Notes to broadcasters
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An increasing number of natural phenomena that are completely unexpected by rural communities are occurring today. In some regions, there is unexplained flooding. In other regions, communities are powerless in the face of drought and desertification that is getting more serious from day to day. Scientific research has shown that most of these natural phenomena are caused by human activities such as over-consumption and overexploitation of natural resources, which have damaged the ecosystem, and worsened climate change.
This script is based on true stories from farmers in different parts of the world, stories which were gathered by Friends of the Earth, an international NGO involved in defending the rights of communities. These stories reflect the effects and impacts of climate change on farmers in Africa, South America and Australia. The script imagines that the farmers are able to communicate with each other and with the radio station via the Internet. E-Ariculture is a program on Radio Fanaka which highlights the advantages that the Internet could bring to farmers. Imagine what the Internet could do for farmers in your area if you could connect them with farmers in other countries in Africa and elsewhere. Let this dream guide you and follow us on this very lively debate.
Oumou Coulibaly, Radio host and producer.
Siaka Coulibaly, President of the “Union Communale des Sociétés Coopératives de la commune de Tao (cercle de Koutiala)”, voiced by Dramane Tounkara, radio host.
Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme, farmer from Araranguà, Santa Catarina (Brazil), voiced by Karamoko Traoré, radio host.
Julia Weston, producer of blueberries, cherries and cattle, Seaview Farm near St. Marys, Tasmania, Australia, voiced by Daouda Dembelé, radio host.
Ten second musical interlude
Today’s E-Agriculture program deals with climatic events and the consequences they have on lives in rural communities. As you have observed yourself, the daily lives of farmers have changed completely over the past few years. These changes are due, for the most part, to the search by farmers to find ways to adapt to the changes in the weather and climate. Today, to give us a first hand account of what is happening to farmers globally, we have invited into our studio, through the magic of the Internet, three farmers from three different continents: Mr. Siaka Coulibaly, President of the Union Communale des Sociétés Coopératives de la commune de Tao (cercle de Koutiala), in Mali; Mr. Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme, a farmer from Araranguà, Santa Catarina, Brazil; and Mrs. Julia Weston, a producer of blueberries, cherries and cattle from Seaview farm near St. Marys in the State of Tasmania, Australia. Listeners, please understand that we are using the voices of our station’s radio hosts to dramatize a conversation which did not happen, but which could happen in the near future through the magic of the Internet. We are using and adapting the words we know these farmers have already spoken, though not in conversation with each other. (Pause) I am going to start with Mr. Siaka Coulibaly.
I would like to begin by welcoming my colleagues from Brazil and Australia and making them feel right at home by letting them speak first. I would simply add that farming employs nearly three-quarters of the labour force in Mali, and cotton represents more than half of the country’s exports.
I ni Tché (Editor’s note: this means “thank you” in the Bamanankan language). I will now ask Mrs. Julia Weston of Seaview Farm in Australia to talk to us about her experience in managing her farm. Mrs. Weston.
At Seaview Farm, we have been keeping rainfall records since 1929. We expect to receive 40 inches of rain each year, but last year we only received 16 inches, the lowest ever. Day after day, everything became relentlessly drier. Pastures, crops and livestock – along with everyone’s dreams – dried out and withered. We barely had enough water to keep our cherry orchard alive. We had already lost the crop to frost. Then we had the bushfire. We fought to protect our young blueberries, but we were cut off from the cherry orchard.
Mr. Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme from Brazil, you have just heard what Mrs. Julia Weston from Australia said. Do you think that Brazilian farmers have a better experience and story?
Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme:
Hello everyone. I am pleased to participate in this debate among farmers around the world, which gives us the opportunity to better understand each other and to work together. To answer your question, I would say this: On March 27, 2004, Santa Catarina – a quiet village in southern Brazil where I live – was hit by the first known hurricane ever to be seen in the region. Four people died, seven fishermen disappeared, many animals died, and the wild vegetation suffered. Seasonal crops such as cassava, maize and rice were affected, and people lost their crops. Salty ocean water that fell heavily in certain places affected some crops before the rain could cleanse the soil. Greenhouses and silos were damaged, and we lost the cereal crops that were stored when the granaries collapsed. However, the official weather forecast the day before had predicted no danger.
I’m beginning to be even more afraid. Siaka, I believe that the rainy season has not been good in Mali these past few years.
It is very hot now, and there is too much wind. In the past, it used to rain a lot. Ten years ago and earlier, the first rains usually came in April. Now, we have to wait until the end of May or even the middle of June for the rain before we start planting. The rains used to be steady and well spread out. Now, some villages can have lots of rain for several days while their neighbours experience drought. The earth is different today. Before, it was richer and more productive. There were fewer farmers. Today, it’s the opposite.
Ten-second musical interlude
Welcome back to our dramatized conversation on climate change between farmers from Mali, Brazil and Australia. Please note that, though these are real farmers, these are not their real voices, and they have never met. But, through the magic of the Internet, these are the kinds of conversations that farmers may have in the near future. (Pause) What solution do you recommend to adapt to today’s changes in the climate and weather, Mr. Siaka Coulibaly?
I think that humans bear a large part of the responsibility for this situation. I suggest we reduce the area devoted to growing cotton, plant trees, choose organic manure over chemical fertilizer, and develop market gardens.
Now, back to you, Mr. Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme.
Luis Ismael de Carmargo Leme:
To ease the impact on farmers, we can diversify our crops. There are crops that can better tolerate bad weather conditions. I would like the government to talk with the people, not just at election time. I would especially like to see the farmers of the world help each other to put pressure on our governments. Those who experienced the hurricane in Santa Catarina claim that the worst aspect is the uncertainty.
Today’s program is drawing to a close. I would like to give the last word to Mrs. Julia Weston. What kind of future do you predict for future generations?
There is a saying that the earth is an asset that has been handed down to us by our ancestors and that we in return must preserve it for our children. This means that we can only depend on people themselves if we want things to change. It’s like rebuilding a house that’s fallen down. The role each of us must play is to encourage everyone to participate in decision-making and to help create the social, economic and political conditions necessary to address the causes and consequences of climate change. We are only strong if we work together.
Dear listeners. Thank you for your interest. Today’s program was an imagined radio encounter between farmers in three different continents, with stories gathered by Friends of the Earth and its partners. To wrap things up, here are the questions of the day that might make you eligible for a prize. The first three winners will receive an audiocassette with local music of their choice.
- Where and in what year did Hurricane Catarina strike?
- When did the first rains of the wet season begin in Mali ten years ago, and when do they begin today?
- What observations can be made about the rainfall in Australia these past few years?
Prepare your answers and send them to Radio Fanaka Banankabougou, which is located opposite the Banque Nationale pour le Développement Agricole, in Fana, Mali. Tel.: 225 33 48, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you. Bye for now.
Contributed by: Lamine Togola, Radio Fanaka.
Reviewed by: Dr. Damian Ihedioha, International Consultant on Environment and Climate Change, based in Nigeria.