Script 73.7

Notes to broadcasters

HIV and AIDS have a negative impact on the traditional knowledge that has been saved and passed down through cultures for many generations. As people lose their ability to work, and eventually die, their valuable knowledge about food production and processing becomes lost or unavailable to the next generation. This may have serious consequences for agricultural production in the future. Loss of knowledge about seeds and seed management is a particularly serious concern. It is important to address these issues before the erosion of local knowledge undermines seed security and food security.

Broadcasters have an opportunity to facilitate an exchange of traditional knowledge by featuring local farming methods and interviewing farmers about how they select crops, conserve soil, harvest water, plant trees, store produce and save seeds. Some knowledge, which has also been reported to be lost, includes management of livestock and management of crops such as coffee and bananas. Key skills in marketing are also lost. Children and widows may not know how to market produce.

Following is a short drama that features a dying mother who wants to pass her knowledge of crops and farming to her daughter before she dies. The script is narrated in turn by the mother and the daughter, each telling her side of the story.

Some of the plants and crops mentioned in this script may not be grown in your region, such as amaranth or palm trees. Please replace these with crops that are more familiar to your audience.







Host: Have you ever thought about how you learned to cultivate and harvest crops? You probably learned most of what you know about farming and survival from your parents. You are about to hear a story of a mother who understood the value of her own knowledge and experience. This mother took steps to pass her knowledge on to her daughter. Throughout the program, you will hear only the voices of the daughter and the mother, as each tells their side of the story.

PLAY MUSIC (10 seconds).


Daughter: The worst day of my life was the day my mother told me that she was going to die. I was only twelve years old. My mother had been sick for many years and my father had died two years before. I had two younger brothers, and I did not feel ready to be the head of the household.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: My daughter cried when I told her that I didn’t have long to live. We already had so much hardship after my husband died. But now…things would be worse. I could not imagine how my children would cope.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: I started to think about how I would take care of my brothers when my mother was gone. I knew that my aunts and uncles would help me…but I would still have to work very hard. How could I make sure that my brothers and I had enough to eat, every day?

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: I told my daughter that I would teach her as much as I could about growing crops and saving seeds, and processing foods. By sharing my knowledge with her, I would help her to take care of herself and the other children.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: I started to spend more time in the fields with my mother. Although she was weak, she could still work. And she showed me many things.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: The first crop I discussed with my daughter was cassava. I told her that she must always have cassava growing in the garden. Cassava is a ‘complete’ crop. When you pull the plant from the ground, what do you see? You see the top, the middle, and the bottom. These three parts give you everything you need. The leaves on the top can be used to make relish. The middle is the planting material – the seed. And the bottom, the root, provides you with your staple dish.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: My mother explained to me the difference between bitter and sweet cassava. I was surprised when she told me that she preferred to grow bitter cassava. At first, I didn’t understand why.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: It’s true that bitter cassava takes longer to process. But my bitter cassava always provides me with food; it is a sure thing. The rats and insects won’t eat it, so they leave it alone. And no thief will steal that bitter cassava from your field!!

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: My mother showed me how to process bitter cassava so that it is safe to eat. There are many steps including soaking, fermenting and drying the roots. She also showed me how to select the stems to use as planting material for the next crop. The stems must be the right length and the right thickness…so you will get a healthy crop next season. My mother taught me many things about cassava…and then she took me to the bush…

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: In the bush I showed my daughter where to find wild yams and two trees with special leaves – you can make sauces from these leaves. I also showed her all the useful things you can get from the palm tree. I told her, if the family is short of food, then you can go to the forest and cut the palm leaves, and collect the nuts to sell at the market.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: My mother showed me many traditional plants. But she also showed me a new crop in our village – a grain called amaranth.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: Amaranth is a new crop for me. I watched other women in the village experiment with it. One of my neighbours harvested one ton of the grain – on only a small parcel of land! And that was a year with very little rain.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Daughter: My mother showed me how to boil the grains of amaranth. When you boil the grains, it makes a very nourishing food. She said that it would be a very healthy food for my little brothers…and also a nourishing food for her when she got sicker and weaker.

MUSIC (3 seconds).

Mother: I did get much sicker. These days I am too weak to work in the fields. But in my mind I feel some peace because I have taught my daughter some important skills. I shared knowledge and wisdom with her so she will be able to take care of her brothers, and build her life after I’m gone. That is my gift to my daughter.


Host: The traditional knowledge about farming that we have here in our community has been passed on from mothers and fathers to their daughters and sons for many generations. This knowledge is one of the keys to our development and survival. Let’s be sure to pass it on!


– END –


  • Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Canada.
  • Reviewed by Gladys Mutangadura, Economic Affairs Officer, UNECA-Southern Africa Office, Zambia.

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