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Script 84.9

Notes to broadcasters

Floods and drought are becoming the order of the day. These are significant signs of climate change. Farmers are finding it difficult to choose good varieties of crops to suit these climatic changes. This script gives a general solution for adapting to climatic changes. Manure works for both early-maturing and late-maturing crops. It retains water in the soil when there is drought and removes excess water when there is too much water in the soil, since it makes soil permeable. This script, therefore, can be used in any country and for every crop to reduce the effect of climatic change.

Script

Signature tune

Presenter:
Welcome, dear listeners, to Farmers Parade. In this program, we document some of the marvellous discoveries and achievements of smallholder farmers in Africa. Today as usual, you are with me, Gladson Makowa, your presenter.

Signature tune up and out under presenter

Presenter:
Do you know that farmers are good researchers? Imagine how useful it can be to you to discover a thing on your own, on your farm. Why don’t you start researching one of the issues you hear on the radio?

Pause. Signature tune up, then fade up under presenter.

Presenter:
The Story Workshop, a non governmental media organization in Malawi, in its European Union-funded Project from 2002 to 2006, worked in six villages which were called Radio Research Gardens. Each village chose one research issue to verify what they heard on the radio in the program called Mwana Alirenji (self-sufficiency). This research was broadcast once every month. Today we will hear some of the findings from one of these Radio Research Gardens. Stay tuned to hear all about the magic of manure!

Traditional music recorded in villages

Presenter:
For rains to stop when crops like maize still need rain is not a rare scenario these days. Msanjama village, one of the Radio Research Gardens, discovered some wonderful magic to solve this dry spell problem. Msanjama village is located on the western side of Mulanje district in Traditional Authority Juma. Like many villages in Malawi, many villagers are poor. Very few farmers can afford a bag of expensive inorganic fertilizer. To make matters worse, Msanjama lies in the rain shadow of Mulanje Mountain. This is the highest mountain in Malawi and the third highest in Africa. Often, the rains stop early, just when the maize is developing cobs but not yet mature. As if that was not enough, their soils are sandy and lose moisture quickly. But a light appeared at the end of the tunnel when the villagers heard on the radio about a magic substance called manure. A fellow farmer was giving a testimony on how much he yields using only manure. The villagers did not hesitate to start their research comparing manure to inorganic fertilizer. But in the first year of research, manure could not beat fertilizer in yield. It was a flop. (Pause) What went wrong? Do you think manure can beat inorganic fertilizer in the way it helps crops?

Traditional music recorded in villages

FX: Village ambience (sound of goats and chickens in distance)

Village headman:
(Angrily, while another man is saying “yes” in the background) Mr. Chairman… it is clear that manure is a useless burden to us farmers. Give me back the plot I rented you to conduct research. I want to use it for other purposes.

Chairman:
Wait, wait chief…

Headman:
Wait! Wait! Wait for what? Isn’t the difficulty we have gone through enough, Mr. Chairman? Mrs. Jumbe, you wanted to comment. What do you want to say?

Mrs. Jumbe:
Yes, chief, that was…

Chairman:
(Interrupts her) People, please give me the benefit of the doubt. Let us try manure once more. We need solutions that can help us cope with the changing climate, which dries our crops and hurts our soil! (Protests) Mr. Jumbe, why are you supporting the village headman’s idea of stopping the research? Aren’t you the one who brought this idea?

Mr. Jumbe:
Yes, I am the one. I was blinded by the sweet talk of that farmer on the radio.

Mrs. Jumbe:
(Calmly and sarcastically) Ehee, manure is very deceiving. At first, we had a very healthy crop, but later it lost energy. But remember how inorganic fertilizer did. After we used the second application, it was just fine until we harvested.

Headman:
Mrs. Jumbe, you are right. At first, manure was indeed deceptive, as if it would work. But unfortunately, it gave up on the way.

Chairman:
Listen to me first. We applied fertilizer twice, right?

All:
Yes.

Chairman:
Why can’t we also apply manure twice to level the playing field?

Total silence from the group

Mr. Jumbe:
What have you just said, Mr. Chairman?

Mr. Chairman:
(Calm and emphatic. People are now interested in what he is saying.) Remember we applied fertilizer twice for maize to do well. Can’t we try to apply manure twice too?

Mrs. Jumbe:
I think Mr. Chairman has a good idea. There was indeed a very good crop with manure before it started losing energy. Why can’t we try applying manure twice, the same way we applied fertilizer?

People:
(Many agree) Yes, let’s try it twice.

Headman:
Well, if it’s everyone’s idea to try once more, then I will leave the garden to the group for this season again.

All:
(Some laugh, some clap hands, and some comment) That is our courageous chair…. Make sure it will not fail this time.

Traditional music recorded in villages

Presenter:
The villagers agreed to apply manure twice during the next growing season. They made enough composted manure for two applications, like the fertilizer. They divided their land into two plots – the fertilizer side and the manure side. They applied manure and fertilizer for the second time on the same day. People could hardly tell which side had manure and which one had fertilizer.

Then the unthinkable happened. When the maize had just produced tassels and was developing cobs, the rains stopped. The fertilizer side started showing moisture deficiency. It withered and then died. What happened to the manure side? Stay tuned.

Traditional music recorded in villages

FX: Sound of shelled maize being winnowed and put in a pail

Chairman:
(Loudly) Come closer everyone. Let’s compare manure and inorganic fertilizer at the end of a fair competition.

FX: Sound of shelled maize under sounds of people admiring one type of maize as compared to the other. Some blame the rains.

Chairman:
Let’s count these pails of shelled maize from the area on which we applied fertilizer. Mrs. Jumbe, can you lead us?

All:
(FX of maize pouring into pails) One…two…three …four …five.

Mrs. Jumbe:
Now let’s count from the area on which we applied manure. One…

All:
(FX of maize pouring into pails) … two…three…four…five … six … seven … eight. (All laugh and chant) Manure! Manure! (And sing) You have shaken buffalo beans; it is going to irritate you. (Editor’s note: This is a Malawian song about a variety of buffalo beans which irritates people’s skin. It’s a very well known song in Malawi. Please replace with any traditional song which is sung when your football team which was being rated as an underdog has won the match.)

Chairman:
(Tries to silence them) Quiet! Quiet!

Mrs. Jumbe:
Mr. Jumbe, my husband, look how fat and good looking the maize grains from the manure side are.

All:
Laugh and make noise again

Mr. Jumbe:
(Shouting at the top of his voice) You are lucky that the rains stopped before the maize had matured. There would have been no difference in harvest between the two sides.

All:
(Laugh and shout) Haa, you!

Chairman:
(Shouts too) The rains did not stop on the fertilizer side only. It stopped on the manure side too. Isn’t it true?

All people:
Yes! (Chant again) Manure! Manure!

Chairman:
It means that, although you called manure a burden, it makes better quality soil.

All:
(Murmur)

Chairman:
Wait, does the village headman have anything to say?

FX: As the chief comes, the people clap hands to honour him.

Headman:
(They chant “yes” in the background, agreeing with what he says) I do not have much to say…. Everyone has seen that, as well as improving yield, manure retains moisture too. Do you remember how we applied manure? The first application we just spread in between the ridges before ridging? A gallon-sized pail full of manure spread along the fallow in between the ridges. Then the second application two hands full at the base of the plants and covered with soil after the second weeding. Go do it in your gardens. Chase hunger out of my village!

All:
Yeaaaaaa!

Music

Presenter:
Manure adds fertility to the soil and keeps moisture. If you have dry spells, manure keeps the crop strong. Beat the side effects of climatic changes by using manure. Remember the side that had manure did not wilt in the same way the other side did. Do not forget that you need to compost the animal manure by mixing it with grass residues. Well-decomposed composted manure does not burn the crops, but releases all the necessary nutrients to our crops and keeps moisture in the soil. Try it. Farmers need to be clever and determined. Remember our friends failed to achieve what they wanted in the first year. They did not give up, but thought of modifying the method. They decided to apply manure twice. Don’t give up.

The facts to remember are that some kinds of manure have more nutrients than others. Composted manure made from a mixture of nitrogen-fixing plants, legumes such as cowpeas, or bean leaves, groundnut leaves, leaves and animal dung is richer in nutrients. Chicken, pig and rabbit dung have higher nitrogen content than dung from cattle and goats. Do not store manure too long uncovered and exposed to rain and sun – like more than two months – before using it, because manure loses some nutrients as time goes by. For more information, ask any agricultural worker or your fellow farmer who uses manure to teach you.

Signature tune

Presenter:
We have come to the end of today’s program, Farmers Parade. Until next week at 6:30 pm on Tuesday on your lovely radio station MBC, I Gladson Makowa say … endurance pays! Try manure! Beat climate change.

Signature tune up and out

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Gladson Makowa, Story Workshop, Blantyre, Malawi.

Reviewed by: John FitzSimons, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Canada.