Notes to broadcasters
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Rice farmers can lose income and experience food shortages if birds damage their crops. To reduce this risk women and children are often sent to the fields to guard against birds. However, this may result in overburdening the women and hindering school attendance by children.
The following radio drama proposes some methods of protecting crops from birds that do not involve a human presence in the field. We recommend that you follow up by researching and broadcasting information about bird-scaring methods that have been developed by farmers in your local area. The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is compiling a list of methods and would be interested in the results of your research, which it hopes to use to produce a new video for rice farmers. If you receive information from your farmers about creative ways to reduce bird damage, please contact Felix Houinsou of AfricaRice at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another script in this package (89.10), Combine methods to keep birds away from rice fields, is also about scaring birds away from rice fields.
Two ways to use this script are by simply adapting this drama for your audience or using it as inspiration to produce your own mini-drama on scaring birds in your area.
Rice farmer: Adongle
Rice farmer’s wife: Aguénou
Rice farmer’s son: Malick
Signature tune to introduce program
Towards the end of the rice-growing season, our rice fields are invaded by birds who can’t find enough to eat. They cause huge losses to farmers and consequently to all the population.
Dear listeners, hello! Welcome to today’s radio program. It will be devoted to methods of scaring birds away from rice fields. With this in mind, let’s discover how rice farmer Adongle and his family are learning new methods to keep birds away from their paddy.
Fade out signature tune
This year, we are not going to let the birds damage our rice. Tomorrow I think it would be a good idea if you and the children go to chase the birds away.
Why with the children? They have to go to school. I prefer to go alone.
). You alone to chase off the birds in our vast rice field? Aguénou, be realistic. You were alone last year and could not prevent the birds from devastating our grains. But with the children running around, and their noise, I think that it will be enough to keep birds away. By yourself how long will you be able to shout before getting exhausted?
If it were the holidays, I would agree. The children could have come with me. But, it’s the middle of the school year. Preventing them from going to school so that they can scare birds in rice fields will not help them for their future.
( Very angry
) I don’t agree at all. Think of all the problems we had to establish our rice field. Not to mention working under the hot sun and under rains and the inputs that cost me so much. And, now that we need this small sacrifice to compensate for all our efforts, you find that this will hinder the future of the children.
Just then their son Malick comes out of the house to try to calm his parents.
Don’t worry father, even without someone watching the field, your crop will be well guarded. I have some ideas about how to combat birds in a different way. And that will be the end of the drudgery!
No! Your mother, alone, will not be able to do it. This is why I insist that you go with her.
This is not what I am saying. At school, we learned about some new methods that help farmers to protect their fields against bird attacks.
Are birds afraid of scarecrows, nowadays?
I am not talking of scarecrows. We may use bird hunting nets, for example.
Yes, son, we talked of that with your uncle. But this will require a lot of money to cover a large area like ours.
No, father. We don’t have to cover the entire field with the net.
We just need to place the net vertically like a curtain, tied to two poles fixed on either side across the field. It looks like what you see on the volleyball field. Except you must set the net high above the field. We need to choose a non-colored net which is invisible to birds. The birds will fly into the net and be trapped. That’s a real trap for birds. It’s very effective.
Now, I understand. Recently I saw a net across a rice field and I was wondering what it was for. But as I said before, our field is very large. Will fixing only one net across the field be enough to trap birds?
No, but we can set up more than one net. Instead of surrounding the whole field, we will fix several curtains of nets at different intervals across the field.
Since we do not have money to buy enough net, we’d better combine this method with setting up scarecrows and hanging cassette tape in between sticks. We could also use gift wrapping -the kind with the silver lining- hanging over the field. This also scares birds as it reflects the light.
But I see a problem with this. Birds learn quickly. The cassette tape when it is hanging over the field makes a noise when wind blows. At first that scares birds. But soon the birds learn and adapt to the method and then it doesn’t work so well.
That’s true with all these methods. That’s why we need to combine this method with the net and scarecrow methods. Putting scarecrows close to each other will work better to frighten the birds. But the main thing is to combine the different methods.
Yes, son! Using several methods at one time makes sense. There is also the castanet method.
We make castanets, using small metallic boxes like old cans. We put some small stones in them and we close them. When the cans are shaken, it makes a noise that scares birds away from the field.
I know that method. It is often used by my neighbour’s children to guard their field.
The method, I am talking about only requires the presence of one person in the field.
We hang the castanets on trees at different places around the field. The castanets are then linked, one to another, using a strong rope. Whenever birds appear, a single person sitting under the shade of a tree can pull the rope and all the castanets will shake and produce a huge noise across the field to scare birds.
Signature tune and fade-out
Dear friends, today you’ve heard some of the methods that rice farmer Adongle and his family intend to use to scare birds from their rice field. Please contact us here at the station if you have some bird scaring methods that you would like to share. We will broadcast the ideas for the benefit of other farmers in our region. If we all work together, fewer birds will bother our crops. Thanks for your attention. We promise to continue next time with the same subject. Bye!
Signature tune to end the program
- Written by: Félix S. Houinsou, Rural Radio Consultant/Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice).
- Reviewed by: Paul Van Mele, Program Leader, Learning and Innovation Systems/Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
- Léonce Sessou, Crop Production Unit / Centre Songhai in Porto Novo, Benin
- Robert Anyang, Emergency Seed Project (AfricaRice), Tanzania