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Script 99.6

Notes to broadcasters

Many farmers choose organic fertilizers, including compost manure, rather than or in addition to chemical fertilizers. When made from locally available materials such as crop residues, animal waste and kitchen refuse, compost manure is an effective and affordable way to improve soil fertility.

Compost manure maintains and improves soil texture, reduces soil erosion, helps kill weeds and keeps moisture in the field. But despite these advantages, there are challenges to making and using compost manure.

In Malawi, these challenges are widespread. For example, farmers in Nkhotakota District on the shores of Lake Malawi used little compost manure because they perceived making compost as time-consuming and difficult because of a lack of materials.

Farmers may also hold misconceptions, for example that compost manure is not as effective as chemical fertilizer. But many agriculture experts and farmers who have used compost manure over long periods feel that its advantages far outweigh these challenges.

In this script, we hear how a radio campaign spearheaded by Farm Radio Trust changed the minds of some farmers in Nkhotakota District about compost manure. Farmers report on what they learned about compost manure, and the benefits and challenges they experienced.

The script is based on interviews with members of radio listening clubs involved in the radio campaign, a government agricultural officer, and a radio producer.

You could use this script as inspiration to research and develop a radio program on compost manure or other ways to promote soil fertility.

If you choose to use this script as inspiration for creating your own program, you might consider asking the following questions:
• Is compost manure used in your area? What challenges do farmers face in making and using it?
• What solutions have farmers created to meet these challenges?
• Is there evidence that compost manure has raised yields or had other benefits in your area?

Apart from speaking directly to farmers and other key players in the local agriculture sector, you could also use these questions as the basis of a phone-in or text-in program.

If you choose to produce this script on your station, you could use 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.

Estimated running time: 20 minutes, with intro and outro music.

Editor’s note: “Compost manure” is the name used in Malawi for a substance which may be called “composted manure” or simply “compost” in other locations.

Script

CHARACTERS:

Host
Field reporter (George Kalungwe)
Farmers (members of radio listening clubs)
• Chrissie Joe
• Newton Mkundiza
• Rene Banda
• Maria Chande
• Kingwell D. Banda
• Hadija Chitunzu
• Maria Chande

Radio presenter/producer at Nkhotakota Community Radio Station: John Kisewe Mpakani Agricultural Extension Development Coordinator: Ethel Mwase

HOST:
Hello. I’m (name of host). Welcome to (name of program), in which we explore how farmers in Malawi’s Nkhotakota District learned about the benefits of compost manure from a radio campaign operated by Farm Radio Trust.

With climate change and the increasing cost of inputs, farmers face many challenges. To deal with these issues, they are being encouraged to adopt climate-smart farming practices, which include using compost manure. Compost manure is an attractive alternative to chemical fertilizer for low-income farmers, particularly female farmers, because it can be made with locally available materials.

Over a 15-month period, Farm Radio Trust worked with farmers, radio stations and other partners to increase small-scale farmers’ use of compost manure.

My colleague, George Kalungwe, talks to some farmers from Traditional Authority Malengachanzi.

GEORGE KALUNGWE:
Please introduce yourself and tell me how you got involved in this campaign on compost manure?

NEWTON MKUNDIZA:
I’m Newton Mkundiza. Farm Radio Trust consulted with our chief before conducting the project. The chief mobilized people to be trained in making compost manure. I found it very helpful because I had learnt about the importance of compost manure while I was in school, but never practiced using it. So I took this opportunity to try it out.

CHRISSIE JOE:
I’m Chrissie Joe. We were excited when we heard about the project and we sincerely welcomed it.
After we were trained, each of us made compost manure and applied it in our fields. My harvest improved. I noticed that compost manure helps to keep moisture in the field, so even when you have only a little rain, you can still harvest enough.

KALUNGWE:
What types of crops did you grow using compost manure?

CHRISSIE JOE:
We mainly use compost manure in maize. Some people grow maize on ridges. Others prefer to grow maize without ridges by using pit planting. In all of these situations, the maize did better with compost manure. When we used to plant without compost manure, the maize cobs were very small and we harvested maybe five or six bags. When we started using compost manure, I harvested up to ten bags just from my backyard garden.

KALUNGWE:
Madam Rene Banda, which crops do you plant with compost manure?

RENE BANDA:
I also use compost manure in my maize garden. On my one and a half acres of maize, I used to get 18 bags, but last year I got 31 bags.

KALUNGWE:
Madam Maria Chande, what changes have you seen since you started using compost manure?

MARIA CHANDE:
First, let me tell you that the place where I grow maize is very sandy and I did not expect to harvest very much. But after using compost manure, I have been able to grow very big and healthy crops, and I have harvested 25 bags.

KALUNGWE:
Sir, I believe you previously used compost manure on your own. Have you have learnt new things about compost manure?

KINGWELL D. BANDA:
I am Kingwell Banda. Previously, we just gathered ashes, livestock waste and litter, and heaped them together. But we have learnt how to make proper manure, not just collecting animal waste and applying it straight to the field, but properly applying the right amount in our fields.

KALUNGWE:
I asked John Mpakani, the producer of the program at Nkhotakota Community Radio Station, how the program started?

JOHN MPAKANI:
In March 2013, Farm Radio Trust conducted a study which found that Nkhotakota is one of the districts affected by climate change. After consulting with experts and the farmers in the district, it was agreed that using compost manure could help lessen the impact of climate change on farming.

The radio campaign encouraged farmers to start making and using compost manure. Previously, local farmers made compost manure but did not follow the proper methods. This project taught farmers the right materials to use, the right methods, and the right time to apply compost manure.

The radio campaign started broadcasts in early June 2013 and ran until December.

HOST:
You are listening to (name of radio station). Today we are looking at how farmers learned about the benefits of making and using compost manure from a radio campaign in Malawi’s Nkhotakota District.

Later we will hear from farmers on how the program helped increase their harvest, and also about the challenges of using compost manure and how best to deal with them. But now, my colleague George Kalungwe speaks to Ethel Mwase, the Agricultural Extension Development Coordinator for Linga Extension Planning Area

ETHEL MWASE:
Our research showed that farmers’ harvests were very small compared to previous years. We discovered that the root cause was soil degradation caused by poor farming practices.

KALUNGWE:
There are many alternatives for improving soil fertility. Why did you choose compost manure?

ETHEL MWASE:
Yes, there are many methods – conservation agriculture, compost manure and others, but we had limited time and felt that compost manure would be the quickest and most direct method.

GEORGE KALUNGWE:
Farmers traditionally use compost manure. What new things did they learn from the radio campaign?

JOHN MPAKANI:
We helped farmers understand what compost manure was all about. Previously, they just took animal waste from their goat or cow enclosure directly to the field. This burned their crops, which gave them a negative attitude towards compost manure.
And most farmers didn’t know the other benefits of compost manure, like the fact that it helps keep moisture in the soil.

KALUNGWE:
Did you notice any knowledge gaps among the farmers?

ETHEL MWASE:
The farmers knew a lot about manure, but there were certain technical things they did not know. For example, for pit manure, they did not know the right dimensions for the pit or how to load the waste into the pit so that it decomposes properly. The pits are normally one metre deep and one metre wide. And some farmers who made manure never used it.

KALUNGWE:
How did you ensure that farmers not only made compost manure but applied it in their fields?

ETHEL MWASE:
We told farmers to make compost manure right in their fields, so they would not have a problem transporting it from home.

HOST:
We have heard from the extension worker and the producer. Now George Kalungwe speaks to the farmers on how the radio campaign helped them improve their knowledge of compost manure.

KINGWELL D. BANDA:
The radio helped us because it caused us to be alert all the time. Every time we slackened, it acted as a reminder for us to stay on our toes.

HADIJA CHITUNZU:
The radio helps us learn what our colleagues in faraway places are doing. We try to practice what we hear.

KALUNGWE:
Can one of you briefly explain how to make one type of manure?

MARIA CHANDE:
I am Maria Chande. I have mastered making pit manure. All you need is animal waste from chickens, goats or cattle, dried maize stalks and water.

GEORGE KALUNGWE:
Ok. What’s the first step?

MARIA CHANDE:
First, we cut the maize stalks into small pieces and mix them with soil from an anthill or waste disposal site. Then, we dig a pit that is one and a half metres wide and one metre deep. Next, we put a 30 centimetre layer of maize stalks at the bottom of the pit, then add a layer of animal waste mixed with soil about three to five centimetres thick. After that, we add a bucket of water in order to make sure the layers are wet. The moisture helps the materials to decompose. We add at least 10 or 15 litres to make sure the stalks are moist but not soaking wet. Afterwards, we add another layer of maize stalks and then another layer of animal waste …

KALUNGWE:
Let me summarize for the audience. So first, you cut maize stalks into small pieces and mix them with soil from an anthill or waste disposal site. Then you dig a pit which is one and a half metres wide and one metre deep. You add a layer of maize stalks at the bottom. Then you add a layer of animal waste mixed with soil, and then water. Then another layer of maize stalks and animal waste. Is that correct?

MARIA CHANDE:
Yes. Some people like to also pour some water on the floor of the pit before they start to stack the layers.
Anyway, we keep on stacking the maize stalks and animal waste and adding some water until we fill the pit. Then it’s finished. Make sure you add the right amount of water – not too little and not too much. After that, we insert a stick into the middle of the pit. After a few days, we remove the stick to see if it is hot. If it’s hot, we know that the manure is decomposing.

When we insert the stick, we add a layer of soil on the top of the pit to seal it. This helps heat to circulate through the layers and speed up decomposition.

KALUNGWE:
How long does this whole process take?

MARIA CHANDE:
It doesn’t take long. Within one month, your compost manure should be ready.

HOST:
We will take a short break. When we return, we will hear about the challenges faced by farmers in making and using compost manure.

INSERT SONG ABOUT COMPOST MANURE OR OTHER MUSIC

HOST:
Welcome back. This is (name of host), and you are listening to (name of program) on (name of station). We’re looking at how farmers learned to make and use compost manure by listening to a radio campaign in Nkhotakota District in Malawi.

KALUNGWE:
Please tell me about some of the challenges you face making and using compost manure

KINGWELL D. BANDA:
For an older person like me, it is difficult to dig a pit. I have to hire someone to do it for me. Sometimes it is challenging to find materials. You may have few maize stalks or just a little animal waste – and so you make only a little compost manure.

KALUNGWE:
How do you deal with shortages of material?

KINGWELL D. BANDA:
If we are determined to make the compost manure, we just hire some young men to collect the materials for us.

KALUNGWE:
What about you, Mr. Mkundiza?

NEWTON MKUNDIZA:
There are indeed challenges, but we work together as a group to deal with these challenges. If we can’t find maize stalks or grass nearby, we all agree to start working in one or two persons’ gardens. We collect the material and work on that field, then go to another person’s field and so on until we finish all the gardens. If we can’t find animal waste, we use soil from an anthill or refuse site.

KALUNGWE:
What challenges do you women face?

MARIA CHANDE:
We have problems finding water. We travel long distances because there is no borehole nearby. This makes the work very difficult.

KALUNGWE:
Is there a solution to this problem?

MARIA CHANDE:
We appreciate the benefits of compost manure, so we do whatever we can to find water. We go as far as four kilometres to draw water.

KALUNGWE:
Are there any another problems?

CHRISSIE JOE:
The main problem is lack of animal waste. We are forced to buy it, unlike water which, although faraway, we can find for free.

KALUNGWE:
How much do you pay for animal waste?

CHRISSIE JOE:
Some people charge us 200 Kwacha (US$0.50) for a pail of animal waste.

KALUNGWE:
How much animal waste do you need?

CHRISSIE JOE:
For every pit, I buy three or four pails of animal waste. To make sure I produce good compost manure, I mix it with soil.

HOST:
After hearing the challenges faced by the farmers, George Kalungwe heard from the radio producer, Joe Mpakani.

JOHN MPAKANI:
We faced some problems in promoting compost manure to farmers during the campaign. One problem was that compost manure does not show its benefits the same year you start using it. It can take up to three years.

There was also a shortage of materials. Most of the farmers believed that the best way to clear their gardens was with fire. So they burnt the residues of maize, rice, groundnuts, and beans, and ended up having no material for making manure.

Some farmers thought they did not have to use chemical fertilizer in the first year they start using compost manure. We advised them to use both compost manure and chemical fertilizer for one or two years.

The farmers had problems finding animal waste because no one is willing to provide it for free anymore – and it’s difficult to find money in a rural area like this. We told the farmers that they can use soil from underneath banana plants or any other place that still has virgin soil.

Water is also a problem. In some villages, farmers were actually denied access to boreholes. They were showered with insults by people who thought it was a waste to use a scarce commodity like water for making compost manure rather than drinking.

Gender inequalities were also a problem. For example, some people laughed at women digging pits to make pit manure because they thought that was a man’s role.

KALUNGWE:
The farmers say that lack of materials was a challenge. I talked to Mrs. Mwase, the extension worker, about this.

ETHEL MWASE:
The farmers who complain about lack of materials are those who start making their compost manure very late. The best time to make manure is when you have a lot of crop residues just after harvest in April, May or June. If you delay, you find that people have burnt the fields to hunt mice.

We encourage farmers to share animal waste with their friends and to use soil from manure trees like msangu (Editor’s note: The scientific name of the tree is Faidherbia albida). This works just as well as animal waste.

HOST:
Despite the challenges of using compost manure, the farmers that are using it in Traditional Authority Malengachanzi are convinced of its benefits.

MARIA CHANDE:
My life has significantly changed since I started using compost manure. It has enabled me to harvest more crops. Also, the radio station set up listening groups, and this taught us the importance of working in a group. You learn many things when you are part of a group. You miss a lot if you work in isolation. I’ll continue using manure because I have seen the benefits.

I want to make more compost manure this year so that I harvest more crops than last year. I have already made eight heaps of box manure and now I want to dig ten pits so that I have enough compost manure this year.

HADIJA CHITUNZU:
Using compost manure has greatly transformed my life. We used to keep the little maize we harvested to eat during lean months. We spent all the money we could find to buy maize before the rainy season because we harvested so little. But things have changed. We no longer keep maize to eat in the lean months. We have food throughout the year.

NEWTON MKUNDIZA:
Next year I plan to use part of the money I earn from selling my extra maize to buy livestock. I want to buy two or three cows so that I no longer need to buy animal waste for making compost manure.

HOST:
That was Newton Mkundiza, a farmer from Traditional Authority Malengachanzi. His voice ends a program in which we heard how farmers benefited from a radio campaign on compost manure, implemented by Farm Radio Trust in the Nkhotakota District of Malawi.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: George Kalungwe, Chief Sub-editor/Producer, Zodiak Broadcasting
Station, Malawi, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Ethel Mwase, Agricultural Extension Development Coordinator for Linga EPA, Nkhotakota District Agricultural Office, Nkhotakota, Malawi

Information Sources

Interviews with farmers, extension worker and radio producer: June 20, 2014

This script was written with the support of Irish Aid.

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