Script 75.1

Notes to broadcasters

The following script was adapted from an episode of ‘Mwana Alirenji’, a weekly farmerto- farmer radio magazine produced by Gladson Makowa of ‘The Story Workshop’ in Malawi. It is based on a real interview with a farmer, Mr. Justice Betha, and was originally broadcast in December 2001.The title, Mwana Alirenji is from the local language, Chichewa, and means that a parent is able to provide for all the child’s needs. The phrase is commonly used in Malawi to mean ‘self-sufficiency’ which is the goal of subsistence farmers throughout the world. The radio series promotes a new culture of self-reliance. The program offers listeners a number of ‘best practices’ and personal experience stories of other farmers. More information about The Story Workshop and Mwana Alirenji, is available at

This script discusses the importance of mulches and keeping the soil covered as a way to prevent soil erosion. It can be used in combination with script 2 in this package, Trenches and pits catch water for crops.

Notes from the Producer, Gladson Makowa

This program presents one farmer’s solution to the problems that many Malawian farmers face. This program was pre-recorded, although it presented in a live format. Our listeners report that they like this format because they get pictures of where the reporter is and they feel as though they are moving with him as he bikes throughout Malawi, meeting farmers with problems and linking them to other farmers with solutions.



Narrator: How are you farmers and listeners today? Today we are going to hear a program that comes to you from “The Story Workshop” in Blantyre, Malawi.


Narrator: Today’s program is called “The river floods with water from the streams”. This traditional proverb means that each and every small action that we do in the future accumulates to a big thing whether bad or good. Our reporter is out in the field – looking for experiences that we may share. Where are you today my friend?


Reporter: I am at Changoima in Chikwawa District. To be specific I am at the house of …

Interviewee: Mr. Justice Betha.

Reporter: Yes. As we walk around Mr. Betha’s house I can see that this man leaves plants to grow freely. He doesn’t bother to sweep where there is grass. He sweeps only where there is cemented ground. Why is it like this Mr. Betha? Are you lazy?

Interviewee: I live a life that follows nature. Nature does not sweep… so we do not sweep. Nature is never naked. So we do not leave the land naked. You will notice that if you plough land and leave it like that, within a short period, if all conditions are favorable, plants germinate and cover the land.

Reporter: So, if I understand you properly – you don’t like to leave any land without cover.

Interviewee: That’s right. We mulch all naked areas. And we don’t cultivate areas that are not good for farming just for the sake of expanding our land. If you cultivate these lands, then you are wasting your time, ruining your body and wasting energy.

Reporter: You have some convincing arguments about keeping the soil covered.

Interviewee: More than that, if the rains come and the land is not covered, the rain erodes the soil.

Reporter: How do you cover the land?

Interviewee: We use mulches and grass cover to hold the soil and prevent erosion. You might notice that you cannot see small gullies here, and stones are now sinking. Years ago, when my uncle used to stay here, the stones were germinating.

Reporter: (laughing) Germinating?!!

Interviewee: Yes, germinating. Some people say that when the trees are gone, it’s only the rocks that germinate.

Reporter: Mr. Justice Betha, thank you for showing us around your house today.

Interviewee: You’re welcome.


Reporter: Mr. Justice Betha has discussed with us the importance of mulching. A mulch can be any light loose material that is laid over the soil. For example, you can put a layer of leaves or grasses on top of the soil around the growing plant. By using mulch you keep moisture in the soil and protect the soil from erosion. When mulch breaks down, it improves the soil. All these things mean higher crop yields for you.



Contributed by Gladson Makowa, The Story Workshop, Blantyre, Malawi.
Reviewed by Anna Brazier, Environmental Consultant & Specialist in Sustainable Resource Management, Harare, Zimbabwe.