Script 64.7

Notes to broadcasters

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Stored grain is a vital hedge against the effects of crop failure; the more efficient the storage method, the more chance that people will be able to survive disasters. This is especially important with the changing weather patterns that are a feature of today. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), between 60% and 70% of grain production in Africa is stored at farm level. It is important to protect the harvest against deterioration due to rain and soil moisture and to provide a barrier against insects and animals. While traditional methods of storage are adapted to local soil and climatic conditions, their efficiency is not always optimal. This script suggests that traditional storage methods can be improved by scientists and farmers working together.

The script uses the interview technique to make its point. We recommend that you also interview local farmers and experts about storage methods used in your region, to maximize benefits to your audience.

Further program ideas about storage food for emergencies:

  • Interview: Talk to different farmers about local plants that they use to protect stored grain and produce. Compare the plants and methods used.
  • Drama: After a drought and resulting famine, a community creates a community grain bank.
  • Proper hygiene in the granary.
  • How to build clamps for storing root crops.
  • Drying fruit and vegetable crops.




Farmer A

Farmer B

Dr. Kulungu Ndege
: Scientist


Farmer A:
I had a good crop last year, but now I have only three bags of maize left. This year, I won’t have a crop because of the drought. My sons will have to send me money from the city so that I can buy food.

Farmer B:
But you harvested as much maize as I did. Did you sell it instead of storing it?

Farmer A:
Well, I tried to save it in the barn, but some of it rotted, and some was eaten by insects. What did you do with yours?

Farmer B:
I put it in a bank.

Farmer A:
(laughing) A bank? Do they take deposits of maize nowadays?

Farmer B
: No, I mean my grain bank. Having an improved granary is like having a savings account at the bank. In times of drought, I can draw on my savings (fade out conversation as the voice of the Host cuts in…)

The drought experienced by these farmers is not an isolated case. Disaster is a common item in the news these days. Rains arrive too early, too late, or not at all. Is the suffering and hunger caused by such disasters inevitable? Can we do anything to reduce the effects? Today I have Dr. Ndege in the studio with me to discuss one of the things that farmers CAN do. With improved grain storage, farmers can better survive any kind of disaster. Dr Ndege is a scientist working at the National Agricultural Research Institute. He works with farmers to improve grain storage. Welcome, Dr. Ndege.

Dr. Ndege
: Thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Ndege, we cannot ask you to control the weather, but can scientists help us to lessen the effects of unpredictable weather on people?

Dr. Ndege
: Scientists alone cannot do that. But by working together with farmers and building on their knowledge, we can help to lessen the effects of disasters.

Can you give me an example?

Dr. Ndege:
Certainly. In the country of Sudan, farmers store sorghum in deep underground pits. For better storage, farmers themselves were experimenting. They tried shallow pits instead of deep ones. They tried using different kinds of lining in the pits. Then, some scientists joined in their experiments. Together, they discovered a combination that reduced the amount of spoilage from insects, rodents and moisture.

That is certainly impressive. But are you saying that what works in Sudan will work here?

Dr. Ndege
: No, of course not. The temperature in Sudan is much higher and the soil there is drier. That’s why traditional methods for storing sorghum and other crops are different in different parts of Africa – because the conditions vary. For example, in some parts of South Africa, sorghum is placed in large baskets and then buried in the ground. There are many different storage methods. The important thing is that there are ways for farmers to improve their storage.

Dr. Ndege, thank you for being here. I am sure you have given our listeners something to think about.

Dr. Ndege
: Just remember this: if farmers improve their storage methods, then in times of disaster they can draw savings from their grain banks.


– END –


  • Contributed by Amin Kassam, The Hague, The Netherlands. Reviewed by Prof. Kees Stigter, Traditional Techniques of Microclimate Improvement Project (TTMI-Project), Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and Nageeb Ibrahim Bakheit, TTMI-Project, Faculty of Agriculture, Abu Naama, Sinnar University, PO Box 11174, Khartoum, Sudan.

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