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Script 97.4

Notes to broadcasters

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Groundnuts are one of the most important food and cash crops in Malawi. They are mostly grown by small-scale, resource-poor farmers, particularly women. About 20% or one in every five farmers in Malawi grows groundnuts.

Groundnuts are a good source of protein, vitamins and vegetable oils, and are a significant part of household diets in most parts of the country.

Groundnuts can be grown at low cost. They are a particularly easy “entry” cash crop because they don’t require specialized skills, equipment or fertilizer.

Groundnuts can be an important source of income, especially for women farmers, who have been mostly excluded in Malawi from growing cash crops such as tobacco. Groundnuts provide more than a quarter of small-scale farmers’ income in Malawi.

Typically, groundnut farmers in Malawi grow about one acre (0.4 hectares) of groundnuts. Men farmers typically devote more land to groundnut, and grow it more frequently than women as a cash crop.

Groundnuts can be grown in a wide range of rotations and can follow any clean-weeded crop, for example, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, cassava, sweet potato or sunflower. To minimize diseases and pests, groundnut should not be sown after cotton or tobacco.

This script is a drama on land preparation for groundnuts. It was written in consultation with groundnut experts. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on groundnuts in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the characters.

You could air this program, and follow it with an open discussion (with phone-in and text-in) about production practices for small-scale groundnut farmers.

Average running time: 13 minutes with beginning and end music.

Note: A groundnut “peg” attaches the groundnut pod to the plant.

Script

CHARACTERS
Mr. and Mrs. Chiri: A hard-working family. The wife leads the way. The husband appreciates the leading role the wife plays and supports her by joining her in the garden. They are hunger-free throughout the year because they grow cash crops and maize, the staple food. They have a corrugated-iron-roofed house, a new bicycle, a radio, a couple of goats and a lot of chickens. They are the envy of the village. The husband drinks moderately but this does not stop him from farming work.

Mr. and Mrs. Ule: A poor family.Husband is always drunk. The wife has tried on several occasions to stop his drinking habits so they can raise their standard of living through farming, but to no avail. When she tries to farm on her own, the husband sells the little that she harvests and uses the money for beer. This discourages the wife from working hard in the garden. The family suffers from hunger half of the year. Their grass-thatched house leaks when it rains.

SCENE ONE

SFX:
Daytime village atmosphere – Sound of bicycle bell and chain.
CHIRI:
(Jokingly) Watch out! I am going to run you over with my bike.
MRS. ULE:
(Laughing) Oh, so it is you, Chiri. I was saying to myself, who is this crazy man cycling directly at me when I am already out of the way?
MR CHIRI:
Good afternoon, Mrs. Ule.
MRS. ULE:
Good afternoon, Chiri. Oh, this is a beautiful bicycle. I did not notice you were riding a brand new bike. When did you buy it?
CHIRI:
Today. Actually, I just bought it, right after I sold my last bag of groundnuts.
SFX:
Someone is singing in the distance – obviously a drunk
MRS. ULE:
Don’t tell me you bought this beautiful bike with the money you got from selling just one bag of groundnuts!
CHIRI:
Sure, and I even have some change after buying the bike.
MRS. ULE:
So there is a lot of money in groundnuts farming, eh …?
MR. ULE:
(Approaching drunkenly) Hey you! What are you doing with my wife? Just because people in this village say you are well off, you think my wife will fall for you? I may be poor but I know my wife loves me. Do you hear me, Chiri?
SFX:
Silence
MR. ULE:
I am talking to you, Chiri. Don’t you have ears?
MRS. ULE:
Chiri, do not mind him.
CHIRI:
Mrs. Ule, I think I must leave now. (Sound of bicycle chain followed by bell)
MR. ULE:
Yes, go, go, go! Leave my wife alone.
MRS. ULE:
(CALLING OUT) I would really like us to meet again. I really want to know the secret behind your high yields of groundnuts! My greetings to your wife.

END OF SCENE ONE – LINKING MUSIC OR SILENCE

SCENE TWO

SFX:
Village atmosphere – sounds OF water being pumped FROM BOREHOLE. WATER IS SPLASHED as empty pail is put down and borehole is pumped, with water falling into pail.
MRS. ULE:
(Amidst the pumping SOUNDS) Good morning, Mrs. Chiri.
MRS. CHIRI:
Good morning, Mrs. Ule.
MRS. ULE:
Congratulations! I see you now have a beautiful brand new bicycle.
MRS. CHIRI:
Thank you. Who told you?
MRS ULE:
I met your husband yesterday; he told me he just bought the bike from the sales of his last bag of groundnuts.
MRS. CHIRI:
Yes, that was the last of the bags we planned to sell. We still have two bags for eating.
MRS. ULE:
Amwali (sister), tell me, what is the secret behind your big harvests? I tried groundnuts last year but the yield was so poor I did not even get half a bag.
MRS. CHIRI:
Your pail is full. Let me help you take it out so I can fill mine.
SFX:
THEY LIFT THE PAIL AND PUT AN EMPTY ONE ON THE CONCRETE UNDER THE BOREHOLE
MRS ULE:
I asked you a question and you have not answered me.
MRS. CHIRI:
What question?
MRS. ULE:
How do you manage to get high yields from your groundnuts?
Who was the witch doctor that gave you your “yield multiplication magic potion”?
MRS CHIRI:
It has nothing to do with witch doctors. There are many things you need to do to get a good yield. Choosing a good planting site is one key. Always avoid fallow lands. The soils must be sandy-loamy or loamy. Avoid sandy or clay soils. Plant good quality seed, choose the right varieties, use good weed management, and bank at the right time.
MRS ULE:
Why should I avoid sandy or clay soils?
MRS. CHIRI:
My pail is full. Let us lift our pails and I will tell you why as we walk home. (They both BREATHE HEAVILY as they lift their pails onto their heads and start walking home.)
MRS CHIRI:
Where was I? … Ah yes, I was saying the best soils for a groundnut garden must be sandy-loamy or loamy. With these soils, it is easier for the groundnut pegs to penetrate the soil, and for the pods and the seeds to grow big. It is also easier to lift the soil during harvest.
MRS. ULE:
Is that why you don’t plant groundnuts on the upper part of your garden where there are many molehills?
MRS CHIRI:
Yes. Many molehills are a sign of clay soils.
MRS. ULE:
OK, so I must plant groundnuts on sandy-loamy or loamy soils.
MRS. CHIRI:
Right. And don’t plant on fallow lands because the groundnuts will not produce as much nitrogen in their roots. Here’s another thing: It is important to always rotate every year with crops that are not susceptible to the same diseases as groundnut.
MRS ULE:
But how do I do that, Mrs. Chiri?
MRS CHIRI:
Usually, crops in the same family – such as groundnuts, beans, and pigeon peas – or those that suffer from the same diseases, such as cotton, paprika and tobacco, should not follow one another.
MRS ULE:
Eeh eeh, amwali (sister)! Where do you learn these things?
MRS CHIRI:
Mrs. Ule, that is like asking whether there is wetness in the bathroom. You always see me visiting the agricultural adviser; yet you ask me where I get agricultural information?
MRS ULE:
I will definitely start working on my ridges when the first rains come.
MRS CHIRI:
When the first rains come? That will be too late! Now is the time to prepare the ridges. My husband and I have already started. When farmers plant early, groundnuts can use the natural nitrogen fertilizer that is most available in the soil after the first rains. If you plant early, you also avoid the end of season drought that reduces yield. (She SIGHS as she says) Uuuuu, my neck! Iiii amwali (sister), the distance between our houses and the borehole is really killing us.
MRS ULE:
You can say that again! Coming back to groundnuts, amwali, I would really like to know everything there is to know. I want my family to get out of poverty. Look at you! You have enough maize to last the whole year. You have a corrugated-iron-roofed house, a radio, goats, plenty of chickens and now this new bicycle. When will we get ourselves out of poverty?
MRS CHIRI:
Amwali, poverty is laziness, full stop. If you want to know more, come tomorrow morning with your husband to our garden near the river. That is where we are making ridges for this year’s planting season.
MRS ULE:
Which husband? The worthless drunk that I keep in my house – you call that a husband?
MRS CHIRI:
Is he not the father of your children?
MRS ULE:
That is all he is good at. He does not even know how to feed the children. We suffer the best part of the year with hunger because I alone work in the garden to feed the family. All he knows is getting drunk and making me bear children under the leaking grass roof of our house when it rains.
MRS CHIRI:
You will find a way to bring him with you tomorrow. My husband drinks and he also works with me in the garden.
MRS ULE:
What is your secret?
MRS CHIRI:
I told him if he doesn’t come to work in the garden, I will deprive him of his conjugal rights.
MRS ULE:
(Laughs as she says) What? Are you serious?
MRS CHIRI:
Oh yes. Dangle that carrot in front of a man and he will do whatever you want him to do.
MRS ULE:
No, amwali … do you want my husband to run away and get into the tender hands of the many beautiful girls in this village?
MRS CHIRI:
Which girls? Those girls have no experience. I take my husband up Mulanje Mountain in the privacy of our bedroom. Those young, green, so-called beautiful girls of yours will never compete with me in that department. That is why my husband always says he does not have an eye for any girl in this village; the Mulanje Mountain trips I give him are enough.

Let’s talk more about groundnut garden preparation tomorrow morning. If your husband does not want to come, come alone. Don’t they say he who has a running tummy is the one who opens the door to the toilet? If the family is hungry, he should come.

END OF SCENE TWO – LINKING MUSIC OR SILENCE

SCENE THREE

SFX:
farm atmosphere – sound of two hoes working the ground.
MR CHIRI:
Is Ule’s wife going to come?
MRS CHIRI:
I do not care whether she comes or not. It is not me who needs the knowledge.
MR CHIRI:
Speak of the devil!
MRS CHIRI:
Where is she?
MR. CHIRI:
Isn’t that her coming from the baobab tree path?
MRS CHIRI:
Yes, it is she, and she is coming alone as I expected.
MRS. ULE:
Sorry I am late. I was trying to convince the father of my children to come along with me, but you know my husband’s priorities. What with the beer tom-tom that sounded this morning. (Editor’s note: In Malawian villages, a tom-tom announces the beginning of drinking at the beer hall early in the morning.)
MR. CHIRI:
Good morning, mother of your children.
MRS ULE:
Good morning, Chiri.
MRS CHIRI:
Did you try the tricks I told you?
MRS ULE:
I did not have the courage.
MR. CHIRI:
(CURIOUS) What tricks?
MRS CHIRI:
(Laughs as she says) It is for women’s ears only! Anyway, you said you wanted to know everything there is to know about preparing the garden for groundnut planting. Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?
SFX:
SOUND OF one hoe – Chiri is working the ground as Mrs. Chiri talks to Mrs. Ule
MRS ULE:
If my memory serves me right, we talked about site selection, four-year rotation, and the advantage of early land preparation so you can plant with the first effective rains.
MRS CHIRI:
Good! You must really be serious about getting out of poverty. The next important thing is to make double-row ridges like the ones we are making here. Actually, I invited you to come see for yourself. As they say, seeing is believing.
MRS ULE:
Why double-row ridges?
MRS CHIRI:
Double-row planting gives higher plant density. And that means higher yields.
MRS ULE:
But I heard that double-row planting does not allow enough breathing space for the groundnuts, and causes poor yields?
MRS CHIRI:
That is just a misconception. On flat ground, lines should be 45-60 centimetres apart and ridges should be 60-75 centimetres apart. If you look at our ridges, you will see that our spacing is 75 centimetres and that is how it should be. But also the ridges can be constructed at 60 centimetres apart.
MRS ULE:
OK, the ridges are 75 centimetres apart, and the double rows on the ridges are 30 centimetres apart.
MRS CHIRI:
That’s correct, but let me clarify that if the ridges are 60 centimetres apart, they should be used for a single row. Double row should be only on ridges that are 75 centimetres apart. Plant spacing is also important. Plants should be between 10 centimetres apart for the erect variety like Baka, Kakoma, Nsinjiro and Chitala, and 15 centimetres for the spreading varieties like Chalimbana and CG 7. And before I forget, it is always recommended to use certified and treated seeds to ensure good germination.
MR. CHIRI:
(From a distance) Mother of my children!
MRS CHIRI:
Yes, father of my children.
MR. CHIRI:
Bring me my calabash of sweet beer.
MRS CHIRI:
One calabash of sweet beer coming. Amwali, let me give my man his sweet beer.
MR CHIRI:
(Whispering) Is that what you call each other, or you are just doing that to make feel bad because my husband is not here with me?
MRS CHIRI:
Sshh! He will hear you.
MR. CHIRI:
What are you two whispering about? Do not put any love potion in my sweet beer. If you do, I will vomit whatever I drink.
MRS ULE:
If I had a love potion, I would have given it to my husband. Maybe it would have helped him love me enough to join me on the farm instead of wasting his time at the beer hall.
MRS CHIRI:
I do not believe in love potions. Love potions cannot make you love someone you don’t love in the first place.
MRS ULE:
So, you mean once you have prepared your land and have certified seed, you are set?
MRS CHIRI:
Yes, you are But do not forget to fertilize your fields. Actually, we bought our fertilizer as soon as we sold our first bags of groundnuts, before we spent the money on other things. This is recommended by agricultural advisors.
MRS ULE:
And what kind of fertilizer do you buy? The same fertilizer you use for maize?
MRS CHIRI:
No, no, no! You buy D-Compound and gypsum fertilizer, which you apply at 100 to 200 kilograms per hectare, or 50 to 100 kilograms per half hectare and 25 to 50 kilograms per quarter hectare. (Editor’s note: D-compound fertilizer is 8-8-15 NPK, and also contains the plant nutrients sulphur and boron.) If you add that and weed twice, I don’t see what can stop you getting the same bumper yields that we get.
MRS. ULE:
I am not sure if we can afford to buy chemical fertilizer. Can we use the manure from our animals, and composted manure from crop residues?
MRS. CHIRI:
Yes, you can use animal manure or other kinds of manure. Or you could reduce the cost of fertilizer by banding it in the ridge.
MR CHIRI:
I overheard what you were saying. You have forgotten one thing.
MRS CHIRI:
And what’s that?
MR CHIRI:
Box ridges for keeping moisture in the soil. Box ridges also help stop the rain from running off the field, which helps control soil erosion. The moisture you conserve in your soil will be handy during the drought at the end of the rainy season.
MRS ULE:
You know what? Both of you should be agricultural advisors. You are actually better than the official agricultural advisors.
MRS CHIRI:
That is because we are practicing advisors and not talking theories.
MR. ULE
(From a distance – clearly drunk) Hey Chiri, have you finally decided to go into polygamy? What are the two women doing with you in the bush? Hey, answer me, what are you doing with my wife in the bushhiiiii? (Fade out Ule, TALKING AND COMPLAINING DRUNKENLY)

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Marvin Hanke
Reviewed by: Reviewed by: Dr. Justus Chintu, Research Scientist (groundnut breeding), Department of Agricultural Research Services, and Dr. Philip Kamwendo, Project Coordinator-Consultant, IFAD – SPIP Consultant, C\o Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP).

gac-logoProject undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)