Notes to broadcasters
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Farmers know that if they can’t keep birds away from their rice fields at the end of the growing season, there could be serious consequences. Often women and children are sent to the fields to guard against birds. But this also has serious consequences because it adds to the women’s workload and keeps children away from school.
The following radio program presents information about some bird-scaring methods that have been widely tested and used by rice farmers. We recommend that you follow up with more programming about bird-scaring methods developed by farmers in your listening area. For further information about managing birds in rice, please see script 89.9 in this package, ‘Protect your rice crop against birds.’ This is a fictional interview based on information provided by Robert Anyang from AfricaRice, Tanzania and Léonce Sessou from Centre Songhai, Benin.
Extension officer:Dr. Panicle
Program signature tune
Those farmers who are listening today know that as soon as rice grains start to ripen it’s time to consider the various ways of chasing away hungry birds. Here today to discuss some of these methods, we have extension officer Dr. Panicle.
Hello, Dr. Panicle! Thanks for accepting our invitation.
At which stage of rice ripening can the farmer start bird-scaring?
From the moment the panicles appear, rice farmers should start scaring birds out of their fields.
And what methods do you recommend?
I recommend the various methods that I have seen farmers using in their fields. These are tried and true methods. For instance: the use of cassette tape, the scarecrows method, the castanets method, and the use of nets.
And out of all those methods, which is the best?
And yet farmers complain of birds despite having scarecrows or strips of tape in their field.
It’s because they use only one method and they keep on using it for a long time. So, very rapidly, the birds adapt to the method and it becomes less efficient.
In such a case, what can we do?
I think the best thing is every few days add another bird scaring technique to the method or methods in place in the field. Here is what I recommend to farmers. First place some sticks around the field and hang cassette tapes from the sticks. Use this method for the first few days.
And after those few days?
Then put up several scarecrows, close together. This means that you are using two methods at the same time…the cassette tape and the scarecrows. After about a week of using both methods, introduce the castanets method.
So now the farmer is using three methods: the cassette tape, the scarecrows and the castanets.
Yes. A few days after installing castanets, it’s time to tie blue plastic shopping bags on the castanets. In fact, the moment you see that the birds have become used
to the methods available in your field, it is time to change your strategy.
By that time the rice is ripe enough for harvest, is it not?
It depends on the variety. Some rice varieties mature in a short time.
But what if the variety planted takes a long time to mature?
In that case rice farmers must continue to protect against birds for a longer time by adding another method. Keep using the castanets and blue bags, but also set up nets to trap the birds, similar to fishing nets. Use all these methods until harvest.
So what you are saying is that every few days farmers should add a new method for scaring birds to the methods that are already in their fields. By doing this they will be effective in scaring birds. Besides those methods, have you any other advice to provide?
Yes. Try to avoid attracting birds to your field in the first place.
This is a matter of taking proper care of your rice fields. Provide all necessary care to your rice plants during the growing season. For instance, farmers in the Senegal River Valley noticed that they had fewer problems with birds when they kept their fields weed free. As birds like to eat weed seeds, weeds will attract birds to your field.
: Finally, I ask all rice farmers located in the same region to plant their rice at the same time, because larger areas of land with rice that ripens at the same time will have less damage.
Signature tune fades out.
Thank you, Dr. Panicle. Dear listeners, thank you too! By applying a combination of different birds-scaring techniques, as Dr. Panicle said, you will effectively protect your rice fields against bird damage.
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. That wraps up our program for today. Thanks for listening!
Signature tune to end the program
Written by: Felix 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, Porto Novo, Benin
Robert Anyang, Emergency Seed Initiative Project (AfricaRice), Tanzania
Dear radio broadcasters, please send any feedback you receive from your listeners about different bird management techniques to Felix Houinsou at AfricaRice, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. AfricaRice plans to use your feedback to produce a new video for rice farmers on bird management.