Notes to broadcasters
Tobacco is the major cash crop in Malawi for both smallholders and larger growers. Burley, Dark-fired and Flue-Cured are the common types of tobacco grown, and over half of tobacco farmers grow Burley. Burley is simple to cure. It is air-cured, unlike the other two types that require a lot of firewood. And with the scarcity of trees, due to deforestation, the number of farmers growing other types of tobacco is likely to decrease.
It is a pity to see that some farmers are growing the crop and receiving a good income, but their lives are not improving. Why is this? Firstly, poor financial management. Secondly, some farmers grow the crop with their spouses, but once the money comes after sales, they forget their spouses. Instead they spend the money in pubs and rest houses until they finish the last coin. Then, they remember their homes. They lie and say they were attacked by thugs. This habit is also promoting the spread of HIV/AIDS, since some of the farmers spend time with sex workers.
These farmers also do not keep farming records. The government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs like the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) are trying their best to teach farmers the importance of keeping farm records, proper planning, and proper financial management. Those who are taking these messages are prospering. In this script, we meet one such farmer. He loves his wife and children. The script will assist other farmers to know the importance of not only planning and financial management, but involving a spouse in decision-making.
Are there farmers in your listening audience who keep good farm records? Are there farmers’ organizations or extension officers who teach the skills of financial management? Are there farmers who are financially responsible, and do not spend their money on things which hurt themselves and their family? Perhaps you could interview these farmers or extension workers, and help them pass on their knowledge to those in your community who need it.
Near the beginning of the script there is a “teaser.” This is a recorded message from the interview. It is meant to give the audience a small “taste” of the interview to come, and to entice them to listen further.
Harvesting time is over. Most of you farmers are busy grading and selling your crops. Have you started planning for the next farming season? How do you manage the proceeds from crop sales? Who makes the decisions on how the money will be used? Is it just the man, or do both husband and wife contribute to these decisions? We will learn more about this from our colleague, Mr. Harold Kaliramake of Chikwatula Association in Ntchisi, this afternoon.
In our vernacular language, there is a saying: “An owl respects a tree he sleeps in.” Have you ever heard this before?
We are finally here in Ntchisi. Let us go to Chikwatula Association. (Short pause as presenter walks to the field) The farmer in front of us is Mr. Harold Kaliramake, wearing his gumboots, a black pair of trousers and a white shirt. He is busy uprooting tobacco stalks. And some 100 metres from him, the lady in a red dress and a camouflage wrapper is his wife. She’s busy collecting firewood, while singing a traditional song.
I am urging farmers to take farming seriously as a business. In our vernacular there is a saying: “An owl respects a tree he sleeps in.” In this case, tobacco is our tree, and we need to respect it. We need to do all that we are expected to do. This will lead not only to a better crop, but also better prices on the trading floors.Musical or advertisement break.
Mr. Kaliramake, how should a farmer spend the money from crop sales? Should the farmer just relax and enjoy?
Just a reminder – this is Farming as Business programme, coming to you from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Radio 1.
I also have a guest on today‘s programme. He has some important information just for you, which will add to what you have heard from Mr. Kaliramake. Please keep listening.
I know that most of you are now selling different crops, including tobacco. How do you intend to spend the proceeds? Did you remember to budget for the next farming season? Otherwise, where do you think you will get your farm inputs from? My advice this afternoon is that you should start preparing for the coming season now.
Now I will talk about fertilizer. Fertilizer is very important when it comes to budgeting for another season. There are some crops that do not do well without fertilizer. So I urge you to make good budgets now when you are selling your crops. Ask yourself these questions: What type of crop will I grow next year? If it is tobacco, how many acres or hectares should I grow? How much fertilizer will I need?
After you have sold your crop, this is the time to take part of your income and buy fertilizer in advance. If you buy your inputs now, you will have peace of mind. You do not need to struggle to buy now, unlike when the rains come. During the rains, a lot of people fight for fertilizer at the shop, and some types of fertilizer are scarce at that time. Also, you should know that fertilizer prices fluctuate. You can buy fertilizer at a lower price before the rains, and at a higher price during the beginning of the rains. This means that you can buy more bags now than during the rains when the prices rise.
If you keep cash in your house or bank, hoping to buy later, you may face problems that will need money. Definitely you will use that cash for those problems and your farming will be affected.
So I urge you to buy farm inputs soon after you sell your crops. There are some farmers who think of buying something big after selling their crop – a luxury. They don’t properly plan for next farming season. They might buy a second hand vehicle without properly consulting a good mechanic. Yes, it is important that a farmer should own a vehicle. And it can help a smallholder farmer. But if the car breaks down after a few months, the farmer will not be able to afford to pay for repairs. The farmer has made a big loss. So I urge you to think before you buy any luxurious items. Think of how that item will assist you, and for how long.
Let me go further by thanking the government for introducing the Fertilizer Subsidy Program. This program is a great benefit for smallholder farmers. You can purchase fertilizer at a low price. But you should remember that you can only buy two bags of fertilizer with this program. And most of you use more than two bags of fertilizer per season. So please buy extra fertilizer now. When the program is running, you can supplement the fertilizer you have already purchased. Let us work together with the government, and let us do our part by purchasing part of our requirements. Then, later, we can appreciate what the government has provided for us.
I wish you all the best this crop marketing season.Musical or advertisement break.
My advice is to take extra care when you are selling your crops. Make good budgets for next season, don’t forget to pay your labourers, and remember your children’s school fees, clothes, and other important items needed at home. Lastly, do not sell your crops together with your lives.
On that note, we come to the end of our Farming as Business program for this afternoon.
From me, Andrew Mahiyu, it’s good bye!
Contributed by: Andrew Mahiyu, National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM).
Reviewed by: Rex Chapota, National Research Coordinator, African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI), Farm Radio International, Lilongwe, Malawi.