Notes to broadcasters
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The focus of this script is the importance of sharing farmer innovations so that other farmers can benefit. It is based on a cropping technique from Kenya that is used to control stem-boring pests that attack maize and sorghum. It is just one example of how farmer-innovators can develop environmentally-safe methods and increase production and prosperity. To accompany this script, you might ask listeners to call in and:
- Tell stories of exchange visits, market days, or group experimentation projects in which they have participated.
- Describe innovative pest-control practices in their region.
When you get feedback from listeners, try to arrange interviews with innovating/experimenting farmers for subsequent broadcasts. Invite them to the studio, or tape an interview in the field ( it may also be possible to do interviews by telephone). You could even have one farmer asking another farmer about his/her real-life innovation.
THEME MUSIC AND HOLD UNDER ANNOUNCER (5 secs). FADE OUT.
– Welcome to our show today as we continue our series on successful farmer innovation and experimentation. On our program [yesterday/last week
], we heard about a farmer who experimented with different ways to control pests on his cassava crop, and learned the value of trying out each new method on a small test plot. Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of sharing successful farming methods. When farmers share their innovations with others, many people benefit. But where do you go to learn from other farmers? How do you share your own ideas? Many farmers give their time to train other farmers in their methods. Exchange visits, market days, and group experimentation are other examples of how farmers can share experiences and learn from each other.
Have you participated in an exchange visit to learn new methods of cropping and pest control? Have you ever gone to a market day where farmers share their ideas for soil or water conservation? Do you belong to a group of farmers who experiment with new crops or varieties or different ways of controlling pests? Have you met farmers who are willing to spend time explaining and demonstrating their methods to others?
Today’s program is about one farmer who considers it time well spent when he joins a gathering of farmers to learn what others are doing to solve the same kind of problems that he has.
FADE IN SOUND OF FEET SHUFFLING ALONG A DUSTY ROAD. FADE UNDER.
) Moumouni. Is that you?
– (From a distance)
SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING. THEY STOP.
-How are you? I don’t often see you along this road.
– That’s true. Your farm is usually out of my way. But I’ve been on an exchange visit with farmers from [name of village or region
] and the bus let me off at the crossroads.
-How can you afford the time to go visiting around the countryside? I work everyday until my back breaks just trying to keep the pests away.
– I know what you mean. Last year those stem-boring insects practically destroyed my whole maize crop. In fact, that’s the reason I decided to go on this exchange visit.
-Well, the farmers in [name of village or region
] were eager to show us a method they’ve developed to control these pests.
) Ha! I suppose it’s a new pesticide that’s even more expensive than the one we use now.
-Don’t jump to conclusions, Sambou. I’m talking about something that doesn’t use pesticides.
-No costly pesticides? Now, you’ve got my full attention.
-The farmers in [name of village or region
] had been experimenting for years trying to find a less costly method to keep the pests away. Two years ago, they tried planting different things between the maize and sorghum plants. They used Sudan grass, Napier grass, molasses grass, and two types of legumes – bean-like plants – one with silver leaves and one with green leaves. And it worked!
-But don’t more plants just attract more pests?
-Yes and no. Each type of plant has a special function. The Sudan and Napier grasses do attract the pests, as you say. But this is good because it draws them away from the maize and sorghum. The molasses grass and the two legumes actually keep the stem-borer pests away and stop them from laying eggs on the maize and sorghum.
-You’re beginning to sound like an expert on the radio with your big words and fancy ideas.
) I promise you these are simple ideas. In fact, they call this a ‘push-pull’ strategy. Some plants push the insects away from the crops and others pull the pest to themselves. That way, the maize and sorghum stay healthy.
-(Even more impressed
) Will the riches never cease? I’m beginning to think this is some kind of miracle solution.
-Not a miracle, Sambou. But very effective! The plants between the maize and sorghum can also be fed to livestock.
-I am learning so much from you, Moumouni.
-That’s the whole point of sharing these ideas – everyone can benefit. (pause
) Next month I’m going to a regional market day. Perhaps you should come with me.
-Why would I take time away from my fields just to go to market?
-This is not just an ordinary market, Sambou. It’s a gathering of farmers who meet twice a year to talk about their farming methods and crop varieties. They also display tools and give good advice on marketing crops. Next month the market theme is pest control.
-Maybe I’ll give it a try. But I must be crazy to let you take me away from my weeding.
-I’ll tell you something that might convince you it’s worth your while. (pause
) The farmers who used these methods last year got much higher yields.
) You haven’t changed at all, Moumouni. Even as a child, you were very convincing in your arguments. And you were always out in front of the crowd when new ideas were being tried out.
FADE UP THEME MUSIC. RUN 5 SECS. FADE OUT.
-You’ve been listening to [name of program/show]. [Name of performer] was Sambou and ____________ played the part of Moumouni. As their story shows, creative farmers can find low-cost and environmentally safe solutions to pest problems. And organized exchange visits and market days are an excellent way to spread this information so other farmers can also benefit.
Contributed by Christine Davet, Toronto, Canada.
Reviewed by Ann Waters-Bayer and Chesha Wettasinha, ETC Ecoculture, The Netherlands.
Ouedraogo, A., and H. Sawadogo. “Three models of extension by farmer innovators in Burkina Faso.” ILEIA Newsletter 16 (2): 21 – 22. Reprinted in Honey Bee July-September 2000.
Reij, Chris, and Ann Waters-Bayer, eds. Farmer Innovation in Africa: A Source of Inspiration for Agricultural Development. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2001.
Uphoff, Norman, ed. Agroecological Innovations: Increasing Food Production with Participatory Development. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2002.