Notes to broadcasters
In Mali, about 70% of the people live in rural areas and depend on growing crops, raising animals, and fishing. But farmers are facing challenges, including infertile soils. To tackle this problem, Siriman Camara, a farmer from the village of Tiendo in central Mali, chose to make compost. Thanks to a water pump he bought, he almost tripled his yield.
When he first came to the village, Mr. Camara rented a cart and two oxen to plough his five-hectare piece of land. Back then, he did not know how to make good quality compost. Over the years, he requested information from extension workers, who advised him to dig a compost pit and water it well. It is this technique that has, according to the farmer, tripled his yield.
But he had a labour problem. His three wives, his twelve children and he would spend hours watering the pit. This challenge led Siriman to limit himself to a single pit. Three years after he arrived in the village, after saving money from selling part of his crop, Siriman bought a motorized water pump for 150,000 CFA francs (about $300 US) in Bamako.
Unlike other farmers who use that machine to water their vegetable gardens, Siriman saw in this machine another possibility: using it only to water his compost pit. This is how from one single pit, this old farmer has dug three, and has almost tripled his yield.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on farmers who use agricultural equipment. You might choose to produce this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
The farmer in this script grows maize on a continual basis, without rotating to other crops. It’s important to know that any crop grown continuously can lead to a build-up of pests and weeds, and can deplete the soil of some nutrients. For these reasons, it’s always best to rotate crops.
Are there small-scale farmers in your area who use agricultural equipment that has increased their yields and improved their lives? You could interview these farmers on-air and ask listeners to call or text-in to discuss the usefulness of various kinds of farming equipment – including tractors, water pumps of various sorts, solar dryers, etc. Make sure the discussion includes the costs, the benefits and the challenges of each piece of equipment, and the specific conditions under which each might be appropriate for different types of farmers, different crops and different conditions.
Signature tune up and fade under presenter’s voice
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Pause and sound effects of travelling by car. Fade under voice.
Our conversation mixes with the sound of hens and guinea fowls, and the bleats of little goats and sheep. The sound of pestles striking mortars comes from neighbouring yards. The edges of the yard are invaded by mango and shea trees. A few metres away, three compost pits catch our attention.
Without further ado, we explained the goal of our visit to our host and proposed that we interview him while walking. Siriman led us towards the compost pits, two of which were damp. He explained that he had just watered them. The third pit was waiting to be watered. A motorized water pump, a little blue machine in the shape of a power generator, is set up next to a traditionally dug well. A hose links the machine to the bottom of the well. Let’s follow Siriman while he waters the third pit.
I’m telling you, it was hard. We had to draw the water by hand from this well that is three metres deep. Then we had to carry the water 50 metres from the well. That chore used to take us a lot of time.
And to top it off, despite everybody’s good will, the compost was not the best quality. Because, in my opinion, in order to have good compost, you need not only to water it, but to water it frequently. But this was not possible for us because we had other chores to do. We used to water the pit twice a week, because it was very hard work. After each watering session, we had to rest because we were tired.
I had a lot of difficulty getting by that year because I couldn’t sell any of my harvest to meet family expenses.
But I didn’t give up. I approached the extension worker Sidibé and explained to him the problem. He noticed that I was producing organic manure of very poor quality. He advised me to dig a compost pit. Which I did.
As I didn’t have enough money to make more pits, I managed with a single pit. At every harvest, I was able to sell part of my production. Three years after, I told myself that, since watering is the critical element of making compost, I must look for a machine to speed the compost making in order to earn more. Hence the purchase of this machine in 2009.
A mechanically watered pit gives a better yield than that watered by hand. The proof? Instead of three tonnes per hectare as before, thanks to my very moist compost, I harvest five tonnes per hectare.
It’s clear that mechanically-made compost keeps more humidity in the field. What’s even better is that I used to buy a little chemical fertilizer to supplement the compost I made. But with this machine, I don’t need to buy fertilizer and I save that money for other things. Also, with the machine, it takes less time to make finished compost.
If I had a tractor, it would make this chore much easier. The tractor, with a big shovel on the front that picks materials up and carries them, costs about 6,000,000 (about $12,000 US). I did everything to get a loan, but in vain. It is those little challenges that make my sauce a bit too salty (laughter). Otherwise, everything’s going well.
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I want to remind you of one important message from the interview. It’s absolutely vital with an expensive piece of equipment such as this water pump to maintain it carefully. That way, it will last you much longer!
Thank you for your kind attention. I hope that you spent some excellent moments following this exchange. Until the next time, bye!
Contributed by: Mariam Koné, journalist at l’Annonceur, in Bamako, Mali, and Farm Radio International staff person.
Thanks to Modibo G Coulibaly, Director of the Farm Radio International’s West Africa Office.
Reviewed by: John FitzSimons, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Canada
Amadou Sidibé, extension worker, agriculture service in the Markakungo zone
Interviews conducted on January 18, 2013.