread a layer of cassava in the sawdust, making sure that the roots did not touch each other. I covered them with another layer of sawdust. I continued this pattern until the boxes were full: sawdust, cassava, sawdust, cassava. Not one root touches another. I even spread an extra layer of sawdust on top for extra protection.

Maria
(cont): A few days later, I noticed that the cassava was drying out a little, so I wet the roots with some clean water. I need to do this every three days now, but my cassava is still fresh and it has been more than 6 weeks since the harvest!

[NOTE:Sammi’s lines of dialogue from here to the end interrupt Maria’s story. She is still the narrator, re-telling her conversation with Sammi, rather than acting it out as in the previous dialogue.]

Maria:
When I told my neighbour Sammi about the system, he was very impressed—

Sammi:
—-“It’s important for farmers to experiment”—

Maria:
—he said. And I agreed.—

Sammi:
—“My system works for me, but it doesn’t work for you. So, you made the changes you needed to. You adapted.”—

Maria:
“That’s right,” I told him. “Protecting cassava with straw or storing it in the ground are great ideas, but they just do not suit my land. Using boxes and alternating layers of cassava and sawdust is perfect. I can even take them to the market this way.”

MUSIC (Fade up. Play for a few seconds. Fade out to Maria.).

Maria:
I thought about what Sammi said, even after he left. Not only had I learned that I can store cassava, but I now know at least four different ways of doing it. Leave it in the ground, cover it in straw, put it in a hole, or store it in boxes with layers of sawdust. More importantly, I also learned that farmers need to experiment. We need to develop systems that are best suited to our land, just like I did in my story. Thank you for listening, and good luck!

Acknowledgements

This script is based on information provided by Mr. Vandi, Sierra Leone; Network member, Peter Afekoro, Nigeria; and Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, script 16-2, January 1990.

Additional research: Jennifer Pittet, Researcher/writer, Toronto, Canada.

Written by: Krystyn Tully, Writer, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewed by: Daniel Sonke, Director of Information Programs, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), 17391 Durrance Road, N. Ft. Myers, FL 33917 USA.