Notes to broadcasters
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To achieve food security, it is important for farmers and scientists to collaborate. Working together, scientists can learn exactly what problems farmers are experiencing and how well their innovations actually work in the field. Farmers get access to useful information, as well as gaining income and employment opportunities.
Unfortunately, both farmers and scientists sometimes have stereotyped views about one another that can limit contact between them. Radio can play a part in breaking down such views; it can provide a forum through which farmers and scientists exchange information and engage in dialogue. The script below uses humor to show how false the stereotyped views can be.
Please note that the final paragraph of the script refers to Africa and should be changed to reflect circumstances in your region.
Dr. Kulungu Ndege:
Scientist, son of Mr. Ndege
MUSIC (A PLANTING CHANT) FADING INTO BACKGROUND AS ANNOUNCER BEGINS TO SPEAK
-Today we are going to listen in on some discussions about scientists and farmers working together. What does this mean? And how this can help farmers to grow more food? First let’s listen to two farmers, Mr. Chui and Mr. Kazi, as they talk on their way to the weekly market.
-I notice that your maize plants are growing well, Kazi.
– Yes, I followed the advice given to me by my neighbor, Ndege. He saw how weak the stalks were during the last planting season. He told me how he solved the same problem in his own field.
– Yes, I remember. Your plants were dying early. What advice did Ndege give?
– He said I was applying the wrong amount of fertilizer. This season I followed his advice and now I believe I am going to get a good harvest.
– Yes, Ndege is a wise man who has been farming many years. Experience is always a better teacher than books. I have heard that Ndege’s son is coming back from the city today. He has become a big scientist and is going to teach us to grow better crops. Imagine! A young man who sits in an office telling his elders how to farm!
– Yes, educated people think they know everything, just because they no longer eat with their fingers! They should remember that farmers were growing food long before there were schools and universities.
MUSIC SURGES UP AND FADES AGAIN AS ANNOUNCER CUTS IN
– Now we know what Mr. Chui and Mr. Kazi think of scientists! Do all scientists believe that their knowledge makes them superior? Times are changing. More and more scientists are now working with farmers to solve the problem of growing more food.
Just by chance, and later the same day, Mr. Ndege and his son the scientist can be found speaking together about this very idea. Farmers and scientists working together. Let’s listen in …
– My son, you have changed a lot since you left the university. I remember when you came home after you received your degree. You were using big words and you were impatient to get back to the city. And now, my son, you are working together with the farmers in their fields.
Dr. K. Ndege
– It took some time, but now I am convinced that the lessons farmers have learned through experience are important. Sometimes, I found that the research in laboratories was teaching us things that farmers have already known for a long time. And sometimes, scientists were coming up with solutions that would not work in farmers’ fields. We need to combine our efforts.
-How do farmers react to you when you say you want to learn from them?
Dr. K. Ndege
– They are usually surprised. They were used to scientists coming to them to tell them how to farm, not scientists who consider their farmers’ knowledge important. It took some time for them to realize that I was serious. Now we are working together, building on their traditional knowledge.
Dr. K. Ndege
(cont)- Also, after seeing how effective my research has become with the help of the farmers, some of my fellow scientists are changing their minds. They are even ‘going rural’ by learning to eat with their fingers again! (Both men laugh.)
FADE MUSIC IN AND HOLD UNDER ANNOUNCER
-So, scientists have to learn to work with farmers, and farmers have to learn to work with scientists. We need to increase the food produced in Africa: at the moment, half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have enough food. Cooperation between scientists and farmers is necessary if the African continent is going to feed all its people.
MUSIC SWELLS UP AND FADES OUT
Contributed by Amin Kassam, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Reviewed by Helen Hambly, Research Officer, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), The Hague, The Netherlands.